Keep grinding, but interject fun

Camp is always a grind, and when it occurs simultaneously with the beginning of classes, there is always the danger of having an unfocused practice.  After a tough weekend of practices, our players were feeling the grind of camp.  The first day of classes has typically been a day where our practices haven’t been as crisp.  We decided to help combat that by adding some fun and pranking one of our sophomore quarterbacks.  We set him up by me pulling him out of a team meeting and while he was out explaining to the players what we would do in the first play of period 14.  We borrowed this one from UNC who did the same thing in their camp.  We involved all 160 members of our team.  The results are below.

Every now and then, we need to do something to lighten things up.  It might be in the week leading up to a big game when tensions are high.  It could be during the grind of preseason camp.  As a coach, you need to be cognizant of what your team needs.  This short interjection of some humor made practice fly, and we had the best first day of classes practice since I have been here.

Pete Carroll is the master of pranking his team.  Here is one involving Will Ferrell.

Even the usually serious and intense Bo Pellini pulled a prank on his team.

Good luck this season.  Have fun!


Pick up a great resource and reference for the 2013 season. 101 Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays for the iPad is loaded with video, diagrams, and ideas that are useful in any offense.  Get it here:

iPad at practice is an invaluable coaching tool!

We utilized the iPad in practice today for the first time and our coaches and players loved the instant feedback. If you have and iPad and the Hudl app you will love it too.  Even without the Hudl app there are plenty of answers for video.  Wifi wasn’t necessary to use Hudl because you don’t need to upload to view the videos.

This was an idea I got from watching Nebraska.  If you haven’t seen the video yet, here it is.

Our TE?FB coach used it to review inside run with his players.  They though it made a difference.  Our OL coach said, “I didn’t use to review every play, but when we needed it to correct something that happened on a blitz pick-up, we had it.” The players could see exactly what they needed to do if they faced that situation again.  The feedback was instantaneous.

I told our equipment manager I needed a tent with a flat screen set up as a viewing station.  He laughed at me, but it would be great to pull a group in between reps and view on a bigger screen…I’ll keep working on this one.

Even with the small screen of the iPad, players seeing what happen was great for their learning and understanding.

If you haven’t seen some of my posts on using technology to enhance coaching, check them out by clicking the links below:

Making an Impact with Flipped Coaching

Improving Learning Through the Use of iPads

Using the iPad for Scout Cards

Pick up a great resource and reference for the 2013 season. 101 Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays for the iPad is loaded with video, diagrams, and ideas that are useful in any offense.  Get it here:

On AFM: Making an Impact with Flipped Coaching

In the August/September of American Football Monthly, I describe a method known as “flipped coaching.” This coaching method is something borrowed from classroom teachers. “Flipped learning” is a teaching method developed by Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams. These two chemistry teachers realized they had an innovative way to present the lecture portion of their lessons in a way which every student could progress at the pace which worked for them. Some students could move on and go deeper into the subject, and others could review the subject matter again and again if needed until they understood it. The primary way they accomplished this was through screencast videos of their lessons. The results were that their students scored better on tests and understood chemistry at a much deeper level…read more

O,D & Special Teams Objectives That Promote the Team Concept



Many of us list objectives for each of our units and review those with the team following the game.  At BW we do it a little differently.  Our head coach John Snell realized in his time as an assistant that the pride that each unit took in accomplishing their objectives many times turned into finger pointing.  If it wasn’t explicit, it seemed to at least be an implicit understanding that, “We did our job, but you didn’t do yours.”  This kind of attitude causes tension within the team and staff and ultimately fractures the team concept.

To remedy this, a team objectives system was put into place, and each unit evaluates what we refer to as “efficiencies”  on their own.  The chart above shows each one of the team goals, and the performance of offense, defense and special teams is factored into each one.

The first one is Win.  This is easily evaluated, and is the most important objective.

Next is Takeaways/Turnovers.  We factor in not only fumbles and interceptions, but also three-and-outs.  Four three-and-outs count as a give away for our offense or a takeaway our defense. Special teams turnovers factor in as well.  When we total up our takeaways vs. the opponent’s takeaways, we want to come out on top.

Fewer penalties is pretty self explanatory.  We want less total penalty yards than the opponent.

Field Position Battle involves calculating the average starting field position for both ourselves and the opponent.  We want to have a better starting field position than our opponent.

Big Plays encompasses many different things that can happen on offense, defense and special teams.  They include a gain of pass of 20+ yards, special teams TD, 2-pt play, blocked kick, tackle for loss or sack, TD, game winner, punt inside the 10, onside kick recovery, INT, fumble recovery, stopped fake kicks, execute a fake kick, punt over 50 yards, 40 yard field goal, 20+ yard return, 10+ yard run, kick off downed inside 20.  Any one of these counts for both us and our opponent.  When we calculate big plays of each team, we need to have more in order to accomplish this objective.

Scoring Zone Efficiency.  We want our Red Zone (20 and in) scoring efficiency to be better.  We calculate this by number of drives inside the red zone that scored divided by total number of drives into the red zone.

Outgain Opponent.  We calculate total net yards which includes rushing, passing , and returns for each team.

Compete for Four Quarters is the only subjective category we have.  As a staff we evaluate whether we felt our team competed for the entire game.  This includes any opportunity that the second team may have had.  What we are guarding against that is regardless of score we never see our team ease up.

These have been great tools for us to evaluate how we are doing as a team.  We always take the opportunity to grade individuals and units, but those don’t get presented in the framework of reaching an objective.  Again, the team concept is very important to us, and we always want to shoulder responsibility for the win or the loss together.

Hopefully this idea sparks some thought on how you can continue to build a tight knit team.  Good luck!


Pick up a great resource and reference for the 2013 season. 101 Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays for the iPad is loaded with video, diagrams, and ideas that are useful in any offense.  Get it here:



Defining Discipline


As coaches. the more we can define the different qualities we want to see in our players and our team, the better the chances of them  being able to adopt those characteristics and perform up to the expectations we set for them.  Many times we throw out terms that are intangibles.  We assume that they understand the intangible, but we take for granted that their definition may be different than ours.

It is pretty safe to assume that our players understand that discipline is something that leads to success.  What they view as discipline may vary.  Merriam-Webster defines it as

1.  training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
2.  orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior.
The dictionary definition, doesn’t exactly point to the specifics.  We need to be detailed in exactly what that pattern of behavior is.  Part of it is being detailed in what we want on the field whether that is their assignment or technique.  If we want to see something happen on the field, we must coach it.  I described a fun exercise we used for installing some of our sideline procedures and expectations and specific examples of the enthusiasm and engagement we want out of our players on game day here.  This would be and example of an orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior. Being specific in all aspects of what we want is a big part of instilling discipline.  Performance to an expectation cannot be expected if standards are not set.  Furthermore, the standards must be evaluated and both correct and incorrect behavior or performance need to be addressed (corrected, molded, and perfected).
In general though, I want my players to understand that my generic definition that they must apply to all of the different things they are expected to perfect is that discipline is intense listening and focused action.
Intense Listening
Whether it is in a classroom type of meeting, on the field instruction, or post practice meeting, players are expected to listen intensely.  In the classroom part of that falls on me as a teacher/coach to use methods that keep them engaged and on the edge of their seats.  For some detailed “on edge” coaching techniques, click here.  The other part is on them.  I expect them to have their eyes up or to be taking detailed notes.  They should ask questions if something isn’t clear. On the field, they should always be listening.  We talk to them about mental reps, but part of that is hearing the instruction and correction that the player performing the drill or rep is receiving.  It’s not time to talk or socialize when it’s not their turn.  If they fail in the same way as a previous player, they were not listening well enough.  The last is in post practice meetings.  As a coach I know they are tired at that point, so I make it a point to be concise and share only the most important observations of practice that I need them to understand so they are better the next time.  I also set the expectation that eyes are up and all other activity stops.  That means don’t be taking tape off or unsnapping or unbuckling pads. Intensely listen to the message.
Focused Action
Focused action  is doing exactly what you are supposed to do in the manner you are supposed to do it.  Again, as the coach I better be as detailed as possible in setting those performance guidelines.  I also need to constantly evaluate and correct.  Being specific in the language I use is important.  I should be able to say a word or phrase that I have taught the players which will cue them to exactly what the error was, and exactly what I want.  “Catch the ball” isn’t specific enough.  They know that.  “Eyes” helps them understand that the error was they moved their eyes too early or didn’t follow the ball in.
Intense listening and focused action will help a player be more cognizant of what they need to do to show discipline.  As I pointed out, as coaches we have a huge role in discipline as well.  It comes not from being a “drill sergeant”, but rather from being a great teacher.
I hope this perspective helps you help your players this season.
Pick up a great resource and reference for the 2013 season. 101 Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays for the iPad is loaded with video, diagrams, and ideas that are useful in any offense.  Get it here:

Thought for the day…Attitude must be married to Effort


The above sign is in our quarterback manual.  It’s something I originally saw in the Ball State team room when Brady Hoke was there as the head coach.These are valuable words because it puts the focus not just on a mindset , but action.

Blame no one. It starts with an internal focus.  When something doesn’t go right, it doesn’t start with placing blame, it should be a chance to reflect and understand what you can do better because you can always do something better.  Blame has no place in a team setting.  Blame for a team failure is something that needs to be shouldered together.  Placing blame on others, whether done by the coach or player, fractures the team concept.

Expect nothing.  As a player or coach you want to have a positive mindset that you will win.  However, don’t expect the other team to come in and lay down for you.  No matter how bad they are, they are going to fight.  Welcome the challenge of competition.  Don’t expect the calls to go your way.  Officials will make mistakes.  They may even have biases.  Don’t expect the ball to bounce the right way or the breaks of the game to go in your favor.  You need to keep working and put yourself in a position to deserve to win.

Do something.  Positive thoughts and words are a great start, but without action they are nothing.  Effort must always be married to attitude.  Without effort all the positive words ini the world are useless.  Work harder; work smarter; do whatever it takes to gain the advantage.  It’s all about taking actions every opportunity you have to improve.  It will build incrementally and propel you towards your goal.

Pick up a great resource and reference for the 2013 season. 101 Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays for the iPad is loaded with video, diagrams, and ideas that are useful in any offense. Get it here:</a