On USA Football: Coaching Is Teaching. A philosophy to build upon.

This week’s USA Football post shares a philosophy that I have based my coaching upon.  I share some thoughts on how to put that philosophy into action.  

I have been working with some great coaches to put together interactive coaching manuals that blend text, diagrams, animations and videos.  While I would have liked to release those earlier, there are great concepts in each manual that are worth learning now.  

Dan Gonzalez shares his knowledge in Developing an Offensive System – Part 1:  The Need for Change.  I’ve shared my thoughts on his navigation tags.  It’s a cutting edge tool that can be adapted to improve any offense right now.  

Bill Renner is an authority on kicking and punting.  He has created a manual on each topic.  His manual, Core Drills for Developing Football Kicking Skills is available now.  He does a great job in teaching you exactly what to do to develop a kicker.  He also released a book on protecting the QB from spread formations.  The video and teaching are outstanding.  Again, he is able to share his knowledge in a clear and concise way.  This protection has only allowed an average of 1.1 sacks per game over the last decade.  Check out Pass Protections from No TE Formations.  

Rob Zeitman has developed one of the most potent rushing attacks in NCAA Division II football.  His teams averages 317 yards per game on the ground.  He shares his base running game concepts, the inside veer and the midline from the short pistol or what he likes to call “The Show Gun” offense.  The Show Gun Offense: Inside Veer is available now.

The first book in this dynamic format is my book titled 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays.  I have released this by chapter as well as creating a version of the play action chapter for the iPhone.  My second book provides a template for setting up the structure of your offense to turn it into a system rather than a collection of plays.  It’s the first of a 4-part series.  Get The Zone Offense:  Create a Structured System for your iPad or Mac.

I am excited to share our ever growing library.  Other “coming soon” titles are just a glimpse of what we will be offering.  Check out the entire website: https://coachesedgetechnologies.com

On USA Football:

Before I became a head coach, I started to organize my thoughts and beliefs to develop my own coaching philosophy. Rather than recreate the wheel, I used my research and adapted the beliefs of great coaches that meshed with mine. One of the philosophies I included in my coaches manual was something that Joe Paterno wrote. I review and update my coaches manual every year, even though I am not a head coach at the moment. Here is my coaching philosophy as well as my notes interjected in italics on exactly what a coach should do to help himself succeed in his job…read more.

$20 gets you a Kicking Coach who has worked with NFL kickers

Renner Kicking Cover

Bill Renner has released an interactive book for the iPad and Mac titled Core Drills for Developing Football Kicking Skills.  He shares his years of expertise and boils it down to some simple drills and techniques to help a coach develop a kicker now, or for a kicker to develop on his own.  He provides a method for understanding ball flight and what it tells the kicker about his technique, as well as prescribing the adjustments to fix any issues.

Why should you get this interactive book?  Check out Renner’s credentials below.  He’s taken his sought-after-expertise and presented it in a simple to understand format. Get it here.

Bill Renner is recognized around the country for his expertise in kicking and punting.  Renner played two years in the NFL as a punter for the Green Bay Packers and has worked as a kicking consultant to run kicking camps or consult for John Mackovic,      Texas, Nick Saban, LSU and Michigan State, Lou Holtz, South Carolina, Frank Beamer,      Virginia  Tech, Al Groh, Virginia, Lou Tepper, Illinois, Lloyd Carr, Michigan, John      Harbaugh, Philadelphia Eagles, Greg McMahon, New Orleans Saints, Scott Cohen, New      York Jets.

Renner now coaches high school football in North Carolina.  His last two kickers at West Springfield have gone on to full-scholarships to NC State, Josh Czjakowski, and West Virginia, Tyler Bitancurt.  In addition, his former West Springfield punter started at Penn State for four years on scholarship and is currently punting for Green Bay Packers, Jeremy Kapinos.

Renner has coached or worked with 6 current NFL punters: Steve Weatherford, Jaguars; Sam Koch, Ravens; Kyle Larson, Bengals, Glenn Pakulak, Saints, Brett Kern, Broncos; Jeremy Kapinos, Packers.

Renner has put his kicking drills at your finger tips, and shares them in a very dynamic format.

Critical Points and Yardage – Develop a Kicker

Renner Kicking Cover

Get Core Drills for Developing Kicking Skills for your iPad or Mac here.

Critical Points and Yardage by Coach Bill Renner

Second or third chances do not come often for kickers who fail to execute their skill. Offensive and defensive players can fumble, throw interceptions, miss blocks, get knocked down, miss tackles, drop passes, fall down and jump off-sides, yet, will only be considered to have “had a bad day”. Their abilities and position on the team will not be questioned.

This scrutiny and “perform or get cut” mentality from the coaches and fans demands a higher level of skill performance for kickers. Successfully combating this condition depends on the degree of technical knowledge the kicker possesses and how quickly adjustments can be made after poorly hit kicks.

The epitome of mastering this mental training is Tiger Woods. Rick Martino, director of instruction for the PGA of America, caught a comment Tiger made after shooting 40 on the front nine of his record setting 12 shot Masters victory in 1997.

“I remember him saying that day that when he finished the front side, he figured out his swing was too long.” Martino said. “No one had to tell him that, he knew it instinctively, and he managed to figure it out on the fly and make the adjustment. The rest of the week, you could see the difference.”

Just a glance at most professional kickers biography will produce a litany of teams they have performed for and been cut from. The ones that reduce this experience are the ones who have learned to correct mistakes immediately like Tiger Woods.

To start this learning process you must begin to believe two things:

1) the ball only goes where you cause it to go, and

2) a knowledge base of how to kick a football allows me to coach myself to correct my mistakes.

Without an understanding of the essential techniques that make the ball fly where and how you make it, fixing technique errors, whether “on the fly” or over a long term is impossible.

I have witnessed many talented kickers over the past 24 years as a player, coach, and operating punting and kicking camps. The ones that could perform under pressure and on command were the ones with the greatest understanding and control of the mental aspect of the skill.

How do you gain this knowledge?

1. Learn from experienced coaches and players.

You must have discerning questions when learning that allow you to focus on the essentials that make the ball travel where you want it to. For pkicking, as you learn the skill from others always filter the information through the following questions:

Kickers: “How will it make the ball go farther, higher or straighter?”

If the technique you are being told to do does not contribute to these results then it does not matter if you do it that way or not. PERIOD!

There are only certain essentials that must be executed to be successful at these skills and all the rest do not matter. In fact, those “essentials” are similar for both skills. There are not a lot of techniques to learn to kick well. But focusing your attention on the wrong ones will prevent your maximizing your ability. These questions will help you discern what those are.

2. Watch the ball fly and learn from what it does.

The flight of the ball is the best indicator of technique errors. An experienced instructor does not need to see you physically kick the football. He can watch the ball flight and tell you what you did at the collision to cause the football to fly the way it did.

With an understanding that the essential techniques are limited and what their cause and effect are correcting technique errors from ball flight is not a difficult process.

3. Develop a strong desire to master the skill.

Anyone can be taught to kick a football adequately. Few can be taught to do it on command. The desire to “BE THE BEST” is one factor that permits players to continue to advance to higher levels. The desire must translate to a strong work ethic.

“Woods loves to practice…If he wants to hit a shot that cuts 10 feet and only cuts six, he’s not happy with it,” (Peter) Kostis, widely regarded CBS analyst and teacher, said. “His tolerance is so small, it drives him to work even harder…”

Bill Renner has put together an interactive kicking manual that will help you develop a kicker right now.  This illustrated manual includes 7 interactive, animated presentations that illustrate the coaching points and feedback to successfully kick the football.   12 movies illustrate the correct technique being descirbed in each chapter, and three movies give a telestrated, voice over of Coach Renner explaining the skill and the drills.
The training guide provides a recommended work out for kickers as well as a syllabus for all situations that a successful kicker must know and understand. This illustrated manual includes 7 interactive, animated presentations that illustrate the coaching points and feedback to successfully kick the football.   12 movies illustrate the correct technique being descirbed in each chapter, and three movies give a telestrated, voice over of Coach Renner explaining the skill and the drills.
The training guide provides a recommended work out for kickers as well as a syllabus for all situations that a successful kicker must know and understand.

Your first scrimmage – Did you pass the test?

Gonzalez Cover part 1

For most high schools, this weekend presented the first test for your team.  You may have seen some bright spots in your scrimmage, or you may have been left with some concerns.  The next week will be big in how you either take the next step and build on your momentum, or regroup and find areas in which to improve so that your next scrimmage puts you right on track for where you want to be going into your first regular season game.

Dan Gonzalez has put together an outstanding resource that will help a team that is on the right track propel themselves further, and for the struggling team, it can provide clarity for exactly what you can do right now to set things straight.

The Need for Change is not a resource that shares concepts, rather it provides opportunities to think about how you are organizing your offense for success, how you take responsibility for the success of your players by serving them, how to create practice drills that get you more bang for your buck, and how to stay on the cutting edge by really being focused on your game planning and preparation.

Gonzalez organizes his thoughts into four sections:

A System of Accountability

Build a Better Mousetrap

Offensive Axioms

Staying on the Cutting Edge

Each chapter contains information and ideas that you can utilize right now.  It includes over an hour of video.

The interactive book format is available for the iPad and Mac.  (These are the only devices that currently can handle this platform). Get it here.

Here are some key areas that Gonzalez highlights his interactive book:

Gonzalez presents a cutting edge tool that any offense can easily implement right  now.  If you left this first scrimmage thinking that the quarterback really struggled to see his progression or get into a rhythm, Gonzalez gives you a way to solve that problem with “navigation tags.”  The communication system he has developed is revolutionary, yet very simple.  Gonzalez explains the philosophy of why he set up navigation tags in this excerpt:

“Instead of a system centered on the coach, we now have a system centered on the needs of the player.    This point cannot be understated; it is often forgotten that the players (particularly the quarterback) have the hardest jobs.  It is the coach’s job to orchestrate and guide; putting the needs of the player ahead of everything in a system is the ultimate in servant-leadership.”

He goes on to explain the technical purpose of navigation tags:

“The ability to target multiple parts of a given pass pattern, and a means for communicating these intentions from one down to the next.  To simply give the QB a progression, and then to leave him with no way to adjust in-game, is unacceptable.  The coach must accept responsibility to guide the leader of the offense, and have a way to communicate his intentions.”

Navigation tags allow the quarterback to be in sync with the play caller on every single play.  Gonzalez explains this further:

“These situations happen in every game at every level: the players don’t always see what a coach does, and there is a need to augment the standard progression to dial the player into the easiest completion.  Rather than “grab bagging” on the sideline, we use navigation tags as a means to communicate on a down to down basis.  All the while, this communication is achieved without losing the ability to adjust, should the defensive play be different than anticipated.  Most of all, these tags do not deviate from the core concepts of the offense, and the astute coaching staff will implement these as part of a game plan, rather than a harried grasp at straws on the sideline.”

Another chapter worth highlighting in this resource are “Offensive Axioms.”  In regard to axioms, Gonzalez writes, “That’s what it’s all about, right?  Having a core set of values, and doing everything within the confines of those values.  Through all the developments, X and O –wise, the crux of the philosophy should not change.  To reiterate, core values do not change; the method is what changes with innovation.   So how would one go about shaping this philosophy?”

Gonzalez explains his axioms in detail in this chapter.  Learn how Gonzalez’s axioms get the defense to play into your hands and tax the defense mentally. What any coach can pull out right now to help his offense are bulleted below.

  • Organize your offense so that it attacks all areas of the field.
  • Always be in a good play by organizing play structures into packages to give every play a explosive possibility.
  • Use personnel, shifting, and motioning.
  • Get to the third man in the progression to open up big plays with the third fix.
  • Create big plays and control the clock.
  • Limit the defense’s ability to disguise.

The last chapter, “Stay on the Cutting Edge” provides some great thoughts for any offensive coordinator. Gonzalez explains the importance of being organized in thinking about distribution of plays and key factors in becoming a top producing offense.  He emphasizes carrying the appropriate amount of offense and how to think about what to carry in terms of play calls.  He shares his model and thought process.  While your system may be fundamentally different than Dan’s in terms of how it attacks, the thought process can be applied to any offensive system.

There is much, much more that Gonzalez puts on the table in terms of how a great offensive coach thinks and plans.  This is a resource that is quickly and easily read because of the dynamic format used to produce it.  It’s a combination of short, yet meaningful spans of text, and video screencasts in which Gonzalez shares and illustrates the points he writes about in the text.

Again, none of what Gonzalez presents requires any team, whether they performed well this week or poorly, to scrap what they do.  Gonzalez simply gives some tools and perspectives that can be meshed with your current system.  These two quotes point out what he is communicating in this manual:

“However, the astute coach with the system to overcome such obstacles can make simple adjustments without disrupting any core teaching.”

“That is the challenge every year: seeking continuous improvement, while at the same time, sticking to one’s core teaching and beliefs. ”

This is part one of four in Gonzalez’s series, “Coaching Concepts:  Developing an Offensive System.”  Part 1 The Need for Change was designed to make an impact for coaches right now at this time of the year.

Follow Dan Gonzalez on twitter @Dan_Gonzalez16 and read his blog here.


On USA Football: Parent/Coach expectations: Be clear up front

Having a positive and productive season regardless of the win-loss record includes having a solid plan for communicating with parents. As with any plan, we like to keep it simple, clear and concise. We list our dos and don’ts for parents, plainly identifying what things we are willing to discuss and what we are not willing to discuss. Because of the nature of some issues, I have always felt it best to include an athletic administrator. This way, if for some reason, the problem escalates or is not resolved, the administrator was involved from the beginning.

Most issues never get past the point of the player-coach level. When the players understand they are expected to conduct themselves appropriately, including taking responsibility for their own problems, many issues are resolved without parent involvement. I’m always sure to ask if the player discussed the issue with mom or dad. If he did, then I usually follow-up with the parent to make sure the player communicated our resolution to the issue. When I plan to call, I let the player know as well so he feels that he is included and I didn’t go around him. The entire process promotes trust and honesty…read more

Offensive Ideas & Tools to Help Your Team Win in 2014

Gonzalez Cover part 1

Not many offensive resources give you information that can be applied immediately.  Most take some work and problem solving to be able to fit the idea within your system.

If you have been exposed to the materials Dan Gonzalez has created in his first two books, you know he is innovative and gives all the details you need to implement his system.  What he has created in his interactive book are tools that are easily applied to your offense.  His new interactive book is Coaching Concepts:  Developing an Offensive System Part 1 – The Need for Change.  

I’ve mentioned navigation tags in a previous post.  I am very excited about this concept as a cutting edge offensive tool.  In addition, he provides offensive axioms.  If you make sure your game plan and design fits these axioms, you will definitely increase your offense’s chance for success.

Finally, Gonzalez expands beyond what has become the go to packaged play for a lot of teams – stick/draw.  He includes video and details on stick draw, as well as two other packaged plays which are simple to implement.

As he has done before, Dan Gonzalez has created a powerful resource for you coaching library.

Get Dan’s book on your iPad or Mac.

Coaching Concepts:  Developing an Offensive System Part 1 – The Need for Change.  

A tool that makes any passing game cutting edge

Gonzalez Cover part 1

This is a quick post, but I am so excited about what Dan Gonzalez has put together in his new book Coaching Concepts:  Developing an Offensive System Part 1 – The Need for Change.  

The idea I am in love with are what Dan has created in  “navigation tags.”  Navigation tags allow the quarterback to be in sync with the play caller on a down by down basis.  What was once something that was 100% memorization of the game plan so the QB was on the same play with the coach can easily be seen from the press box and communicated with Dan’s navigation tag system.

Further more, think of how an offense becomes limited when the number two quarterback has to play.  He isn’t as confident because he lacks experience, and most time the coach shares that lack of confidence.  Navigation tags eliminate that worry be giving the coach the ability to direct his passer.

Check it out.  There’s not many things that are easy to add once the season has started, but this is definitely a cutting edge tool that can be added now to any passing game regardless of its structure.

The best part is that Dan’s interactive book Is an easy read and loaded with video and dynamic content.