Brain training for defense

The quarterback position grabs the spotlight when it comes to virtual reality training in football. The fact of the matter is that every position can benefit from this technology. I would venture to bet that if you set up a “brain training lab” with a VR simulator, you would be able to fill the schedule with players ready to learn and practice in virtual reality simulations. 

Football is a game of patterns of movement. While technically there’s a seemingly infinite number of possibilities, the number of patterns each position needs to develop visual acuity for is truly limited. For example, a middle linebacker is responsible for diagnosing the blocking scheme and either fitting the run or getting into his pass drop. Taking a typical running attack, the linebacker would need to recognize and fit power to, power away, counter to, counter away, inside zone to, inside zone away, lead to, lead away, sweep to and sweep away, pass protection, and of course any play action off of those runs. On plays diagnosed as pass, the linebacker might need to drop to defend a seam, a drag, a spot, and a shallow route. That’s still a lot on his plate as far as recognition, but it is a limited set of possibilities. 

Practice over the course of the week might allow him to see 8-10 live repetitions of each possibility. Over the course of the season there is certainly a cumulative effect on learning. How can the learning and visual recognition be accelerated?  The answer lies in virtual reality simulation. 

Putting these plays into a VR simulator, the player can go through a weeks worth of practice reps in minutes. He can get all of his pre snap recognition work and calls or checks made as well as being able to see the play develop and see where he is supposed to fit or drop. No, he is not hitting or working block protection, but that’s not the point. He is training his brain to play faster so that the physical skills and fundamentals learned on the field can be performed at a fast pace on the field. To put it plainly, brain training enhances the players’ ability to play fast. 

Eon Sports VR has just released a VR quarterback trainer. However, they do have packages that allow the coach to create simulations for every position. 

Check out what they have to offer here:

American Football Monthly-Multi Media Educator

by: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
© Vol I 2015

For many years, the pages of AFM and coaching clinics were the primary ways a football coach would learn about new techniques, schemes or systems that were being used by other coaches.

That’s all changed with the Internet. Today there are multiple ‘platforms’ available to any coach that wants to share his knowledge and opinions with the coaching community. You can turn to dozens of football websites and find volumes of opinions and ideas on every topic imaginable.

Not many are as well researched and written as those by Keith Grabowski, former offensive coordinator at Baldwin Wallace University and longtime contributor to AFM.

Grabowski has embraced all modern forms of communication as means of delivering his unique insights on offensive football to coaches everywhere. What sets him apart is the quality of his content, much of which is enhanced with corresponding video. The end result is some of the most comprehensive football educational information available anywhere.

Not many writers have contributed more content to AFM in recent years than Keith. He is entering his fourth year as author of AFM’s popular “Managing Your Program” column, where he advises coaches about a wide variety of off-the-field issues. He has written several feature articles and contributed to others such as this issue’s cover story about offensive game planning.

Grabowski is perhaps the most prolific blogger in football. His personal coaching blog “Coach and Coordinator” is an extensive collection of educational posts and helpful coaching links. His regular posts on are highly detailed and informative and often accompanied by video highlights. He is also a featured blogger for USA Football.

Keith has produced seven popular DVDs on offense with AFM Videos. He has also published several ibooks. He collaborated with AFM on the Coaches Edge game planning system available on Naturally, he uses Facebook and Twitter to communicate with his growing list of football followers.

As if his resume isn’t already full enough, he is embarking on a major new project with AFM that will be officially announced shortly. It’s the ultimate educational resource for current or future offensive coordinators – a complete 12-week curriculum on how to be a successful OC, offered online as part of the new AFM University educational service. Watch for more information soon on, our Facebook page and our Twitter feed.

For now, you can keep up with Keith Grabowski, or try to, at

John Gallup
Editor & Publisher

Immediate Feedback at Practice – an update

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 11.24.15 AM

a mock-up of my vision for live video feedback in 2013

This is an update to a post I wrote on December 28, 2013.  This is an exciting time in coaching.  The tools available to us to maximize our effectiveness seem to be developed almost as quickly as we get an idea.

I presented a vision for technology being used for immediate feedback.  At the time there wasn’t anything available on the mass market, but in under a year, the apps I was looking for appeared.

Getting immediate feedback at practice or in the weight room is pretty simple now.  Company’s like Varsity Worx provide an outstanding solution for both game day and practice.  This is a piece of technology worth checking out.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 11.39.06 PM

The principle used is a delayed mirror.  The technology gives the coach and athlete the ability to view the move they just performed on a delayed video loop.  The app continues recording the next repetition or play.

While Varsity Worx provides everything you might look for in functionality, there are some simple and cheap solutions available from the app store.  With these, an iPad is used (an iPhone can be used too but the playback screen is small).  The iPad records the repetition or play.  Then the athlete and or coach simply goes around to the back of the iPad to view the repetition.  The apps listed have varying capabilities like slow motion or telestration.

Here are a couple to check out:

BaM Video Delay

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 11.39.49 PM

Live Video Delay

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 11.40.01 PM

If you have an iPad then the technology is available for you to use immediately for $2.99-4.99 if your booster club or program budget won’t allow for something like Varsity Worx.  The apps are probably only good for individual practice segments, but that is where we are trying to prefect technique anyway.

This and other topics on utilizing technology in coaching will be available in an interactive book soon.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 11.44.34 PM

In the meantime, check out my iBooks now available on the iBookstore:

101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays 

The Zone Offense:  Create a Structured System

Pro Style Pistol Offense – 101+ Read Game Plays

Targeted Attack:  Using Tempo as a Weapon

A Coaching Arsenal edited by Keith Grabowski

Learning from Urban Meyer’s Example

Be Rewarded for your Knowledge & Network

A Cutting Edge Coaching Library

Congratulations to the Ohio State Buckeyes and Urban Meyer.

There are two aspects that deeply impact me when looking at what Urban Meyer has done at OSU.The first is the most important:  Balance and making family a priority.  The second is his coaching methods and how he prepares the Buckeyes.

1.  Balance and Family

Here is an excerpt from a piece on Urban Meyer and how he prioritized himself in order to get back into coaching.  As coaches we need to find the balance that allows us to be there for our families:

Three days after his father’s funeral, five days after his family demanded promises, Meyer accepted the Ohio State job. During his first news conference, he reached into his suit jacket and pulled out a contract written by Nicki, which he’d signed in exchange for his family’s blessing. These rules were supposed to govern his attempt at a new life, as his father’s example had governed his old one. So much was happening at once, and as he said goodbye to the man who molded him, he began undoing part of that molding. 

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer

Andrew Hetherington for ESPN The Magazine
Meyer signed two agreements when he was hired by Ohio State: one with the school that demands performance and another with his family, which demands much more.

He went to work. 

Meyer unpacked his boxes, setting up little shrines on the blond wood shelves of his Ohio State office. To the right, positioned in his most common line of sight, he placed a blue rock with a word etched into it: balance. Behind the rock went a collage of photographs, the orange of a sunset from his lake house — his particular harbor — and of his old church in Gainesville. The shrine was a gift from his pastor in Florida, a prayer from people who love him that he won’t lose himself again. 

Framed above his desk hung the contract he signed with his kids, written on pink notebook paper. 

1. My family will always come first. 

2. I will take care of myself and maintain good health. 

3. I will go on a trip once a year with Nicki — MINIMUM. 

4. I will not go more than nine hours a day at the office. 

5. I will sleep with my cellphone on silent. 

6. I will continue to communicate daily with my kids. 

7. I will trust God’s plan and not be overanxious. 

8. I will keep the lake house. 

9. I will find a way to watch Nicki and Gigi play volleyball. 

10. I will eat three meals a day. 

Read the entire article.

Another good piece on this:

Urban Seeks Balance, Success

Balance between family and football is something every coach should seek.  You can never get back time.  Don’t regret those extra hours you spent in the office.  Find ways to be more efficient and effective, and get home!

2.  Coaching Methods and Preparation

I truly believe that the best coaches don’t win because of scheme and players alone.  The are the best  teachers and are constantly looking to improve their methods and delivery of their subject matter.  Technology allows us to coach and teacher our players better than any time in the past.  Urban Meyer is acutely aware of this.  Just after taking the job at Ohio State, Meyer addressed the  Ohio High School Coaches Association at their clinic.   Meyer said,

“The greatest teaching tools available in the history of this sport are now available to you…The days of saying, ‘I don’t use that’ are not acceptable at the Ohio State University.  We’re going to be on the cutting edge of every teaching tool that is available.”

The evidence is clear that he knows how to prepare his teams to the point that their preparation is enough to overcome adversity and huge obstacles.

Here is an article in the Wall Street Journal which I was quoted before the Big Ten Championship:  How Urban Meyer Took the Buckeyes to School

Here are some posts on Urban Meyer’s Methods and similar coaching strategies:

Urban Meyer Coaching Methods

Urban Meyer On Edge Teaching/Coaching

On Edge Coaching Part 1

On Edge Coaching Part 2

Flipped Coaching

I will be releasing an iBook on these types of methods and the technology available to us as coaches that allow us to save time and be on the cutting edge as teachers and coaches.

I’ve also developed my company Coaches Edge Technologies to allow coaches to study the game in an efficient and effective manner.  Our coaching resources are presented in a format that allows a coach to dive deep into a topic.  We are putting hours of video and loading these products with interactive tools.  We offer them for what you would pay for a traditional DVD.

Part of finding balance is to get the answers you need to help your players and do it in a way that utilizes your time and resources wisely.  Taking weekends away from family to travel to a clinic is no longer necessary.  Our mission is to help coaches on both sides of the equation.  We want to give more than an overview of a topic.  We want to give the details necessary for you to implement a concept into your system.  Those are not usually communicated in an hour long DVD.  What’s best is that the learning is always there on your device, easily accessible anywhere, and set up in a way that allows learning to be done in small segments if necessary.

Our resources are on sale.  Check those out here or at

Also I’ve developed a program that saved me 12 hours per week on the college level, and I believe it can save any high school coach at least 8-10 hours per week, while helping the coach do his job better. Check it out here:

We also look to reward coaches for sharing and helping other coaches grow professionally.  If you are writing, producing videos, and willing to share what you learned to help other coaches, we want to reward you better than any other coaching education company.  Your intellectual property has value.  We want to help you find that value and use it to be able to do better for your family. Contact me at my personal email

Please spread the word on Coaches Edge Technologies.  We are here to help coaches find balance and be on the cutting edge of coaching.

Follow me on twitter @CoachKGrabowski.

Urban Meyer coaching methods

Save on iBooks from Keith Grabowski, Dan Gonzalez and other Coaches Edge Technologies authors from now until the end of the AFCA Convention.

Tomorrow’s National Championship Game presents an opportunity to examine how coaching can propel a team to a championship. In mid-August, Ohio State’s season was in doubt as an injury ended Braxton Miller’s season.  He was the key piece to the offense. After a stumble, JT Barrett went on to break records and become a legitimate Heisman candidate. Then he broke his ankle.

Now Ohio State enters the championship game with the third team quarterback, Cardale Jones.  Will he be able to fill the big shoes of the two quarterbacks who were starters before he was for a third time?  How did Barrett do it?

When Urban Meyer took over, he spoke at the Ohio High School Coaches Clinic about his method of “on edge coaching.”   He said he wanted the Buckeyes to be taught and coached through “direct teaching.”  He made the point of using the technology and tools available to teach rather than just present to players, and to keep them on the edge of their seats.  Meyer said, “The greatest teaching tools available in the history of this sport are now available to you…The days of saying, ‘I don’t use that’ are not acceptable at the Ohio State University.  We’re going to be on the cutting edge of every teaching tool that is available.”

Tomorrow is a test of sorts, not just for the Buckeye’s on the field but the methods of the coaches in preparing the players off the field as well.  Jones performance on the field will be a reflection of the work done on the practice field and in the classroom up to this point.

I had a call from a close friend this week on that very topic.  He is a perennial league champ and has his team in the play-offs every year.  He said, “I’m not looking for the next great scheme.  I’m looking at how we coach and prepare our players to face all situations.”  Truthfully that’s what coaching is really all about.  As I type this while watching two distinctly styles of teams (one spread the other double-tight), I believe that truly is the key.  Schemes only a team so far.  Solid preparation by the players and coaches will produce consistent winners.

Read more about it in the Wall Street Journal:

Check out my resources available:

The Zone Offense:  Create a Structured System focuses on this topic.  Preparation, planning, and the details that lead to execution are emphasized in this iBook.

Dan Gonzalez presents the idea of accountability in The Need for Change.  His ideas can help make any system better because of the emphasis on preparation.

Finally, Coaches Edge Game Planning System helps you implement not just a tool for scripting and game planning, but a process for making decisions and properly preparing your players.

Coach Every Detail and Every Situation

I have always had the philosophy that I can’t expect a player to do something on the field if I have never worked it in practice.  I learned this the hard way a long time ago as a 7th grade quarterback. My coaches wanted me to run the clock out at the end of the game.  In the time between plays they were screaming instructions, and I misunderstood because we never did what they were describing, so on fourth down, I did what I thought they wanted and took a knee.  What they wanted was for me to drop back and run around and then take a knee.  We had never practiced that, so I didn’t understand.  We turned the ball over with a few seconds left for the other team to run a play.  Fortunately, they didn’t score, but I learned a valuable lesson about coaching that day:

Don’t expect something to happen on the field if it has ever been done in practice.

Here is a situation that points to the fault of miscommunication or lack of practicing this situation, rather than error by the player.

In this video, the quarterback, also a basketball player, runs around until the clock hits zero.  Not realizing he had to get down to end the play, he relaxes, the other team takes the ball, and they end up winning and advancing to the play-offs.

One of the coaches shouldered the blame for him on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 7.31.46 AM

Think about the situations that may come up, and be sure you have a plan for them.  Expecting to put it something new at half-time or a time-out may not result in exactly what you want.

Increase effort and execution with tangible practice standards

Innovative Football Resources:

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 2.46.08 PM

On USA Football:

At this time of the season, many teams fight two battles: the battle of routine and the battle of fatigue. For the first team offense, routine is the enemy. Finding ways to keep the first team focused is essential. For the scout team, it is the battle of fatigue. Those players are to the point where they may be looking ahead to next season because they are tired of playing scout team or maybe they are just worn down and the reward of getting on the field under the lights isn’t immediate to them. Both battles must be fought in order to get the best performance out of your team. Setting up some tangible practice standards can help win both battles as it gives focus to everyone on the team. The measurables emphasize both effort and execution and work to overcome a lackluster performance out of the scout team. As long as you can get the proper alignment and assignment that is drawn on the scout card, then your players can understand the schemes and concepts that they are executing regardless of the performance of the scout team players…read more