Learning from Urban Meyer’s Example

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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 www.coachesedgetechnologies.com

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 grabkj@gmail.com.

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.

On USA Football: Maximize summer practice time

This article on USA Football includes videos of Dan Gonzalez’s drag drill.  At the end of the drill is a movie trailer of Dan’s latest project.  This is an exciting development.  Dan’s interactive book goes well beyond what he presented in his first two books (both of which are outstanding).  Take a look at the trailer at the end of the video. Here it is on its own:

On USA Football:

For coaches and players, summer is a fun time a year. The challenge is to strike a balance between family, football and fun. With some simple guidelines to help maintain focus, the summer months can be utilized in a way that it isn’t overwhelming for players and maximum commitment is attained. Establish an attendance policy The first thing we always do is establish a summer attendance policy. We want players and families to know that their time is important, but their commitment is expected. We outline that if they are in town, they must attend. We establish well beforehand that summer jobs are not an excuse. We put our workouts in the morning – other than some 7-on-7 nights – at the exact same time that camp will start in August. We feel that this way their bodies are acclimated to working at that time of day, and there isn’t an adjustment period when camp hits. We are flexible with athletes involved in other sports during the summer. We communicate with the other coaches before the summer so that we know what each other’s plans are and can work things out so that the athlete doesn’t miss important events. We also establish communication expectations. We never want to hear from a player that: “Johnny told me to tell you he is out of town today.” We want and expect direct communication with the player. Under these simple guidelines, we have always had very high attendance at our summer workouts…read more

Check out my interactive books:

101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays and The Zone Running Game:  Create a Structured System. Both resources are filled with detailed information, interactive presentations, and game film.

Enhance player understanding with “flipped coaching”


My books are on the cutting edge of presenting football knowledge.  They are packed with interactive presentations and video.  Get them for your iPad or mac here:

101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays

The Zone Offense:  Create a Structured System

On USA Football:

Summer is here, and for just about every high school coach, now is the time when you become a full-time coach. Time feels like it is on your side, and you can work on things that will make your team better in the fall. What is the most effective way you can put yourself and your team ahead of the time crunch and the week-to-week in-season sense of urgency? Last summer, I had the privilege of interviewing coaches who use a classroom method called “flipped learning.” The coaches refer to the method as “flipped coaching.” I adopted this method last season, and I was able to help a young offensive unit learn what they needed to do to be successful. Flipped coaching utilizes simple tools to give your players the ability to learn at their own pace and have some materials to refer to when they need review. Installation meetings and film review can be done beforehand with the coaches’ key points and instruction saved for further review. The advantage comes for the player in that he can learn at a pace comfortable for him. In a live meeting, a coach cannot be rewound and listened to again. With flipped coaching, the player can do exactly that and review as many times as he needs…read more

Immediate Feedback for Better Execution – Technology at Practice

At the end of his book, Homer Smith included his ideas for using technology to call plays in a game.  Smith was definitely a visionary.

I don’t claim to be anywhere near Smith in my contributions to this game, but in this article, I’d like to share my vision for the future, hopefully, the near future.

My vision involves rethinking how we practice in terms of giving players feedback so that they can make corrections.  In the 2013 season we utilized my iPad throughout practice to provide instant feedback and the chance for immediate correction.

I was first inspired to use the iPad at practice after seeing a video of Nebraska using it in their spring practice.

My research into the idea of using an iPad at practice was further inspired by this video of it being used with a volleyball team.  The coach first shows a skill that he is looking for in a drill on a video on the iPad, then the players execute the drill while being filmed on the iPad.  I really liked how they alternated between iPads so that when a drill was completed, the player who just finished the drill could view the iPad for reviewing technique.

As I’ve thought about the possibilities available to us in becoming better teachers and coaches on the field through fully utilizing the technology available, we can become much better at what we do.

The standard of what a football practice looks like seems to be shifting.  “Uptempo” has become the norm.  Stopping practice to correct and adjust is frowned upon.  Many coaches of the no-huddle, uptempo offense will tell you that they coach off of film because they don’t want to disrupt the tempo.  Defensive coaches seem to have resigned to the fact that they will just have to deal with it. By definition, feedback waits until later.  The teachable moment doesn’t come until hours after in a film session.

I’m not sure we are doing it correctly.  Granted, there are times when tempo should and must be the focus because that’s how it happens on game day.  Tempo for purely the sake of tempo may leave us missing out on coaching opportunities.  Today’s technology may bridge that gap and allow us to maintain the pace of practice while allowing for immediate feedback and correction.  The challenge, it seems, is to integrate the technology while allowing for maximum repetitions during the allotted practice time.

The big question is how do we accomplish this while keeping a crisp and flowing practice?  Technology should be integrated seamlessly.  Part of the answer may be found in not just obtaining the technology, but more importantly, in having a sound plan to use it.  Let’s take a look at a possible technology plan within a typical practice session.  The focus in this table is from an offense’s view point.

Practice Periods Description Technology Use
1-2 Warm-up
3-6 Individual Technique by Position iPads to film drills; players review after their rep/reps ( 5 iPads utilized; 1 for each position)*
7-8 Special Teams-Punt iPads film specialists on technique; they review after their rep/reps (2 iPads utilized)
9-10 Inside Run & 1 on 1 QB/WR vs. DB iPads film behind offense or defense).  Review reps after unit is finished. (2 iPads)** QB isolated for technique; WR/DB isloated for technique; players review after their reps. (4 ipads – 2 ipads utilized in each position)
11-12 Special Teams-XP/FG iPads film specialists on technique; they review after their rep/reps (2 ipads utilized)
13-15 7 on 7/ OL/DL 1 on 1 iPad behind QB mirroring his movement; ipad on each perimeter reviewing WR technique. QB review after his reps; iPad on OL/DL 1 vs. 1 for review after reps. (5 total)
16-19 Team – 1st team 6 reps followed by 2nd team 4 reps 3 iPads – inside view for OL/TE/RB/QB**; view from each perimeter for receivers. Receivers view reps after; OL (5 total)

*This is the difficult one for a football practice.  Ideally, some kind of live stream can be used between two iPads with a pause and rewind.  One device is recording live while an iPad at the back of the line is serving as a viewing station for the player.  I haven’t exactly found the app or software that would accomplish this yet, but I have seen the technology in other uses, so I believe it is possible.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 11.24.15 AM

**Ideally, a viewing station is set up, possibly under a pop-up tent for glare and visibility issues.  The iPad is utilized through airplay so that it is easier for a group of players to view.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 11.11.59 AM

Managers or injured players would man the iPads.  The iPad isn’t meant to be something that stops or slows down practice, but rather in an uptempo environment allows the player to understand a coaching point that was made by the coach “on the fly.”  At the appropriate time when that player has a minute or so for review, he can go to the iPad on his own or with a coach to review the coaching point that was made during live action.  The idea of having some application that allows for live streaming to an iPad during individual periods allows for players to quickly review their technique while they are waiting to get to the front of the line again.  The goal is to increase player understanding so that execution of techniques on the field improve.

The Coach’s Role

I believe in the beginning, as a skill is being taught for the first time, having a coach running the drill and a coach reviewing with the player would be ideal.  Eventually, players begin to see key body positions to look for.  For example, we teach our receivers a double leg explosion out of their stance.  It’s easy for the receiver to go to an iPad on his own an identify how he did.  He can easily see if he drove off correctly or false stepped or sunk his hips.  The feedback from video gives him a focus the next time that it is his turn.  If there are two coaches available, this makes great use of both coaches.  One coach is giving feedback live while the other is showing the video to the player seconds after it happened, further illustrating the coaching point and solidifying the player’s understanding of exactly what he must do.

At any time in practice, the coach needs to be vocal and have very concise coaching points that identify an error as he sees it live.  For example, if he sees an offensive lineman with incorrect hand placement, teaching the lineman to understand a word like “target” enables the lineman to go back and view the video looking for that exact error and giving him the ability to understand what he must do the next time.  This is something that every coach should aim to do regardless of if there is the technology there or not.  The technology doesn’t necessarily change the coaches role.

The Player’s Role

The player’s role is to develop an eye for what the coach is looking for.  Most staffs only have one  coach at a position.  Possibly a student manager, or an injured player can film the drills, but the player still needs to have a sound understanding of what the terminology of the position coach means.  This is done in the installation process.  The player must be held accountable for learning the terminology.  Creating a library of short videos which illustrate your coaching points and techniques will help players have a better understanding of exactly what they are supposed to do to perform their job correctly.  See “Flipped Coaching” for more on this topic.

Using the technology on a limited budget

Having multiple iPads and viewing stations around the practice field would be the ideal situation.  The reality is most of us don’t have that budget. An iPad wasn’t in our budget at BW, so I used my own.  To me, the value of giving players immediate feedback was well worth using my own iPad.

We did use the iPad in different drills.  Players were told that the could use the iPad at any point during the drill to review what they did.  That meant that filming of the drill stopped, but the drill continued.  At times the player would go to the video on his own to better understand what he did right or wrong.  I should not here that video is a great way to solidify the correct technique, just as much as it is to correct an error.  Other times I would instruct the player to look at the video, and even go to the iPad to review it with him.

Our specialists used the iPad to review their technique.  Our kickers would have the student manager film the field goal/extra point periods.  After, the kickers would use the iPad to review their technique so they could work on perfecting their technique during the remainder of practice.

We used the iPad for inside run periods.  Our tight ends coach used the iPad to review the inside run period with his players in the period immediately following inside run.  He felt it was very valuable because we would be running those plays again in team, and he wanted his players to understand exactly what they were doing right or wrong so that they could perform correctly when those plays were repped again.

We used the iPad in team for a view of the offensive line, TE, QB, and RB from behind.  We instructed players and position coaches that they use it at any time to review a play and make corrections.  At times, the use was player initiated. Hearing an offensive lineman say, “Let me see the iPad” was common.  The running back coach might grab it to show the running back an aim point or footwork error.  The offensive line coach might grab it and take the entire line to show the a certain defensive stunt and how he wanted them to pick it up.  Our student manager was instructed to keep filming each play until someone wanted the iPad to view, and to resume filming as soon as they were done viewing it.

The video below shows some different ways we used the iPad at practice.

While having a team of managers filming with iPads all over the field would be ideal, we found a way to make just one iPad beneficial to us.  Again, the technology must be integrated seamlessly, and coaching must be concise.  Doing these two things can put the technology to work for you and help improve performance on the field, which is the ultimate goal.


My iBook 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays provides concepts that can be utilized in any offense, not just the pistol. The interactive multimedia book contains 229 pieces of dynamic content and a total of 30 minutes of game film.  I have received some great feedback from coaches who adapted all or some of those ideas in 2013. I was able to consult with several high schools around the country who were interested in this offense and implemented this system.  If you are interested in consultation on the Pistol, please email me grabkj@gmail.com.  Get 101+ PRO STYLE PISTOL OFFENSE PLAYS for your iPad or Mac from the iBookstore


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

Special Teams: Be More Efficient and Effective

In the next week or two most of us will be in what we all probably consider our favorite time of the year.  It’s our opportunity to focus solely on being football coaches.  There are no classes to teach, no papers to grade, and our players can focus on football as well.

This is a great opportunity to maximize this time when players and coaches have only football to focus on.  I’ve written many posts on how to use technology to make our coaching more efficient and effective.  The links to all of the can be found in “Advice to Young Coaches Taking on a Coordinator Role.” Now is the time to take advantage of the technology and engage our players before they have more on their plate.

We never seem to have enough time to get done what we want, but a teaching method borrowed from classroom teachers can allow us to do more.  The method is called flipped learning.  I will  have an article on this method as well as an online supplemental in August.

As I have been planning and preparing for our own camp, one area where I really feel this method can help a team gain advantages is special teams.  I always put an emphasis on special teams as head coach in high school, but I was never satisfied with how much time we put in, especially in the meeting room.  With offensive and defensive coordinators installing their systems, we always seemed crunched to get special teams meetings in, and there is always that point where you can tell as a coach that the players are ready to hit the field. I am responsible for the kickoff return unit at BW, and I will be creating short videos for the entire unit and each position as well.  My goal is to not only allow our players to have a better understanding of our kick return concept, but to develop depth with more players learning how to play the different positions on the unit.

Flipped learning allows you extra time for special teams by putting your installations on video and having your players view them on their own time.  It also may be an opportunity for some of those down the line players to really learn a special teams unit and step up and give a starter a break.

Jason Hahnstadt has a great website on flipped coaching and has a video that is a great example of using technology and the flipped learning method to install punt.

Jeff Floyd has a post today on using the time you have now to learn technology.  He provides some examples of how flipped coaching can be used to install concepts and drills so time on the field is spent practicing not explaining.

If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a look at my iBook available for the iPad.  It’s a great offensive resource for coaches regardless of the system used.  Get it here.