Wednesday, July 3, 2019

12 Keys To Being A Successful Offensive Coordinator

In the nearly 20 years I have been a coordinator, I have learned a lot about what doesn't work. Those mistakes have helped us learn ways to troubleshoot and figure out how to get better. A couple weeks ago a coach I met at the Glazier Clinic in St. Louis called me because he just got promoted to offensive coordinator. We talked about some things I thought were important, and figured this could benefit about anyone who was an OC or aspired to be. Here are some things I have learned that might benefit you.

1. Less Is More
The first and most important thing I have learned is that less is more. I have consistently been way too ambitious with our install menu. If we are going to use 32 formations, 10 runs, 6 passes, 2 screens, and a draw, along with a waggle and a naked boot, we have too much stuff. I used to think running a play is running a play regardless of formation. One season we decided to add new formations each week. Our concepts were the same, but the formations would change.  One week we struggled with our inside zone read play. Our tight end came back to the sideline and said, "coach, it looks different." Even though we ran the same inside zone read concepts, running them from different formations changes the presentation. Our tight end gave us a valuable coaching point that day.

The more you install, the more your players have to process. The more you install, the more they have to remember. It is also important to remember that each team is different. Some groups will have a bigger capacity to learn and remember. Some teams will not be able to handle as much. You have to figure out how much each group can handle.

2. How Much Should We Install
Coaches often will ask me how many plays they should install. There is no concrete answer, but I will say most of us install too much. Realistically you need 1 inside run, 1 outside run, 1 off tackle run, and one counter or misdirection play. You need 2 to 3 intermediate pass concepts, 3 quick game concepts, a play action off your identity run, a sprint out, a draw, and a screen. You run these from 6 base formations. Add one trick play and one exotic formation each week, and you will have more than enough.

You might have one gap inside run and inside zone. You might have a pin and pull concept or outside zone to attack the perimeter. You might have a quarterback who struggles to read though a progression. If that is the case then you want to install key defender reads. Find what works best for your guys.

One important addition is this: You need to have an identity play which you can always run against anyone and anything. Too many offenses do not have an identity. They have a collection of plays, but they don't have an identity of who they are. You need to know your identity and who you are. This needs to be a part of building your install menu and schedule.

3. Think Players Not Plays
When the game is on the line you need to get the ball to your dudes. What you call is important, but who you get the ball to is most important. One of the biggest mistakes I have made is trying to call the perfect play. The perfect play to an average athlete will rarely be a "perfect play." If you call a bad play but get the ball to a dude, he will make it a great play. The best thing to do is call a great play to a great player, but when in doubt, get your dudes the ball. Many a time we have had a huge play on a bad play call because the right guy had the ball.

4. Match Your Philosophy To The Head Coach
This is really important. If you want to run an air raid system and your head coach runs the slot-t, you will have to marry your philosophy to his. If you can't do this, then it isn't a job you need to take. Don't take an OC job to take an OC job. Make sure your values are aligned with those of the head coach. If your head coach wants to slow the game down, then don't walk in there trying to run a bunch of tempo. When Joe Cluley hired me to be his OC at Estacado he laid out his expectations and we made sure we shared the same philosophy. This is vital to the success of our offense and program as a whole.

5. Get On The Same Page With The DC
This is very, very important. You and the DC must be partners. You have to work together to build practice plans and share personnel. You have to be able to bounce ideas off each other and make sure you are always doing what is best for the team. If you don't get along with the DC you will not have as much success and you will be miserable. At Estacado our DC is Cody Robinson, and he is awesome to work with. We have a great relationship and work as a team. We also compete against each other, but we work closely to ensure we maximize the success of the program.

6. Leave Your Ego At The Door
One of the most important things you must know is that it isn't about you. It is about the kids and the program. This goes with points 4 and 5. What is best for your program? What is best for your kids? Never walk in and try to impose your will on situation. You must fit your system to the strengths and needs of the program as a whole. If you want to play fast and snap the ball 90 times a game, but it isn't best for your team, then don't do it. Guys are always talking about stats. The most important stat is the win-loss record. No one person is bigger than the program, including the offensive coordinator. Never forget this.

7. Hire Smart People and Trust Them
I want the best people in football around me. Find people who are very smart, care about kids, and are great teachers. Then listen to them when it comes to building your system. If there is a better way to do something find that way. When you personnel your offensive staff, find a way to put them in the positions where they can best contribute to the staff as a whole. The most important thing you will do is put your staff in place. Give them responsibility and a vested interest in the success of your offense. Give them the authority to coach their guys.

8. Promote Your Staff
As a coordinator your goal needs to be to help the members of your staff grow as coaches and move up in the profession. You want your guys moving on to be coordinators. Do everything you can to help them move up. With that said, make sure your guys understand what it takes to be a coordinator. If a guy comes late all the time or is always the first one out the door, he probably isn't serious about being a coordinator. Find out the goals of the guys you work with and help them reach those goals.

9. Personal Growth Is Vital
The day you think you have it figured out is the day you need to quit. Everyday is a chance to grow. Everyday is a chance to learn. Early in my career I saw a very successful D-1 Head Coach speak at a clinic. After his talk he was sitting in the front row watching the next speaker, a high school coach talk about paired plays. This power 5 head coach was taking notes on a high school speaker. This was a valuable lesson. Every time someone talks football, be ready to take notes.

When a coach visits your school to recruit, ask them questions. Ask them about install. Ask them how the teach a concept or a drill. When you ask, then take notes. Taking notes is a great tool for learning. Taking notes helps you to remember information. It also gives you something to look back on if you do forget. Most guys are smarter than I am. But I know that when I don't take notes I will forget.

The biggest part of this is personal growth. Be willing to grow everyday. Always strive to be a better coach. Always strive to be a great example. Never ask your position coaches to do something you wouldn't do yourself. This is vital.

10. Always Have A Pen and Whistle- 
Every time you talk on the field make sure you have a pen and a whistle. A pen is vital so you can take notes during practice. Too much happens for you to remember everything. Having a pen allows you to write down your thoughts immediately. You might want to look at how you are teaching a blocking scheme, or receiver steps on a route. If you don't write down your thought you might forget it. Maybe you never forget things. That's great. But having a habit of writing things down during practice will help you be more apt to remember.

11. Set Clear Expectations For You Staff and Players
Make sure you have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for your staff. If you don't have clear expectations your staff cannot meet them. This is an area that I struggle with to this day. You have to make sure your staff knows exactly what to expect on a daily basis. Once you set your expectations, hold your staff to those expectations. Your staff will only be as good as the example you set and the expectations you all strive to meet each day. Make sure you are the standard on a daily basis.

Make sure your players understand the expectations and standards you set. When they make a mistake you must first look at yourself. Could they have been coached different? Did they understand the standard? Was the expectation clear? If not, clarify. No one wakes up trying to screw up. Find a way to reach each player. If they don't get something don't give up on them. Find a new way to teach it. It all starts with clear expectations.

12. Preparation Is Vital
When I first became an OC I used to say "we run what we run." It didn't matter what the defense did, we were going to what we did. In theory this sounded great. But this kept me from preparing well. The truth is I really didn't know how to prepare. After that first year as an OC I went back and watched every single play from the season. I watched in disbelief of why we called certain plays. I winged our in game calls. There had to be a better way. I spent a lot of time researching how to prepare. I talked to successful high school and college coaches about how they prepared. I took pages and pages of notes.

During the summer of my 2nd season as an OC we spent a lot of time watching film and practicing our preparation. I built call sheets and began to simulate calling games. I had recorded college games on VHS tapes and would break them down. I would watch the games and try to find weaknesses. This was the beginning of our systematic approach to preparation.

When you prepare you have to watch film. I have written about this extensively, but the biggest deal is that you have to look at their structure, how they line up to formations, what coverages the defense plays, their blitz tendencies, and their personnel. We want to know were we can find leverage, numbers, and green grass, and where we can find a personnel win? Where can we win a matchup. We began to build a weekly menu, a very detailed practice plan, and very precise scout cards. Everything we did had a rhyme and a reason. Regardless of how you prepare, you must spend time in preparation.

Final Thoughts
These 12 keys are by no means an exhaustive list, but they are the 12 things I find most important to being successful as a coordinator. I wrote this looking inward as I need to work on several of these myself. It boils down to this: Be confident in your abilities, but be humble enough to realize it is bigger than you. Don't get caught up in the title of OC. Be a great coach at everything off the field and put the program first.

And remember this; Focus on what you have, not what you don't have. Don't look for the weaknesses in your players. Find their strengths.See the greatness inside the guys you coach. See them not for where they are, but for what they can be. If you see a kid as a backup, that's how you will coach him. If you see him as a starter, that's also how you will coach him. See them for what they can be, then coach them to get there. Also, make sure you let them know what you see them being. That is vital.

Next Level Preparation
A few years ago I was speaking at a clinic about our game planning and an FBS coordinator asked me after the talk to go through what we do. I shared with him our offensive game planning resource and he used it through the spring. He emailed me back that it was a game changer. It was an honor to have him use these documents. After speaking at clinics and hearing that more coaches didn't know where to start, I decided to make these available.

Here is a link to my offensive game planning documents: https://sellfy.com/p/AndN/ 
It includes everything from a scouting report template, to practice plans, to a two-sided color call sheet, and more! Each of the nine documents are fully editable and customizable! Order today and start preparing for your first game right now! At one time this was $99, but it is available right now for less than $13!
Here are a couple of screen shots to show you what our call sheet looks like: 

This shows you a small portion of it. It is a fully editable, customizable two sided call sheet. It gives you the ability to better organize and be prepared on game day. It helped us to be better play callers on game day. There are eight other fully customizable documents! Some of the top high school programs in the country use this, as do several college programs!

When I was a defensive coordinator we adapted this to our defensive preparation! 
Here is a link to the defensive game planning documents. It includes 12 fully editable and customizable documents. https://sellfy.com/p/AY1u/ These are what we used to post 6 shutouts when I was a defensive coordinator. Defensive coordinators at all levels of football are using this. Again, it is less than $13 right now!

And finally, I put together a special teams resource. This has everything you need, included drill tape, practice tape, and game footage. It includes teaching presentations and scouting forms just for special teams! https://sellfy.com/p/tJwz/ This helped us to build dominating special teams! It is just $14.99! It will help you win more games. 

I wanted these to be available at a very reasonable cost. These can help you to be more successful on the field and more efficient in the office! 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Game and Practice Planning Resources That Helped Us Win!

Back when I first became a coordinator, I had no clue how to prepare for a game. We used to say, "we do what we do, and we aren't changing." The truth was, I really didn't know how to prepare and organize a game plan. After doing tons of research and visiting a variety of coaches, we began to become much more detailed in our approach to game planning. And boy did it make a difference.

I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to coordinate all three sides of the ball. I have been an offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinator. I have been a coordinator at the college level, and had an opportunity to coach all three phases. It was an amazing opportunity to gain a wealth of experience learning how to game plan and prepare a practice week.

As we began to become more detailed in our approach to game planning, our success quickly increased. We improved our offensive points per game each year. We improved our rushing yards per game. We improved in every statistical category. It wasn't that we found a magic bullet. We just were more prepared on gameday. Our practices became more efficient. Our organization was much better. And while we were more detailed, our game planning took less time on the weekends. We saved ourselves a couple of hours that allowed us a little more time to recharge the batteries. It wasn't that we did less work. On the contrary, we were more prepared than ever before. The difference was that we had a system.

A few years ago I was speaking at a clinic about our game planning and an FBS coordinator asked me after the talk to go through what we do. I shared with him our offensive game planning resource and he used it through the spring. He emailed me back that it was a game changer. It was an honor to have him use these documents. After speaking at clinics and hearing that more coaches didn't know where to start, I decided to make these available.

Here is a link to my offensive game planning documents: https://sellfy.com/p/AndN/ 
It includes everything from a scouting report template, to practice plans, to a two-sided color call sheet, and more! Each of the nine documents are fully editable and customizable! Order today and start preparing for your first game right now! At one time this was $99, but it is available right now for less than $13!
Here are a couple of screen shots to show you what our call sheet looks like: 

This shows you a small portion of it. It is a fully editable, customizable two sided call sheet. It gives you the ability to better organize and be prepared on game day. It helped us to be better play callers on game day. There are eight other fully customizable documents! Some of the top high school programs in the country use this, as do several college programs!

When I was a defensive coordinator we adapted this to our defensive preparation! 
Here is a link to the defensive game planning documents. It includes 12 fully editable and customizable documents. https://sellfy.com/p/AY1u/ These are what we used to post 6 shutouts when I was a defensive coordinator. Defensive coordinators at all levels of football are using this. Again, it is less than $13 right now!

And finally, I put together a special teams resource. This has everything you need, included drill tape, practice tape, and game footage. It includes teaching presentations and scouting forms just for special teams! https://sellfy.com/p/tJwz/ This helped us to build dominating special teams! It is just $14.99! It will help you win more games. 

I wanted these to be available at a very reasonable cost. These can help you to be more successful on the field and more efficient in the office! 

Everything Matters In Coaching

I was recently speaking at a clinic and had the opportunity to talk about advancing in your career as a coach. It was a great opportunity to share some things that can help young coaches to avoid some common mistakes that can hold them back. We had a great Q and A session, and coaches in attendance told me it was very valuable. I wanted to share three important components to being a better coach.

1. Every Job You Do Matters, Do Them With Great Pride

One of the first duties I had was to line the practice fields.The first time I lined the fields I was miserable. I had a bad attitude and didn't do a great job. I decided not to put hash marks and markings for the numbers. When we went out to practice our receivers didn't know where to line up. The safeties and corners didn't know where to line up. The head coach ripped me in front of the team. After practice he called me into his office and told me that no matter what the job was, do it with pride. He said the reason guys get stuck not advancing often is that they are lazy. He told me if the fields weren't fixed I wouldn't have a job. That was an invaluable lesson to learn as a very young coach.

I had great mentors who taught me that if you want to be given the big jobs you really want, you've got to excel at the jobs you don't want to do. Every time I painted the lines after that I painted them like I was preparing an NFL Field. I learned to be meticulous and make sure the details were taken care of fully.

Every job you get matters. If you are assigned laundry treat it like it is the difference between winning and losing a championship game. And it should be easy, because it just might be the difference. If you are cleaning out the refrigerator in the office, take pride in how clean you get it. Don't do it just to check the box. Clean the refrigerator like it was going to be the difference between getting fired or keeping your job. It matters. I you are inventorying equipment, do it the best it can be done.

If you aren't willing to do the laundry well, you will never be a great OC. If you want to move into a coordinator or head coaching position where you will delegate some of those duties, then you must be good at the duties you will delegate. No one likes doing the laundry and cleaning out the refrigerator, but great coaches take pride in the jobs that no one wants to do.

2. The Weight Room Matters More Than You Could Ever Know

When I first started coaching I didn't love the weight room. It was at the end of a long school day. I was usually mentally and physically tired. David Diaz, one of the best mentors in this business said, "this is the place where our success is built." We will get bigger, faster, and stronger, but most importantly we will get mentally tougher in here. This is where we build our team. This is where we teach our players that details matter. If you don't coach hard in the weight room, you won't be able to coach hard on the field.

The weight room is so much more than just getting bigger, faster, and stronger. It is where team chemistry is built through hard work and accountability. It is where mental toughness is built through accountability. It is where players learn to sweat together in adverse conditions. It is where you get to coach the details to players. You get to have them focus on the little tiny details, which is vital when you get on the field in the fall.

The current head coach I work for, Joe Cluley, takes this a step further. Not only does he want us engaged, but he wants us to bring the juice everyday. When you come in our athletic period it is different. It has a different feel. Every coach greets every kid with enthusiasm as they come in. We all are excited, which in turn increases the excitement of the kids. If we were bored, the kids will be bored as well. We want this to be the most exciting part of their day. The athletic period should not be easy, but it must be electric. We bring the juice from the time the first kid enters our field house until the last kid leaves after practice. The more juice you bring, the more juice the kids will have. Bring the juice every single day. He also holds us accountable to holding our kids accountable.

3. Relationships Matter Most

Relationships are the most important component of what we do as coaches. Winning games is how we get to keep doing what we are doing, and it is important. We have to win to keep our jobs. But the most important thing we do is not win a game.  The biggest ting we do is impact young men through the game of football. We use football as a catalyst to teach accountability, teamwork, trust, and responsibility. We use the game of football to teach young men to put the interests of the team in front of their own self-interests. This all depends on the relationships we build with the men we coach.

The relationships start and end with unconditional love. We love our players as much on their worst day as we do on their best day. It is important as coaches that we never give up on a young man. We must see in them what they do not see in themselves. We must believe in them and find the greatness they have inside. We must take time to get to know them off the field. We are blessed to be in a situation where many of our kids need rides to and from football actives. This gives us a great opportunity to spend time with them talking about life.

Another great relationship builder is having your position group to your house for a cookout. We do this a couple of times a year to spend time with your guys away from football. It also lets them get to know our families. It allows your players to see you away from the game. It is a vital component to building relationships.

To make this work, you must care about your players as people. If you only care what they can do in a jersey you aren't a coach. At that point you are just a spectator. I don't care how much you can draw on a board. If you don't truly care about your players you need to do something else. One of the things we do is

If you want to move up in coaching, you have to be willing to do the jobs know one wants to do and do them well. You have to be a great teacher and coach in the weight room. And most importantly, you have to unconditionally love your players. You have to build strong relationships that will impact your players in the future.

Game and Practice Planning Preparation Resources

As you prepare for the 2019 season, I wanted to make available our game planning resources for you! These helped us to have one of the most explosive offenses at every level I have coached. Coaches from some of the top high school programs in the country use these documents to prepare. Coaches at more than a dozen BCS programs have also downloaded these documents to help them in their preparation.

Here is a link to my offensive game planning documents: https://sellfy.com/p/AndN/
It includes everything from a scouting report template, to practice plans, to a two-sided color call sheet, and more! Each of the nine documents are fully editable and customizable! Order today and start preparing for your first game right now!

Here is a link to the defensive game planning documents. It includes 12 fully editable and customizable documents. https://sellfy.com/p/AY1u/ These are what we used to post 6 shutouts when I was a defensive coordinator.

And finally, I put together a special teams resource. This has everything you need, included drill tape, practice tape, and game footage. It includes teaching presentations and scouting forms just for special teams! https://sellfy.com/p/tJwz/

If you want to learn more about installing RPO's, I wrote a book called Installing Explosive RPO Concepts Into Any Offense. I wrote it for iBooks, which includes cut-ups to reinforce the application of these concepts. In the book I give you a systematic process for installing 2nd and 3rd level RPO's. Coaches at all level of football tell me this is a game changer! The book can be found for iBooks here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1078061959


The iBooks version can be viewed on any iPhone, Mac, or iPad. It is a game changer in book technology! This book will give you everything you need to build RPO's into your offense!

If you don't have an apple device, you can order the paperback version! It is available on Amazon!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1520447485



Follow me @coachvint on Twitter! 

I hope you found something in this post you can use with your program! Good luck this season! 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Three T's (Updated)

This is an update of a post I wrote last year. I wanted to take a few minutes today to share a couple of important points that can help you win more football games. I hope this small piece will be of value to you regardless of what scheme you run. Regardless of which system you decide fits your players, your success will be determined by a few important factors. 

When I was a defensive coordinator, I installed our defense as more than a system. It was an attitude. Defense is about pursuit and passion. We installed our defensive attitude with a very specific process. I like to break things down into their simplest forms. Our defensive attitude revolves around getting the ball back as quickly as possible. There are four ways we can get the ball back: 


1. The offense scores. 
2. We can force our opponent to punt 
3. We can get a turnover or a turnover on downs
4. We take the ball away. 
#1 is not allowed. That is our attitude. We really want #4. It is ideal. Ultimately, the 3 T's will determine which way we get the ball back.

What are the 3 T's? The three T's are quite simply: Technique, Tackling, and Takeaways. Technique involves two things for our players. First, they must know how to line up right, and they have to be able to get into a comfortable balanced stance. When we say line up right, they must line up in the appropriate place based on the call. Second, they have to be able to control and dominate their gap responsibility, or their pass zone. If we can get our guys to line up right, we can be successful on defense. One misalignment, however, can be disastrous  To make sure we line up right we keep things simple. We have simple alignment rules for our guys.

There are only five things an offense can do to each side of your defense. They can give you a nub, a single, twins, trips, or quads. We have very simple alignment rules for our second and third level players to ensure we are always lined up right. From there, we use our individual and group periods to develop our ability to control our gap responsibility in the run game, and our pass rush or coverage responsibility in the pass game. We teach our players what to do, how to do it, and why they need to do it the way we teach them. We never wanted our guys to have to guess where to line up. If they had to guess, things were too complicated. We wanted things simple enough that guys could line up quickly against modern spread offenses. 

The second T we emphasize is tackling. We have got to be able to tackle well on defense. Tackling is about more than how to contact a runner. It is about angles and leverage. If your defensive players understand angles and leverage, you will improve your tackling immensely. Every day we work on our pursuit angles. We cover every possible angle that we may face. We work the A gap run, the B gap run, the off-tackle run, and the sweep. We also work our draw and screen angles. We teach our players four concepts that will give us great angles to make efficient tackles. I never understood why people only do a sweep pursuit. Shouldn't we work our pursuit angles versus inside and outside runs? Our players and coaches bought into this philosophy and it helped us to take great angles of pursuit. We taught our pursuit as a progression.

First is our force concept. We have a player assigned to be the force player on every single play. We teach our force player that his landmark is the outside jersey number of the ball carrier. By attacking the outside jersey number of the ball carrier, our force player "forces" the ball carrier back into our players in pursuit. We tell our force player to take on the ball carrier as close to the line of scrimmage as possible. While we don't want to miss a tackle, our force player is coached to always take an angle where if he misses the tackle, he misses to his help. Our force player is typically going to be an invert/outside backer in our sky or cover 3 look, or a corner in Cloud or Cover 2.

The second concept of pursuit is our attack concept. Our attack players are going to be our defensive end and playside inside backer. They are aiming for the inside jersey number of the ball carrier. We want them to stay square as they approach the ball carrier. They work a slight inside out angle while pursuing the ball carrier. If the ball carrier is inside of them on an A or B gap run, they will work to the middle of the ball carrier's chest. Attack players always spill traps and counters.

The third concept of pursuit is called collapse. Our collapse players are typically our Mike backer and our defensive tackle or tackles, depending on our front. They are aiming one yard inside the ball carrier. They are responsible for the immediate cutback of the football. If they get a downhill run, they attack the middle of the man. They are spill players on trap plays.

The fourth concept of pursuit is chase/contain. Our chase contain players are typically our backside defensive end and backside linebacker. They play counter/reverse/boot on flow away. One important concept is that our backside players must not run upfield. They need to squeeze space making sure not to get leveraged by the boot. When flow goes away they must get their eyes down the heel line and make sure nothing is coming back to them. Once they are sure nothing is coming back, they take the best angle to the football. 

Those four concepts of pursuit helped our leverage and angles, which greatly improved our tackling. When we installed this pursuit concept, we found ourselves much more successful on first and second down, which helped us greatly on 3rd down. Below is an illustration of our pursuit concepts in action.

Force Illustrated


One very important coaching point is to Stay square. We need to keep our hips and shoulders as parallel to the LOS as possible. By staying parallel we are able to increase the surface area we have to contact the ball carrier. We are also able to explode our hips into the tackle, allowing us to drive the ball carrier back. When our shoulders are turned, we give the offense yards after contact. This is not good for the defense. As you can see in the picture above, our collapse and chase players are not doing a great job of keeping their shoulders square. This creates space for the ball carrier to cut back and makes us less effective. However, our Force and Attack players are doing a great job of keeping their shoulders square. 

This brings us to our third T, Takeaways. Takeaways are vital to our success. Any time we can get a takeaway  we are changing momentum. Takeaways also change field position. Forcing a team to punt is great, but often the punt results in a 40 yard change of field position. When we get a takeaway  we are saving ourselves big chunks of yards. Every ten yards we gain on defense is one less first down our offense must gain to score. 

How do you increase your takeaways? We do a takeaway circuit each day. We spend 5 minutes working strip drills, tip drills, and interception drills. We then emphasize taking the football away in all of our indy, group, and team periods. We want to have a ball in every single drill. In our inside run, skelly, and team periods, we are trying to take the football away from our offense. Here is the kicker. The offense also gets better with ball security. I am a firm believer that you get what you emphasize. If you coach your team to get takeaways, and you expect to get takeaways  and you get them to expect to get takeaways, you will get takeaways. You get what you emphasize and we emphasized takeaways in every aspect of practice. We first secure the tackle, then we strip the ball. 

Our attitude on defense is that every play is an opportunity to score. We are allowed to score on defense. We are allowed to rip the football out from the ball carriers hands. We are allowed to intercept a football in the air. Turnovers don't just happen. We drill our players to know turnovers are created. We must purposefully work to create takeaways on defense.  We drill our linebackers on flying to the football when it is in the air. We had a situation a few years back where our Mike LB intercepted a ball thrown thirty yards downfield on a deflection. He got the interception because he was hustling to where the ball was being thrown. He could have done what many players do. He could have watched the ball and then half ran to where the ball was being thrown. He understood our attitude and has bought in. We teach our guys to read the Axis. The axis is the QB's hips and shoulders. His hips give you direction, his shoulders give you trajectory. Our LB read the axis and he accelerated with everything he had and he got within four yards of the receiver when the QB pulled the pin. The ball was tipped in the air, and our guy made the pick on the run. You can't expect takeaways to magically happen. You have got to drill your players and emphasize takeaways with every drill you do.

The three T's, technique, tackling, and takeaways, are the three key points we emphasize with our defense. They make up our defensive attitude. We are going to line up right, play hard and fast and relentless. We are going to have great technique to control the gap or zone we are responsible for. We are going to pursue the football with great leverage and consistently make tackles. We are going to do everything in our power to take the football away from our opponent. 

If we can line up right and play with great technique, tackle well consistently, and win the takeaway battle, we are going to give ourselves a chance to win every single football game.

Another key was our preparation. We were very detailed in our approach to preparation. We scripted everything. We worked well as a staff to prepare for each opponent. Our players were confident because they knew what are opponents were going to do before they did it. A lot of coaches ask me how we were so well prepared. I put together a Game and Practice Planning Resource Packet for defensive coordinators. It has 12 documents that will help you prepare each week. These are editable documents that can be customized to your program. They are available for under $15! You can click here to order them and download them today!  Click Here: Defensive Game and Practice Planning  If you use the code STATE2016 you can save 20%!


The newest Odd Stack Video I have is out with Coaches Choice in conjunction with Nike. 
Basic Concepts of the 30 Stack Defense

In January of 2016 I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's on the offensive side of the ball. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1078061959. The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense.
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here: http://www.amazon.com/Installing-Explosive-Concepts-Into-Offense-ebook/dp/B01B12YSCG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1075902270.


Order the Amazon Kindle version here:

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Three Keys to Playing at a Fast Tempo on Offense

People ask me at clinics how we were able to snap the ball over 30 times in a quarter. A few years back we had several games of over 100 snaps and averaged 92 snaps a game for the season. How is it that we are able to get the ball snapped so quickly? What are we doing that is allowing us to play so fast? The answer lies in three keys.

1. A Repeatable Process of going from one play to the next. What I mean is, we have to have a system for them to go from the end of one play to the beginning of the next that never changes. We don't always play fast, but our process never changes.

The Process:
When the play ends, our players are hustling to the ball while looking at the sideline. A coach is communicating the tempo. If he is communicating that we are going Nascar tempo, the players are also getting a play call. When we play at Nascar tempo we are going to use a one signal call. In this one signal call the players are getting the formation and the play. Our signal can be anything we want.   The key is that it must be one hand motion that can be communicated quickly. When our players see the nascar tempo and hand signal, they sprint to the line. Once everyone is set the quarterback calls for the snap. Our goal is to snap the ball 12 seconds following the end of the previous play.

If the signaler is giving them our signal for normal tempo, the players are getting a formation and play signal. Once coach signals play and another signals formation. The players are moving quickly to get lined up and run the play. The extra signal adds 4 seconds to the process. Our goal in our normal mode is to snap the ball 16 seconds after the previous play ends.

2. Simplicity- You have to have a simple way to call your plays. We use one word/one signal calls for our fastest tempo. We don't have play calls that have more than two hand motions in our normal mode. The shorter the signal, the faster the process. It also allows your players to process information quickly and not get jumbled down.

Our signals are essentially stimulus response. Coach signals this, I do that. It is a way of simple memorization that allows our kids to be able to process quickly. We can build tempo calls into each game and change them week to week if we wish.

3. Organized Call Sheet- This is vital to being able to make quick decisions during games. There is no perfect call sheet, but you want your call sheet to be organized in such a way that you can quickly find what you are looking for. Our call sheet is divided into sections, with each section serving a purpose. We build scripts for each down and distance situation that might come up. These scripts are based on our scouting report. If an opponent brings a 5 man pressure 42% of the time on 2nd and 6 to 10, we are going to have a screen scripted for the at situation. If our opponent drops 8 on 2nd and long, we are going to script a draw. Our call sheet is easy to follow and gives us a chance to quickly call plays. We have additional sections as well to meet our most important needs on offense. Below is  a screen shot of the section of our call sheet covering down and distance scripts.


We script everything in practice as well. This allows us to make sure we get everything covered. Our scripts in practice our taken from our game call sheet. These are put together on Saturday and Sunday as we prepare for our opponent. We are highly organized in our approach, which helps us to practice faster during the week, and play faster on Friday Night. Our call sheet was a nightmare to create. It took several hours to build onto an excel document. Ty Palmer, who I worked with at Seminole High School, helped me to improve the formatting to what you see today. He helped me convert it from Microsoft Publisher to Excel.

Tempo Is A Weapon
What I mean is, playing fast is good. Having the ability to snap the ball in 6 seconds is really tough to stop. But if you don't get first downs, it can be really hard on your defense. And if all you do is play really fast, defenses can catch up. Mixing up your tempo is really, really good!

Final Thoughts:
Just because you can play fast doesn't mean you should. Playing fast is in vogue right now, but it is not the best thing for everyone. If your defense can't stop anyone, then you might use tempo to score a lot of points. If you have a really good defense, the goal on offense should be to put them in a good position. Use tempo as a weapon and change speeds, and do what is best for your team.

Building The Call Sheet
If you want to save several hours building your own call sheet, I have made available and offensive game planning packet. It includes 9 editable and customizable documents, including my two-sided color call sheet! This call sheet will help you be more organized and will help you score more points!

The packet includes everything from install scheduled to weekly and daily practice plans. It will help you to prepare for the upcoming season, and to prepare for each game you play. You can order this packet by clicking here: Game and Practice Planning Packet.


I also wrote a book on Tempo that might give you some great insight into running a multiple tempo system. The book I wrote will take you through a detailed, systematic process of building tempo into your existing offense. Here is a picture of what coaches are saying:



The iBook version for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac contains over an hour of embedded video! I give you a systematic process to build tempo into your offense. I show you multiple ways to communicate your concepts, including sign boards! Here is a link to the iBooks version: Coach Vint's iBook on Tempo

It is also available on Amazon if you have an Android or Windows device. You can find it here: Coach Vint's Book on Tempo on Amazon.

Additionally, I wrote a book on RPO's. In my RPO book I describe in detail a systematic process to install RPO's. I go over first level, second level, third level, and multi-level reads. I show you how to scaffold the install and build a system that will fit what you are already doing. 

Here is a picture of the cover with some quotes from other coaches on the book:

 

Here is a link to the iBook version of my RPO book: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1078061959
If you have an iPad or iPhone, buy the ibooks version! If you have an android or PC based device, I have a Kindle version for sale on Amazon. Here is a link to that version: Kindle Version of Coach Vint's RPO Book on Amazon. The kindle version has everything but the video.

I hope you found this information valuable!


Monday, January 1, 2018

Part Two of: Power--The Most Versatile Concept In Football

Perhaps the most versatile play in football is the power play. With one blocking scheme the offense can give the defense a multitude of different looks. We are a power run offense despite being based in the gun. We want to be physical and have the mentality that we are going to run the football and create explosive plays. We want to manipulate space and force the defense to have to have to defend the entire field. This helps to open up the box.

We have two main goals on offense. First, we want to find the leverage point. We define the leverage point as the area we have an advantage on the defense. Second, we want to put as many defenders in conflict as possible. Rather than running a concept from one formation and giving the defense the same look, we want to give them the same concept from several different formations with multiple backfield actions. This is why we like the "power" play so much.

The first way we install the power is as the traditional downhill power play. Our frontside is going to block gap away. The center is going to block back, the backside guard is going to pull through the first window, and the backside tackle is going to dig out the backside B gap to hinge. The offensive line is leaving the frontside End Man on the Line (EMOL) unblocked. When we originally ran power in the 90's, we ran it to a tight end. We blocked down on the frontside, kickout out the end man on the line with the fullback, and wrapped the backside guard for the playside linebacker. Here is an example of the two back power play from pistol.

A couple of years later we decided to make an adjustment and change who we kicked out. To marry all of our different looks on power, we began to kick out the first defender outside the offensive tackle. Defensive ends and outside linebackers tend to be dominating players on defense. Because of this, we want to be able to put them in conflict to slow them down. If they know that when they get a down block they will get a kickout block, the will be able to anticipate the kickout and box or spill the player based on the defensive call. However, if the defender doesn't know who is kicking him, or if he is being read, or if he is going to be cracked, he is going to hesitate. It is through this hesitation that we gain a tremendous advantage.

Below is an illustration of power kicking the first player outside the tackle.

When we adjusted the blocking we had a simple rule for the running back. Our rule for the back was to hit the A gap until you can't. We wanted him to get downhill and stay inside the kickout block. Another variation is the have the QB open away from the play and mesh with the back. This forces the defense to hesitate slightly as they don't know if the point of attack is to the mesh side, or away from the mesh side. We can also offset the back to or away from the side we were running power. 


Here is an example of Power kicking the C gap player.



Because we want to keep the EMOL guessing, we can exchange the assignments of the pulling guard and the kickout player. This is a great variation from two and three back sets. In the three back look, the frontside back will block the primary force player. The backside guard will pull and kick out the end man on the line, while the backside back will lead through the window. The quarterback can open to the play, or away from the play.

Another variation of this concept is the power read. The offensive line blocks power. The backs and receivers execute their assignments as if we are calling an outside run. Instead of kicking out the first man outside the tackle, we read him. 
Below is an example of the power read play.

If the backside B gap defender is giving the offense a problem, they can make a GUS call, which means guard stay. Because the backside back can replace the puller, the backside guard can now protect the backside B gap. This allows the center and frontside guard to combo the nose. 


The next evolution was to add RPO, or Run Pass Options, to the power play. By rule, if we call power, we will have quick game concepts to both sides. We will have a stop route to the single receiver side, and a now screen to the twins side. If the QB has no underneath defender to the single WR side, he can throw the stop route. If he has a two on one to the twins side, he can throw the now screen.

Adding this presnap read helps to protect the run. The defense has to honor our skill guys on the edge. If the defense wants to play press man, we can covert the stop routes to verticals. The QB then reads separation. If we get separation, the QB can pull and throw the vertical. If there is no separation he can give the ball. We can also give the quarterback a red light. That means he will execute the run regardless of what the defense does.

Below is an example of power with quick game concepts attached. The QB sees we have numbers to the twins, and throws the quick.

The great thing about power is that we can build any of our pass concepts into the concept. We can take advantage of anything the defense is doing to disrupt power. For example, if they want to creep a safety into the box, we can read the safety and run a post behind him. If the safety flat foot reads or attacks the box, the QB will pull and throw the post. If the safety bails or slow plays, the QB gives the ball.

Below is an example of power with stop routes to the twins side. The QB is reading the corner. If the corner bails, the QB will pull and throw, reading inside to out. If the corner does anything else, the QB will give the ball.

This barely scratches the surface of the new innovations of the traditional power concept. The power has been a successful concept for many years, and with new variations, it has grown to be one of the most versatile offensive concepts being run. 

For these and many, many more concepts of the power and power read, check out my DVD on the power and power read from Coaches Choice. It will give you dozens of ways to put the defense in conflict while getting your best athletes the football in open space! The DVD covers multiple ways to run the power and power read from the pistol and gun! I take you through the mechanics and schematics of of the frontside and backside power read from three backs empty! This DVD will help you score more points!


In January of 2016 I published a couple of iBooks that have been read by coaches at all levels of football. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense, that will give you a systematic approach to installing RPO's. Here is a link to the iBooks version: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1078061959. The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense. It is less than $15!
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the paperback on Amazon. It is just $12! https://www.amazon.com/Installing-Explosive-Concepts-Into-Offense/dp/1520447485/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1075902270.


Order the Amazon Kindle version here:

One of the keys to our success was tremendous preparation!The key to  preparation was our outstanding group of documents we used for all three phases. If you are looking for fully editable and customizable documents that you can tailor to your program, I have made mine available. 

Here is a link to my offensive game planning documents: https://sellfy.com/p/AndN/
It includes everything from a scouting report template, to practice plans, to a two-sided color call sheet, and more! Each of the nine documents are fully editable and customizable! Order today for under $15 and download them tonight!

Here is a link to the defensive game planning documents. It includes 12 fully editable and customizable documents. https://sellfy.com/p/AY1u/

And finally, I put together a special teams resource. This has everything you need, included drill tape, practice tape, and game footage. It includes teaching presentations and scouting forms just for special teams! https://sellfy.com/p/tJwz/

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Three Keys to Championship Special Teams

Nearly every bowl game this year has had at least one game changing special teams play. If you look back at big games of every level, special teams always play a factor. At the high school level special teams can give you an advantage over your opponent with

1. Celebrate Special Teams
Your attitude as a coaching staff is vital to the preparation and performance as a team on special teams. You can tolerate special teams, or you can celebrate special teams. Unfortunately, many programs tolerate special teams and their programs reflect this.

When you celebrate special teams you embrace them as a staff. You have the same passion, energy, and enthusiasm coaching special teams that you have for every other phase of the game. Your players will feed off you. You have to sell your players on the value of special teams, and how great special teams will help you win more games.

We had a special teams player or players of the week every single game. We honored them with something special. At one school we had special shirts for our special teams units. We had a championship belt that a guy got to wear on the sideline if he had a big hit or a takeaway on special teams. We had names for our units that our players took pride in. Again, it starts with coaches being passionate about coaching special teams.

2. Use Wrinkles
During my coaching career I have had the opportunity to coordinate special teams and special teams units at a few different schools. We always wanted to find a way to use special teams as a way to help us win games. We wanted to force people to have to prepare for our special teams. We wanted them to have to take time from offense and defense to have to look at what we did on special teams.

I learned a lesson my first year as an OC. While meeting on Sunday the head coach informed myself and the DC that we were going to take 10 minutes from our offensive and defensive preparation to work special teams. Our opponent was very good on special teams and had a few wrinkles we had to take time to prepare for. I carried this with me, and we made a decision to do some things a little bit different that would force teams to have to prepare.

How We Were Different
The first thing we did was added a cluster kickoff formation. Jerry Campbell, a coaching mentor of mine, introduced us to this in 1999. Coach Campbell had come up from Westwood High School in Round Rock, Texas to help us install some option and zone read concepts. We were talking about special teams, and he showed us the cluster kickoff. Below is a diagram of our cluster kickoff
We would start in the cluster and attack the ball. We would either onside, pooch kick, or break out to our normal kickoff formation. This did not take us much time to teach, but it forced our opponents to spend time preparing for our the different looks we would give. Here is a screen shot from a game showing the cluster.

Another element we added was using a gate formation after we scored. We would sprint to get lined up in our gate formation. After a touchdown teams often have their heads down. We wanted to take advantage of this and have a chance at a quick two point conversion. We had five gate concepts we could run, in addition to shifting to kick. The defense had to take time to prepare for our gate formation. We would install our gate formation during the first three days of camp when we were in shorts and shirts. Below is a picture of our gate formation:

Our punt team would align and shift from one look to another. We would show a shield look from a balanced set and then an unbalanced look. We also would show one or two fakes early in the season. Again, this took time for our opponents to cover. Our punt return team would bring pressure each week. We always had a way to attack the weakness of a protection without having to install anything new.

3. Coach The Details
This is vital. Too often we install our specials in a team setting. There is nothing wrong with this, but at some point you have to teach the individual skills. We had a special teams block and return circuit, and a special teams cover circuit. We worked players through stations to help them to learn how to do their job.

We then worked an individual period, a group period, and a team period for special teams. We coached them just like offense and defense. We had 4 coaches involved in each special teams unit. We coached them on specific details for their position. We didn't just tell two guys they double-teamed L3, we worked it in an individual period. We didn't just talk to our jammers about how to wall off the gunner, we practiced it in our individual period. We taught them how to off hand jam, and what to do when they lost contact. Coaching the details is vital.

Special Teams Change Games
When we took over a program that had not won a game in 3 years, special teams helped us beat people were shouldn't beat. Every time we broke a big return we made it easier for our offense to score. Every time we recovered a kickoff we gained a possession, while taking a possession from our opponent.

We were smart on special teams. We never kicked deep if a team had a big-time returner. We kicked the ball to spaces, not people. When we covered, we covered with the intent to get the ball back. We wanted to be physical when we tackled and try to get the ball out. We never punted to great returner. We wanted to have a 35 yard change of possession.

When we returned our kicks we set up a simple return where we could create a crease and get vertical. We didn't try to bring a ball across the field running laterally. We got vertical and found a crease. Our punt return unit was very good at blocking kicks. We always brought pressure from somewhere, and worked hard to hold up cover guys. If our returner made a guy miss we felt like we could have a big return.

We won games we probably shouldn't have won because of our special teams. We felt like it was simple for us to install, but took time for our opponents to prepare. We were able to change momentum and ultimately win games because of our special teams.

To help you with your special teams, I put together an AWESOME special teams download that has EVERYTHING you need to be explosive on special teams and win more games. Here is a screenshot of everything included:

Coaches tell me this is EXACTLY what they have been looking for to improve their special teams. This has everything from video cut-ups to practice footage, to scouting packets, to teaching presentations. If you want to be more explosive on special teams, this is what you need! For a limited time you can use the checkout code "SPECIALS" to get this compete resource for under $15! Click here to order yours today! Special Teams Resource

Here are a couple of additional screenshots!




Sunday, August 20, 2017

Domination Begins with Preparation

Every team wants to build a program that consistently dominates opponents each week. I believe there are four elements to building a dominating program.

1. Talented Players
2. Mental and Physical Toughness
3. Disciplined Approach
4. Elite Preparation

All four of these are necessary if you want to build a program that consistently competes for championships. Today's focus will be on the fourth element, "Elite Preparation."

Have you ever walked out of the locker room and gotten into your car after game and said, "why didn't we call XYZ?" Or, "why didn't we get Johnnie more touches? Have you ever faced a situation in a game and your kids didn't know what to do? These are just a few of the many questions coaches at all level pose to themselves after a game. And each of them can be answered through preparation. 

When I first became a coordinator I liked to call things from the hip. Our practices and game plan didn't match up. Because of this, our practices were often inefficient with a lot of wasted time. It didn't look like we were wasting time because each period was planned out and we followed a schedule. We hustled between our segments and our transitions were efficient. If we had such a fast-paced practice, how did we waste time?

It started with the lack of a game plan. We used to say, "we do what we do." There was no need to plan because we were going to run our offense. I had to learn the hard way that a lack of detailed preparation will lose games. We practiced a lot of things we never ran. In fact, we spent more time practicing plays we weren't going to run than plays we were going to run. We wasted a lot of reps. I thought we were doing a good job. I was wrong. 

The reason I didn't prepare is that I didn't have a system of preparation. I visited several college and NFL programs and investigated how they prepared. What did they do to make sure every base was covered. We began to take a all of the information and put it together. 

The first thing we did was put a game plan in writing. It wasn't merely a list of our plays. We looked at every single aspect of our opponents and came up with our favorite calls for each week. A call means formation, motion, and play. We decided to script our openers, and build down and distance scripts for each game. We came up these while we game planned on Saturday and Sunday. 

Once we had our game plan in place, we built our scripts for practice. We scripted every period based on our game plan. We felt we need to practice every call a minimum of 6 times. Our ultimate goal was 12 reps for each call. By scripting our practice segments we made sure every single element was covered.

We then made a list of all the situations we wanted to cover. We came up with a system to teach each situation and incorporate into our practice each week. Below is our weekly list. 
These are the most important situations that we practice week. We work our take a safety as well, which is not on this list. It is vital you teach them why you are taking a safety as well. You don't need to spend a lot of time on each of these. We work our two minute drill for 5 minutes a week. We work our 4th down go for it play 3 times each week. Our players know what we will call before we call it. Below is our overview showing when we work each situation.




Every single thing we did in practice had a purpose. We never had a situation that we didn't cover, and our players were able to adapt quicker during games. When our defense got the ball back, our players knew what we were going to call before we called it. They knew we were going to take a shot, and they knew what play we would call.

Two of the questions above that we often asked were "why didn't we call XYZ?" And, why didn't we get Johnnie the ball more? We solved these by adding a section called GAB or Get Athletes the Ball. I had a couple of calls set up for each of our best players. I knew when we were struggling to "think players, not plays." By having a section on my play calling sheet that targeted our best players, I made sure to make calls to get them touches. 

I also made sure I had some shot calls on my sheet. I wanted to make sure we called enough big plays that we could score fast. These were momentum calls that could change a game. 

When we adjusted our game planning it didn't take more time. We still watched a lot of film and talked as a staff about what we saw. What changed, however, were the difficult conversations with the head coach about why I didn't get XYZ the ball. We scored more points and became more dominating. 

Take the list above and build these into your practice plan. Script them into your regular practice plans and make sure you get them covered. Having a simple system of preparation will help you be more dominating in all phases of the game.

One of the keys to our preparation was our outstanding group of documents we used for all three phases. If you are looking for fully editable and customizable documents that you can tailor to your program, I have made mine available. 

Here is a link to my offensive game planning documents: https://sellfy.com/p/AndN/
It includes everything from a scouting report template, to practice plans, to a two-sided color call sheet, and more! Each of the nine documents are fully editable and customizable! Order today for under $15 and download them tonight!

Here is a link to the defensive game planning documents. It includes 12 fully editable and customizable documents. https://sellfy.com/p/AY1u/

And finally, I put together a special teams resource. This has everything you need, included drill tape, practice tape, and game footage. It includes teaching presentations and scouting forms just for special teams! https://sellfy.com/p/tJwz/

I hope you found something in this post you can use with your program! Good luck this season!