Sunday, July 9, 2017

Scripting for Success

When I first became an offensive coordinator I was reluctant to use scripts. I felt like it would lock me into being rigid and inflexible. The head coach I worked for suggested I read Bill Walsh's book, Finding the Winning Edge. The book opened my eyes to the value of preparation and scripting.

When I speak at clinics I get asked about how we script our openers each game. Many coaches already script their openers, but there are a large contingent of coaches who do not. Many of these coaches do a great job. It took me a few years to come around to the value of scripting our opening plays. A few of the reasons were:
1. What do we do if have a run scripted and it's 3rd and 8?
2. What if we get off script?
3. Will the script keep me from making calls based on the flow of the game?
4. Why would I build a script if I am going to be off script before getting through it?

Finally I decided I was going to go all-in on scripting. We decided on a 10 play script. The first play we called was going to be toss sweep from I Right. The 2nd play would be Iso weak in an I Right set. The third play would be play action off our power play, this time in I left. The fourth play would be iso from a 20 personnel look, and the 5th play would be a reverse off toss from I left. We continued our script for 10 plays. We stayed on script and scored 2 touchdowns in the first 6 plays, and our 3rd touchdown on play 10. I was sold. We could use more plays if we wanted as well.

The question is, why did we have success? How did scripting help us?
1. We were thinking clearly on Sunday afternoon when we built our script
It is a lot easier to call plays when your head is clear and you aren't distracted by emotions. By Sunday afternoon we have watched enough of our opponent to have a good idea what we like and don't like. This allows us to build an opening script for the game, as well as develop a call sheet that will help us be more efficient on game day.

2. We were able to have a specific system for setting up plays
We scripted plays that helped to set up explosive opportunities. We might script 3 downhill runs in our first 5 plays, and then on play 6 we would script play action off downhill pass and take a shot downfield. We might run toss sweep a couple of times and then script in a reverse. We were able to set our opponent up for big plays.

3. We made sure we ran a reverse or trick play before our opponent
This is something that is very important. Running your reverse or trick play first doubles your chance that it will be an explosive play. We wanted to make sure we had at least one trick play in our first 12 calls. We also wanted to make sure we actually ran a trick play. How many times have you practiced a trick play and then never ran it in a game? I got tired of having a 5 minute period designed to work our trick plays, only to not run them in the game. Scripting them helped us actually call them during the game.

4. Our kids knew what we were running because we practiced our script each day
We opened our team period running our script on air. This helped our players to know what was coming and in what order. This helped us to play with confidence and develop a rhythm to open the game.

5. We planned what we wanted to see from our opponents
We would script with some variety to see how our opponents would line up to certain formations and personnel groups. This helped us to be more efficient calling plays later in the game. We scripted 3 or 4 different formations in our first 12 plays.

What we found was that the longer we stayed on script, the better we were in the game. The earlier we left the script, the less effective we were. This isn't to say that we wouldn't take advantage of a misalignment or something unexpected from the defense. But the script was well thought out and made sense, giving us a high percentage opportunity to be effective early in the game.

Here are a couple of thoughts on scripting that can help you be more effective:
1. Script inside runs into the boundary and wide runs to the field.
For the most part you know where each play will end. You have an idea what hash you will be on. We wanted to make sure we used the field in the most efficient manner possible. This was a rule of thumb that helped us to be more effective early in the game.

2. Get your playmakers early touches
We scripted our best players go get touches early. We wanted to make sure we got them involved in the first two series. One season we had a great tight end. We made sure we threw at least one ball at him in our first 8 plays.

3. Don't worry if it's 3rd and 2 and you have a pass scripted
Some of our biggest plays came when we threw on run downs and ran on pass downs. It also helps you break tendencies.

4. Script your tempo
This is something we love to do. We will script in a couple of early nascar concepts. We also would script our freeze tempo to get our opponent to jump offsides early in the game. By scripting tempo we were able to use it in advantageous situations.

5. Call the Touchdown Play
If there was a money play, we called it early. If we had a huge matchup advantage somewhere, we exploited it early and often. We built that into our script.

Our script was located at the top of the front of our call sheet. We also had scripts for end of half and end of game situations. We worked these through the week which helped us to be much better prepared on game day.

Our scripts helped us to be more targeted in our practices, and we improved our explosiveness on offense. It was tough to stay on script at times. When things don't go well and you punt twice in your first six plays, it is easy to abandon the plan. We had to remember that sometimes we were not going to have things go our way early. But if you built your script well, you were setting up a big play.

A lot of coaches ask me about my call sheet and how we prepared. We have a very systematic approach that we have developed over a 20 year period. Last summer I made our offensive game planning documents available for coaches to purchase for a nominal fee. The response was outstanding. Coaches from all levels of football in the US and internationally began using this resource. The head coach from one of the top 5A programs in Texas said these documents helped them to be much more prepared.

If you are interested in this resource, click here: Offensive Game and Practice Planning Resource.  Every document in this resource is completely editable and customizable to your program. Everything you need is in this resource. You order it today and you will be able to immediately begin downloading the documents and using them to be better prepared. This even includes our 2-sided color calls sheet! It prints on to 11x14 paper. I also include our weekly and daily practice plans, wrist bands, scouting forms, and much, much more! For just a few dollars you will score more points and win more games with this resource! It is on sale right now, so don't delay!

I also have a defensive game and practice planning resource that can be ordered here: Defensive Game and Practice Planning Resource. It has everything you defensive staff would need to dominate!

I also have a special teams resource available here: Special Teams Resource It is awesome because it includes teaching presentations and video for every phase of special teams!

And of course, I have written a couple of books on RPO's and Tempo. The iBooks version of these includes over an hour of video!






Sunday, June 11, 2017

Five Keys To Explosive Special Teams

Winning football games is hard. If you have coached for more than a week you realize how difficult it can be to build a championship program. One of the most overlooked areas of winning programs is special teams. Special teams often go unnoticed until you lose a game because of a special teams mistake.

In many programs special teams are viewed as an inconvenience. Teams have to stop practicing offense and defense to work on special teams. Coaches sit in the office trying to figure out how much time they need to dedicate to special teams each week. They work their special teams hoping to simply survive when they call each unit onto the field.

We have evolved greatly over the last several years. We went from spending very little time on special teams to spending a great deal of time on special teams. As restrictions were placed on practice time, we found we had to be much more efficient with our approach to special teams. We found that we could be very effective dedicating 10 minutes a day to special teams during the season, and 20 minutes a day during camp.

Over the years we have been very successful on special teams, and found there were five keys to being explosive on special teams.

1. Keep Things Simple
The more complex we are, the more time we need to dedicate to special teams. By simplifying our schematics, we are able to be more efficient with our time. Over the years I have also found the more simple we are on special teams, the more explosive we are. We have less busts and more big plays. Our coverage is better on kicks, and our returns our better when our opponent kicks to us. By keeping things simple it is much easier to keep our coaches on the same page.

One example of simplifying things was with our punt team. For years we had four different punt formations. Each formation had different protection calls we had to communicate. This required a lot of practice time. And, we found that we had more busts and it was harder to prepare our two's if we had an injury. When we went to one punt scheme we were able to get more efficient with our practice time, while getting our 1's and 2's plenty of reps.

The numbers showed we were more successful. We improved our net punt average from 31.5 yards to 37 yards, and our punter wasn't as good. The same proved true with each of our units. We found that we were more explosive on our returns, and better in our coverage.

2. Play To Your Strengths
This was vital as early in my career we were stubborn with some things. If we have punter who is not very good, we are going to rugby kick away from the returner. If we have a coverage unit that lacks speed and the ability to tackle in space, we are going to pooch our kickoffs. This shrinks the amount of field we have to cover. If we have a great punt block guy, we are going to feature him in our block calls. We are not going to call a block to a player that is not effective at blocking kicks. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you be more explosive on special teams.

3. Great Preparation
We want to be very well-prepared each week for special teams and what our opponent will do. We break our preparation into two parts. First, we look at their schematics. Second, we look at their personnel. We want to look at how to attack the schemes, and figure out who their best and worst players are. We want to know who they are hiding. Everyone is hiding someone, and we want to find who that player is.

To prepare each week we divide up our responsibilities among our coaching staff. We spend 15 minutes watching opponent special teams film, and then we meet for 15 to 30 minutes talking about what we saw and building our plan for the week. The more coaches we have, the more targeted each coach can be. If have 5 coaches, we might assign each coach one special team to scout. If we have 10 coaches, we might put two coaches on each special team. One coach might look at every punt fake our opponent ran, while a second coach looks at their protection and coverage.

4. Build A Mentality
Building a mentality starts with each coach being all-in on special teams. Coaches must coach special teams with the same detail and enthusiasm that they coach offense and defense. Coaches must know the responsibility of the position they are coaching and the technical details. If everyone on your coaching staff values special teams, your players will as well. If one or two coaches don't coach special teams with enthusiasm, your players will not value special teams.

To build a mentality you must live what you are teaching. We talk about special teams changing games, and we reward great special teams plays. At a couple of programs we called our special teams "special forces," and we equated each unit to military units. We brought in soldiers and veterans to talk about the brotherhood of the military and the value of special forces.

If you want your players to value special teams, you have to value special teams as coaches.

5. Great Tempo
Special teams cannot drag. We want special teams to have great tempo, just like we would on offense and defense. We want to maximize our reps and make sure the 1's and 2's get quality reps. Again, this comes back to coaching. Our coaches must have great passion and enthusiasm and keeps things moving. We want to keep our coaching points to 8 seconds or less between reps.

These five keys have helped us to build explosive special teams that helped us win more games. There is nothing better than being able to change a game with a big special teams play.

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!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Explosive RPO Book Now Available as a Paperback!

It is available here: The paperback version can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1520447485
When I wrote Installing Explosive RPO concepts into Any Offense, I was excited to share a simple process that helped us to greatly improve our offense with RPO's. The first version I published was the iBooks version, because I was able to embed video. The one caveat is that you need an apple product to read the book. This is an awesome format because it combines a book and a DVD into one, single resource.

The next step was to put out a Kindle version for those who didn't have an Apple product. The Kindle was the first e-reader, and allowed coaches without an Apple product to enjoy the book. The Kindle version has the same content, but does not have video. The issue with the Kindle is that it is hard to format the book to look as it was designed.

Many, many coaches asked me for a paperback version. The reason I hadn't put out a paperback is because the cost of printing was prohibitive. I was also concerned about the time it would take to put box and ship the books.

About a month ago I received an offer from Amazon to turn the book into a printable version. I began to rewrite the book to be put into print, and after 30 days, the book was ready. Many people people want to have a physical copy of the book. By having a physical copy the can mark in it and take notes.

The paperback version has everything the iBook has, which the exception of the video. When we figure out how to incorporate video into paperbacks, the world will be a very awesome place.

Here is a look at the table of contents:

The iBooks version is available below. The version on iBooks 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


RPO's are a great way to force the defense to defend all 53 yards, and each of your skill guys. This book, whichever form you buy, will give you a specific process for installing pre and post snap RPO's. Coaches at all levels tell me this book has helped them tremendously on offense. If you want to enhance your offense, this is a book you want to read!







Sunday, December 25, 2016

Our Evolution to RPO's

Over the last several years we have gone all-in on RPO concepts. RPO's are simply Run-Pass-Options, where you essentially call two plays in one. The play might be a run, or it might be a pass. You don't know until the ball is snapped. The offensive line and backfield will execute the run, while the receivers run a pass concept. The goal is to make the defense wrong no matter what they do.

Over the last 15 years I have had the opportunity to speak at clinics all over the country about offensive concepts. In the last 5 years coaches have wanted to learn about RPO concepts, and how you can adapt them to your offensive system. One of the questions I get asked is how did we get to this point?

Our evolution of RPO's began with trusting our quarterback to be able to make choices. This started with a system we learned from Jerry Campbell in the 90's called "option on me." Jerry came up and helped us install the option game from the ground up, and taught me how the quarterback can call best option at the line. We would simply call a formation and point to our quarterback. That meant the play was on him. He could call midline, load, or veer option based on defensive alignment. Our offense exploded after installing this in the late 90's.

The next step in our journey took us into the realm of packaged plays. With a packaged play you called a run and a pass, and the QB would look at the defense and determine based on alignment whether to execute the run or pass. If he chose to execute the run, he would communicate this with the offense. Typically he would verbalize the call to the line and signal the receivers. Everyone would execute the call.

One of our favorite calls when we were under center was a sprint out concept strong paired with inside zone. In the diagram below, the defense aligns in a Middle Open shell showing cover 2. This means we have numbers in the box. The quarterback would signal to the receivers and verbalize to the line that we are going to run the called run play. As you can see in the diagram, we have numbers for the run game. The Z and H will block the most dangerous secondary force support player.
We have 8 on 6 in the box. Because the defense is playing 5 over 3 with our splits, we are able to run the football in the box. 

If we had the same packaged concepts called and the defense adjusted to bring a 7th man in the box, we could execute the sprint out concept. This is illustrated below. 
When the defense brought the strong safety in the box, we knew we had to leave someone unblocked. Typically this would mean pushing our zone once gap to the frontside, leaving the backside end unlocked. With a packaged play, the quarterback would simply check to the pass called and the offense would execute the play. Below is a video clip of the sprint out strong. 

As you can see in the video, we were able to put the strong safety in conflict. He was in the box to play the run, but he also had to be a man defender on a pass play. We were able to take advantage with our tight end. The safety in the middle of the field cannot get over the top fast enough, and we were able to score. The quarterback looked at the defense and communicated with the offense that we would be running the sprint out pass. 

Our First RPO
One of the first true under center RPO's we installed was what we called BOZO. We ran it off inside zone. The #1 WR ran a 3 yard stop route while #2 ran a 1 yard stop route. The offensive line blocked inside zone. The QB would determine based on presnap alignment whether to throw or execute the run. If the defense left the inside backer inside the box, the QB would read inside to outside. If he linebacker was outside the box, the QB would give the ball. The offensive line is blocking inside zone. Below is a clip of this concept.
Trips Check 
The next step was having a three play package. We did this from trips, and we called it Trips Check. We would align in a trips formation and have 3 plays called. We would call Inside Zone Read with a hitch to the single and a bubble to the trips. We wanted the quarterback to open to the trips to mesh with the back. 
The QB would first look at the single WR side and find the 2nd defender.  We count 2nd level players within 7 yards of the LOS. If the corner is more than 7 yards off, we don't count him. In the diagram above, the corner is #1 and the LB in blue is #2. If the LB was in the box, the QB could throw the hitch route. If the LB was outside the box, the quarterback would go to his next presnap read to the trips side. The QB would find the 3rd defender to the trips side. If he is outside the box, run the ball. if he is inside the box, throw the bubble. In the diagram above, the quarterback sees the #2 linebacker to the single is outside the box. He doesn't want to throw the hitch based on presnap alignment. 

To the trips side he sees the #3 defender inside the box, so the QB knows he can throw the bubble. We have numbers with 3 on 2. If the quarterback were to execute the run we still have a body for  a body, but throwing the bubble gives us the best chance to be explosive. Initially we had the QB tell the OL when he was throwing with a one word code. We decided this was unnecessary.

With Trips Check, we felt like we had numbers regardless of how the defense lined up. If they bumped a linebacker out of the box to the trips side, we had numbers in the box.

If they aligned in an odd front and stayed in their 3-4 look, we had numbers in the box.
If they wanted to play us in a bear front and load the box, we had numbers on the perimeter.
We felt like we always had an answer. The offensive line would block inside zone read, and the skill players would execute the hitch to the single and the bubble to the trips. The quarterback would make a simple read and be able to take advantage of the defense. We could run any of our inside run concepts from this formation.

What this concept did was took a packaged play concept a step further. Instead of calling two plays and having the QB check to the right play, we built both plays into one call. This cut down on verbiage and helped us to play faster. 

Building A Pass Into Every Run
Our next evolution was simple. We would call our runs and build in passes. We did this through a simple set of rules. By building in a simple set of rules that were consistent every single run play, our players were able to play very fast without thinking. On our inside runs we would no longer have our receivers block for the run. Instead we would run a quick pass concept. 

Have you ever called a run, and come to the line of scrimmage to have the defense loading the box and leaving a receiver uncovered? Or, they have the corner playing 10 yards off your best receiver? Or, have you ever called a quick game concept like bubble, only to have the defense playing man press? 

What I am about to discuss gave us built in answers. We didn't ever want to have to run into a loaded box again. We wanted to be able to protect our run game. We also wanted to be able to have a built in way to throw the ball to our most explosive athletes in space if the defense was giving that to us. We wanted to do these things without adding new verbiage and without having to check a play at the line. 

We came up with a simple set of rules. On an inside run the offensive line would block the called run. The receivers would execute their quick game rules. The rules were very simple.
1. If there is one of you, run a stop route at 5 yards.
2. If there are 2 of you, run "quick."
3. If there are 3 of you, run bubble.
That was it. Any inside run we called from any personnel group used those rules. We didn't need any tags to incorporate these rules. It was built into the call.

In addition to protecting our runs, this gave our skill players more touches in space. Even if we had a quarterback who struggled throwing the ball, we could complete high percentage passes. The first year we built this in we nearly doubled our passing yards with a running quarterback. Not only that, our running game improved because we were able to force defenses to unload the box. 

When we get into a 2x2 set and run inside zone read, we get the quick concept on both sides. The defense must align to stop the quick game or the quarterback will catch and throw. If the defense aligns to take away the quick game concept, we have numbers in the box. Below is an example of our inside zone read RPO from a 2x2 set. 
The defense essentially has to decide what they want to take away. If they take away our quick game, we should have numbers in the box. Below I talk you through this simple concept and talk you through three clips that will give you some insight into presnap RPO's. 


As you can see in the third clip, the quick game action holds the safety and slows him down in run support. We actually were running a quick game variation to the field where we tag a "sucker route" or quick and go. This helps to hold the safeties, allowing the back to gain extra yards. To the boundary side we are running a scissors concept reading the outside linebacker. 

I hope this gives you something you can use with your program. I love being able to build quick game passes into our run game concepts. Since we began doing this we have greatly increased our number of explosive plays. This helps your offense add some balance without an expensive investment. I have helped many schools install these simple RPO concepts, and they have found them to be very beneficial.

This barely scratches the surface with what we have done as far as RPO's. We now run them in multiple ways reading literally any 2nd and 3rd level defender! 

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! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Review: Culture Defeats Strategy

Randy Jackson, the head football coach at Grapevine High School in Grapevine, Texas, wrote a new book on culture that is a must read for any coach who wants to improve his or her program. Coach Jackson has been a very successful football coach and has done a great job of turning around programs at every level in Texas.


The book had some actual actionable ideas that were beneficial to me as a coach and to our players. Coach Jackson talks about how they build mental toughness and drive competitiveness in their program. Everywhere he has been he has built programs that have beaten people they shouldn't beat. What intrigued me was watching them beat a couple of programs they had no business beating. Not just beating, but hammering them. They had a 145 pound kid toting the rock and an offensive line that looked like our freshmen team. But they flat out got after it.

The book gives you a specific process for how they divide their year to create culture. Coach Jackson has demystified culture and how it is built. He talks about practical application of concepts he has used to turn programs around by building mental toughness and accountability.

That's the thing about this stuff. There are a lot of people that talk about culture like it's a mystery. Culture is simply the attitudes and behavior attributes of a particular group, team, or organization. It exists whether you build it or you don't. Every day we are building a culture within our programs. You build a culture by design or by chance. It all starts with relationships, but it goes far beyond that. I visited a Tom Hermans practice at Houston and they talk heavily about culture. I read Urban Meyer's book Above the Line last spring and it was tremendous. Nick Saban and Pete Caroll have great books. What do they all have in common... Culture. They talk about having a process for building your culture. Randy Jackson gets the importance of culture.

I learned the hard way how culture mattered. We had 7 D1 kids back early in my career and went damn 5-5. It was a disappointing season because we had the talent to win it all. We had in fighting and leadership issues. We had selfishness. We had really talented kids that were mentally not tough. We researched in the off-season about motivation and building leadership. We visited a very good program and they talked about "culture." We had no clue what "culture" was. We made a few adjustments, set some new standards of performance, and held our guys accountable. We then dove in a little bit further the next year. It changed me as a coach. What it did do was allowed us to coach our kids harder than ever before and push them to new limits. The atmosphere around the locker room changed. Guys worked harder. They played harder. We won more.

That's the thing about culture. You may never use the word. What do you want your program to look like? How do you want your kids to perform on Friday night? How mentally tough do you want them to be? Answer those questions and design your program to produce that. That's what culture is about. That's the point of Randy Jackson's book. Your culture is more important than your strategy in determining your success. Your system doesn't matter if your guys don't play hard. Your talent level doesn't matter if you don't play hard. Your talent doesn't matter if your kids are selfish. That is why your culture is vital.

Coach Jackson's book will give you roadmap for building culture with your program. He gives you tools you can use immediately with your players to begin building a the culture you want within your own program.

I highly recommend this book! It will help make your program better! You can order it by going to http://coachrandyjackson.com.

Shameless pitch for my own books...
A while back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. 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. I wanted these books to be affordable, so they are priced to be easy on your pocket book!
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, November 30, 2016

Time To Improve

There is a popular saying among coaches that simply states, "you are either getting better or you are getting worse, because you aren't staying the same." At the end of the season it is vital to begin preparation for the next year so you can find a way to get better. Here are some thoughts on what you can do to improve as a coach.

The first thing to do at the end of the year is to take inventory of the mistakes of your position group. What are the biggest mistakes that you made? What are the 3 biggest things you need to focus on for the off-season? I watch every play of the season over a two week period. As I watch each clip I take notes on what we need to do to improve. I typically make a cut-up of each individual concept and watch them from worst to best. What mistakes did we make on the bad plays, and what did we well on the good plays?

After I watch our clips I compile the notes and identify the areas we need to improve. I want to find three specific areas we need to improve our technique to be more successful. For example, we might find ourselves slipping off blocks. This might be caused by not running our feet once we lock up. Once you identify your biggest areas to improve, you have to research how to make them better. Find experts in your field and ask questions.

One important piece of advice I can give young coaches is to focus on your position group. Don't worry about drawing up a bunch of new concepts. Learn to be an expert in your position group. Focus on being the best coach of your position you can be. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't learn about schemes and concepts, but don't let that get in the way of being better at coaching your position.

Three Ways to Gain Knowledge

1. Attend Clinics- Clinics are a great way to increase your football knowledge with several coaches in one place. You can attend clinic sessions to learn about specific schemes, concepts, and techniques. You can ask questions and ask presenters to demonstrate and clarify. Typically clinic speakers are very knowledgable in their particular fields. There is also the clinic within the clinic, where coaches hang out and talk ball. This is where you never know who you are going to learn from.

I was in the lobby at a Glazier Clinic in Baltimore one year and several of us were talking about pass protection. The next thing you know, tables were moved and we were running through a 3 man slide protection. Jerry Campbell was coaching at the time at Westwood high school in Round Rock, Texas, and he was taking coaches through their protection. It took more out of that 30 minute segment than any clinic session I attended.

At another clinic I was in James Franklin's session on receiver play. He was the receiver coach at Maryland at the time, and I wore him out with questions after he finished speaking. I was able to fix some things we did not do well with our receivers. He gave me an awesome drill to improve our ability to catch a football while moving. It wasn't fancy, but it was something we weren't doing.

2. Visit Coaches- There are three ways you can visit coaches. First, you go to their campus and talk ball with them. Most schools are hospitable and are willing to spend some time with you. Some schools will put you in the film room with a GA, while others will let you talk with the coordinator or position coach. The best thing to do is to call ahead and find out what their policy is for visiting coaches. Many schools will allow you to visit during spring ball. This is a great time to see how they coach certain drills and teach schemes. You can often sit in team and position meetings. Again, I would suggest you call ahead.

Second, talk with coaches as they come through your school to recruit. I try to ask every coach that comes through at least two questions. I write down questions for each position so I am prepared for every coach that comes through. Most coaches will take a few minutes to share some of their knowledge with you.

Third, work college camps. This is a great way to network with coaches and learn from high school and college coaches around the country. When you work a camp you are going to see how coaches at the college level lead their drills. You will also be able to coach along side of them. Contact colleges in your area and find out if they need help for their camps.

3. Buy at DVD or Book- Find a publication that addresses the issue you are trying to solve. I buy 3 to 5 DVD's each year. I also buy 2 or 3 books. Usually books and DVD's are discounted at clinics. Coaches Choice often has special sales that they advertise on twitter. The DVD's I buy typically focus on improving technique. The books I buy are usually related to program building and culture. If I can get one thing from a book or DVD it makes it worthwhile.

Never be satisfied with where you are right now. There is always something that you can do better, and there are always things you can do to improve your position group and your team. There is no such thing as knowing it all. You never have enough knowledge. Make the investment to attend a clinic, visit a staff, and buy a book or/and a DVD. Commit yourself to being a better coach.


A few months back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. 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 apple device, you can order the paperback version! It is available on Amazon! 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1520447485
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:


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Developing Culture, Character, and Leadership

Unless you won your championship, your season probably did not end the way you wanted it to. If you are like most coaches, you are trying to figure out what you can do to improve your program for the 2017 season. 


Many coaches will tell you, "we just didn't have the talent." Or, we didn't have great leadership." Or, "our kids were mentally weak." While these all may be true, they are also excuses. That is a hard fact to face. I understand there are some very difficult situations to coach in. I have coached in a few of those situations. Every mediocre coach in America will tell you how their situation is dire. 

If you focus on the negative of your situation, you will never have success. What is success? Making the most out of the situation you have, and doing everything in your power to make it better. I am a realist, and I understand that some programs are much better than others. But if you focus on why your program can't be successful, that is exactly what you will get.

Building a championship program is hard. It is a very, very difficult thing to do. That's why very few programs every reach that level. Quite honestly, most coaches are not focused on what it takes to build a championship program. They aren't willing to do the things it takes to create a culture of success. They aren't willing to coach the details each and every rep, every single day. It is hard to coach guys every single day and the details. They allow themselves to accept less than an athletes best. They then justify to themselves that it's okay to accept less than the athlete's best. He's hurt, or he's new, or we will fix it tomorrow. If that's your mentality... prepare for more of the same next year.

So what does it take? Here are five keys to building a championship program:

1. Cleary Defined Vision
2. Visible Core Values or Core Covenants
3. Defined Process In Place
4. They Coach Details
5. Clear Accountability

Last summer I picked up Urban Meyer's new book Above the Line, and it has not disappointed. He had a great quote in the prologue about leadership.
That says it all! Putting up some motivational signs is not going to develop character, leadership or mental toughness. What it will do is add noise to your field house, weight room, and locker room. I saw Tom Herman speak at a clinic last month, and he talked about how they took all their motivational signs down. He asked a player, "hey, how about that sign." The player didn't know what he was talking about. How many players have actually read the signs around your field house? And if they have read them, how many of your players live them?

If you have signs up and expect a culture to develop, you will be very disappointed. You see, culture will develop, but it won't be the culture you desire. Culture is being built each and every day in your organization, and the question is, are you developing the culture... or is the culture developing you? What are you doing to build the culture in your organization with intent? Most coaches think they are doing a lot, but in reality, they are doing very little. They are doing a lot of things, but they are doing these things without an end result in mind. When you don't have an end result and a process, how will you ever get there?

Since 2002, I have been blessed to work with schools across the country on installing the No Huddle, RPO Concepts, Pistol and Spread Concepts, the Odd Stack Defense, and Building Character, Culture, and Leadership programs. A few years ago a school brought me in to help them implement a Multiple Tempo No Huddle Offense. Most of the staff was on board, but as we began our talk I noticed a couple of coaches were very reluctant to make the change. The first question I asked was, "why do you want to go to the No Huddle?" The response floored me. The head coach said, "because our players fight in the huddle." After a brief pause I said, "if that's why you want to go to the no huddle you brought me in for the wrong talk." They didn't need a no huddle talk, they needed a talk on organization culture.

They wanted to fight the symptoms rather than the disease. They wanted to put a band-aid where a transplant is needed. When you do this, you will find yourself constantly running out of band-aids. Your coaches will be frustrated and often disengaged. Your players will be frustrated and you will find them quitting when things get a little bit difficult. Your organization will lack a unity and a trust. You will not be a cohesive unit. This team did not need a new system, gimmick, or play, they needed to change their culture. 

"Culture is the sum of the beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes of a particular organization"

Every single organization has a culture. Every team at every level has a culture. The problem is, only a select few have a defined culture that has been carefully and intently built. Most teams have a culture that has been built by chance. If the talent is good and there are some kids who have been developed as leaders, the team has a good year. If the talent is down, and/or there are very few leaders who walk through your door, the season is a disaster. If I asked you to raise your hands if this is your organization, chances are most of you would do so. Most programs fall into the category I call "Culture by Chance."

Culture by chance programs never achieve as much as they should. They never reach their full potential. They are slaves to the situation. They are slaves to the level of talent that walks through the door. Because they don't have a specific plan for culture, character, and leadership development, they get what they get. These are programs that never seem to get over the hump. And if the talent level is way down, they have a horrendous season. Culture by chance programs often have players that become discipline issues when things get difficult in practice or a game. Raise your hand if you have seen this in your program...

The second level is what I call "Talk About It." This is the group that says they talk about culture and character with their kids, but they do so without a plan. They talk about core values a few times then put them on the shelf. There is no plan, purpose or vision. When a good idea pops up they jump on it for a day or two. They have 8 different coaches going 8 different directions. If you ask the players the vision or mission for the program you will get a different answer from each player. These programs often falter under pressure and fail to win close games or big games. They are never going to beat a team more talented than they are.

The "Talk About It" teams often lose to teams with lesser talent. Programs that talk about culture, character, and leadership often will implode at inopportune times. They often have players who will coast when no one is looking. When things are going well their players work hard, but only until things start getting uncomfortable. When things get uncomfortable, they are going to cut reps and even sets. They are going to have a nagging injury and find the "loser's limp."

"Talk About It Teams" and "Culture by Chance" teams have players that look at coaching and correction with disdain. They make excuses for mistakes. They don't like to be coached. Coaches often avoid confrontation so the start to ignore mistakes .Raise your hand if you work in, or have every worked in a program that would fall into this category?

The coaches of the "Talk About It" teams and the "Culture By Chance" teams often complain their kids aren't mentally tough. They often complain about their kids being entitled. They often talk about a lack of work ethic. These are the guys that say, "we didn't have a good senior class this year." 

Here is my question: WHAT DID YOU DO TO DEVELOP THE VERY THINGS YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT? DID YOU HAVE A VISION AND A PROCESS?

"Great seasons are not built in October and November, they are built in January and February, and March, April and May. Conversely, 1-9 and 2-8 seasons are built at the same time."

This brings us to the third level. The third level is the level I call, "Live It, Breath It, Love It." These programs are the elite. They are the programs that are consistently improving regardless of their talent level. These are the programs that consistently outperform their actual talent level. These programs often compete with the elite programs every year, despite not having elite talent. 

These are the programs that excel. And they all have one thing in common. They have a vision, a goal, and a process for building culture, character, and leadership. These are programs where every single kid and coach knows the core values of the organization and what they stand for. They know the vision and everyone in the organization is focused on the mission. These are the organizations where the athletes are accountable to each other. In business, these are the companies that have high employee retention and repeat customers. These are the companies where people don't call in sick because they "want" to be at work.

The programs that Live It, Breath It, Love It have players who embrace being uncomfortable. They have team members who will not give up because they don't want to let down the man next to them. These are the teams where every practice and every workout is a joy to watch. There is purpose and passion displayed in every drill. There is coaching going on every single rep. There is a high level of accountability. If a mistake is made it is called out and corrected immediately. Coaches are coaching the details. Players are hustling. Everything is highly organized and fast paced. Players accept coaching for what it is, "a compliment to say I care enough about you to help you be your best."

Organizations that Live It, Breath It, and Love It have five things that set them apart. Those five things are:
1. Cleary Defined Vision
2. Visible Core Values
3. Defined Process In Place
4. They Coach Details
5. Clear Accountability

Clearly Defined Vision: I recently heard someone on a podcast say that a vision is simply your purpose put into words. I look at vision as a clear picture describing where you want your organization to go culturally. It doesn't have to be long or wordy. Your vision simply communicates what you stand for. Describe what it looks like. Where do we want to go? Then, reduce this to a sentence or catch phrase. 

Visible Core Values: Your core values shape your culture and lead you to the vision of your organization. What do you want to develop in your athletes? A great way to build core values is to start with your coaches. What three things mean the most to you? Then ask your players. What three things are most important to you with this program. We once asked our team, "if you could design are program from scratch, what words would come to mind? Man, that was powerful! That shaped our core values. We weren't smart enough to call them core values, at the time, but that is what they were. The kids came up with: Trust, Honesty, Work Ethic, Perseverance, Passion, and Accountable.

From there we had them describe each of them in detail. We came up with our own definition for each of those. What do they look like? All of a sudden, our kids had a vested interest in the development of the culture and direction of the program. What does Honesty look like in the weight room? In the classroom? At practice? During games? What does Passion look like? What about Accountability? What will it look like in the weight room? In the locker room? This took a couple of days. It was the best two day investment we made! We then designed signs for each core value. They weren't fancy, but they were ours. 

Bruce Brown, who leads Proactive Coaching, calls these core covenants. He does this because a covenant is much stronger than a value. A covenant is much harder to break. You have to crawl all over yourself to break a covenant.

The players live and breath the culture. They understand the purpose and vision of the organization. They live the core values of the organization. They hustle well regardless of circumstance. They accept coaching. They have been trained on how to handle adversity. 

Defined Process in Place: Having a vision and core values gives you a starting place. Now you have to build your process. Your process is the method you will use to develop your core values. You might start practice with a 5 minute exercise. You might might start practice with 3 minutes and end practice with 3 minutes. You might have 5 core values and focus on one each day. 

Your entire coaching staff must be on board and unified in the process. Every coach must be enthusiastic and passionate about the process. A great way to get buy-in from your coaches is to make them part of the process. Have each coach take turns delivering the message of the day. A great way to do this is to break your kids into small groups and give each coach a group. Rather than presenting to your whole team, meet in small groups to communicate the core value of the day. This requires having a unified coaching staff. You then can rotate your kids each day so they are with a different coach. The more coaches are involved with the process, the more buy-in they will have.

Each day you build a consistency into your routine and your kids come to look forward to this time. You control what you put into their system mentally each and every day. They get so much garbage and negative talk from social media, the TV, and their peers. For the 45 minutes or 60 minutes, or 90 minutes we get them each day we control the message. We can give them our core values each and every day before we start and when we finish. And while they are working we can reinforce the message. 

In our small groups you also need to spend time sharing and learning about each other. Building strong relationships will go a long way toward shaping your culture. It is much easier to care about someone you know than someone you don't know. You want your players to learn to unconditionally love each other, and this starts with coaches loving each other unconditionally. Meeting in small groups allows this to happen. You can build these small groups into your athletic period or practice time at any point. You can put them in the beginning, middle, end, or all three. You control time through your decisions. How will you decide to reinforce your core values? 

Coach The Details: When we set our core values we talk about standards of performance. When we set a standard we held our players accountable. This had to be more than lip service. We all, meaning everyone in our program, had to hold each other accountable to our standard. This is not easy. This requires confrontation. Confrontation doesn't have to be negative. It goes to your culture. What does your culture say about accountability? Prepare your players for how they will be confronted. Teach them an appropriate response. 

When we talk about details, we are talking about the smallest things that most people think don't matter. Remind your team you are not most people. You are special. You are elite. You have a vision. You live to certain values. When we stand at attention, we clearly define what attention is. We then coach the details. If their eyes are not straight ahead, they are coached on that. If their feet are not in the proper position, they get coached on this.

Why does this matter? First, your players will be more detail oriented in practice. If you allow deviation from details in March and April, expect deviation in September and October. You must coach the details every single minute of every day. This is the part about living it. If you have a standard that you are not going to hold your players to every day, get rid of the standard. Having a standard that is inconsistently enforced will weaken your credibility. It will confuse them, and they will begin choosing what standards matter and what standards don't. This is when many fail on developing culture and standards. They inconsistently enforce the standards. Elite programs coach the  details and the players accept the coaching. 

Clear Accountability: When you have well-defined standards of performance and you hold your players to the details, you will begin to build a tremendous culture. Accountability can be handled in many ways. The goal is for your players to meet and even exceed the standard. We must continually remind and reteach. We must make sure we give clear instructions. When they fail to meet the standard we must coach them. This requires some sort of reminder activity. What will it take to help this player meet our standard? That is the question you must ask when determining what accountability exercise that will be done. 

Here is the key: You can't do this one day and quit. Coaches often say, "doesn't this take time out of other things?" That depends how you look at it. Are you taking time from from something else, or are you investing in something vital to your program's success? We all have 168 hours in a week. What are we doing with our time to build the best product we can? I am firmly convinced that culture is the most important ingredient in building a championship program. You get to choose how you spend the time you have with your program or organization. You get to choose what you do with that time. You get to choose how much time you spend in the weight room, on the track, and on the field. 

As you read through each of these, evaluate your organization. Where are you doing well, and where might you be lacking? What is the culture of your team? How would your players define your culture?

Regardless of where you are, you must take an action step. If you don't have a vision, or core values, or a plan to teach character and leadership, the time is now. Bring your team together and talk about what you think a championship organization looks like. Build your vision and core values. Put together a plan to invest time to develop your core values.

If you don't know where to start, find someone who can help. It's okay to not know. It's not okay to not seek out how. Reach out to a coach who can help you build your culture. Reach out to people who can help.

If I can help you please let me know. I have worked with several schools over the years on areas of building culture, character, and leadership. I will be speaking at several clinics this year on Building Character and Culture with the R.E.A.L. Man Program. The R.E.A.L. Man Program is a tremendous resource for you to build character and improve your culture.

Reach me on Twitter @coachvint for more information. Or, you can shoot me an email at coachvint@gmail.com.

A great coach that could help you with building a culture is Randy Jackson at Grapevine High School in Grapevine, Texas. He is one of the best at building culture with his athletes. His teams consistently overachieve. Randy Jackson can be found on twitter @CoachJacksonTPW He wrote a great book called Culture Defeats Strategy. It can be found here: coachrandyjackson.com
Coach Jackson's book is awesome!

X's and O's, Tempo, and RPO's!

A few months back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. 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: