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. I wanted to make it affordable, so it is just $9.99!
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: