Thursday, August 4, 2016

10 Keys to Great Coaching

Before I even start this, I must preface by saying that I am battling every day to be a better coach. I am not on a soapbox preaching. I am talking to myself in the mirror in this article. Many of the things I am about to talk about are things I need to continually improve. I am lucky to be surrounded by a great group of coaches who hold me accountable everyday to being better than I was yesterday.

1. Coach Every Single Rep
Great coaches are willing to coach every single rep! Every time a player takes a rep, say something to him to help him get better. If his stance wasn't good, tell him. If his hands weren't in the right place, tell him. If his eyes were on the ground, let him know. The worst thing you can do is not say anything.

Back when I was first getting into coaching I had the opportunity to watch Tyrone "Moe" Murray from Kennedy High School in the Bronx, coaching his lineman. Moe was a master of talking to his guys every single time they took a rep. He never took a rep off. Kennedy's offensive line was unbelievable. Moe coached those guys with a relentless attitude. He loved each and every one of them and they knew it. He coached them to be great every single day. They had some very, very talented lineman, but even the guys who weren't talented were very technically sound. They also played with an edge.

Reps are a valuable commodity, like money. You are only allotted a certain amount each day, week, and season. Every time you use a rep without coaching something, you have thrown it away. You have cheated the player you are working with because he did not receive immediate feedback. It fires me up to go to a practice and see a coach not talking to his guys. There are guys at all levels who do this. They waste reps each and every day. 

I was at a practice a few years back and saw a coach leaning on the chute. He couldn't even see the feet of his lineman. His body language said, "it's time to relax and I don't really want to be here." I am big on posture. How you stand matters. If you have poor body language your players are more likely to do this as well. During the drill he said very little to his guys. In fact, I think all he said was "set go." He never made his guys better. 

As football season begins we all have a choice. We can choose to be passionate or to be lazy. We have a choice to coach them every rep or to take reps off. We coach them to improve or we can let them get worse. 

2. Improve Your Craft
Schedule 30 minutes a day to watch drill tape of the position he coaches. Spend a few $ and order a couple of instructional videos from really good coaches. Watch 30 minutes of video each day and take notes. There are no exception to this. Make the time to improve your craft. When the spring comes around attend at least on clinic and watch coaches who speak on your position group. Watch several speakers and take great notes. 

At clinics I am always looking for one thing that can help me improve. I want to find one new drill, or one new coaching point that I can use with my players. The internet has put information in our hands very readily, and it needs to be taken advantage of. There is no excuse for not being able to learn more about the position you coach. I once worked with a guy who complained that I went to too many clinics each year. He said it wasn't fair that I got to go and he didn't. But the funny part was that he never once asked to go to a clinic. When he was invited to go (For Free) he said no. He didn't want to improve and he tried to keep others from improving. He didn't last very long on our staff. Stay away from guys who don't have desire to get better. 

3. Coach and Correct Mistakes
Never be afraid to tell an athlete what he did wrong and how to fix it. Never let a mistake go without fixing it. Correction is caring. Correction is the ultimate form of love. It tells your athlete you care about him enough to help him be his best. If he stepped with the wrong foot, tell him. If his eyes weren't where they were supposed to be, tell him. "Here is where your eyes were, and here is where they should be." Tell him the mistake and the correction. Keep correction the mistake until he gets it right. If the mistake continues, find a new way to correct it. Don't come in the office and say, "Mike keeps screwing it up. I keep telling him, but he just won't do it." Find a new way to teach it. Great coaches figure out how to communicate with each player in a way they understand. They never give up on teaching that player.

4. Encourage Your Players and Fellow Coaches
Constantly reinforce to your players when they do something well. Even when you correct them you can encourage. Tell them you believe in them and that if they keep working they will do it right. If yo constantly beat them down they will not improve. They will eventually tune you out. Build them up every single day.

Do everything you can to help promote your players and fellow coaches. Help the guys in your program to advance personally and professionally. Help promote your players to college coaches. Help the guys you work with to advance. When I was an OC I took great pride in helping every position coach I worked with get an OC job if they wanted one. It was awesome to see them advance themselves and be able to grow.

5. Coach Them to Greatness
Coach them to what you want them to be and they will get there. If you see a guy as a future all-state player, you will coach him that way. If you see him as a lifetime 7th grade B team player, that is exactly how you will coach him. I hate hearing a coach talk about how a player can never improve. Or they downplay a kid because he is a terrible athlete. He may not be a good athlete, but he can be better than where he is right now. But he will only get better if you coach him every play. If the kid is at practice working hard, coach him to be better. The only kid you can't coach is the kid who isn't there. Every other kid deserves our best! And darn it, you need to believe in them. You have to believe in them before they will believe in themselves! 

6. Get to the Point
Keep your coaching points under 8 seconds. If you have to stop a drill to give a clinic you will lose your kids. NO CLINICS ARE ALLOWED ON THE FIELD! I like to have short, concise coaching points in 3 to 5 words. If we can say it in one word that is even better. Todays generation needs constant, immediate feedback, and they need it in short bursts. They text, tweet, instagram and snapchat. They get their information in 140 characters or less. We need to coach them that way.

7. Build Relationships!
If you don't care about your players. GO DO SOMETHING ELSE! You have to care about their success on the field and in life. You have to be willing to get to know them for more than what they do on the field. Learn their hopes, goals, and dreams. Learn about their families. Learn about the things they love and hate. Learn about their struggles. This will build trust in your athletes. Many of our players have a great distrust for male figures because every male in their lives has walked out on them. They face broken promises every day. Why should they trust you? Trust is earned by your actions over time. Once you build that relationship and they trust you, the coaching can go to another level. 

8. Be Loyal
This is vital. Loyalty is a championship quality. If you don't like how something is done talk to the person making the decision. Don't go talk to someone in the office or in the community, telling them how the OC or DC screwed something up. Don't go tell another coach that you would do it this way and the head coach or coordinator is wrong. Talk to the source. This is a great way to destroy your coaching staff. The term I will use is Chicken***t. That is the best way to describe it. Go to the source, tell them how you feel, and accept their decision. Championship programs have coaches that are loyal to each other, to their kids, and to their program as a whole. You need to build up your coaches.

9. Accept Criticism
I love when the head coach tells me I did something wrong, or that I could do something better. It means someone is willing to hold me accountable to being my best. Great coaches want to be challenged to improve every single day. If you want to be a better coach, ask your peers to challenge you. Ask them to hold you accountable to being better than you were yesterday. If you aren't coaching every rep, you want to be around people who will call you out. The only thing that hurts when someone tells you that you aren't doing something as well as you could is your ego. And your ego heals fast.

10. Appreciate Managers, Trainers, and Custodians
No one notices the trainers until there isn't water on the field. When your players can't go on because they are gassed and don't have water, you'll realize how vital they are. You need to appreciate what they do and thank them for their efforts. Tell them how important they are to the program. No one notices the managers until the equipment isn't set up. Tell the managers how valuable they are. Thank the custodians for all they do to keep your offices clean. Tell them thank you and let them know you appreciate them. Everyone in your program matters. Everyone is vital. Make people know you realize how important their job is. And don't do it because you want something in return. Do it because what they do really is vital to the success of your program.

This list is far from exhaustive, but it covers 10 things I think we can all do to get better everyday. Every one of these things could be at the top of the list. I work on these things everyday, and I have a long way to go.

Every single day to everything you can do to be the best you can be for the kids you will coach. Every day make your decisions with the best interests of our kids at heart.

Shameless plug... I have to mention that I do have some resources available that might help improve your program. Several coaches have told me the Game and Practice Planning Resources I have available for both sides of the ball are going to save them time and help them be more organized. These are documents that you can download and edit to help you plan for your install and for each game and practice of the season. I have received hundreds of emails from coaches telling me these were the most detailed and usable documents they had found. Here is a small sample of what is included in the offensive packet:

It can be found here: 

Here is a sample of the defensive documents:

 The defensive documents can be found here:

This year I also wrote a book on RPO's that will give you a systematic process to build RPO's into your offensive system. The book has an iBooks version and an Amazon Kindle version. The iBooks version can be read on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It is an amazing book that gives you over an hour of video! It has been read by coaches at all levels, and they have all loved it! This book gives you a systematic process for installing and teaching pre snap and post snap RPO's! This book will greatly enhance your offense! It can be ordered clicking here:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Developing an Offensive Game Plan and Call Sheet: Less is More!

Earlier this year I was speaking at a clinic in Greenwich, Connecticut, when a coach asked me what the biggest issue is with ineffective game planning. The answer was easy. Numerous times I have tried to put too much into the game plan. I tried to run too many concepts from too many formations. We would often have over 100 different calls in our game plan. The problem with this is that we couldn't practice everything we were going to run in the game. We wasted a lot of time practicing concepts we wouldn't end up running. Many of you are probably nodding your head because you have done the same thing!

I decided to take an analytical approach. We had approximately 50 team reps each day, 25 inside run reps, 25 team on air reps, and 25 7-on-7 reps each day. If we had four days of practice, we would get 500 reps a week. These 500 reps were sacred. We had to make sure we used them wisely so we were prepared each week.

The first thing we did was cut down on the number of calls we had in our game plan. In a typical game we are going to run between 70 and 85 plays. We aren't going to run 85 different plays. We are going to repeat plays throughout the game. And often, we are going to find a call that works and repeat it over and over. Once we find a formation and concept that works, we often will call that concept several times.

As we began to build our game plan we started with a menu. Our menu consisted of 24 things we felt would be best on Friday night. When I talk about a menu, I am talking about the entire call. This is how we built our menu. As we watched film of our opponents, we answered a worksheet with 63 questions on it. The answers to these questions helped us to get a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the defense. Below is a screen shot of the first 12 questions of this worksheet.

We examined four areas of the defense. First, we wanted to know how they were going to align. We looked at their alignments to find what formations would give us leverage, numbers, and green grass. Where could we find an alignment advantage?

Second, we examined their personnel. Who were their best players? Who were their worst players? Where could we find a matchup we could win? This is a vital part of game planning that helped us win several games. One season we were playing a team with a great defense. They shut our offense down in the first quarter. However, there was one matchup we knew we could win. Our X receiver was better than their corner. To stop the run they were putting their corner on an island. We scored three times in the first half, all on vertical routes to our X. We ran 35 plays in the first half for 220 yards. 170 of those yards came on 3 long touchdown passes to our X. 

Third, we wanted to know when they blitzed. When did they call 5 and 6 man pressures? This helped us to determine when we would call our screens. If a team blitzed 75% of the time we were 2nd and medium, we were going to call our screens on those downs. 

Fourth, we wanted to know how they handled tempo. Did they huddle? How did they get their call in? What was their answer to offenses playing fast? A few years back we played a team that was much better than us physically. They were huge up front. The one weakness was that they couldn't adjust to tempo. They couldn't get lined up right if the offense played fast. We had no business beating them, but our tempo overwhelmed them. 

Once we analyze these four areas, we begin to build our menu. We want to major in 24 things each week. We then would have 12 things we would minor in. This gave us a total of 36 calls for a game. If we did a great job preparing, we would not have to deviate from this list. Below are two screenshots of showing our weekly menu. This is a simple excel worksheet we could adjust each week. 

Once we have our menu built, we begin to fill in our call sheet. Our call sheet is very unique in that it gives us specific call scripts based on situations we will face each game. What we did each season was analyzed how many times we faced each down and distance situation. We then built a script for each situation with a column for left hash, right hash, and middle hash. For each situation, we would enter the defense we were most likely going to face. This helped us to have a specific set of plays we felt would take advantage of the defense for each situation. The plays on the call sheet came directly from our menu. Many of these plays would be repeated throughout this call sheet. Below is a screen shot of our call sheet with situational scripts. 
The number of plays we had scripted for each situation was based on the number of times we would face that situation each game. We had would have more 2nd and medium calls than we would 2nd and short. By putting together these scripts on our call sheet, we were able to call plays faster on Friday Night. We were able to call better plays based on what the defense was doing against us. Each time we called a play I would make a red mark or a green mark during the game. The red mark meant the play was not positive. A green mark meant it was good. This gave us a point of reference as we went through the game. Typically I would go right down the script each time we faced that specific situation. 

On the other side of our call sheet we had sections designed to for additional important areas of our game plan. We had a section with calls designed to get our best athletes the ball in open space. We wanted to make sure we got our best athletes enough quality touches. We had calls based on each formation. This was similar to our play menu. We had another section with specific coverage beaters. We also had a script built for our last play based on field position. There were several other sections as well designed to help us make better calls in the heat of battle. 

Once our call sheet was built, we began to build our scripts for the week. We scripted everything we did. If a team we played brought a 5 man pressure 75% of the time on third and long, we made sure we ran a 5 man pressure during that situation in our team period of practice. Everything we did was tied to our preparation worksheet and the reports we ran on our opponents. I am not smart enough to call things from the hip, so our preparation was vital to our success on offense.

If you want to improve your preparation, I have made each of our game planning documents available for download. You can click the link here: Offensive Game Planning Documents. There are 9 documents included in this download. Each document is completely editable and customizable to your program. You can order them today and download them immediately. Here are the documents that are included:
You don't have to recreate the wheel! Everything you need is all ready to go for the 2016 season! For less than $15 you will be better prepared and more explosive on offense! Each document is already formatted, saving you hours of work! Simply type in your information and go to work! You will call better plays and score more points. These sheets will also make you look like a professional! If you use code STATE 2016, you can save 20% for a limited time! 

I also have a packet for the defense available for download! These documents helped us post 6 shutouts in 10 games! Everything you need as a defensive coordinator is here for you to prepare to dominate your opponents! Defensive Game Planning Packet

As you build your gameplay, start with a 24 play menu. Remember, you want to be able to give everything you are going to run in the game enough quality reps in practice. You don't want to run a bunch of stuff in practice you may not run in a game! I hope you have gotten something from this article you can use!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Building A Defensive Call Sheet

When I first became a defensive coordinator, I thought I would call everything off the hip. I would go by feel and what was happening in the game. Every morning after our game I would say, "why did I make that call?" Or, "why didn't I call XYZ pressure package that we worked all week?" I began to realize I had to do a better job of planning and preparation. As an offensive coordinator I had a very detailed call sheet. I decided to adapt this to defense. This article will give you a couple of ideas that will help you to better prepare for your opponents. You may want to include these in your own call sheet this season.

Our number one goal on defense was to get the ball back. That was the premise for everything we did. We could get the ball back one of our ways.
1. They score. This was the worst way to get the ball back.
2. We get a turnover on downs. This was good, but often meant they had driven into our territory and went for it on fourth down.
3. We could force a punt. This was good, as it usually meant we stopped them on their side of the 50. 4. We got a turnover. This was best as it meant we created momentum, and often would have great field position.

When I put our call sheet together, I did so with the thought of getting the ball back the third and fourth way. But, we were prepared for the second way as well. When we built our call we focused on a couple of areas first. We wanted to make sure we knew who their playmakers were, and when they went to them. One week we faced a team that had a great receiver they would go to every time it was 3rd and 4 or more. We knew we had to take him away. We scripted a couple of calls that were designed to cover him with some sort of a bracket coverage. Below is an example of this column:
Depending how many playmakers our opponent has, we may use 2, 3, or 4 of these columns. Typically we are going to have 2 of these columns, because most teams have 2 playmakers. Some teams may have 3 or 4. Usually each of these guys are go to guys in specific situations. This same team had a big back that they went to on 3rd and less then four. They ran power 90% of the time. We had a call specifically designed to take power scripted. We might have 1 or 2 calls. Sometimes we might have 3 calls we like. The big key is I can look at this column and quickly communicate a call to our guys on the field.

The next column I built was our opponents personnel groups and run pass percentages, followed by the calls they made most often, and what we liked to call against this group. I used these typically on first and 2nd down situations. I had a coach telling me personnel, down and distance, and run/pass percentages. I would then make my call based on the call sheet. We were using concrete data to make calls. Below is an example of what this section of my call sheet looked like:
Most teams are very tendency oriented, and I wanted to know what their tendencies were from each formation and personnel grouping. I also wanted to be reminded of screen downs. We had calls built in to take away screens against teams that were screen heavy. I also wanted to know if there were certain personnel or formation keys that tipped us to what our opponent would do. The stars * are the calls they make most using our terminology. The numbers are the calls I like against these personnel groups. This way I am not trying to guess what to call. I am not smart enough to do that. 

Each section of our call sheet gave specific info that helped us to be able to take away what our opponent wanted to do. We called our call sheet an in-game info sheet because it contained a lot of necessary data. I had a communication coach relaying information to me based on this sheet. We felt like this helped us to put our kids in a position to be successful. A good play call can help your players to be able better do their job. We ended up with 6 shutouts and beat some teams we shouldn't have beaten. We were able to play very well on defense. Adding these columns might benefit you as you build your call sheet this season. 

Many coaches tell me they want to build a call sheet, but they don't know where to start. Many have asked about my call sheet, and I decided to put together a packet of every single document we have used to prepare on defense! This has everything we used, including our 2 sided color call sheet. You will be more prepared on defense and will be able to dominate your opponent! These documents are currently just $14.99! You can click here to learn more: You can order it now and download it instantly! Use code STATE2016 and you will save 20%! 

If you are looking to improve your preparation, take a minute to check out this resource packet.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Game Planning For A More Explosive Offense: GAB Concepts

One of the most important aspects of being explosive on offense is detailed preparation. And one of the best ways to be explosive is to get your best athletes opportunities to touch the football. We have all had games where our best athlete was limited in touches. I learned this lesson early in my career when we had a tremendous athlete who was not getting touches. Kindu Brown was his name, and he was a receiver. We knew he was explosive and could change games, but we weren't getting him enough touches. We had a very good stable of running backs, and Kind was a receiver for us on offense. We were running the ball 85% of the time, which limited touches for our receivers.

One lesson I learned early on is that players win games, not plays. You can have the best play in the world drawn up, but if the best player isn't touching the ball, the play may not work. Average players can screw up well blocked concepts. Conversely, great athletes can turn a poorly blocked play into a touchdown. When our best players aren't getting touches, we are not going to be as explosive as we can be on offense.

We knew if we could get Kindu 8 touches on offense, that he would find a way to turn 4 of those touches into explosive plays. The problem was, we were not getting him those touches. He was getting more touches on defense through interceptions than he was on offense. As a young offensive coordinator I was doing a bad job of getting him the ball.

After three games we were undefeated, but we hadn't gotten Kindu enough touches. We were missing some big play opportunities. As our schedule got more difficult, we knew we had to get him the ball. The answer we came up with was very simple. We added a section to our offensive call sheet we simply titled, "Get Athletes Ball," or GAB. 

This addition of GAB was the most important part of our call sheet. If we have one great athlete, we have selected plays for this athlete. We typically will have 3 to 4 plays that we feel give this athlete a great chance to score a touchdown. If we have 2 athletes we want to get touches, we will list 3 or 4 plays for that athlete. Below is an example of our get athlete the ball column of my call sheet.
In the box I am going to list the plays we like best for the athlete. For example, if left side inside receiver is our best athlete, we might put bubble as a concept to get him the ball. The second play might be a jet sweep to that player. The third concept might be a reverse where he is going to get the football. Whatever concepts you run that ensure that athlete will touch the ball is what you list. Maybe you have 2 plays that guarantee he will touch the ball. Then you put those two plays.

Typically are GAB concepts are pretty consistent week to week. However, if we see something we can exploit against a particular opponent, we will adjust that call. As the game goes on, I will put a check each time we call these plays. Next to the check I write the result in pencil real small. I want to know who many times we got our best athlete the ball and how many yards we gained. 

The result of adding this section to our call sheet was that our best athletes got more touches, and we scored more points. We were much more explosive. I remember we had a concept we called to Kindu that the defense had taken away by alignment. In my head I knew we should call a timeout. As the ball was snapped I said, "this ain't good." Then Kindu got the football. He made the first two defenders miss, broke a tackle, and turned a 1 yard loss into a 60 yard touchdown. Great athletes make great plays, and players win games, not plays.

I know this seems simple. But in the heat of a game cooler heads often don't prevail. We want to be able to be methodical in our play calling without regard to emotion. By adding a section where you have plays ready to get your athletes the ball, you will get them more touches and you will score more points. 

To help coaches in preparation, I have created an Offensive Game and Practice Planning Resource Packet. This packet consists of 9 downloadable documents that are already formatted, saving you hundred of hours recreating the wheel. These are the documents I used at the high school and college level to prepare our offenses. Included in this packet is our offensive call sheet in excel format. It is a two sided color document formatted for legal sized paper. It is a very detailed call sheet that will help you be a better play caller on gameday! This resource packet is available for instant download for just $14.99! Click here to order yours today: Offensive Game and Practice Planning Documents  These documents will help you SCORE MORE POINTS!

Additionally, I have a defensive packet available for defensive coordinators. These are highly coordinated with the offensive packet, helping your program as a whole to be on the same page. Click here for the Defensive Game and Practice Planning Packet: Defensive Game and Practice Planning Documents

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Using The Big 12 to Prepare on Defense

Over the last 10 years I have had several opportunities to speak at clinics around the country talking about our success on defense when I was a defensive coordinator. One thing that ultimately comes up is how we game planned for our opponents. While we had good players, we felt like a big part of our success was our guys having confidence going into each game. We spent a lot of time preparing for our opponents which allowed us to be able to anticipate what are opponents were going to do.

One of the most important parts of our game preparation was what we called The Big 12. The Big 12 were the 12 things our opponent did most. We made a list of these 12 things. We found that most teams pull 85% to 90% of their offense from 10 to 12 calls. When we say call we mean formation, motion, and concept. This gives us a lot of insight into what our opponents are going to do. Here is an example of The Big 12 from one of our opponents.
Looking at these 12 concepts, you will see that 1 in 4 plays was going to be stretch. When they got into Trey, we expected a stretch play to the trey side. The other concept they ran off of this was GT weak. This allowed our guys to know we were most likely going to see an if/then. If I am strong side, then I am expecting stretch. If I am weak side I am expecting GT. When you look at this list, you will see these 12 concepts accounted for 86% of their snaps. They had a list of 10 things that accounted for the other 14%. The other concepts were reverses, draws, and a couple of pass and play action concepts. 

When we went into our preparation for the week, we had the last 2 periods of our team vs. scouts to finish practice where we went only against these 12 concepts. We made sure our guys knew these were their bread and butter. In our other 3 periods of team vs. scouts we ran everything else. This helped us to be prepared for everything our opponent ran, with an emphasis on what they did most. During our inside run period and our pass hull we focused on these 12 concepts as well. This allowed us to work these in a small group setting as well. 

The Big 12 list helped us to be much more prepared and we were able to make more plays. One example of this was when we faced a team that ran a screen to the back whenever they brought the flanker in short motion to the formation. This was their 9th most popular concept. Because we had it in the Big 12, we worked it accordingly in practice. When our opponent ran it in a game, we were able to intercept the screen and return it for a touchdown. 

One huge mistake many defensive coordinators make is that they come up with scripts of 100 different plays. They script everything their opponent has done, and they make a scout book. They then roll through that book from start to finish. They end up running things their opponent may have run only twice in 3 games as much as something the opponent ran 24 times. This is not effective. 

Choose one of your opponents from last season and go through two or thee games, and make a report of the 12 things they did most. Typically this will account for a high percentage of what they did offensively. If they run a lot of formations, we may expand this to 16, 18, or even 20 things. We never go above 20. Our goal is to target 85% to 90% of what they do. This will help us to better prepare our players. Our practices are more efficient, and we have less wasted time. 

By targeting our preparation, we were more prepared and our players made fewer mental mistakes. I believe we tackled better because we were in a better position to make tackles. We were able to get more takeaways because our guys were in a better position to create turnovers. Being targeted in your preparation will help you to be much more successful on the field during games.

One thing that will help you greatly in your preparation is having the right documents to game plan and prepare your practices. I have put together a group of 12 documents that are fully editable and customizable for you to use to prepare to be dominant on defense. These documents helped us to produce 6 shutouts and hold our opponents to under 7 points per game. We were plus 24 in turnover margin, and were able to make a deep playoff run for the first time in school history. The Big 12 is included and can be found on the play menu page of the weekly practice schedule document. The documents are available for download for less than $15 by clicking here: Defensive Game and Practice Planning Packet This packet includes everything from an in-game call sheet to weekly practice plans and scripts. It includes an install schedule and scouting report template, and much more. Click here to order yours today: Defensive Game and Practice Planning Packet Here are a couple of samples from the packet:

Every coach who has gotten this resource says it will help them improve on defense. They will be better prepared for their opponents and will be able to coach with more confidence. These documents are already formatted, and are ready for you to simply plug in your information! Everything you need is in this packet! 

In addition to this defensive preparation packet, I have a Game and Practice Planning Resource packet for Offensive Coordinators. It can be found here: Offensive Game and Practice Planning Documents. It is what I used to prepare as an offensive coordinator when we averaged over 45 points a game and 450 yards. 

I hope you took something from this post that will help you to better prepare for your opponents this season. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Four Keys To Being Dominant on Defense

After being an offensive coordinator for several years, I had a chance to run a defense a few years back. It was a daunting task as I was taking over a defense that had given up over 45 points a game. The players were demoralized and didn't believe in themselves. The big thing was, everything that had been done was correctable.

We put in a defense that our players bought into and embraced. We ran a 3-3 Stack. It fit our personnel and our philosophy. We coached our guys on the fundamentals. We sold them on our philosophy or culture that we were going to be physical and play very fast. Our number one goal was simple. We were going to get the ball back. There were four ways we could get the ball back. We could give up a score. This was the least favorable. Second, we could get a stop forcing a turnover on downs. Third, we could force a punt. Or, we could get a takeaway. Only the first was unacceptable. 

In ten games we had six shutouts. Only 2 teams scored more than 14 points against us. We had 38 takeaways in 10 games. We gave up less than 7 points a game. Two teams failed to cross the 50 yard line. We were dominant against the run, giving up less than 100 yards a game on the ground. We were also very, very good against the pass. Looking back, there are four things that are vital to success on defense:

1. Be Gap Sound
2. Have a Force Player to Both Sides
3. Be a Great Tackling Team
4. Keep Things Simple

Be Gap Sound
Every single snap we want to make sure we have a player for each gap. We never want to leave a gap without someone responsible for it. We rarely two gap. We want one hat one gap 95% of the time. Regardless of what defense you run, you have to be able to have a hat for each gap.

Have a Force Player to Both Sides
We always want to have a player to force the run on both sides of the formation. We never want our force guy to be a defense end or hand down player. We ran the 3-3-5, meaning our inverts were our force guys on outside runs. We essentially had built in force guys. Most of the time when a team gives up a big play on the edge they either don't have a force player, or the force guy screws up.

Be a Great Tackling Team
We took great pride in tackling. We rarely missed tackles. We also didn't practice full speed tackling in practice very often. What we did do was spend a lot of time working controlled drills to improve our leverage and angles. That's what tackling is all about. You need to understand your leverage and then play very fast. We need to know what are landmark is in pursuit to set up our tackle. If we do miss, we miss to help. When we tackled we wanted to square our shoulders and run our feet. Our goal was to drive the ball carrier back. I like a lot of what is being taught today, but one thing missing is squaring up and running your feet. We wanted to drive the ball career back every time we tackled. 

Keep Things Simple
We didn't have a lot of fancy fire zones. We had our base front. We then had a way to blitz each player on our defense. We typically blitzed in our base gaps. We then could work some gap exchanges. We didn't do a lot of this as we wanted our guys to be very good at playing their gap. We coached our guys on their eyes each and every rep. Most guys who screw up on defense let their eyes go where they are not suppose to. We coached and drilled the eyes. 

These four keys were vital to our success. We were able to play very fast and get a lot of bodies to the football. We worked very hard in practice to be very good at these four things. 

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! Defensive Game and Practice Planning Here are screenshot samples of a couple of these documents. You can use code STATE2016 to save 20%!

I hope you have gotten something from this post.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Simple RPO Concept For Any Offense

RPO's, an acronym for Run-Pass Options, are going to forever change the game of football. RPO's put the defense in conflict as they must defend the entire field and all of your skill guys each and every play.  RPO's are great for three reasons:
1. The defense must defend the entire width of the field
2. The defense can't load the box to stop the run
3. Skill players get more touches in open space

RPO's are essentially option football. Like with option concepts, your quarterback is going to read a defender. With RPO's, however, you are going to throw the football rather than give the football based on the key defender.

I teach RPO's as three basic families. We have pre snap, post snap, and RPO specific concept. With a pre snap RPO, the quarterback is going to look at the pre snap alignment of the defense to determine whether he will throw the pass concept or execute the run.

With a post snap RPO the quarterback will read the post snap movement of a defender to determine whether he will give the ball or throw he ball.

RPO specific concepts are designed to give the quarterback a post snap run/pass option. The most popular post snap RPO is the stick draw concept.

When first installing RPO's I teach coaches to build the pre snap RPO's first. These are the easiest to execute and give you opportunities for explosive plays. These also give your quarterback simple reads based on pre snap defensive alignment.

The most basic pre snap RPO concept I like to install its he SMOKE concept. We call this quick. Quick is thrown to the #1 receiver. The #2 receiver is going to block for #1. The #1 receiver must catch the ball and get vertical. We tell our players this will often be a 6 yard gain, and if you break a tackle, it will be six points. Below is a diagram of the quick concept.
On the quick concept the quarterback is going to catch the snap and throw. His footwork is simply "turn two." What I mean is, we are going to turn a double play. We want to get the ball out quickly. The quarterback is going to determine whether he will throw the quick or execute the run based on the alignment of the 2nd defender from the outside in. 

In the diagram below, the offense is running inside zone read with a quick concept to the twins. The quarterback finds the 2nd defender and sees that he is hipped on the defensive end. Essentially that gives us a 2-on-1 on the outside. We want to throw the quick. If the defense were to align the outside linebacker over the #2 receiver, the quarterback would execute the run. 

The smoke concept can be run from any formation that gives you two receivers to one side or the other, and can be paired with any of your runs. The defense cannot bring an extra player into the box, as you are going to have an answer. Any system can install this concept in one day, and can attach it to any of your run game concepts. Regardless of what offensive system you run, you can install this concept.

If the defense were to walk out the outside backer over the number #2 WR, the quarterback would execute the run. This gives us numbers in the box.

Regardless of what defensive front is being run, the pre snap reads are the same for the quarterback. This is important when you install this system as it speeds up learning. In my book about RPO's I give you a systematic process to install pre snap RPO's without having to add any new verbiage! You will never again have to run the ball into a loaded box!

RPO's are great equalizers when defenses want to add defenders to the box to stop your run game. They give the offense the ability to take advantage of literally anything the defense does. The great thing about RPO's is that they can be added to any offense. You can add pre snap RPO's with relative ease. Once you build your pre snap RPO's, you begin to install your post snap RPO concepts. With a small investment you can add a huge element of explosiveness to your offense!

This year I put out a book on RPO's that will give you a systematic process to build RPO's into your offensive system. The book has an iBooks version and an Amazon Kindle version. The iBooks version can be read on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It is an amazing book that gives you over an hour of video! It has been read by coaches at all levels, and they have all loved it! This book gives you a systematic process for installing and teaching pre snap and post snap RPO's! This book will greatly enhance your offense! It can be ordered clicking here:

If you don't have an Apple device, you can order the Kindle Version. The Kindle version can be played on ANY device! It has everything except the video. Amazon hasn't caught up with the technology yet. It can be ordered by clicking here:

This book is available for just $9.99! That is a great price for everything you will get out of this book!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Four Keys to Offensive Organization

Perhaps the most important aspect of being successful on offense is organization. The more organized you are, the more efficient you can be. What does your organization consist of? I think there are four important elements. Those four are:

1. Personnel
2. Game Plan
3. Practice Plan
4. Call Sheet

Personnel is vital because you must make sure your best athletes are on the field where they can help your team the most. Many years ago we had a kid we were using at running back, but he just wasn't playing well. He sometimes ran routes have speed because he didn't know what to do. He also didn't have great vision. When we moved him to tight end he became an all-state player. Our offense improved, and he played a more vital role.

Our game plan is based on our scouting report. We want to find advantages over the defense and exploit those on game day. The purpose of our game plan is to give us a systematic approach to calling plays. We don't want to shoot from the hip. We want everything we do to have a purpose. We have a menu each week of 24 things we think we will be able to do successfully against the defense. We star the 8 things we think we will be best at during that week. When we put our game plan together, we want to feature those 8 things we think are going to create opportunities to score more points.

With our game plan we have to be adaptable. When the game starts, we often find something that we can use to consistently gain yards. As we prepare for each game there are certain things we expect the defense to do. They often will do something different, and sometimes that something different gives us a chance at big plays. We must recognize this during the game and during preparation. What do you do if the defense suddenly calls strength to the boundary? Or, what if a 3-4 team suddenly gets in a 4-3 front? Do you have a plan? Have you practiced contingencies? Are you adaptable enough to shift on the fly?

Practice Planning is vital to your preparation each week. As we prepare our practices we make sure we have enough individual time, group time, and team time to prepare for our game. We script everything to make sure we get enough reps of the 24 things we think we will do. We make sure we get extra reps of the 8 things we might major in. When I talk about 24 things, I am not talking about 24 plays. I am talking about 24 calls. If we run Even 42 Read, that is one thing. If we run Early 42 Read, that is a second thing. If we run Late 18 Option, that is a 3rd thing. Even QB Iso is a 4th thing. Even 92 Y Corner is a 5th thing. Early 92 Y Corner is the 6th thing.

We used to have our entire playbook available each week. We had all of our formations, motions, and concepts available. The problem was, there were over 1,000 combinations, and there is no way to practice them each week. We decided be very specific about what we were going to implement into our game plan each week. Scripting our practices makes sure each of those 24 things gets at least 16 reps during practice. Each of our 8 majors will get at least 32 reps each during a practice week.

Our call sheet is what allows us to play very fast regardless of circumstance. We use our call sheet to create mini scripts of each down and distance situation based on defensive tendencies. We also include a section on specific concepts to get our best athletes the football. We want to make sure your 20 touch guys get 20 touches. There is nothing worse than finishing a game and realizing your best athlete had only 3 touches. We want to make sure our athletes touch the ball a certain number of times each game.

The hardest part about organizing yourself on offense is creating the sheets to do it. I spent years visiting schools and learning how they organized the practice and game plans. I have now come up with a packet of sheets that will help you immensely to be more organized on offense. You can order this packet for just $14.99! These documents are all editable and can be customized to fit your program. For less than the cost of lunch you can have everything you need to improve your offensive organization. This packet contains nine documents that will help you to be more successful and organized. The nine documents are:

1. Two Sided Color Call Sheet Legal Sized (Excel)
2. Scouting Report Template (ppt)
3. Wrist Band Template (Excel)
4. Install Schedule Template (Excel)
5. Game Planning Worksheet (Word)
6. Daily and Weekly Practice Plan with Scripts (Excel)
7. Blank Defensive Personnel Template For Scouting Reports (Excel)
8. Offensive Depth Chart Template (Excel)
9: Offensive Staff Workflow (Word)

You can order this packet by clicking here: Many coaches have told me this is the best purchase they have made this summer! Coaches told me this will save them hours!

This packet will change your entire approach to organization on offense. No longer will you feel like you are grasping for the right play to call. You will know what to call and when before the situation arises! If you enter the code June16 when you purchase, you can save 12%!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

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 four games of over 100 snaps. 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.

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.

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 for just $14.99 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:
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, May 23, 2016

No Hats In School... Why Your Program is Lacking in Discipline

Many years ago I taught at a school that, like many schools, had a rule that kids couldn't wear hats in the building. My first day I noticed a lot of kids wearing hats. I told them to take off their hats. They all complied, but not without disdain for my request. Usually they would get out of sight and put their hat back on. The reason was simple... If you have a rule or standard that is not consistently enforced, the standard will not be met. It is that simple. It was very, very frustrating. The standard was that no students were to wear hats. That is very clear. The problem lied in the fact that there was no accountability. A few teachers enforced the rule, but most ignored it. The reason they ignored it is because there was no follow through from the leadership. If you aren't going to enforce the rule or standard at all levels, then get rid of the rule.

I tell you his because this happens in many athletic programs, schools, and companies throughout the globe. Leaders set rules or standards and then don't hold people accountable. Or, they hold them accountable selectively. They don't coach them on the details. They tell them to stand a certain way, and then permit them to deviate. They tell them to wear certain clothing, and allow them to deviate. They tell them to be there at a certain time, and when someone is late, there is not accountability. Permitting is promoting. When you allow it to happen you might as well be asking for it to happen. If you allow one to do it, another will. If you allow it once, then it will happen twice. Then three times. After a few weeks, a coach will have a bad day and  go off on their athletes for not meeting the standard that has never or rarely been enforced. The kids aren't the problem. The coaches are.

"If they don't know the standard, how can they possibly reach or exceed the standard?"

This is not a great way to build trust. It is not a way to build discipline. It is a great way to lose your athletes and drive a wedge between you and them. Before you get angry, ask yourself, "why are my athletes not meeting the standard?" It is one of two things. First, your standards are not clearly laid out. Your athletes don't understand what you are asking for. You are not coaching the details. The second reason is that you have permitted them to deviate from the standard. If you let them deviate from one thing, you need to expect them to deviate from everything.

This is where programs start to have issues with discipline. If you are having issues with discipline,  ask yourself the following three questions:

1. Are our standards clearly laid out AND understood? It is not enough to teach them, you have to make sure the standards have been learned. You constantly have to reinforce the standard. Ask your athletes to repeat the standard to you. Ask them to show you the standard. They can't meet a standard they don't understand. They also can't hit a moving target. If the standard is always moving they will never be able to hit it. You have to have clear set of verbiage for the standard. It has to be the same every time. IF

2. Have I permitted deviation fromt the standard? If you permitted deviation from one standard, expect deviation from other standards. If you tell them they all have to have a white t-shirt, and everyday athletes are missing the white t-shirt and you ignore it, expect a lack of discipline. How will they take your standard seriously? This is dangerous. If you don't hold the standard on the white shirt, how can you expect them to line up right on Friday night? How can you expect them to take a six inch step on your zone play? If they are allowed to deviate from the white t-shirt, they will believe they can deviate from other standards as well.

3. Are WE consistently holding people accountable to the standard? Is every coach holding your athletes to the standard, or does each coach have a different set of standards? There is nothing more frustrating as an assistant coach than holding someone accountable and feeling like you are on an island. It goes right back to the issue with hats in school. If the standard changes from coach to coach, athletes will lose trust and confidence in you and the staff. The standard must be consistent from coach to coach.

If the answer to any or all of these questions sound familiar, chances are you are pretty frustrated. Whether you are the coach permitting, or you are the lone ranger holding people accountable, you are probably having moments of frustration. Your culture is probably suffering. If your culture is suffering, you will never play as well as you think you can. You will lose to people even when you have more talent. You will be inconsistent. Your players will question and lay blame when things don't go well. They will not trust you or what you are doing.

Why does this matter? Why do we even bother? The reason is simple.  Great programs have clearly defined expectations that are consistently upheld. They hold athletes accountable for not meeting the standard and constantly reteach and coach them on how to meet the standard. They try to meet the athlete at their level and bring them to the standard. They are willing to confront even when it might be uncomfortable. Because you are willing to confront deviations from the standard, the standard will be met. Your players will understand that if they do not meet the standard they will be corrected. Correction is love, and consistent correction builds discipline.

If you are struggling with this, the great news is: you can change. But the only way it will change is with action. You have to reset the situation. Set very clearly defined standards of performance. Make sure all of your coaches understand the standards, and explain them to your team. Then, hold them accountable to the standard, every single day. A reset is simply an opportunity to tell your team or organization that you did not hold them to their highest standard, and that will change. It will not be easy. There will be some pain. But the results will be worth the investment.

Several years ago we had to do this. We worked very hard to build a championship culture. We had a couple of very good seasons and we had a strong nucleus returning. We made the mistake of letting them slip on our standards. We did not hold them to a standard of excellence. We let them slide on little details. We thought, well, we are good enough to overcome these things. The problem is, the little things got bigger each day. One afternoon in April we noticed several guys straggling into the weight room late. A couple of these guys were our captains. During our workout we had another group of guys cutting sets. I went ballistic. I let them know this was absolutely the opposite of what we wanted. This was not meeting our standard. While I got my frustration out, nothing changed. The next day we had the same issues. We looked entitled and refused to work hard. They weren't getting deep enough on squat. They weren't locking out their bench. They weren't finishing when things got tough.

We pulled a few of the guys in and asked them why they were deviating from the standard. Their answers shocked us. "Because no one said anything." That said a lot right there. I thought, "we shouldn't have to." But I stopped myself from saying it. That's because WE NEED TO SAY SOMETHING! It's our job. It is just like when guys say, "we are not going to coach you on effort." Then don't expect great effort! You have to coach everything all the time. There is no other way to be successful.

As a coaching staff we made a decision to do a reset. The next day we brought them in and told them we failed to hold them accountable to our standards, and that would change immediately. We reset the whole deal. We retaught the standards. We told them why we were doing this, and that we would never again fail to hold them accountable to reaching our standards. Everything was redefined.

The reset was a defining point in that season. It was vital for our preparation to confront the problem and change. Without the reset we would have been mediocre at best. We would not have been successful as a program. Our players learned a valuable lesson and so did our coaching staff. You are entitled to nothing. When you build your culture and get things going the way you want them to go, you cannot coast. You can never relax. If you do find yourself slipping and standards not being met, immediately confront the issue.

Leadership requires confrontation. There is no other way. You can't ignore deviations from the standard and expect them to improve. And the confrontation does not need to be ugly. You can confront without building resentment. You can confront without trampling on someone's dignity.

Here is a simple 4 step process for accountability:
1. Confront
2. Clarify
3. Reteach
4. Evaluate

Confront- If the standard is not being met immediately stop the person and tell them they are not performing to the standard

Clarify- Make sure they clearly understand what is expected. Have them repeat the standard back to you.

Reteach- Demonstrate the standard. Make sure they can perform the standard whether you are looking or not.

Evaluate- Make sure they are performing to our expectations

It is up to everyone to enforce the standards. If it is important to you, find a way. If not, you will certainly find an excuse. Everyone must be invested in our standards. And if you aren't willing to enforce a standard, eliminate it. It will only lead to deviation from more important standards.

Every single day you are building a culture within your program. Are you building your culture by design or by chance? The biggest part of building culture is to set high standards and to have everyone in your organization enforce the standards.

Shameless plug of my Interactive iBooks!

Early this year I wrote a book RPO's and a book on Tempo. I want these books to be accessible without worrying about $$$. Each book is just $9.99! They are available as an apple iBook and on Amazon. The iBook version contains embedded video! These two books will revolutionize your offense! 

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:
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.

The other part of this equation is adding Tempo. A lot of coaches ask me to help them install different elements of tempo into their offense. 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:

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

Combining Tempo with RPO concepts will change the game of football for generations. Any offensive system can adapt these principles without changing the structure of you offense. The biggest issue many schools face is simply thinking they can only use RPO's part of the time. You never have to call a run again that isn't protected by a pass concept. 

I hope you have found something of value in this post! I wish you the best as you prepare for your season! 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Developing Culture, Character, and Leadership

I recently 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 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." 


"Great seasons are not built in October and November, they are built in February, 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 or Core Covenants
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. Bruce is one of the best speakers I have seen, and if you haven't seen him speak, you need to! Click on the link above and look at his materials. He has heavily influenced me in my journey as a coach, and I would recommend every single coach spend a little time learning from Bruce!

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 the Glazier Clinic in Greenwich, Connecticut March 12th 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

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

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: 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:

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:

Order the Amazon Kindle version here: