Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Outwork Your Talent

Imagine the possibilities. Imagine breaking through barriers and reaching heights you never thought you could reach... The greatest limitations we face are those we place on ourselves. Sometimes we do this consciously, sometimes we do this subconsciously. We allow ourselves to draw a line in the sand that we will not cross. We tell ourselves this is as far as I can go, so I will limit myself to this point. We draw this line subconsciously  through a sense of entitlement. We think we have arrived so we become stagnant or lazy. We are not willing to work for what we want... We may have all the desires in the world, but when our effort doesn't match our desire, we will certainly fail.

I recently ran into a friend of mine in the coaching world at the Austin Airport. I asked him about a quarterback he had that I recruited back in 2007. This kid had all the tools you could want. He was 6-3, 230 pounds, ran a consistent 4.65 40, and could throw a ball 60 yards. At worst he was going to make a great tight end or defensive end. His coach warned me the kid did not have a great work ethic. The kid was late for practice at least once a week and did not come to workouts in the summer. We decided to pass on recruiting him.

Fast forward six years to the Austin Airport. I asked coach where this young man ended up. The grocery store. Huh? The grocery store where he stocks shelves at night. Despite having all the talent to be a BCS football player, this kid's attitude and work ethic got in the way of his success. When he got to high school he was better than everyone else. Because of this, he thought he didn't have to work hard. His coaches thought they had a kid who would be a big-time football player who would lead them to a state championship. What they actually had was a young man who would lead his team to a 4-5 season as a senior. This sure fire prospect had turned into a suspect by his senior year. He went to a small NAIA school where he lasted three weeks. His attitude had not improved, and the coaching staff had seen enough. This is a kid who said he wanted to play in the NFL, but his work ethic and attitude did not match his desire.

"If your work ethic and attitude do not match your goals, you will find disappointment." 

This happens all too often in the world of athletics. Every coach at all levels has stories about kids that wasted their talent. Instead of working hard to develop their talent, they think they can get by on their talent. They think because they are a better athlete that they can be lazy and just get by. This works for a while... until the pond starts getting bigger. At some point your poor attitude and lack of work ethic will catch up to you. 

The goal of every athlete should be to outwork your talent. In fact, that should be the goal of everyone, regardless of the endeavor. Work ethic and attitude are choices. They are not given to you by someone else. They are not willed to you or passed along genetically. You have complete control over your attitude and work ethic. You can control whether you get the most out of your talent. If you fight to outwork your talent every single day, you will be the best that you are capable of being. And that will translate into success.

On the other side of the coin are the kids who have less talent, but they outwork their talent every single day. You have guys that work so hard that they improve and pass by more talented athletes. We all have numerous stories about these guys. They are the guys that are going to reach pinnacles in life because they know how to overcome obstacles. They are never satisfied where they are and they keep pushing themselves.

The final group is the group that is, unfortunately, very rare. This is the group of very talented athletes who have a great work ethic. These are guys everyone else feeds off of. They are the special players that make everyone else around them better. They are the guys that play a big part in the success of a program. These guys are game changers on the field and in the locker room. They are guys that never miss a workout. They are guys that never skip a rep. They are guys that are going to do more than what is expected. These guys embrace the grind of being the best. These are the players that get a chance to play on Sundays. 

This is what we as coaches are working to do each day. We are finding ways to inspire you to do more than you think you can. We are trying to get you out of your comfort zone so you can stretch yourself to reach new heights. We are creating adverse situations where you learn to overcome obstacles and deal with pain. We are trying to get you to realize that your talent doesn't matter if you aren't willing to be responsible to your teammates.

"Great Players Are Comfortable Being Uncomfortable"

Here are six specific things you can do to outwork your talent. 

1. Be There
2. Be On-Time
3. Do every rep with a great attitude
4. Embrace adversity
5. Help Your Teammates Be the Best They Can Be
6. Care About Your Teammates

1. You have to be there to be successful. While just showing up will not make you successful, not showing up will guarantee failure.

2. It takes zero talent to be on-time. Being on time is about self-discipline. It is about showing others you respect and value them. On a team it means you understand your are responsible to others and they can depend on you.

3. This is the toughest part for most young people. They get tired and they decide to cut one or two reps. Everyone gets tired. Mediocre people justify not completing the workout. Great players understand that growth takes place when you face stress and pressure. This is where mental toughness comes in. When you are fatigued and you have one more set, are you going to make a CHOICE to do every rep? Are you going to CHOOSE to do an extra rep? Are you going to CHOOSE to finish the drill?  

Champions are not made on Friday Nights. Champions are made in January, February and March. Champions are made in June and July. There is something very powerful about pushing through and completing a drill when you are exhausted. There is something very powerful of knowing your teammate is willing to do that for you. This is how you build confidence. You build confidence when you overcome obstacles that you didn't think you could overcome. 

4. Everyone does well when things are easy. How do you handle things when they aren't going your way? How do you handle your coach telling you we have five more sets? How do you handle your coach calling you out because you aren't putting forth your best effort? How do you handle your coach or teammate telling you your not getting deep enough on squat? Do you choose to improve or do you choose to give up?

5. Great players are willing to do whatever it takes to make those around them better. This is what separates good players from great players. Good players make themselves better. Great players intentionally make those around them better. You will never reach your full potential until you help your teammates reach theirs.

6. It is much easier to overcome adversity when you have a group of people with a common goal. You need to encourage your teammates to work hard and that you have their back. You will not let them fail. This is where great teams are made. They are made because guys cared about their teammate more than they cared about themselves.

Every single day you have to be willing to put forth the attitude, effort, and enthusiasm to reach your goals. You have to be willing to work harder to do more than what your talent says you can do. If you outwork your talent, you will break through barriers to reach new heights. At the end of the day, you will know you reached your full capabilities.

Shameless Plug...

In January of 2016 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:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Success, Wooden Style

Let's ask this question... What is success? Is success increasing your profits? Is it having 90% of your students passing a test? Is success going 12-1 and advancing to the state quarterfinals? Those are examples of what I call external success based on outcomes. There is nothing wrong with those measurements. They seem to satisfy the public... But do they really measure success?

For many years I thought that is how success was measured. If you won the game you were successful. If you lost the game you weren't. Then I read several pieces by John Wooden. He had a different definition of success... He said,
"Success is piece of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the very best you are capable of becoming." 

When I read that I had somewhat of an epiphany. It hit me that we need to first overcome ourselves. Instead of worrying about our opponents, we need to focus on become the best "we" that we can be. I decided to embark on a project. I began to research everything I could about John Wooden. I wanted to know why his teams were so successful. What made his teams excel?

First of all, they eliminated comparison based success. When we base our success in comparison to others we are going to find a lot of disappointment. We are going to find ourselves in a position where the ends justify the means. We will put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves... pressure to achieve sometimes unrealistic results. We also tend to be apprehensive. We worry about the external factors over which we have no control.

Bill Walsh used to say the scoreboard takes care of itself. You can't control what the other guys are doing. You can't control whether you are undersized or slower than your opponent. You can't control whether their facilities are better than yours. But what you can control is much more vital. You can control your effort, your attitude, and your enthusiasm each day. You can control whether you put everything you have available into preparing to be the best you can be.

John Wooden got it. The first priority of his teams was self-improvement. He did not care about what other people were doing. He focused on the development of his own players. He couldn't control the players that USC recruited. He couldn't control how they ran their practices. What he could control, however, was who he recruited, and how he ran practices at UCLA.

You can't control what your opponents are doing each day. They should be the farthest thing from your mind. You can, however, control what you do each day. You control whether you wake up on time. You control whether you put ten more pounds on the bar. You control whether you take a set off, or you do extra reps. You control whether you allow your athletes to cut corners.

When you focus on your own team you are focusing on what you control. You are able to focus on a process. This is real power. Real power is being able to control what you can control. Winning, or external success is a byproduct of taking advantage of that power you have. And, if you focus on being the best that you can be, everything else will tend to fall into place.



In January of 2016 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:


Thursday, May 16, 2013

The little things are the Biggest Things

The little things are the  biggest things...

What does this mean? Quite simply... details matter. The seemingly insignificant details matter to the success of any endeavor. If you want to be successful you have to pay attention to the details.

Early in my coaching career I was a "big picture" guy. I didn't spend much time focusing on the how. I was more focused on the what. I didn't understand the value of coaching details. I thought we could out scheme people. If we drew it up on paper, we would win. That's what I thought it mean to out coach people.

Then I had the opportunity to watch Nick Saban coach defensive backs. He was focused on the how and the what. Coach Saban broke down small techniques to their smallest part. Everything fit together. If a player did something wrong, he immediately corrected them and they did it again. He had a process for teaching. Most importantly, his players learned and executed.

That is one common bond that successful teams shared... Attention to detail. They cared about the things that most organizations don't care about. They made it a point to take care of the small things. They set a standard, coached the standard, then held their players accountable to the standard. They accept nothing less. They focus on the details within themselves, rather than the external that they had no control over. While this wasn't the only factor they had in common, it was perhaps the most important.

The programs that were not as successful seemed to look past some things. They didn't value the details. They let things go. They didn't have an edge to them. Watching those programs, it was obvious something was missing. These are the teams that never play to their full ability. They are the very talented yet mediocre teams. They are the mediocre teams that never seem to improve. They don't get to parallel on squat. They don't keep their lower back locked in on dead lift. They don't put the right weight on the bar... 

You Get What You Emphasize

If you want something done right, emphasize it. If it is important, then emphasize it. Things don't happen magically. You have to make them happen. It is a process. You need to have a process if you want sustained, consistent results. You are always creating an incentive. If you reward bad behavior, what will you get? Yes, that's a rhetorical question... 

What do you do if a kid doesn't do something right? Make them do it again. It starts with accountability. We must be willing to hold our players accountable for not meeting the standard we have set. There are several ways to do this, but the best way is to reteach and have them do it over. A great way to teach players to be accountable is to have the entire group do something over. They are all counting on each other. If one of them makes a mistake it affects us all. This can be taught.

Everything we do is becomes habit. If we repeatedly let things go, that is exactly what we will get. Our kids will not do things right. If we tell them to have a flat back on our push-ups, we need to make sure they have a flat back. If we want them to sprint through the end of the drill, we have to emphasize them sprinting through the end of the drill. If they don't sprint through, send them back. 

Why? Why does this matter?

We need to build the habit of doing little things right. We need guys to pay attention to details when there is very little pressure. If a guy can't start behind a line, how can you trust him to line up right on the field? If a guy won't do a warm-up drill right, how can we expect them to do their position drills correctly? If a kid fumbles, are you emphasizing the five points of contact? Do you teach it? Do you coach it?

If you want your receiver to take a split to the top of the numbers, he should align at the top of the numbers. If he doesn't his split should immediately be corrected. If your linebacker is suppose to be lined up with his heels at 4, accept nothing different. If your offset back is suppose to be aligned at 4 yards on the outside leg of the guard, accept nothing else. You will find, however, that lining up wrong is a byproduct of your off-season program. Kids have to be taught to pay attention to details.

Finally, every one of your coaches must be bought in. If you have 6 coaches and only three are willing to hold kids accountable, you will not become consistently successful. You need every single coach willing to coach the seemingly insignificant details. 

Kids that don't pay attention to detail tend to be kids that will give up on a play. They are the kids that are not going to want to face adversity. They will fold under pressure....

If you aren't going to hold them accountable to something, then don't make it part of your program. If you tell your kids to hustle between drills or stations, but you aren't going to hold them accountable, then don't expect them to hustle. 

Making It Work...

1. Clearly Define Your Standards of Performance
2. Teach Your Standards of Performance
3. Hold Your Team Accountable to the Standards of Performance

If they perform, reward them. If they don't, reteach and repeat. Reteach and repeat until they meet the standards you have set.

Let me close with this... Coaching the little things is hard... It means you hold them accountable. It means confrontation and correction... Coaching the details means you can't take a rep off. It means you can't let up. You have to always be on your game.... 

Every program we have turned around started with coaching the details. The better we coached the details, the more consistent we became. Once we gained consistency, we were able to see growth. Once we saw growth, we gained confidence... Once we gained confidence, we started winning more games...

If you take care of the little things, the big things tend to take care of themselves...

In January of 2016, 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:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Leverage, Numbers, and Green Grass

Someone asked me at a clinic this year, "what makes a great football play?" My answer was stolen from something Mike Leach once said. "A play where you don't have to block many dudes." I am not very smart, but I am smart enough to know that we will have a better chance for success if we don't have to block as many players.

Explosive Offense comes down to three things:
1. Leverage
2. Numbers
3. Green Grass

If we can get the ball into the hands of a good athlete with leverage, numbers, and green grass, we have a better chance to gain yards and move the chains. We have a better chance for an explosive play.

What is leverage? Better yet, do your players know what leverage is? Leverage is simply an advantage. If I want to get to the cone on the right, do I have an advantage over my opponent? Below are two pictures illustrating leverage. The player in red needs to get to the red box. The player in white needs to defend the box. If I have the advantage, I have leverage.
In the picture above, the player in red has the advantage. He has leverage.
In the bottom picture the player in white has leverage. He has an angle to defender the player in red from getting to the the box.

Leverage is vital in the game of football. If you have leverage, you have an angle to make a block or defend and area. If you have leverage, keep it, if you don't have leverage, go get it.

The second component is numbers. Do we have enough players to account for the defenders? On defense, do we have enough players to account for each gap? We want to have a numerical advantage when we run a play. A coach asked me the other day how we block 6 in the box when we run inside zone from our 2x2 look. My answer is that you can't. Unless, you have a guy that can block two of theirs. If you do, then you should win. The way we account for the 6th defender is to read him. Reading a defender allows us to account for one more player.

Too often, we beat our heads against the wall trying to run a play when we don't have the numbers.
In the example above, a 4-3 team is keeping all three linebackers in the box. This means you have 7 defenders for 5 blockers. Even if we read a defender, we have to pick a player who will not be blocked. However, if we look outside the box, we have numbers. We can throw the bubble and block the corner, giving us a better chance at an explosive play.

How many times have we tried to run a play and got stopped because we ran the play into an area where we were outnumbered? If we don't have leverage, and we don't have numbers, we can't have an explosive play.

What if that same defense moved their linebackers outside the box to be in a better position to play the bubble? Now you have a 5 man box, giving you numbers to run the inside zone.
We can now account for all 5 players in the box. This gives us an opportunity for a successful football play. We would rather play 5 on 5 than 5 on 7.

Here is an example of the inside zone play being run versus a 5 man box.


We can take this a step further, and play 6 on 5. If we "read" a defender we have 5 players to block 4 defenders.
We can also add a third option phase with a receiver, to account for another defender to the read side. With a 5 man box the defense has to borrow from the secondary to account for the quarterback. We can add essentially a pitch phase to put the quarterback player in conflict. 

If we have leverage and numbers, we should have green grass. Green grass is where we want our best athletes. If we can get a good athlete the football in green grass we should be able to have explosive football plays. 

The best way to do this is to give your quarterback simple RPO's based on presnap alignment. We like to marry a run and a pass together. We might pair inside zone with the bubble screen. Two the 2 receiver side we want to know where the 2nd defender is lined up. If he is outside the box, we don't have leverage. We would then look to the other side. If the number 2 defender is outside the box, we would know we should have leverage to run inside the box. 

In this example both number 2 defenders are outside the box. We want to run inside the box.
If the linebacker to our right was inside the box, we would want to attack the perimeter to that side where we have leverage.
What if the defense came out in a 1 high look? Now you will get a six man box with inverts leveraging your #2 receiver. In this case we would want to "read" a defender in the box to account for all six defensive players. We can add a triple option phase with the bubble player, which adds more pressure do the defense.
And here is a video clip of our inside zone read with a triple option component. They inverted their secondary to move a 6th player into the box, while playing cover 3.


The "cowboy" tag tells the number 2 receiver he will become the pitch man. Rather than having him block the outside linebacker, the cowboy tag allows you to pitch off the outside backer. Better yet, build your RPO concept into your run play and the "cowboy" component is built in. With a one word call you can communicate the run and pass concept. Your offensive line blocks the run. The QB determines whether you throw the quick concept or execute the run. If he executes the run and gets a pull read, he can still throw the quick game concept. 

As I look to put a game plan together, I want to know where we can find leverage and numbers. From there, we ask ourselves where we have a personnel advantage. I script the first 15 plays, with an eye to look at formations we feel give us an advantage. Once we find something we can take advantage of, we begin to hammer away. We faced a team about 12 years ago that ran a 4-4, and consistently had a 6 man box versus our two back sets. We ran our isolation play 22 times in the second half. At one point, we ran the iso 9 straight plays on a 12 play scoring drive. 

If you want to improve your offense, make sure the play called gives you leverage and numbers, giving you green grass. This will increase the number of explosive plays you have, which means more points on the scoreboard. 

A big part of winning the battle for leverage is incorporating RPO's into your offense. I wrote a new book on RPO's that is available as an ibook for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac. It is also available for the Kindle. 
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:







Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Best Time of the Year!

People like to refer to this time of year as "the grind." It is that time when winter is rolling through, the sun doesn't shine quite as much, and there is very little being done as far as "football skills." I want to point out the other side of this issue...

In my eyes, this is the greatest time of year. This is the time of year when cultures are changed and identities are built. This is the time of year when you have the opportunity to shape the direction of your program. This is the time of year when you set the tone for the season. You make the biggest gains in strength. This is the time when you can build confidence in your team.

The only way this is a grind is if you don't love what you are doing. How do you love inventorying equipment? How do you love busting your tail at 6:30am in the weight room? How do you love analyzing your depth charts? These all can be very monotonous and inconvenient tasks. So how do you take the "grind" out of them?

It's all about A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E. You have to look at each of these activities as a tremendous opportunity. What is the opportunity? First, an accurate inventory means you are efficient with your resources. You order what you actually need, not what you think you need. You need to take pride in the tedious administrative tasks every single day.

The second opportunity is in the weight room. That is where you build your team mentally and and physically. Strength and Conditioning are the most vital aspect of any program. Tremendous gains in strength will build confidence in your players. Through your strength program you can build mental toughness in your kids. You can teach them to overcome obstacles and reach new heights. I can tell you this with all certainty... The more physically strong and mentally tough your players are, the more mistakes they can overcome. Physically and mentally tough teams can survive bad football. Mentally and physically weak teams cannot.

Think about this... Our players feed off of us. If we have a tremendous attitude and are passionate about what we are doing, our players will follow. If we are lethargic and not fully involved, our players will reflect that as well. We ask our players to have a great attitude, regardless of circumstance. Shouldn't coaches model this?

If you look at the value of the activity you are doing, you will enjoy the activity much more. Look at and embrace the opportunity that exists during the winter and early spring. If you don't love coaching in January, February and March, you probably won't get to coach any games in December. This is the greatest time of the year!

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:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Building Championship Culture


A few years ago I spoke at the Glazier Clinic in Atlantic City about building championship culture, and out of all of the clinic talks I have done, that is the one that has had the biggest response. I love the X's and O's of coaching, but my favorite aspect is the opportunity for young people to accomplish goals that others think are unattainable. Coaching is not a career as much as a calling. We have an opportunity to change lives each day.  I hope there is something here you can use.

In my 19 years of coaching, I have not had a job yet where we came into a place that had a championship culture. Everywhere I have been has been an opportunity to turn a program around. At each place we faced the same enemies: Complacency, apathy, and an acceptance of mediocrity. 

At Columbus High School in the Bronx, we took a program that had never had a winning season, never been to the post season, and was in the midst of a 27 game losing streak, and turned the program into a perennial playoff contender.  How did we change the culture? First, is understanding that the smallest details make the biggest difference. We focused on making sure we took care of the seemingly insignificant details. We did not ever focus on what we didn’t have. We focused on ourselves first. We didn’t worry about what our opponents were doing. We had no control over them. What we did have total control over was what we did each day.


The first thing we did was talk to them about the why. This is why we are going to coach you on this. This is why we have to do it this way. Kids today need to know “why” something is done a certain way. Once they understand the why, they will buy into the what and the how.

Each day we had the weight room set up a certain way. We had the racks in a certain spot. We had the plates organized a certain way. We set a standard of performance and held them accountable. We held them accountable for their lockers, and their locker room. If we said your t-shirt hangs on the right hook and your shorts are on the left, that’s where we expected them to be. If they weren’t, we retrained and reminded them.  


When you build culture, the expectations have to be clear and concise. When we stood in line, or were in front of the coaches, we had clear expectations. We stand with our eyes and chin up, chest spread, and hands behind our back. When we take a knee, we will put our left knee down with our hands on our right knee. That is the expectation. There was no exception.


I learned a great deal from our head coach, David Diaz, about setting high expectations and not succumbing to mediocrity. We had a certain way we set the field up, and a time frame. 15 minutes after the bell we started our agility circuit. The field had to be set up, and every athlete had to be at their assigned station. The whistle would blow, and we would begin. Our kids had the responsibility of field set-up. One Wednesday before a huge game, the field wasn’t set up correctly. The sled wasn’t dressed, and some bags were not set up, and a couple of kids straggled out late. Coach Diaz brought everyone together and told the players to break the field down and put everything away. They looked bewildered. But they did as told. After they put everything away we met in the locker room. He told everyone they had 5 minutes to set the field up correctly.


The players moved frantically to set the field. However, a few of them let their attitude get twisted up and they straggled. It took 5 minutes and 14 seconds to finish the field. They didn’t meet the five minute standard. We spent the entire practice setting up and breaking down the field. After several attempts, the field was finally set up correctly and on time.  We practiced for about ten minutes total before we had to let them go.


When the coaching staff got upstairs I was livid. We scripted everything in practice, and we obviously couldn't get through much of what we had planned. Coach Diaz let me stew for a few minutes, and when I had gotten it out, he gave me a great lesson. Our X’s and O’s won’t matter if we can’t even get the field set up. If we can’t meet simple expectations like setting the field up, how are we going to beat a state ranked team on Friday Night? How are we going to line up right with bullets flying if we can't get a rack put in the right place. It all matters. These little details matter.


Attention to details is what sets apart consistent success. When you parallel squat, are your athletes getting to parallel? Or are they cutting corners? Are you allowing them to cut corners? Do you have a definition of parallel that is clear and concise? Are you willing to hold kids accountable to reaching a standard?


If you are teaching a six inch zone step to your offensive line, do you accept a 4 inch step? When you are teaching a 10 yard stop route, do you accept and eight yard route? Or, do you correct and reteach? Do your players know why you have to get to 10 yards on that route? Do they know “why” they have to perform the skill?


If you want consistent and sustained success, everyone on your staff has to be willing to hold kids accountable to meeting your standard each and every day. It’s hard. It is very, very hard. You can’t decide that today it is okay to do it 90% right. You can’t let it slip. When we broke out to begin an activity, or transition from one activity to another, we asked them to hustle. We showed them what it looks like. We modeled it. Then, we held them accountable. There were occasions when guys didn’t hustle. It didn’t meet our standard. What do you do?


Are you willing to accept less than what your standard is? When I was a young coach, I didn’t want to distract from the weight room or practice field for these “little things.” However, once you let them slip, it is hard to get them back. It is harder to get them back than it is to simply teach it right the first time. What we did was send them back with specific instructions, and ask them to do it again to our standard. If they met our standard, we moved on. If not, we would do it again, and again. We would sometimes have to stop and reteach the why.


Columbus had been mired in mediocrity for years. They expected to lose, so everything they did was going to lead to losing. They had the “why should we work hard if we are just going to lose” syndrome.  Many programs, after years of losing, find themselves with this very culture.


We evaluated the program and found the weakest three areas. First, the strength and conditioning program was terrible. Second, numbers were very, very low. Third, the equipment was old and dilapidated.


We focused on improving those three areas, using the strength and conditioning program to be a catalyst for the cultural shift.  Our players needed to learn stretch themselves. They needed to learn that they could do much more than they thought possible. We recorded everything they did in the weight room. They kept record cards we got from B-F-S so they could see their progress. When we started we had 2 kids that squatted 300 pounds. By our fourth year, every varsity player squatted 300 pounds, and a dozen parallel squatted 450.  We are not talking about a half squat. We are talking about truly getting the thigh parallel to the ground.


In addition to getting stronger, we were able to teach mental toughness. We gave them a definition: Mental Toughness: The ability to face adversity, failure, and negative events, without a loss of effort, attitude, and enthusiasm.  We also started to put together a leadership development and character education curriculum. We took some of D.W. Rutledge and Dennis Parker’s Coaching to Change Lives and began teaching it with our players. We talked about each day being an opportunity. Do you “have to,” or do you “get to.” You can’t relive today. You only get one shot. What are you going to do with it? Are you willing to make the most of it, without exception?


As mentioned above, we made sure our focus was on being the best “we” that we could be. We didn’t worry much about who we played or what they were or were not. We focused on being our best each day. We helped them to develop their attitude, and taught them the impact a great attitude would have on their success. Three things you completely control are your attitude, effort, and enthusiasm. Ninety percent of your success in any endeavor is your attitude at the beginning.


Think about teams that are struggling. They believe they will lose, and their attitude reflects this. What happens? They put forth mediocre effort and lose. We knew the scoreboard would be a tough place to win in the beginning. We need to have some small victories to build on, so we used John Wooden’s definition of success.  “Success is peace of mind of knowing you did your very best, to be the very best that you could be.” At the end of the day we would use this definition to evaluate whether we “won the day.”


All of a sudden, our kids started to believe in themselves and each other. We started seeing them take ownership. Another very valuable exercise we did was have them come up with goals for the season. They listed practice and weight room goals, and set their own standards of performance.  We also asked them to consider their identity. If someone came to watch you workout, how would they describe you? What would they say if they saw you in the classroom? What do you think championship effort would look like?

Once it became their deal, and they became vested in the program, the culture began to shift. They began to lead each other, and be accountable to each other. We asked them to hold each other accountable, and take over the role of leading.

You get what you emphasize! If you emphasize hustle, that is what you will get. If you don't put an emphasis on something, don't expect it to happen. 


There is no simple answer or magic pill to change culture. It is a constant, on-going process. You must be willing to pay attention to the seemingly insignificant details that most would choose to overlook. In addition, here are some important points:

1.  Set High Standards
2.      Clearly Define Expecations
3.      Explain the Why
4.      Teach them how to meet the standard
5.      Hold them accountable
6.      Reteach if standard is not met
7.      Build on small success
8.      Value Hard Work
9.      Teach Leadership with INTENT
10. Have a great Attitude
11.  Give Great Effort
12. Always be enthusiastic

The most important aspect of consistently successful football programs is the attention to seemingly insignificant details. If you want to be successful on the field, you have to take care of the little things. If we say to stand with your eyes up and your hands behind your back, you should stand exactly that way. If we tell you to hustle from point A to point B, you need to hustle from point A to point B. There can be no exceptions. If we don't do it right, we are going to do it again until we do it correctly.


Self Discipline: Do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, the way it is supposed to be done, regardless of circumstance or how you feel! This goes for players and coaches. We must give our best effort every single day in the weightroom, meeting room, on the field, and in the classroom. We must make the effort to correct behavior that doesn't meet our standard of performance.

Finally, every day keep working to help kids grow. Make sure you are always moving forward. Evaluate, learn, grow, and keep moving. I hope there is something you can take from this post and use in your program! Please let me know if there is anything I can do!

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
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:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pistol Zone Read- Accounting for Gap Exchange

Two Tracking Two

One concept we like on offense is the concept of two offensive players tracking two defensive players. This is a very important concept in our option game from the pistol and offset look from the gun. When we started running the zone read in 1999, defenses were vanilla in how they defended us. By 2003 and 2004, however, defensive coordinators started to cloud the read for the quarterback.

The favorite stunt we would see was the defensive end running the heel line, while the read side inside linebacker would work the C gap. Typically this stunt was run when we got a one technique and a 5 technique to the side we set our back. The first time we saw this our quarterback got hit in the mouth. The defensive end running the heel line gave the quarterback a pull read. It was frustrating for the quarterback as he was doing exactly what he had been coached to do. 


Our staff sat down the following Sunday and began to look for solutions.  Little did we know the answer was already in our playbook. Because we had been running midline with great success for several years, we had seen a similar gap exchange from the Mike LB and the 3 technique. The 3 technique would squeeze the release of the guard, while the Mike would work over the top into the B gap. To counter this we had a second player tracking the Mike linebacker.

We got on the white board and started looking at how we could make the same concept work with our zone read game. We ended up with a simple concept that could work with any of our zone read concepts, as well as our inside veer play. We would use a second player to track the playside linebacker, along with our read side offensive tackle.

Our read side tackle and our bonus player would both have their eyes on the playside linebacker. If the playside linebacker stepped up in the B gap, the tackle would block him. The second player tracking the playside backer would climb to the next most dangerous man. 

If the playside linebacker scraped outside, the second player tracking the PSLB would block him, while the tackle would work to the next most dangerous man.  

In addition, we also turned our inside zone read into a triple option by adding a pitch phase. From our 2x2 look our inside receiver would be our pitch man. This keeps the defense from rolling a safety down to play the quarterback. They must honor the pitch phase. 

Here is a clip of this two track two concept in action with a pitch phase.



In the clip, our second player tracking the read side backer took a poor angle and got leveraged by the safety. Instead of a 25 yard gain, we settled for a 9 yard gain.

Here is another example, where our playside tackle gets a body on the side backer, and the Y climbs to the safety. The triple option aspect forced the defense to play assignment football.


As we expanded and grew our pistol offense, we were able to be creative with the alignment of the second player tracking the read side backer.  Any of our skill players could be the second player tracking the playside linebacker. We could align them in the backfield, or as a wing or slot to or away from the read side. In the picture below, the F is aligned in a slot and works across the formation to work with the read side tackle to account for the playside inside linebacker.

 A lot of coaches ask if he gets in the way of the pistol back. The only way this happens is if he doesn't hustle on the snap.

Below is the back aligned in the backfield becoming the second player tracking the read side backer.

Another rule we added was that our read side tackle blocked anything that crossed his face. If the read player crossed his face, we blocked him. Instead of determining our read pre-snap, we told our QB to read the C gap player, after the snap.




As defenses began to catch-up with the zone read, we had to adjust how we read the C gap. Sometimes we would get three players moving on the read side, and the quarterback had to be drilled to make a post snap determination of who his read is.


We must differentiate when we need to have a second player tracking the playside backer. If we are getting a slant across the tackle's face, the tackle would block him and the QB adjusts his read to the C gap player. If C gap player runs the heel line, we want to get a second player tracking the PSLB to account for the gap exchange.

I hope there is something you can use from this blog post. These are ideas you may want to consider if teams like to gap exchange your read game. 

If you are looking for more information on the two tracking two concept, check out 101 Pistol Option Plays. It is available on Amazon and from Coaches Choice. The ebook is only available here:

Also, 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:
Follow me on Twitter: Coach Vint's Twitter Page

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Pistol Evolution


In the Beginning

Back about ten years ago we lined up in the pistol for the first time, little did we know what we were embarking upon. We were running some zone read from the gun and people were playing games on the side we set our back. There were some real tendencies we were trying to overcome. We set our back behind the quarterback and found we were able to run our inside zone read game, just as we had with the back offset. By the time 2006 rolled around, we were in the pistol full-time.

In our eyes, there were two distinct advantages to the pistol. The first was that we could run our zone read game without the defense knowing which side would be the side we were reading. The second advantage was the fact that we were able to run all of our downhill run concepts from the pistol. Finally, our quarterback had depth in the pass game.

The biggest advantage to being in the pistol was balance. When we were under center we didn’t throw the ball often… or very effectively. Because of this, we routinely faced 8 and nine man fronts. When we got into the gun, we were able to spread people out. We were able to take some pressure off of our offensive lineman.

The defense has loaded the box. The safety is only 6 yards away from the LOS!


The Gun Spread the Defense Out- FS now at 12 yards


Because our quarterback already had depth, we were able to protect better. Our quarterbacks were able to throw the ball better. They were more comfortable. All of a sudden we had balance. Because we had balance, we ran the ball more effectively.

In the 90’s we were based out of the I. We ran midline, load veer, iso, toss, trap, inside zone, counter, and power. We chose 6 to 7 of these concepts to run each year, depending on personnel. We were consistently one of the top rushing teams in the area. In 1999 we were introduced to the zone read by Jerry Campbell, who was the offensive coordinator at Westwood High School just outside of Austin, Texas. Forever our world was changed. 

During this same time, we met a young, energetic coach from a small college up North. Chip Kelly was recruiting for New Hampshire, and was on the forefront of the zone read game. He had some ideas that were way ahead of their time. Over the next couple of years we began to incorporate the gun zone read into our offense. By 2002, we were in the gun about 50% of the time. However, we were still getting under center to run midline, iso, veer, toss, and trap. We were running our zone read concepts from the gun.

We thought we were diverse, as teams had to prepare for our gun based offense, and out I based offense. What we learned from talking to our opponents is that we were very easy to defend because of our tendencies. They defended our I formation offense one way, and our gun based offense another way. We also were essentially running two distinct systems, which did not allow for efficiency in practice. We needed to find a way to run the best of the three worlds we were living in.

Enter the Pistol

While we had dabbled in the pistol previously, it was in 2005 and 2006 that we figured out some things we can do with the pistol. I had a tremendous offensive line coach, Chris Harris. During spring football, we were putting the back behind the QB to run our zone read concepts. We used both one and two back looks. We were at the end of spring practice when we fumbled a bunch of snaps under center. We told our QB to stay at 5 yards. We had our F line up at 4 yards behind the right guard. Our tailback was lined up behind the Q. We snapped the ball to the QB, who turned and gave the ball to the tailback. We were running traditional Iso from the pistol.

From there, we ran inside veer. We started running it with the offset back running the dive path. Then, we evolved to running inside veer with the pistol back being the dive back. Next, we ran traditional power. Then, counter trey. All of a sudden, we were able to marry our spread run game, option game, and our traditional downhill run game from the pistol. We no longer had to get under center.


Over the last 9 years, I have helped several schools install the spread and pistol offenses. Each school I have helped has done things differently. That is the great thing about this game. You can take tried and true concepts and make them your own. It has been a lot of fun to see how guys have taken different concepts and adapted them to the pistol. 

The weekend of March 1st I will be speaking at the Nike Clinic in Oregon to talk about our Pistol Offense. I will be speaking on Marrying the Downhill Run Game and the Spread with the Pistol, and Installing the Quick Pass Game from the Pistol. If you are heading to the clinic, stop by and say hello. 

When I first started speaking on the pistol at clinics in 2006 and 2007, I would have small crowds. Most of them were curious, but they just couldn't grasp the concept of the back being behind the QB in the gun. Last year, I had over 500 coaches in one session. With the success of some NFL teams bringing more exposure to the pistol, I am excited to see how much the interest has increased.

If there is anything I can do to help you with the pistol, shoot me an email. This business is all about coaches helping coaches. We all have begged, borrowed, and stolen from other coaches.

Also, 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: