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: