Sunday, December 25, 2016

Our Evolution to RPO's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you want to learn more about installing RPO's, I wrote a book called Installing Explosive RPO Concepts Into Any Offense. I wrote it for iBooks, which includes cut-ups to reinforce the application of these concepts. In the book I give you a systematic process for installing 2nd and 3rd level RPO's. Coaches at all level of football tell me this is a game changer! The book can be found for iBooks here:

The iBooks version can be viewed on any iPhone, Mac, or iPad. It is a game changer in book technology! This book will give you everything you need to build RPO's into your offense!

If you don't have an apple device, you can order the paperback version! It is available on Amazon!

Follow me @coachvint on Twitter! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Review: Culture Defeats Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I highly recommend this book! It will help make your program better! You can order it by going to

Shameless pitch for my own books...
A while back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense. I wanted these books to be affordable, so they are priced to be easy on your pocket book!
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here:

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:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Time To Improve

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

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

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

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

Three Ways to Gain Knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few months back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense.
If you don't have an apple device, you can order the paperback version! It is available on Amazon!
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:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Developing Culture, Character, and Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few months back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: 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:

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:

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: