Sunday, August 20, 2017

Domination Begins with Preparation

Every team wants to build a program that consistently dominates opponents each week. I believe there are four elements to building a dominating program.

1. Talented Players
2. Mental and Physical Toughness
3. Disciplined Approach
4. Elite Preparation

All four of these are necessary if you want to build a program that consistently competes for championships. Today's focus will be on the fourth element, "Elite Preparation."

Have you ever walked out of the locker room and gotten into your car after game and said, "why didn't we call XYZ?" Or, "why didn't we get Johnnie more touches? Have you ever faced a situation in a game and your kids didn't know what to do? These are just a few of the many questions coaches at all level pose to themselves after a game. And each of them can be answered through preparation. 

When I first became a coordinator I liked to call things from the hip. Our practices and game plan didn't match up. Because of this, our practices were often inefficient with a lot of wasted time. It didn't look like we were wasting time because each period was planned out and we followed a schedule. We hustled between our segments and our transitions were efficient. If we had such a fast-paced practice, how did we waste time?

It started with the lack of a game plan. We used to say, "we do what we do." There was no need to plan because we were going to run our offense. I had to learn the hard way that a lack of detailed preparation will lose games. We practiced a lot of things we never ran. In fact, we spent more time practicing plays we weren't going to run than plays we were going to run. We wasted a lot of reps. I thought we were doing a good job. I was wrong. 

The reason I didn't prepare is that I didn't have a system of preparation. I visited several college and NFL programs and investigated how they prepared. What did they do to make sure every base was covered. We began to take a all of the information and put it together. 

The first thing we did was put a game plan in writing. It wasn't merely a list of our plays. We looked at every single aspect of our opponents and came up with our favorite calls for each week. A call means formation, motion, and play. We decided to script our openers, and build down and distance scripts for each game. We came up these while we game planned on Saturday and Sunday. 

Once we had our game plan in place, we built our scripts for practice. We scripted every period based on our game plan. We felt we need to practice every call a minimum of 6 times. Our ultimate goal was 12 reps for each call. By scripting our practice segments we made sure every single element was covered.

We then made a list of all the situations we wanted to cover. We came up with a system to teach each situation and incorporate into our practice each week. Below is our weekly list. 
These are the most important situations that we practice week. We work our take a safety as well, which is not on this list. It is vital you teach them why you are taking a safety as well. You don't need to spend a lot of time on each of these. We work our two minute drill for 5 minutes a week. We work our 4th down go for it play 3 times each week. Our players know what we will call before we call it. Below is our overview showing when we work each situation.

Every single thing we did in practice had a purpose. We never had a situation that we didn't cover, and our players were able to adapt quicker during games. When our defense got the ball back, our players knew what we were going to call before we called it. They knew we were going to take a shot, and they knew what play we would call.

Two of the questions above that we often asked were "why didn't we call XYZ?" And, why didn't we get Johnnie the ball more? We solved these by adding a section called GAB or Get Athletes the Ball. I had a couple of calls set up for each of our best players. I knew when we were struggling to "think players, not plays." By having a section on my play calling sheet that targeted our best players, I made sure to make calls to get them touches. 

I also made sure I had some shot calls on my sheet. I wanted to make sure we called enough big plays that we could score fast. These were momentum calls that could change a game. 

When we adjusted our game planning it didn't take more time. We still watched a lot of film and talked as a staff about what we saw. What changed, however, were the difficult conversations with the head coach about why I didn't get XYZ the ball. We scored more points and became more dominating. 

Take the list above and build these into your practice plan. Script them into your regular practice plans and make sure you get them covered. Having a simple system of preparation will help you be more dominating in all phases of the game.

One of the keys to our preparation was our outstanding group of documents we used for all three phases. If you are looking for fully editable and customizable documents that you can tailor to your program, I have made mine available. 

Here is a link to my offensive game planning documents:
It includes everything from a scouting report template, to practice plans, to a two-sided color call sheet, and more! Each of the nine documents are fully editable and customizable! Order today for under $15 and download them tonight!

Here is a link to the defensive game planning documents. It includes 12 fully editable and customizable documents.

And finally, I put together a special teams resource. This has everything you need, included drill tape, practice tape, and game footage. It includes teaching presentations and scouting forms just for special teams!

I hope you found something in this post you can use with your program! Good luck this season!