76. Hi , I am an 18 year old student at the local Junior College. My dream in life is to be a football coach and I was just wondering if there are any books, classes, or a certain age where I should start out at like pee-wee, etc.... If you could get back to me I would really appreciate it. You can read all kinds of books and take all kinds of classes on theoretical coaching, which seems to be the European soccer system of training coaches, but I think the American football system, hit-or-miss though it may be, still tends to do the best job of selecting coaches - both training the good ones and weeding out the weaklings - of any system I know of. It is basically the centuries-old apprenticeship system. Just like the apprenticeship programs by which people for centuries have learned trades, the trick for you is to find a good "master" to apprentice yourself to. You don't say what junior college you attend, so I can't make any specific recommendations, but my first suggestion would be for you to contact the head coach at a local high school. If there are several high schools near you, inquire locally and find out which coaches seem to run the best programs - not necessarily which ones win the most games. Then, approach one or more of those coaches and tell him (them) that you are interested in working with the program as a coaching intern - that in return for watching what they do and sitting in on coaches' meetings, you will do whatever sort of work they require. (It may entail a lot of grunt work.) This type of internship is becoming pretty routine procedure in many businesses now, and it is standard for just about all college coaches to have served as an underpaid "graduate assistant" before being hired as a paid assistant. It is a great way for you to acquire a mentor - a coach or coaches who can direct you to books and videos, and best of all, share their experiences with you. (An older staff might be of more benefit to you educationally.) It is also a great way to acquire the recommendation of someone who one day might help you get a job. In fact, he might hire you himself someday. (I always like to see how a guy works as a volunteer assistant on my staff before I consider hiring him. I will always give the edge to someone whose temperament and work habits I have been able to observe first-hand.)
77. I just received news that my best defensive player is out for the season. Our entire defense has been built around him, and now I don't know whether to just put someone in his place, start re-arranging people so we can keep playing the same defense, or go to a whole new scheme. This is a tough blow, and you may find that your entire defensive scheme, which works great with this kid in it, is not so great without him. Something like losing your great tailback and finding out you're not a very good "I" formation team without him. You may have to rework the whole deal. Having spent several years at small schools now, I have grown used to this - finding a defense that each new group of kids can play, and that we can teach. One of the things I like best about the Double-Wing is that I don't have to let the personnel dictate what offense I'm going to run - maybe which plays we will run the most, but not the basic offense. But I do find myself letting the personnel dictate the defense that we will run. I am very flexible regarding defense and would even consider a 5-2, which scares me to death because it requires studs at just about every position if you're going to play it right. (And don't forget this, especially at the youth level, in making your plans - an awful lot of us find ourselves in a spot somewhere in our career where we have to hide somebody.)
78. It is my first year here and it has been tougher than I expected. We have been getting drilled, and several seniors have defected. The kids we are left with - mostly underclassmen - are playing hard. But it is tough keeping them going week after week, and even though they've never won here, the community is not being patient. Don't know how much history you know, but every Pennsylvanian learns about Valley Forge, and it would help you to know about it, too. There are lessons in it for every football coach, because at Valley Forge, George Washington had a lot more on the line than turning aroound a football program or keeping his job. There, in the countryside outside Philadelphia, Washington was at his absolute lowest - he'd had his butt kicked by the British at Germantown, many of his troops deserted to go get their crops in, and as winter set in, those who remained were freezing their tails off with little or no shelter. They got no help from the Continental Congress, nor any sympathy from the nearby farmers, who wouldn't accept the Americans' funny money and wouldn't sell them food on credit, but were only too happy to sell their produce to the British for good old English pounds. The British, meanwhile, were partying and having a great time with the ladies of Philadelphia (the ladies like winners - it's always been that way), while Washington's men were dying of smallpox, starvation and frostbite, walking around in the snow with rags wrapped around their feet because they'd boiled their boots and eaten the leather. Of the 11,000 men he started out with, more than 3,000 died. Many more deserted. But miraculously, when spring came, they were ready to fight. A German, Baron von Steuben, had drilled the healthy ones and whipped them into a unit. And, most important of all, Washington knew that the men who had made it through that long, cruel winter at Valley Forge with him were going to be with him for the long pull. They were a lean, mean fightin' machine - thanks, in large part, to Washington's leadership. If it weren't for him and the way he kept those men focused on the main goal, we'd all be interrupting our cricket matches for tea and scones, and playing a different type of "football" altogether on something called a "pitch." Not to make any references to your players, but Washington once made a great statement on the importance of leadership- "A pack of jackasses led by a lion will defeat a pack of lions led by a jackass." This may be your winter at Valley Forge.
79. My son is back in the lineup at his high school tonight after being out with an injury for 4 weeks. He was the starting QB but since then the back up has done some remarkable things throwing the ball also. My son will not be starting at QB but at Safety. Though I feel bad for him I do understand the coach's decision. I was talking to him on another issue and he told me he needs my son on the field, somewhere, just for his athleticism - That he may play QB again, but he may not. Depends on the circumstances. Told him I understand completely and that I trust his decision completely. Question of the day, not that I am trying to blow my own horn, but how many parents would have hooted and hollered to get "little Johnny" back into the lineup? Gone to the Principal? I applaud you as a youth coach yourself for being able to understand the high school coach's point of view. I have known coaches who totally lost perspective and became meddling parents themselves once their own kid was in a similar situation. First of all, it is a tribute to your son that the coach sees things in him that make him want him on the field somewhere. If your son is able to deal positively with this, he will come out of it a much better player and a much stronger person. Who knows what lies ahead? He could be back at QB in a heartbeat, and if in the meantime he shows that he is a team player, he will return with unquestioned credentials as a leader, and with the complete trust of the coach. And then it may be impossible to dislodge him. Although I don't know the kids or the situation, I would almost certainly have done things the way Zack's coach has. Thanks from high school coaches everywhere for handling it the way you have.
80. Even though we won this season I often felt unappreciated and disrespected. (Deleted) is a difficult place to coach because so many of our kids come from dysfunctional families and their behavior in our last game was so inappropriate I really have to question how much more time I want to spend in this environment. Am I wrong to consider making a change? Maybe. And maybe not. It is pretty well understood that not many of us find that one great situation in which we can stay for an entire career. For one reason or another, at some point, we will leave or be asked to leave. Some coaches can remain in situations where they will never have much talent and, consequently, it is hard to win with regularity. They are not necessarily successful in the conventional win-loss sense, but they teach sound fundamentals, they can get their kids to play hard, and their kids are better for the experience. And the community in general is grateful. But such Pleasantvilles are becoming harder and harder to find, and much more typical are places where it's very difficult to win - and when you do, the community quickly grows spoiled and expects still more. There are also those places where you could win them a state title, and many of the people are unhappy with you nevertheless because you didn't showcase their kids. Remember, too, that a school is a dynamic place: things just don't stay the same. For example, the principal with whom you have a great relationship may decide to turn over some of his responsibilities - including overseeing the football program - to the A.D., who resents the football program because it's been outside his control. The parents who were your staunch supporters lose interest when their sons graduate. You have to take a look at the number of negatives in the school and in the community over which you have no control, and decide whether you can live with them. It would be nice if it didn't have to be this way, but this is the way it is, and part of being a career coach is being astute enough to recognize warning signs and make your move when the time is ripe. It is said that Bobby Bowden knew it was time to leave West Virginia when after several good years, he had one bad year - and was hanged in effigy. He came back for one more year and had a great season - and then he was out of there, gone to Florida State. The rest is history. Any place that would disrespect a man like Bobby Bowden didn't deserve him, and your attitude - any coach's attitude - ought to be that any place that doesn't respect you, doesn't deserve you.
81. We will be facing a 5-2 that likes to blitz its LBers. Any suggestions? First of all, blitzing LBers in themselves shouldn't do much harm to an offense such as our Double-Wing, with its tiny splits. What they can do, though, is create a "TNT" situation in which, if your center blocks the Nose and your backside guard pulls across the formation, the backside backer could cause you some serious problems if he fires. Consider blocking down whenever you run super powers, counters or traps. The guy who will cause you the most trouble with this arrangement is the playside tackle, if he is real tough - if it is just too hard for your TE to prevent his penetration. If that is the case, then it is likely he is trappable (see below): bring your tackle down hard ("3 trap at 4") so he will catch the playside LBer if he fires, or the tackle if he pinches; bring the TE over the top for the playside LBer if he doesn't blitz, for the backside LBer if he does; trap the first guy past your tackle, which could be the DT or the blitzing LBer - or maybe even the DE. Make sure your B-Back is patient and keeps working playside for an opening. Make sure your QB clears out of the B-Back's path, whether he fakes the Buck Sweep or the Super Power.
82. What is your adjustment to a DE who crashes hard chasing down the LOS off the outside hip of the TE from the motioning-wing side? We have had trouble with fast DEs who can chase down our toss from the backside. Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I assume you're talking about a defense which requires the center to block a man on his nose, thus preventing him from check blocking, and therefore requiring the TE to cut off the next man out from center, normally a DT - leaving the TE unblocked. (Sounds like a 5-2, 5-3 or an Eagle or 46 or something along those lines.) I think that for a guy to be doing what you describe, he has to be leaning forward, inside-conscious, and, if he intends to catch a power play from behind, pinching down tight. Here are some things we have done:
(1) Do not leave your man in motion so long and do not send so him deep. Our man is only in motion a few steps before we toss the ball; our aim point for his motion is now the heels of the B-Back (fullback). After catching the toss, we would like our runner to be able to get his inside hand on the back of his pulling tackle if at all possible.
(2) If necessary, run the play without any motion at all (you will be surprised - it will work fine and it will freeze those DE's);
(3) Block down all along the LOS, relieving the TE of having to cut off, and freeing him to turn out on the DE;
(4) Run our Reach Sweep around that end (we run the play on first sound, without motion); anybody geared up to chase a play to the opposite side has to be vulnerable to a reach block.
(5) Bootleg to that DE's side, hooking him with the playside guard
(6) 7-C - Fullback counter underneath the DE with an outside fake
(7) Red-Red Tight End Screen Left - throwback screen to the backside TE
83. How do you deal with 7-8-9 and 10-man fronts? Until recently, all we saw were 9- and 10-man fronts. Our rules will block them. (Technically, all they've done is cover all the gaps.) Consider for a minute how placing large numbers of people close to the line actually puts the defense at a disadvantage: (1) The Super Power play is based on the principle of walling off to the inside and outnumbering the defense at the point of attack - getting there the "firstest with the mostest." So every defender who is up close, totally committed to defending his side, is likely to be walled off when the ball goes the other way; (2) With all those people up, when we break it, we break it - there is no one left to stop us; (3) The Double-Wing is a great passing offense, provided you (a) throw to score, not just for variety; (b) throw to exploit an apparent weakness; (c) throw when it is least expected - "throw when you don't have to, and don't throw when you do have to." Fortunately, I had the people this past season to be able to take advantage of opponents who played up close to stop the run. Although we threw only 59 times, we completed nearly 50 per cent - 26 - and half of the completions - 13 - were for touchdowns. That's a touchdown every 4.5 attempts; the pros are happy with one TD every 10 attempts. And consider this - my QB threw only 4 interceptions all season. Three of them came in the first two games, when the kids were still getting used to the offense. I don't kid myself - that kind of efficiency just doesn't happen every year. I had good skill people. But having a high-yield, low-risk passing game - one that can be productive without at the same time being destructive - does say a lot about the versatility of the Double-Wing.
84. Coach- received video "Dynamics of D.W.". Best football video I have seen. Can't wait to start installing system. Am also going to order "Installing the System" and the tackling video. Just wondering if you teach your linemen to block with their forearm and shoulders or with their hands. I find when I teach 11&12 year old kids to block with their hands in bench press like style they tend to stand up. I liked the way you showed teaching your backs the running drive block. Do you teach your linemen the same type of style? Glad you like the tape. We teach basically six blocks- (1) The drive block - and the running drive block - which we show in the "pancake drill". It is the technique that we spend most of our time on. Everybody uses that technique for all blocks except- (2) The reach block, which isn't all that different from the drive block in technique, once we have established outside leverage by getting our helmet outside the defender's helmet; (3) The "shoeshine" or backside cut-off block, which is a sort of reach block, thrown low against a man who tries to chase a pulling lineman; (4) The down block , a one-shoulder block which involves stepping into the gap and getting our helmet across the defender's path and then pinning him with the far shoulder and elbow; (5) The double-team, also a one-shoulder block, where our two men work to stay stuck together at the hips; (6) The hinge block, which is similar to the technique the pros use in their pass blocking and really isn't very tough to teach when you have the tight splits that we do. We stress keeping separation between us and the defender, and so we teach using the hands, emphasizing elbows in and fingers up. (We show how we teach our blocking in "Installing the System" and also the "Troubleshooting" video; check Tip #43, which explains my justification for using the drive block rather than the "shove" block.) I should point out that downfield, although we try to get our pads on a guy, sometimes the best we can get is a "shove.
85. How many different blocking techniques do you teach? Essentially, we teach four blocks- (1) The running drive block, shown in the "pancake drill" footage in "Dynamics of the Double Wing." Everybody learns that technique and uses it for all blocks except- (2) The down block (stepping into the gap and getting our helmet across the defender's path and then pinning him with the far shoulder and elbow) which basically is a drive block using half the body; (3) The double-team, in which two men, stuck together at the hips, each perform a drive block using half their body; (4) The hinge, or drop-back pass block, which is basically the same as the pros use and which really isn't very tough to teach when you have the tight splits that we do. This is the only block in which we do not employ the basic drive blocm technique, keeping our arms in and making contact with pads first. (We show how we teach our blocking in "Installing the System" and also "Troubleshooting the Double Wing" tapes; Tip #43 explains my reasoning for using the drive block technique rather than the "shove" block currently in favor with most people.
86. Why do you say you want your linemen back off the ball as far as legal?
(1) Gap protection - we want our man to get into the intersection before the defensive lineman
(2) Pulling opposite - eliminates wasted steps - and time - having to get deeper than the center in order to get around him
(3) Releasing inside - we want to be able to escape defensive linemen when releasing upfield or crossfield
(4) Forming the wedge - we have got to close down quickly to prevent penetration
(5) More time to read - so much of our blocking is conditional, based on what the defense does after the snap
(6) Getting farther away from grabbers - it's illegal, but you wouldn't know it from the number of guys who teach it
87. Your method of numbering and designating plays makes a lot of sense. But, how do you call your plays during a game? -- i.e., Do you shuttle them in or signal them? Does your QB use a wrist band? I coach a youth team and I'm looking for the simplest method possible to avoid miscommunication between me and my QB on the field. Over the last two years, I have been using a system which is an adaptation of an idea I got from a coach named Bob Hepp, now the head coach at Manitowoc, Wisconsin. I think it is pretty slick. Not only does my quarterback wear a wrist band, but so does every one of my other offensive players. To call a play, I call out or signal its "map coordinates" and the players locate it on their wrist bands. We may huddle or not. While the team huddles, the QB comes over as close to me as the rules allow and I tell him the play call. He doesn't really have to come very close, because I can yell out the coordinates of a play and nobody on the defense is going to know what they mean. For that same reason, I may sometimes have the QB stay in the huddle while I holler the play for the whole team to hear, or I may have the team assemble at the line - or actually get down into their stances - without huddling at all. BONUS - As a bonus to coaches who've supported me in the past - in other words, if you've attended one of my clinics or purchased any materials from me - e-mail me for the address of the pages on which I have described our no-huddle system. (If all you do is use it in practice, you will save a lot of practice time just by not huddling!)
88. What sort of weight-training or strength program do you recommend for kids 11 or 12 and younger? I am asked this a lot, and I can only offer an opinion with no scientific basis. Other coaches with more or less experience than I may disagree and I can't say they're wrong. But the general sense I get is that 11 and 12 is too young for serious lifting. It is my observation that freshman year in high school is time enough for a kid to get started on a serious lifting program. And then, only in a carefully supervised program with emphasis on how to - not how much to - lift.
I have seen some very good programs in which weight training is introduced to kids in the summer preceding freshman year, then carefully supervised throughout the year by school coaches or qualified weight-training instructors. Too often, though, kids get started without any instruction in proper technique, or any supervision in the weight room. Worse still, some schools set up "weight training" classes which are that in name only. Counselors often look at those classes as "catch-alls," filling them with the slackers that nobody else wants, and administrators often turn the instruction over to faculty members with no particular interest in or knowledge of weight training; as a result, the classes tend to be disorderly and unproductive - sometimes downright dangerous. It is shocking to see some of the accidents waiting to happen in those classes.
On the subject of weight training, I don't think enough people realize the value of an off-season weight-training program as an important component of team-building. It is great for the kids to get together, to work and sweat together, to encourage each other, and to see that others are paying the same price they are. And they understand that somewhere off in the distance is the real reason why they are all working. For that reason, I am not a big fan of the "lifting on my own" excuse. Coaches who work to develop an off-season program at school run into the "I lift on my own" objection all the time. It's usually a cop-out. It's either mom saying, "he has his own weights at home," or it's the kid saying "I lift at the club."
In the former case, up until it's freshman year and time to get in and lift with his teammates, it's not a bad thing for a young kid who's scarcely exercised before to begin doing something to get stronger; chances are that the lack of equipment at home will limit him to doing lots of reps with fairly light weights, which is not likely to injure him or lead to any bad habits. I can't say I see much wrong with that. Of course, pushups, pull-ups and squats will acomplish pretty much the same thing, but kids want to do what the big guys are doing, and if that's what it takes to get their little hands off the Nintendo joystick, there's a lot to be said for it.
In the case of the club, though, the danger is that, whether he knows it or not, that kid will soon enough be lifting not to become a better athlete, but to become a better lifter. That is likely the way he will be influenced by the people at the club, most of them serious lifters but non-athletes. He will probably learn to spend five minutes sitting on a bench for every minute he spends lifting. He will also spend more time on the glamour lifts that buff him up than he does on the grunt lifts - like squats - whose payoff doesn't come until months later, on the football field. He will probably become bigger and stronger - I won't even mention some of the pharmaceuticals he may be told about - but not necessarily a better athlete, and his isolation from his teammates will probably prevent him from becoming a team leader. You will be surprised how many of these club lifters you will lose to body-building, as lifting becomes an obsession - an end in itself, not a way to become a better athlete. This is how a lot of the "looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane" guys are made. (Sorry, Jane.)
With or without strength training, though, I think that there is a great need for young American kids to become more athletic and competitive overall. We have made their lives easier, and as a result, they just don't do enough vigorous, competitive things. Because of a decline in strenuous physical activity among kids in general, and a de-emphasis on elementary physical education, I believe that kids at the middle-school level would benefit from a systemized introduction to a flexibility (stretching) program, and a form-running/agility program. (I would recommend jumping rope as a part of any off-season program, any PE class, or any youth sports program. It is great for any athlete, at any age, in any sport, at any position.) I know that all this runs counter to the "PE as fun" movement in which we don't require kids even to dress for PE if they don't feel like it, but here, it seems to me, is a great opportunity for Physical Educators to regain the respect their profession deserves. They can establish standards and help kids work to meet them. Hey! Real self esteem! The kind that comes from achieving something! And in the process, they will help kids become more fit - and better athletes. In some parts of the country - Texas comes to mind - middle school coaches, if not PE instructors, seem already to be doing an excellent job in this regard.
89. I have been looking at some computer-based video editing systems. I notice that you don't say anything about them in your "Video Production" article. What can you tell me about them? I have just finished an update of the "Video Production" article dealing with my recent experiences in this area. Before spending any money on a new computer or any video equipment, you should read it. It is a rather lengthy article, too long to put on this page, so I have given it a page all its own, entitled DIGITAL VIDEO.
90. How do you deal with overshifting and undershifting defenses? Actually, we don't see much of that because it is unsound defensive strategy against a balanced offense. We don't feel we should worry about reacting to the defense; we feel it is their job to react to us. We have the ability to automatic if we ever have to, and that could mean merely running the play called, but to the other side. If they are doing this steadily, showing us the same look play after play, we will hammer at their weakness until they change. Maybe they won't. If they seem to be reacting to motion - which we think is difficult to do with short, quick motion - we may run plays without motion. If they are jumping around (stemming) before the snap, we will want to snap the ball while they are stemming, or hit them with a wedge - very hard to defend against when you are preparing to shift sideways. If they are trying to vary their fronts, showing us a couple of defenses, we may either run a few plays at them without huddling, or throw an overshift/undershift of our own at them, just to see if they have been able, in one week of preparation, to teach their players how to recognize and adjust to different sets.
91. I have a question about the QB's technique on Super Power. When we first started teaching it in '98, the pulling guard and QB were often banging into each other, not enough to knock down the QB or separate him from the ball but enough to throw him a bit off balance and slow him way down. I had my QB take a slightly deeper stance and cheat his playside foot back a couple of inches. This seemed to eliminate the problem, but we began to fumble snaps more often. In recent discussions with my fellow coaches and watching game films from that year, some questions arose. It seemed that our guards began to pause as they pulled and this slightly slowed down the development of the play. Our defensive coach said he could key the playside off the QB's staggered stance. I doubt that this is very important, since from straight on, it's not very obvious and, perhaps, adds to misdirection on our counter plays. Sure would appreciate your comments, if you get a chance. Good question. It is not the first time it has come up, and I have covered it in my clinics. First of all, provided that you run misdirection, it is not necessarily tipping off anything to stagger a foot. I personally am opposed to it just because I guess I am something of a "balance freak," even to the point of occasionally running the Super Power without motion. Certainly, you don't want your guard to have to slow down. I suspect that the problem lies in one (or both) of two areas: (1) The QB is too far under center. You seem to have noticed that and to have tried to deal with it, but as you said, you had exchange problems. Keep the QB's hands exactly where they are when he stands close, then back him out of there until his arms are extended. Then, at the snap, make sure he quickly pulls the ball "into the groin" as he steps out. You really have to work on this. It is very possible that the fumbles you are encountering are occuring when the pulling guard hits the ball before the QB has pulled it in. (2) The QB is not stepping correctly or soon enough. "Soon enough" means that he can leave on the snap count, too - just like everybody else. You may be surprised to find that if you have everyone on the team take their first step on the snap of the ball, 10 guys will do so, but the quarterback, with the ball in his hands, will still be in his pre-snap stance! Stepping correctly, especially when reverse-pivoting, is related to his stance. Most QB's, especially if they are up close to the center, have extremely wide stances and stand duck-footed, with their toes pointed out. Both of those things prevent reverse-pivoting as far as you'd like him to go. So, at the same time you back him out of there, you need to narrow your QB's stance and make him stand pigeon-toed. (Try it yourself and see how much better and farther you can reverse-pivot on your first step from a narrow, pigeon-toed stance.) Now make sure that he "mentally loads" weight onto his push-off foot. Homer Smith told us at my Birmingham clinic last year that he always told his QB's to try to "grab grass" with the toes of that foot. Now get him to step out of there - notice how the playbook says that on 88 Super Power he is to pivot to 3 o'clock. If he's doing that, you should find that he is leading the guard out of there, instead of getting in his way, Make sure you check all these things.
92. Can you also run the wishbone from the Double-Wing? One of the beauties of the Double-Wing - also one of the dangers - is that you can run a lot of things from the formation. But you shouldn't. I have run the wishbone, way back in my distant past. It is - some would say was - a great offense. I don't spend any time trying to run it as part of my Double-Wing for two main reasons: (1) I won't open up my splits enough to create the crease - the running lane - that you need for the fullback ; (2) The wishbone, like the Double-Wing, is very technique-intensive. I already have enough to teach with the Double-Wing, and so does anyone else who tries to take it on and run it right. I think every coach has to decide at some point whether he wants to settle down and be good at something, or whether he wants to put on a dog-and-pony show, demonstrating how many different things he can run. If you're going to run wishbone, you should run wishbone. I have never seen anybody who ran "a little wishbone" and ran it very well, and I haven't seen anybody who ran "a little Double-Wing" who wouldn't have been better off running it exclusively. I think that at some point, you've got to declare. (By the way, some people will tell you that the wishbone is not the offense that it was back when high school players were allowed to block below the waist. That took away the lead back's block on the playside corner. I have been reminded that Texas does not play by National Federation rules, and still permits blocking below the waist; it would be interesting to know what their injury experience has been relative to the rest of the nation. Also whether the wishbone does any better there.)
93. Hi Coach, I have a question about the QB's technique on Super Power. When we first started teaching it in '98, the pulling guard and QB were often banging into each other, not enough to knock down the QB or separate him from the ball but enough to throw him a bit off balance and slow him way down. I had my QB take a slightly deeper stance and cheat his playside foot back a couple of inches. This seemed to eliminate the problem, but we began to fumble snaps more often. In recent discussions with my fellow coaches and watching game films from that year, some questions arose. It seemed that our guards began to pause as they pulled and this slightly slowed down the development of the play. Our defensive coach said he could key the playside off the QB's staggered stance. I doubt that this is very important, since from straight on, it's not very obvious and, perhaps, adds to misdirection on our counter plays. Still, it began to nag me. Am I teaching this properly? Is there a better way to approach it? I had never really coached QBs before that year and, last year, we had a former QB coaching the backfield and had no trouble at all, though our linemen were not nearly as quick as in '98. Sure would appreciate your comments, if you get a chance. Good question. It is not the first time it has come up, and I have covered it in my clinics. First of all, provided that you run misdirection, it is not necessarily tipping off anything to stagger a foot. I personally am opposed to it just because I guess I am something of a "balance freak," even to the point of occasionally running the Super Power without motion. But whatever you do, you certainly don't want your guard to have to slow down. I suspect that the problem lies in one (or both) of two areas: (1) The QB may be too far under center. You seem to have noticed that and to have tried to deal with it, but then, as you said, you had exchange problems. Keep the QB's hands exactly where they are when he stands close, then back him out of there until his arms are extended. Then, at the snap, make sure he quickly pulls the ball "into the groin" as he steps out. You really have to work on this. It is very possible that the fumbles you are encountering are occuring when the pulling guard hits the ball before the QB has pulled it in; (2) The QB may not be stepping soon enough - or correctly. "Soon enough" means that he can leave on the snap count, too - tell him it's okay - everybody else does. You may be surprised to find that if you have everyone on the team take their first step on the snap of the ball, 10 guys will do so, but the quarterback, with the ball in his hands, will still be in his original stance! Stepping correctly is closely related to his stance. Most QB's, especially if they are up close to the center, tend to have extremely wide stances and to stand duck-footed, with their toes pointed out. Either of those things make proper pivoting difficult; together, they make it nearly impossible. At the same time you back him out of there, you need to narrow his stance to less than shoulder width, and make him stand pigeon-toed. (Try it yourself and see how much better and farther you can pivot on your first step when you do those two things than when you don't.) Now, make sure that he "mentally loads" weight onto his pivot foot. Homer Smith told me he has always told his QB's to try to "grab grass" with the toes of that foot. Now - notice how the playbook says he is to pivot to 3 o'clock (on 88). If you do all these things, you should find that instead of standing in the guard's way, he should be leading the guard out of there.
94. What is the difference between the Delaware Wing-T and your Double-Wing? Not all that much, really. I wouldn't even be running the Double-Wing if I had not been running the Delaware Wing-T and able to make the switch when I decided to try to run Don Markham's Double-Wing power play. The Delaware Wing-T is a survivor: it has been with us in roughly the same form for some 50 years, and it is likely to be with us for another 50. It is looked on by its proponents as more than a formation. It is, as Tubby Raymond and Ted Kempski entitled their book on the Delaware Wing-T, "An Order of Football." I feel the same way about the Double-Wing: it is a lot more than just a formation. It is a system, and not just another way of lining up. While you can turn a Wing-T formation into a Double-Wing formation instantly, just by bringing your split end in tight and moving your halfback out of the backfield and up into a position just outside that new tight end, you will still basically be running the Wing-T. I used to do that myself. The Wing-T is a versatile system that can be run from a wide variety of formations. The biggest difference in our systems is that we operate with virtually no splits. Because of that, I feel that our Double-Wing doesn't require quite the athleticism that the Wing-T does. And we don't play our fullback nearly as deep, nor do we play him upright, in a two-point stance. This helps to hide him, and also gives him a better kick-out angle on power plays. (I do believe that we can run with more power than the Wing-T.) But other than that, it is fair to say that I am still running a compressed version of the Delaware Wing-T's "500" formation. And just like the Wing-T, the Double-Wing, despite its name, is a versatile system that can be run from a wide variety of formations. Some of our motions, steps and timing have had to be changed to accomodate the different angles and distances created by our tighter spacing. Our numbering system and terminology are, I believe, simpler for a newcomer to the Wing-T or Double-Wing to understand. But the bulk of our blocking rules can be traced back to the Delaware system. Years ago, we flew Ted Kempski out for a private clinic. One of the advantages of the Wing-T, he told us, was that its blocking rules had "stood the test of time." So true. Why reinvent the wheel?
95. I have enough in my budget for a new camera. What do you suggest? I haven't been shopping for cameras for quite a while, and so I decided to check with the guy I've been dealing with for years, in Portland, Oregon. He highly recommends a camera called the SONY DCR TRV-315. He sells it for $850. His prices are reasonable, but you may be able to find it for less. I don't mind paying a little more - if, in fact, I do - and dealing with a guy like him because I know he's not going to rip me off. And he's going to be there. It's his store. He really knows what he is talking about (it shouldn't surprise you to learn that the most of the guys at those "Big Box" stores are pretty ignorant once you get past talking about a camera's basic features) and provides backup if I ever need it. (As a matter of fact, in many ways I have tried to pattern the way I do business after him.) The camera in question is a digital-8, meaning it is capable of shooting or playing in either DV or 8mm format. It also means that while you may shoot in digital format, you do it on less expensive and far easier-to-find Hi8 tapes. It has a 3" foldout LCD screen. Don't buy a camera without a fold-out screen, and I wouldn't advise going any smaller than 3 inches. I'm sure he said it has RCA inputs (those are the red, white and yellow sockets you see on a VCR) so that you can feed in analog signals (from VHS or 8 mm tapes) and convert them into digital format in your camera, but you might want to check. The ability to convert from analog to digital is a near-essential if you intend to do any serious editing with a computer. You might want to check SONY's web site for the specs.
96. What is your practice schedule like? I can't say what is best for everybody, but for us - High School - a typical practice on a Tuesday or Wednesday (heavy days) would look like this:
3:15 - short meeting
3:40 - everybody dressed and on the field (it's a little distance away from the locker room)
warm-up/ flexibilities/"TANS" (Triceps, Abdominals, Necks, Squats)
form running and agility
form tackling against hand shields/ blocking against hand shields
4:00 - kicking game
4:10 - Varsity Offense (including punt) ------------ JV Defense
5:00 - Varsity Defense ------------ JV Offense
5:50 - Sprints - typical would be 20-40's
As you can see, this may not be totally applicable to a youth program, but you can always reduce the various segments.
I am not a slave to the clock. If we need more time on something, we will take it. That is the coach's prerogative.
In your case, this is assuming you may have to coach two teams, and you have two offensive and two defensive coaches. But the basic practice schedule is same one I have used since I coached in Europe and had no assistants whatsoever.
I find it is best to get your offensive work done first when the kids' powers of concentration are a little better. If you do defense first, you may find that the kids are a little squirrely by the time you get around to running offense. And while you can do defensive work when they're squirrelly, it is not conducive to sharp offensive execution.
One thing we do is practice tackling every day. Including game day. No one gets hurt, and we tackle very well. I show how we do that in my "Safer and Surer Tackling" video.
97. Coach, I was wondering, Do you think the coaches running your system are an older group? Because a lot of the D-W's techniques wouldn't make sense to a young coach. No splits, our stances,. double team blocking, FB on the QB's tail, hiding the ball, etc.. They have never even seen it before.... If so, maybe the older coaches have experienced using, or playing with some of the ideas that are incorporated in your system. I think that would give them the confidence and patience to make it work. Also they are less influenced by the chuck and duck b-s of the NFL. Coach, I would say that a surprising number of the guys the offense appeals to are "old-timers." It is only surprising in the sense that they are so willing at advanced stages of their careers to venture into something new and radical, because it is not so surprising in view of their knowledge of the game, their lack of the need to prove themselves, and their recognition that here is something that works! Another large group who buy in are guys who are brand-new to the game - youth coaches who suddenly find themselves in charge of a team, and in desperate need of something they can teach that will give their kids a chance to win. But despite what you might think, not all young high school coaches are totally influenced by the pro game. An awful lot of the guys I deal with are young coaches still in the process of developing their philosophy of offense.
98. The good news is that I have been offered the HC position at (a large school in a neighboring state). Totally excited! So what is the bad news.??? I have a question for you. I respect your experience and would like some advice. I was offered the job and the town is nice. The school is REALLY committed to kids and administration support is there. My problem is lack of support at home. My wife really doesn't want to move to a new town, because of the friends and family that we have here (----- is 4 hours away). We also have two young kids. Have you ever been in this situation with all of your moves? I really want the job but am stuck between two powerful forces. Thanks for any info and advice! Wow. This is a touchy one. I would not want to say anything that might jeopardize a family, because it is important that your kids have a mom and dad at home, but you may be interested in my experience.
First of all, I think before embarking on a coaching career, a coach and his wife have to have an understanding that if he hopes to become a head coach - unless they live in a large metropolitan area - there is likely to be some relocation along the way. Sometimes it will be his decision, sometimes it will be somebody else's, but if he is in a one-school town and for some reason he is no longer going to be the coach there, the only way he can stay in the game is to move.
Yes, it is difficult to move away from family. It is not easy for your wife, and it is not easy for your kids' grandparents (I am also a grandparent). I faced this quite early in our marriage, when we moved from Philadelphia to Baltimore - about 2-1/2 hours' distance. My wife was very unhappy at first. Homesick, if you will. But she grew out of it soon enough. I think it is all a part of maturing and growing into your own marriage and your own home. Having little kids certainly helps. Our next move was an hour farther away - 3-1/2 hours, nearly the same as you are now contemplating. But we were still close enough to visit regularly, yet far enough away to have our own life and make our own decisions. We love our families, but this geographical separation, my wife and I now agree, had a lot to do with the strength of our marriage today.
The next move we made was a doozy. It took us to the other end of the country, the Pacific Northwest, where we have been for 25 years. That, I admit, may be a bit far. I would dearly love to be just a four hours' drive from family. In fact, one of our daughters and her husband just moved back to Seattle, 3-1/2 hours to the north of us, and in relative terms, it's like having them next door.
I don't envy you right now. because if you take the job and your wife doesn't come around to supporting you, you will find yourself being tugged in two directions. That can't be good for your marriage. On the other hand, if you pass up a chance like this - which really sounds exciting to me - you could find yourself harboring resentments. That wouldn't be good for a healthy marriage, either.
I will say this. From our experience, this is not bad time for you to move. Your kids are amazingly resilient at their age - my daughter and son-in-law in Seattle just moved from Houston with a 4-year-old and a two-year-old. The kids have had no problems adjusting. They don't know whether they live in one town or another. They live in a house with Mommy and Daddy. Your wife will be busy with the two little ones. Four hours is really not that far away. Your in-laws can come visit you, and you can go visit them, all on a regular basis. Work out a plan to visit regularly and stick to it.
Otherwise, it is going to be difficult for you to stay in (-----) and move up in coaching. You could move to a larger area with more opportunities - but that involves relocation, too, along with plenty of other problems. Make a few concessions to your wife - such as a commitment to regular visits - if you have to, because otherwise my fear is that you may not be a happy guy if you have coaching ambitions and have to turn down a job like this one. And then every time you read about an attractive opening and realize that you can't take it, you are liable to resent it.
My wife has totally supported my sometimes crazy and fanciful pursuit of a coaching career, and now of a risky business venture. I have been blessed.
99. Why don't you advocate faking a toss before handing off on a counter play? My personal belief is that we accomplish far more by hiding the ball than by faking with it. I don't want to show anybody where the ball is. Nelson and Evashevski wrote, "The finest series in single wing football, or all football for that matter, is the complete spin with the fullback." I respect and agree with the opinion of the two men who were instrumental in the development and popularization of the Delaware Winged T system. In our system, the QB essentially takes on the role of the single-wing spinning fullback, pulling the ball to his groin and keeping his elbows close to his side while turning his back to the line of scrimmage at some point on nearly every play. I think it is more consistent with what we want to do to hide the ball and make every play look the same as every other play for as long as possible. But while I tell the QB to hide the ball, I tell my running backs to handle the faking, either by "swimming" with the inside arm and leaning forward and keeping their pads low when running into the line, or by "rocking the cradle" after a "handoff" when they are running across the backfield. (It helps matters if you believe as I do in coaching backs always to run that way anyhow, with "both hands on both points.") Flashing the ball as if tossing it is a bogus fake that a good defensive coordinator will pick up on. It will only fool a poorly-coached team. A well-coached team will be taught to detect - and key on - the obvious difference between an actual toss and an exaggerated fake toss, just as well-coached teams are taught the difference between an actual pass setup and a draw in which the "passer" holds the ball unrealistically high over his head, in a way he would never do if he were actually passing.
100. What plays/strategies do you use against "grub" or submarining DT's? We're already working on our list of referee points and will include what you've given us, but how do you handle them? Assuming that they are coming hard, while it may not be possible to trap them, we found toward the end of last season that what we call "Charlie" blocking (Delaware's Gut Trap) looks promising, even with our tight splits. We don't block the playside DT at all, just influencing him with the playside guard's pull and folding the center and backside guard. In running outside, the guy who submarines is vulnerable to being buried by a down block - have your lineman drive low into the gap, getting his shoulders there in front of the defender (throwing an uppercut underneath, if possible) or else shoving the defender into the ground with both hands in his back. As in all down blocking, just make sure your man gets there first to prevent penetration.