Its been awhile since I have posted anything here. Now that the dust has settled and I am in a much better place with my thoughts gathered and my drivetrain running again I will start posting again.
My first post back will be an essay on how I view a Down.
We all know that we have 4 downs to move the ball 10yards, so that we may have another 4 downs and move the ball forwards with the goal of moving the ball into the Endzone for a score.
Then we complicate it by adding situations to the down:
- 1st Down we want to get positive yardage
- 2nd and Long we want to set up 3rd and medium
- 2nd and Medium we can either get the 1st or take a shot, ultimate goal is positive yards again
- 2nd and Short we have a bonus situation, we can open the playbook and take a shot, we can mix up run and pass, or we can go for 1st
- 3rd and Long we want to get positive yards to add to our punt range
- 3rd and Medium we want 1st
- 3rd and Short we can go for 1st or take a chance and take a shot
- 4th and Long we will punt the ball
- 4th and Medium we will punt
- 4th and short we will most likely punt the ball, given field position we may go for 1st
Not a bad little list, now add field position, points on the board, momentum of the game, depth chart (yours and theirs) and performance of the team just to name a few and you have a complicated list of choices that can be made.
Now...we are going to change pace up a little, most of us coaches love to X and O our way through situations...some of us actually like to personel our way in and out of trouble. We are going to head kind of through both.
I view a down in 3 phases:
The early part of a down is about:
- Understanding the play
- Understanding our role in that play
- Knowing our Alignment
- Assuming correct stance
- TAKING THE FIRST 3 STEPS CORRECTLY
This is all about coaching. X and Os really come into play here. If we can get the players to believe in what they are about to do and teach them how to execute then the early part of the down will make that player competitive regardless of their athletic ability.
Next we have the middle of the down, this is about:
Athletic ability of the player, if the player has taken a less than stellar start to the down, he can recover based on his ability to overcome the physical obstacles in his way. Whether that be shedding a block, getting up after a fall, reacting to his key and so on.
It is also about the technical aspects of the position that they are playing. If we cannot/will not coach the fundamentals of the position then we will not be able to compete against a good team.
The last part of the down is the late phase:
In the late phase of the down its all about Mental Toughness. The players have been hustling all week in game prep and come to the game they suck... we have all been there at some point in our coaching careers right.
Oddly enough the late phase of the down is the first we correct in the offseason. Our Winter Strength and Condition is the foundations of our Mental Toughness. Any program that does not include a S&C phase will always loose late in the down, why...because we cannot compete mentally with someone else having an advantage over us.
Another major part is the old adage "Finish the drill!". How many times have we said that and really just wanted a player to hustle through for the next player to come through. When in fact, by not finishing the drill despite poor performance we are creating a culture of mentally weak athletes. If we get on them to finish the drill though, we are creating a culture which says that its ok to make mistakes...as long as you hustle to recover and do what your supposed to do until the end.