Friday, July 24, 2015

Pass Rushing Coaching Points

Coach Ron Roberts and staff have been busy beefing up their website offerings of late.  Be sure to check out their latest perspective of how to teach a dangerous pass rush

1. Pass Rush
2. Set Line Principle
3. Edge Rush
4. Power Rush

Also, their video selection has been improved...there is a Demarcus Ware hand fighting training video (for pass rush) that is worth checking out.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Art of Smart Football

With The Essential Smartfootball, it was satisfying to see Brown's selection compiled and presented to a larger audience. This time around, The Art of Smart Football, takes many of Brown's contributions from his blog, Yahoo Sports and Grantland and presents them as he typically does, with a welcoming dialogue of mature reflection and clear analysis.  The content of this book is a complete package of contemporary football trends to afford the fair-weather fan to seasoned coach a competent perspective to fully appreciate what you'll see on the field this season.

As we explored when assessing his last book, Brown is the pacesetter of intellectual football discourse today.  There is no reason sports analysts should continue in the morass of the old media storylines (dumbing down what is delivered to their audience), when Brown has been showing how it can be done without losing the reader's interest.  The book is not heavy on football jargon or diagrams (though there are some great illustrations), so it is an easy read that one can digest quickly or casually pick up at their leisure.  This would be a great read in the coming weeks as everything he covers here, will be the narrative every weekend from the college to pro level.

There's no reason you shouldn't have this offering in your library.  Grab it at Amazon today....the electronic version (Kindle app for mobile) is as easy as it gets.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sideline Technology: Leg Up Analytics

Even before the NFHS rules changed allow electronic communication devices on the sideline, coaches knew there were real-time tools they wish they could have to a competitive edge to help manage their gameplan.  Now that this restriction has been lifted, it begs the question, "what is really needed and which product can deliver it consistently?".

If you're doing your job correctly through the week, you know exactly how you intend the game to play out on Friday night.  Whether or not you can assess if it is going according to plan before the clock runs out is the insight all staffs strive for.  For years before electronic devices, we would rely on a slew of clipboards charting plays, tallying stats, and tracking performance.  It usually wasn't until halftime that you could get out your slide rule, run the numbers and come to any meaningful data to figure out what needed to be changed or identify what isn't going right.

Recently, I was made aware of a product that does everything I was doing in the booth and on the sideline in one little platform.....AND it packages all the calculations into a clear dashboard.  What's cool is this can take all your real-time data and import it into your HUDL account, saving your staff hours of game breakdown on the weekend.  Check this out

Below is a guest post from Anthony Blake, CEO of LegUP Analytics detailing this extremely helpful product.

To steal a line from my Pastor, I am peacock-proud to introduce and announce the next iteration of the LegUP product line, Prime. Prime is the culmination of 9 months of customer visits, strategy sessions, design reviews, bug fixes, influencer meetings and other activities by the members of the LegUP team. We’ve toiled over run-pass options, play calling methodologies, football rule books and more, all in the name of building not only a great product, but a great experience for all of LegUP’s customers and other stakeholders. 

Like many startups, we were our first customer. LegUP was formed to find a solution to a problem that we faced under the lights on Friday nights in the fall – the lack of reliable intel in the midst of a live football game. We had our pencils and stacks of paper for recording positive plays or managing substitutions. And sure, we spent hours before and after each game pouring over the numbers on our and our opponent’s prior performances. But that stuff is insufficient in the 3rd quarter when our opponent deviates from what we believe to be their tendencies. Or our go-to plays aren’t so potent. 

LegUP Prime provides coaches and players with useful insights during real, live games to help them improve the performance of their team. Those insights are based on data recorded throughout the game about the players, play calls, situations and results of each play. With Prime, decision-makers get immediate, play-by-play feedback on their calls rather than waiting until halftime to confer with the rest of the staff. 

Prime is our second product. Our first, dubbed The Basics, launched in October of last year. It played an invaluable role in our market by proving we could chart football games with an iPad rather than pencil & paper. With Prime we’re pushing the envelope further by providing teams with the first instance of real-time performance analytics. 

 We started LegUP to improve the quality, safety, and understanding of sports – starting with amateur football. Prime will become available on the Apple App Store in early August and we'll continue to share more about Prime on our website at I look forward to hearing how LegUP Prime helps teams elevate their game day performance. 

Anthony Blake 
CEO of LegUP Analytics

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dealing With Parents: Jim Harshaw

Jim Harshaw dealing successfully with sports parentsGuest post by Jim Harshaw

Surveys show that dealing with parents is one of the top most time consuming and frustrating tasks that coaches deal with on a regular basis. 

Having coached for 15 years from youth through Division I, I've spent countless hours researching best practices on dealing with parents. I've read books and blogs, listened to audio podcasts and talked with dozens of coaches about it. Here's what I've found: it all boils down to communication and education. 

While these are simple concepts here are some practical solutions that you can use right away. 
  1. Let Them Talk: Many parents just want to be heard and by letting them talk without interruption you satisfy that need. Acknowledge that you've heard them and will consider their point of view and move on with your day. 
  2. Admit When You're Wrong: We all make mistakes. When we see a public figure make a mistake and try to explain it away or cover it up, we lose respect and end up talking poorly about them and even trying to undermine their authority. When they apologize and face the issue head-on, we are far more willing to give them slack and a second chance. It's the same with you. 
  3. How to Be a Sports Parent: Parents react with emotion instead of logic because they never took a class on how to be a good sports parents. It's your job to teach them things like how to be supportive at home, what kind of nutrition they should be providing and what kind of feedback is actually helpful for you. It will not only minimize the issues you have to deal with but also maximize the performance of your athletes.  
Get many more tips and tactics as well as worksheets and templates in the Dealing Successfully with Sports Parents ebook. Access to this proactive guide will help you spend less time reacting to criticism, responding to emails and looking over your shoulder... and more time coaching. Download it here instantly. 

This is a guest post by Jim Harshaw. In addition to learning how to deal successfully with parents as a youth, high school and college coach, Jim Harshaw learned many life lessons on the wrestling mat. He was a 3X ACC Champion for the University of Virginia, trained at the Olympic Training Center and competed overseas for Team USA. He lives in Charlottesville, Va with this wife Allison and four children.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Review: Ted Seay's Wild Bunch

There are moments in everyone’s development in any role that resonate.  From a father’s first realization to just how closely his young son watches (and sometimes to his horror, mimics) him, to that one positive or negative work experience that cements an attitude that lasts decades.  These moments figuratively fill us with a deep, full, reverberating sound that echoes in our mind’s ears whenever a decision is weighed.  “Remember when…”
This looks cool, but memory crystallization hurts like Hell....

                In my coaching life, one such event struck me in my formative years, the reading of one Ted Seay’s Wild Bunch: A Side Order of Football.  I have previous written about Ted’s concept of Unity of Apparent Intent.

                Ted’s most recent expansion, The Wild Bunch: A Conflict-Theoretical Approach to Offensive Football, is more than a mere re-write.  It is not just an unpacking of the what’s (plays), the how’s (technique), or even the why’s (philosophy)-though it has all of these.  It is a digestion down to the fundamental nature of football:  conflict.
                Ted’s mastery at analyzing this concept (on which his newest book wonderfully expounds), coupled with my firm belief that any coach cannot begin his education with fully understanding and owning this concept, has led me to recommend this book for several years to any coach wanting to learn more about offensive football.  Subsequently, dear reader, I also recommend it to you.

                I don’t care if you can diagram every play from Michigan in 1922, or Army in 1945, or Houston 1989, or Kentucky in 1997, or West Virginia in 2005, or Baylor in 2013…..without an understanding of the underlying principle of all these great offenses (beside having talent), you have the directions on how to build a fine sports car, but no idea how to use the tools.

                That underlying principle is conflict.  I mean, if one has the brute force to run wedge every play for no less than 3 yards, then that is exactly what they should do.  In the real world, however, no one is THAT much better than their opponents (and if you are, feel free to stop reading and go back to dusting your trophies).

                A conflicted defender is one who lack certainty about where the ball is/is going, and consequentially, where he should be heading.  Have you ever had a team period where the offensive coordinator just tells the offense to “run it again”, and everyone on the scout team hears it?  You never saw a cornerback fill on iso like that kid just did.

                The lack of conflict, and certainty with which the defense could sprint to ball creates very tough sledding, and soon the offensive coordinator is yelling at the scout defense to “play it honest”.

                It should also be noted, that space is a vital component (and in fact, the end goal) of conflict.  Even the phone booth knife fight that is the Double Wing offense wants to eventually get the ball in space.

                Those who doubt that last statement have never played a good DW team with the ability to go play action, and the corner route is so wide open your pregnant wife could throw the touchdown.  Conflict (secondary players needing to help on power) creates space (PAP over the top of flat footed cornerbacks).

                Ted expertly defines this in chapter 3 of his book:                                            


“…….don't take on your opponent at what he does best or where he is most concentrated. Coach Woody Hayes put it very well, misquoting Sun Tzu slightly, but to good effect: "Don't attack walled cities." I would add to that a corollary -- don't attack walled cities while the defenders are fresh and alert. Maneuver past the concentrations of enemy forces into open territory and ride like hell. Force your opponent to redeploy his forces to cover more ground, until you have him stretched thin from sideline to sideline. Then attack the walled city, while its defenders are out in the plains waiting for a cavalry end run that never comes.”

"Don't chase the enemies fly sweep!!  But still stop it somehow!"

                That concept alone is worth buying the book. 

                Ted goes on to lay out the personnel, formational structure, plays, drills, and practice plans associated with his offense, all the while relating his decision making back to the original premise of conflict theory.
                For years I have said this, and with this new edition (which stands apart from the rest), it has never been more true:  I do not care what offensive system you run, this is a MUST READ.