Different kinds of kids require different kinds of coaching

I think one of the most often overlooked areas (and most IMPORTANT) of teaching/coaching is being an adaptive teacher/coach.

In my eyes a “good” coach must be willing to adapt not only his playbook but his own coaching personality, not just year to year but from kid to kid.

There are a great number of personality types for kids, and this must be dealt with by being able to communicate with/to them in different ways.  I think one of my greatest strengths as a coach is my ability to deal with, relate to, and speak with the kids.  This may stem from my closer proximity in age compared to most of the guys i coach with, or maybe it is just my personality.  Either way I have always felt I can connect to the kids.

A teacher once told me that what makes a coach a GREAT coach isn’t when a kid listens to you, or fears you, it is when a kid WANTS to do good for YOU. This message struck me and has stayed with me.  Many coaches motivate by screaming, yelling, and wagging there finger, but does this make the kid play hard for you, to do well in your eyes? Or is he playing to not get yelled at anymore?

I often see coaches locked into one personality type, either stern, unfriendly, dictator style, some are screamers, some are too nice, an effective, adaptive coach can do it all.

I know for example, there are some kids I can yell at, that yelling motivates them and pushes them to excel, while there are others that if I yelled at them in the same way simply couldn’t handle it.  They need to be pulled aside, talked to more calmly, and they will be more successful.  Some kids self implode with the pressure/fear that comes from the yelling, and some kids just can not be yelled at, they shut you out, and quit on you.

As a coach, we must learn our kids, just as we ask them to learn our playbooks.  Better understanding how each kid works, thinks, and learns will only increase your ability to coach them up to reaching their full potential.

This isn’t true of just football either.  I have been a Varsity HC in both boys and girls volleyball.
My knowledge of volleyball is basic at best, but I have had a relatively great amount of success in volleyball because I understand how to motivate my kids and get the most out of them at practice and in games.

If what you do works for you that is fine, but everything I have written above I truly believe in and I think it is something we as coaches all need to look ourselves in the mirror about.

Screens – Cage Drill

I have received a ton of reader interest on the series of posts on screens, so I decided to add more to the series.

Below i will diagram and explain what I call “Cage Drill”  this is the only drill we use for our screen game (OL)

I do this 1 or 2, 5 minute segments per day and we will rep screens live.  What I love about this drill is that it

  • Works all necessary skills needed for our screen game
  • Allows me to check for understanding of each of the screens
  • Emphasis on the proper release/steps
  • Emphasis on not “whiffing” on contact

First let me explain the drill layout, drill roles, and the rotation.
Please excuse the crude diagram of the drill.  O is the Offensive Lineman who is working, D represents defensive dummy players.  The orange circles are cones.

This drill uses 4 defensive players.  2 on each side.
1 Defender on each side is in the “cage”  they can move around anywhere within the cage, as your guys get better expand to bigger cages to they really have to get good at covering ground.

This cage defender is holding a bag (or no bag if you want to go live) their job is to move around a bit, try to juke the OL as if he were a LB or DB avoiding a blocker

The other 2 act as DL, they just come up the field a few steps on every rep.  They are there so the offensive player gets used to proper disengagement and release for the given screen called.

Once an OL guys on offense, he takes the bag and moves into the cage, that previous cage defender becomes the new DL, that DL moves to the back of the offensive line.  That is how we cycle through to keep everyone moving efficiently.  We get a decent amount of reps on this, probably 4 or 5 per minute.  Do not let them slack, they run to switch spots and rotate.

If you have a lot of kids, I have broken up into 2 cage drills and have run them simultaneously, or have another assistant take over

Teaching points

First to check for learning I call all of our screens in 3 different ways.  We might be doing Jailbreak right for a player’s given rep.  His wristband would say Jail Rt in a game.  So I can call it this way, or I can call it by our no huddle name for it, or i can call it by our audible name for it.  We have 3 different ways to call each screen, so when we do cage drill I constantly mix up the names I am using to be sure that they have learned our system.

They have to take the proper steps/release described in my earlier posts on screens Screens – OL

The keys I stress are working flat down the LOS, and once they near the cage defender they need to break down just like an open field tackle.  They must buzz their feet, widen their base, and punch the defender, then run their feet to stay engaged/in front of the defender.  They block until my whistle then everyone rotates.

As we get better I really start making HUGE cages for the defenders to move around in, really gets the guys good at blocking in space.

Please keep the questions/comments coming