Ring The Bell

The Off-Season Weight Room grind is not the most glamorous part of HS Football but it is without a doubt the most important.  Getting kids excited about the weight room, getting stronger, and encouraging their teammates is essential to improving as a program.

One new addition to our off season is a concept I refer to as “RING THE BELL”.

Each day we have 1 core strength lift (among other lifts).

The lift protocol in our strength phase is 4 sets of 4-5+ reps.  This means the players will pick a weight they can do 4-5 reps per set.  Their goal each set is to try to get a 6th rep out of that set.  Getting the 6th rep (the plus sign in 4-5+) means a player has progressed past that weight and gets to move up 5 lbs heavier.  This is my favorite strength training protocol and can be used year round to steadily build strength and pace when each player should move up in weight.

This is a big moment and needs to be celebrated.  Whether it is a skinny freshman 5th quarter player, or one of our varsity stars, getting that 6th rep means they have gotten stronger in that lift and they have earned the right to RING THE BELL.

I bought a bell on Amazon, mounted it to a wall in the weight room, and when a player gets that 6th Rep and moves up, they literally Ring The Bell.

Everyone in the room gets loud and cheers on their teammate in recognition of their work and their improvement.

This is a new addition to our off season program since we have most past our introductory phase and in to our Strength Building Phase.

The players are pushing each other to get that 6th rep and RING THE BELL.

I am adding #RingTheBell to my various Social Media posts praising kids’ effort in the weight room to help continue to grow this into our culture.

Check out a video from today’s lift of one of my OL after he gets his 6th rep on Bench Press.

 

Tracking Progress in the Weight Room

Just sharing an excel file I created for our Off Season Lifting.

I use this template to give the players the lifts, sets, and reps for each day.  The players use this to enter the weight they lift in each set.  I was able to get 1 month worth of lifts on 1 sheet, and have a spot at the end to record any max testing results.

lifting template pic

Each month I will go in, and make any changes to the lifts or set/rep scheme i deem necessary.

I print these up on heavy card stock so they have held up well so far.

We have a leadership council of 10 players.  Our entire program is divided out so everyone is part of each of the 10 leaders “mini team”.

I hung folders on the wall, and each player stores their workout card in their Leader’s folder.  This has been a great way for us to keep it organized, let kids find their workout card quickly, and track progress.

Here is the link to the file form my dropbox.

Lifting Template

3 Day Install and Practice Planning

Each year in Spring Ball or the earliest part of Summer, High School’s across the country begin installing their base offense. More and more teams are beginning to use the “3 day install”. This is a popular way that many colleges (and now High Schools) go about installing their offense. They break the offense apart into 3 total days. I first read about the 3 day install from a Smart Football post by Chris Brown  here back in 2011.  I have used a rough version of this since then but this year was by far my most organized/OCD spring to date.

The basic idea is to put it all in 3 days, and keep repeating that 3 day rotation.

  • Divide offense into days A, B, C
  • on Day 4 start back over with A
  • follow the rotation throughout Spring

Now I will discuss how I broke everything down for my days, how I installed, and how I have continued to use this progression into the Summer.

The Science behind 3 day install.  

Some people might think you are better off mastering one basic skill, or base play before moving on to add more.  This is an “old school” way of thought that is often referred to as blocking… this would be AAA, BBB, CCC learning.

The same skill concept 3 days in a row, before moving on to something new.  On the Surface this makes sense but modern educational research studies have shown that interleaving, “mixing it up” or ABC, ABC, ABC learning (rotating the skills/concepts being taught) is the most effective for skill and concept mastery.

This is applicable to education, learning musical instruments, and sports.  A more detailed article explaining this study can be found here.

Now that we understand why mixing it up works best, we can begin to apply it to an offense.

Deconstructing My Offense

The first thing I did was to make a spread sheet with every single personnel group, formation, motion, and play I wanted to install during Spring.

I had an ambitious install plan for the Spring in which we would install over 90% of the entire possible offense.

I broke the offense up as follows

3 day rotation ( A, B, C)

Each day would include

  • 2 run plays (grouped by family)
  • 2 quick game plays
  • 2 drop back plays
  • 1 “other” pass… screen, boot, power pass

After the 3 day rotation we have the potential for 6 runs, 6 quick concepts, 6 drop concepts, and 3 “other” concepts.  If you do not want to install that many plays… then “double up” on certain plays.  We did this with the quick and dropback game.  Each play actually got included 2x during the 3 days.

Day A: 

This is our Gap Scheme Day.  We work power and counter, as well as play action off of that.  We picked passes from the menu I created.

Day B:

This is our Zone Scheme Day. We work Inside and Outside Zone.  We work screen game off those actions and I picked passes from the menu I created.

Day C:

This is our “other” run game day.  We work buck sweep and toss on this day.  We rotate the passes again.

Formations/Personnel:

We started by teaching all of our 21 and 11 personnel formations during the first 3 days of practice.

Day 4, 5, 6:

Moving on to the 2nd time through our rotation… days 4, 5, and 6 we began adding more personnel/formations.  We added our split back, 12, 10 and 30 personnel groups/formations.

The order of the plays we worked stayed the same… The formations became the new learning.

Day 7, 8, 9:

Moving on to the 3rd time through our rotation… days 7, 8, and 9 we began adding in motion.  With our personnel and formations installed, the various motions became the new learning and how the motions related to the concepts.

Why I love this rotation:

I love this 3 day rotation because it makes scheduling practice… both the drills, and the scripts much easier to manage.  By splitting the offense up like this it narrows the focus down for each day… both in terms of Indy reps, and group/team reps.

I am an Offensive Line Enthusiast!  We have more skill development work to do than any other position.  I can not come close to working all of the various blocks we need in our tool box in a single day.  By splitting up the schemes, it lets me break down the Indy time to work on exactly what they need to do that day.

To put it in perspective… let’s look at just the run game.

On a gap scheme day (A) we work down blocks, gap doubles, and our pulls.

On a zone day (B) we work base blocks, combo blocks, and reach blocks.

On our “Other day” (C) we work different skills, fast reaches, Fb Logs, and perimeter pulls.

By narrowing the focus of what we will run during inside run and team that day, I can narrow what I need to work on during Indy.

It makes my time scripting plays for run, pass, and team periods much easier as well.  I do not have every play to choose from.  I have no more than 2 from each category to choose from, this lets me get multiple reps of the plays in, from different personnel groups or formations.  This also makes my practice planning much easier, and take up less time.  I don’t create a new practice plan each day.  There’s a practice plan and script for A, B, and C.  I can copy and paste these (using google drive for both) and make any small changes I need for that individual day.  I am never starting from scratch.  Having the schedule and script for A, B, C stay mostly the same lets me knock out any small changes or additions in less than 10 minutes, then I am printing it out and ready to roll for practice.

Moving into Summer:

Now that we have moved into Summer I have kept the same basic rotation but I will be tweaking it in one small way.

We practice 4x a week.  Monday – Thursday all Summer long.

So far I have stuck with the exact rotation (adding small wrinkles here and there, but the core is the same).

Mon A

Tues B

Wed C

Thurs A

Mon B

Tues C

Wed A

Thurs B

Mon C

Tues A

Wed B

Thurs C

 

What I will begin doing from Mid July on, is to “test” my players more.  Currently practices are focused on INDY and small group time with very little “team” going on.

I will begin starting the ABC rotation every Monday, and rather than restart on Thursday… I will use Thursday as a “review of ALL concepts” day.  I will use more team and group sessions, mix all of our schemes, and use this to really test how well things have sunk in with my kids.  This will be my assessment not just of how well they are learning, but more importantly how well I am teaching.  This will act just like a test in the classroom, and let me know what I need to spend more time working on on the white board, and on the field.

Mon A

Tues B

Wed C

Thurs: Review all “test day”

Moving into the season:

Once We begin school and move into the season I will have to get off my this Spring/Summer rotation because we are more limited in the days/time we have to practice.  I won’t be able to give each group of plays it’s own day, and practices will be about the game plan and match ups.  In season the focus shifts more to the opponent, but now… in the Spring/Summer portion of the off season, their is no opponent, it is all about learning for yourself and this system of installing an offense has been the most productive I have ever used or seen.  We were running plays better after 10 days of spring ball this year, than we were to start the season in 2015.

 

 

Rewarding your Offensive Line

No matter how talented your QB or skill guys might be, we all know you will only go as far as your Offensive Line can take you.  Coming in to this season I was nervous.  The 2014 team had broken every school rushing record for a season and game, and we graduated all 5 starters.  My new 5 starters (plus our TE and our RB) were a great group of kids who embraced the GRIND of playing OL.   We spent most of our time alone in our corner of the field working block after block, rep after rep.  I try to be a source of energy for my players during INDY time to liven things up.  Working down block steps thousands of times can get boring so I found when I would go ALL IN in terms of energy level, they would match it.

I knew we would at least be OK but the Major turning point for the OL was when I introduced syrup to them.  At the end of the summer, just prior to our season starting, i was reviewing film and we just were not finishing blocks.  I explained that we would work every single drill to FINISH through the whistle ansd strive to pancake a defender every play.  I took an empty bottle of syrup, cleaned it out, and would fill it with cold water every practice.  When we got a pancake in an INDY drill from a great effort to finish I ABSOLUTELY LOST IT.  I would scream “POUR SOME SYRUP ON EM” or “PANCAKE” at the top of my lungs and pour the water on the kids on the ground (its usually 90 degrees plus so they really enjoy it).  “Get the syrup” became a common expression at our practices. It significantly improved not just our “finish” on blocks, but it amped up the in practice competition level.  Guys wanted to pancake other kids, and they wanted to get revenge if they were the ones who got pancaked.

That was just a little background that leads me to the real point of this post.  This OL (along with our great RBs/WRs) improved on last years record breaking totals by over 800 yards.  We rushed for over 4400 yards and had a team average of 9.3 yards per carry (best of all medium and large size schools in our area).

Below is a simple step by step of what I did to recognize the starting OL, our TE, and our FB  for their work.

I made each their own brand of syrup.

  1. print a pic of each player
  2. buy 7 bottles of syrup (or as many as you want to make). Dollar store is cheapest
  3. trace the label and make a stencil

image

4. Trace the stencil over the pics you want and cut them out

5. use glue/adhesive spray to glue the label on to each syrup bottle

image

6. Get stickers from a craft store and put the players’ jersey numbers on the bottle

image

At our awards banquet Sunday night our RB was given the Offensive MVP Award (no surprise if you know who he is).  After I gave a speech about him and his accomplishments and brought him up front for the award I had HIM help me pass out the syrup bottles to recognize his OL/TE/FB for all of their work in blocking for him.

Here I am with our starting OL, TE, FB, and our RB.

IMG_4567

Conclusion:

This is a cheap, easy thing all OL coaches can do to recognize their OL.  It cost $7 in syrup.  A few dollars in stickers.  It took me about 10 minutes to download the pics from a website and print them.  My GF helped me trace, cut, and glue the pics on to the syrup bottles.  It took us less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  So for about 10 bucks and an hour tops, you can make something to give your OL that they can cherish and has a deeper meaning to them.  it is a symbol of ALL those reps throughout the summer and season, all of those steps, all of those blocks, all of that work.

 

The Lunge Clock- new favorite auxiliary lift

I am a big believer in squatting heavy 2x a week. For us our lower body days are Mondays and Thursdays.  I like to have some variation in our auxiliary lifts between these two days. We have done a lot of lunges and Bulgarian split squats (1 leg split squat). I was watching an old video of a D1 strength coach and he began talking about what he called “the lunge clock”. We often train in a very linear, straight ahead fashion but football is anything but that.

The lunge clock is easy to understand but works the players’ hips and groin in ways they’re not used to in the weight room.

The athlete starts with bar on back (or with Dumbbells)

imagine standing in the middle of a clock. They are going to step to every position on the clock.

We go right foot first, 12 o clock

1 o clock, 2,3,4,5,6

then the left leg will work around the clock the other direction

12 o clock, 11,10,9,8,7,6

 

in total it is 7 reps on each leg, but they are working at all the different angles going around the clock. We typically do 4 rounds of this as an auxiliary to our squat one day per week.

The day after our first use my kids loved it, they were sore in places (side of their glutes and groin) they didn’t know they had. I don’t make my kids do anything I don’t do personally, so I have been using it and I love it.  It doesn’t take a ton of weight to feel a great deal of stress and you can also feel your core working to stabilize you as you step around the clock.

here is a video clip of one of my QB’s doing the Lunge Clock yesterday

How to Download Video, Create Cut Ups, and Analyze with Hudl Technique

I have to give Todd Greenwell credit for inspiring me to write this post.  I saw some great analysis/breakdown he was posting and asked him to explain how he was getting his video, trimming it, and analyzing it both with telestrations and voice over.  He explained what he did and I began looking in to easy ways to download videos from YouTube as well as trim them down into smaller clips.

Below is a screen recording I did that shows you step by step

  1. how to download a youtube video you want
  2. how to trim the clip into the individual plays you want

 

Using HUDL TECHNIQUE for further analysis

hudl technique

The newest thing I have started using this off season is Hudl Technique.  It is a mobile app that Hudl offers (was another slow mo recording app that Hudl bought out).  I have been using it this off season to film kids in the weight room, and break down in slow motion their lifts to help them improve their form.

Coach Greenwell recently opened my eyes to the film analysis possible with Hudl Technique.  Once you have the clip(s) you want you can load them to your iPad/mobile device camera.  You can do this through the computer or I sent my plays from my MacBook to my iPad using AirDrop.

Once you have the video you want on your device (in my case my iPad) open the Hudl Technique app.

  1. Click Record
  2. Click Import
  3. Select the video you want to analyze
  4. It will appear in your videos.  Now simply click play on the clip and it will go to full screen.

From here you will have the ability to draw on the video using different drawing tools, and at the top of the screen you will see a microphone icon.  In the pic below you will see a screen shot of this exact part.  A red arrow points out the microphone icon, a yellow arrow points out the drawing tools (if drawing tools do not appear click the pencil icon and they will appear).

IMG_4520

Now you can really get in depth and not just analyze a play in slow motion (varying speed control in bottom left corner of playback screen) but you can draw in different colors over the top of your video using the drawing tools.  If you want to share your work with others (your staff, coaching friends, your players, or write for a blog like myself) you will hit the microphone icon on top.  Pressing this microphone icon will began a screen recording that will also pick up audio.  Now you can provide voice over as you go through the clip at whatever speed you want, adding in whatever drawing you want, and replaying it as many times as you want.  Once you are done, press the microphone again to stop the recording and you have a new video saved that you can export to share in any way you like.

This is a great way for coaches to integrate technology into their teaching.

You can now easily create video teaching tools for your players/staff with your audio/feedback over the video plus the ability to annotate on screen.  This is great for drawing blocking schemes, coverages, and highlight players to read on runs, passes, and RPOs.

Get Big

Putting size on to players is a difficult but crucial part of off season development as well as in season maintenance.  I have coached at 2 schools are the lowest end of the socioeconomic spectrum.  Most of the kids struggle to get enough calories in their bodies to just maintain while working out, let alone add on size.

I have always heard stories of teams giving protein supplements to their players but legally this is a huge NO NO, and i highly advise against that.  I want to share some perfectly legal things I have done, to help my players eat more calories throughout the day, to help them put on some size and strength.

After School Program
We have a pretty robust After School Program here with a number of academic and enrichment activities.  Our off season weight lifting operates along with the “FIT Club”.  Any student who participates is given a free snack, and a free dinner.  This is a great resource to have and I know we are lucky to have it.  This is the easiest one for me, because it is completely free to our students and myself.  I just have to take attendance everyday, and the students who come and stay for the duration of our workouts get a snack from me on their way out the door, and can go to the cafeteria for a dinner after that.

Financing Your Food

  • The rest of the ideas all come with a cost.  Someone has to pay for more food beyond the after school program. Some options include
  • A booster Club/touchdown club fundraising
  • Parents donating groceries
  • Seeking player/parent donations to purchase food
  • Food donations
  • Coach(es) buying the food

I personally buy all of the extra food out of my own pocket.  I keep my receipts, and document the cost of my donations on an excel sheet.
The ideas I am going to share below are calorie dense, and relatively cheap.  Teacher’s obviously don’t make a whole lot so I try to get the most bang for my buck in terms of calories per dollar.  I also take what they like and some variety in to account.  The kids have to WANT to eat in order to get big.  Every kid says “I eat a lot”… no they do not, otherwise they would have no problem putting on weight.

There are plenty of apps that can calculate basal caloric needs (at least ballpark range) based on age, height, weight, and activity level.
You need to add 500 calories to that amount, every single day just to gain weight at a rate of 1lb per week.  If a kid is really active, add more.

Before I share the foods I buy weekly, please keep the hippie comments to yourself.  I do not want to hear about “junk food”, at the end of the day I personally believe they need more calories overall.  I try to pick out foods that are also high in protein, since i can’t give them protein supplements. So if you have something negative to say, drive your Prius to your local CrossFit gym and leave me alone 🙂

PB&J
 IMG_2730 IMG_2729
I have a large table in the back of my classroom.  I keep it stocked with Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Bread.  PB and Jelly I have found is usually cheapest in double packs at Costco or Sam’s Club.  I usually get the bread from a local discount grocery store, they are under $1 a loaf.  This is a really easy way to add calories, kids can come in any time, make a sandwich or two in about 30 seconds and head to their next class.  I have a big group of kids who come in and make one every day before school otherwise they would never eat breakfast.  I keep plates, napkins, wipes, and plastic ware all on the back table so they can clean up and make their sandwiches without having to bug me.  Probably the best bang for my buck and can feed a lot of kids for cheap.
Frozen Dinners
IMG_2728 IMG_2727 IMG_2726

 

These are great.  I use these for a few specific kids I am really trying to bulk up with extra calories.  Each of these 3 items cost less than $1, and the kids love them.  Yes there is a lot of carbs and fat, but there is also a good amount of protein.  They just need calories.  The cheesburger Mac is every kid’s favorite, they absolutely love it.  The Totino’s pizza is a great value, only a dollar, and it is 680 calories if a kid eats the whole thing.
I have a full size fridge/freezer next to the PB&J station and I keep the freezer stocked up with these items.
Pop-Tarts
pop tarts
Pop Tarts are great.  They are cheap and pretty calorie dense.  The 2 pastries that come in each foil pack are usually at least 400 calories total.  I can get 4 packs for under $2.  That is less than 50 cents for 400 calories.  It is pretty much all Carbs but I have found them to be really convenient when a kid doesn’t have time to make a sandwich, or I want to give him something he can put in his backpack, and eat later in the day for a snack.

 

Tracking Off-Season Attendance

3 years ago I started an “off-season points program” for our kids.  Players are expected to earn a minimum number of points either by playing other sports or lifting with me after school.
There are a lot of kids, and since our off season program runs from January – May, a lot of days to take attendance.

This isn’t rocket science but below I share how I take roll every day, and am able to track every member of our football program, using excel.

 

Great New iBook!

Sorry I have not been around in a while, it was a busy football season.

I want to share with all of you a great new resource brought to you by Coach Grabowski.
It can be found HERE>
Coach Grabowski reached out to coaches from all over the country to contribute a chapter to this iBook and it does not disappoint.  I have been reading it all week.  For those who have missed out on my past blog post about iBooks, they are a remarkable resource.  Embedded within the chapters of the ibook are slideshows of drills, diagrams, and video.  This makes it a great teaching tool that makes the content more digestible and more helpful than a standard coaching book or coaching DVD.
I am one of the contributors to this Pistol “Anthology”.
My chapter is titled “Offensive Line Play in the Power Scheme”.
Mid 2013 we transitioned from a 4 wide spread system to a Pro Style Pistol Offense.
Power is the core of our offense.  My chapter focuses on how I teach the Power scheme both schematically, and with individual drills.  It includes written description, diagrams, and multiple video clips of some of my players executing the basic skills and drills needed to run Power.
This year, with power being the focal point of our offense, we broke every single individual and team school rushing record (school has been around since the 1920s).
We rushed for over 3500 yards this year!
This iBook is an excellent resource for all things Pistol.  I highly suggest you all check it out!
Volume 1 includes:
Chris Ault – Foreword
Larry Beckish Reflections on an Idea:  East
Tom Kaczkowski – How Did the Pistol Start?
Chris Klenakis – Interview on the Innovation of the Pistol Formation
Jim Mastro – Pistol is a Formation; video chalk talk on “Zone Slice”
Scott Baumgartner – Innovation of the Pistol; video chalk talk on “53 Pass”
Robbie Owens – Systematic Approach to Building an Offensive System
Dave Brown (former GA at Nevada) – The Bubble as a Pre Snap and Post Snap Answer
Anthony Pratley – The Sweeper Method of Zone Read
Justin Iske – Something to Hand Your Hat On:  Inside Zone
Ty Rogers – Using the H-Back to Leverage Defenses in the Pistol
Zach Tinker – Using the Diamond Pistol in the Red Zone
Tim Kilgore – Run the Horn
Brett Dudley – Offensive Line Play in the Power
Keith Grabowski – Setting Up Effective Play Action

Coach Grabowski does it again

Last off season I stumbled across the coolest coaching resource I had ever seen.  Coach Grabowski’s Pistol iBook. I had never seen this type of technology.  It was a book created for the iPad and Mac, that had diagrams, presentations, and movie clips built right in to it.  It became a constant resource that I revisited and took ideas from throughout last season.

I wrote a review of it last march that can be found here.

In an attempt to out do his first masterpiece, Coach Grabowski’s latest project is available for download.  I spent spring break reading, watching, and experiencing his second major iBook.

The Zone Offense

Coach Grabowski has created an encyclopedia worth of knowledge on running a zone based offense.

The entire iBook can be purchased here.

The iBook can also be purchased in sections, a la carte style.

1. Define the system and build the foundation

2. Structure a starting point and develop coaching methods

3. Develop the fundamentals

Each volume comes with a wealth of information and TONS of video from practice and games.

The iBook contains 51 minutes of video and 75 interactives.

Here’s a blog post from Coach Grabowski about his latest iBook.

Be on the lookout for future projects coming from Coach Grabowski, including one that I helped contribute to.  It will be a another interactive iBook on the Pistol featuring articles, diagrams, and video from various coaches throughout the country.

I contributed a section on OL play in the Power Scheme.