Archive | October, 2011

Psycho Fronts: It’s Not Crazy to Use Them

29 Oct

"Psycho" Front

You’ve probably seen them: defenses in which the D-linemen are upright and in a two-point stance.  They might have one or two DL with their hands in the ground or none and if you’re an old school coach bound by conventioanl thinking, you might wonder if the opposing DC is simply crazy and turn your O-linemen loose on them.  Turns out they are “psycho” and they probably didn’t know it.

While there are very few “new” ideas about how to play defehnse, there’s a variety of ways to hide or disguise a scheme. One way that has gained significant leverage among NFL DC’s is the “psycho” front.  That’s a defense that packs it in along the line of scrimmage and has one or two or maybe even zero defensive linemen with their hands on the ground.

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What’s The Most Important Thing You Teach (Part 3)

19 Oct

You see it all the time: offensive linemen watching the play instead of finishing their blocks.  The result is generally unfavorable for the offense.

As an O-line coach, I cringe at the sight, especially if the o-linemen in question are kids I coach.  I don’t expect to see it with my kids because I spend so much time teaching them to finish their blocks.  For me, after 3-point stance and form tackling, it is the third most important thing I teach and the first most
important thing I want my linemen to learn.

In my approach to teaching O-line play, there are three phases to a drive block:

— the initial contact
— the stalemate
— and the finish

I know of other line coaches who break it down even further but for my purposes and at the level I’m coaching, three phases makes it understandable to my kids.

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Terminology: Neutral Zone

13 Oct

The neutral zone is a no-man’s land.  It is the DMZ formed by the two lines of scrimmage that intersect each end of the ball when it is made ready for play.  It’s as wide as the ball is long.

There are two kinds of neutral zone violations: offside and encroachment.

Encroachment is an offensive penalty.  It’s when an offensive player is in or beyond the neutral zone after the Center “touches or simulates touching” the ball before the snap.  The Center is the only player allowed in the neutral zone.

Offside is a defensive penalty.  It occurs when a defensive player is: 

  • in or beyond the neutral zone when the ball is snapped,
  • contacts the ball before it is snapped,
  • threatens a lineman who reacts before the ball is snapped,
  • or is not behind his restraining line when the ball is free-kicked like on a kick-off.

What’s The Most Important Thing You Teach? (Part 2)

11 Oct

Lead with the shoulder.

I recently read an article in which the author asked if form tackling is overrated.  His question piqued my interest because how many times do you really see a perfect form tackle performed in a youth football game?  Heck, how many times do you see it in any game, regardless of level?

Most tackles are made in the heat of the moment by grabbing any part of the ball carrier to bring him down.  It’s rare that you see a kid break down into a perfect stance before making a perfect form tackle.  Everything is moving too fast and furious while the basic geometry of the game creates too many angles for that to happen.

So why spend an inordinate amount of time at practice perfecting it if we don’t see it on game day?  We have four reasons why we choose to spend extra time each day at practice on the science of tackling even though it is hit-or-miss come Saturday.

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When Kids Quit – Part 2

8 Oct

Everything can change with a phone call.

Five minutes of conversation and beliefs I held to be true for years were unraveled.   Probably forever.

The phone call in question came from the President of our association.  He told me that he had reinstated the two players who quit during last Saturday’s game.

His reason, he said, was that they were kids.   12 and 13 year old kids who made a mistake.   A big mistake, for sure, but dismissing them from the team was, in his opinion, an even bigger mistake.

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When Kids Quit…

5 Oct

We lost big time this past Saturday and to a team we should have beaten.

We lost because we played like we practiced: poorly.  We practiced poorly because we were full of ourselves.  The previous Saturday we had
upset a top team in our conference – a team much more talented than us — so that when we came up against our next opponent – a team that hadn’t won a game — we didn’t think we had to work hard.  It would be, we thought, an easy win.

We thought wrong.

Getting beaten is one thing.  That’s when you give your best effort but your opponent is simply a better team or more lucky.  In either case, there is no shame; just disappointment.  Losing badly, though, is something else entirely.  That’s when you don’t prepare to win and you don’t give your best effort and, as a consequence, you’re an embarrassment to yourselves.

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