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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What’s the Most Important Thing You Teach? (Part 1)

29 Sep

In terms of technique, what do you think are the most important things you teach your kids?  I’ll pause to give you time to consider your answer.

Time’s up.

For me, it’s a simple question to answer when I consider that I’m not only preparing my kids for game day but for competition at the next level.  The next level for my kids is high school.  So, in this context, the most important things I teach are the 3-point stance and form tackling.   And, as an O-line coach, I would add one more thing that’s position specific: to finish their blocks.

Why you may ask would I rank the 3-point among my Top 3 things to perfect?  It’s simple:  everything starts with the 3-point.  If it’s wrong, then chances are that everything that follows will be as well.

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Traits of a Good Offensive Lineman

26 Sep

Effective offensive linemen in our program have the following characteristics:

1. Attitude:

A good attitude in an offensive lineman can’t be over-emphasized. A player with a good attitude can be taught what he needs to be successful. A player with a bad attitude will have a negative impact on the entire offense. A player has to be selfless before we can develop unity on the offensive line. Once we develop unity we can create an identity. Once we create an identity, then we can establish tradition. It all starts with attitude. “We work the hardest; we’re known the least. But who cares? For we are the reason.”

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