Saturday, February 27, 2010

25 Years Later, youth football still the same....

Coach Lee obviously had too much time on his hands staying home one day with a sick kid. Here is some football of his team when he was 9 (1984).

Concepts are still the same in youth football. Get to the edge and have the fastest kid! Check out the extra point kick on the second video!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Fondest Hope

Someday, some coach we play will sputter, stammer, and flagellate the English language in just this way.

Such is the power of the option.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Triple Option, Week One

This is an example of one of our option plays. In this case, the play called was Wishbone Option Right. That's just about as basic as we get. The video has some narration, so turn your speakers on if would like to hear my description.

This was our first touchdown in league play this year, and it was on a true triple option. It was pretty well done for the 4th grade, if I do say so. Credit the boys for paying attention and understanding their jobs, and the coaches for their patient persistence teaching.

Our QB, BK (#5) reads pull from the defensive tackle going inside, and then gets a pitch read from their defensive end. Our halfback is in great pitch relationship position, makes the catch, beats the corner and the OLB to the boundary, and they're not going to catch him.

A couple of things to note about this version of the play. The dive read was the head-up tackle on Ox (#00). He was the 4th man, counting from outside in. Here's what their defense looked like. I colored the dive read key red, and the pitch read key blue:

X  X    X     X  X
 X  X X   X X  X
  O O O O O O O
     O     O

The way this version of the option play is designed, the fullback's running path should have been to the guard-tackle gap. In our offense, we call that the 4 hole. Our fullback ran to the 2 hole, which is more or less where he runs on the Midline version of the option.

(For Midline, the dive read would have been the man head up on our right guard. If our guard can rip inside of him, we give the ball to the fullback. If he gets hung up, or the dive read jumps to the A gap, we pull. We also have what we call a 'veer' version that is really just an outside option off-tackle.)

But back to this one - it was supposed to feature the FB to the 4 hole, but often times young kids want to run to the path of least resistance. The quarterback nevertheless made the correct read, and our offensive tackle did too. He knows that if the defender crosses his face, he blocks him down, and that's what he did.

The quarterback moves down the line, and the defensive end - the #2 man from outside in - comes right at him. With ideal timing, our QB makes a good pitch.

Because it was off the frame, you couldn't see that our lead halfback pretty much missed the #1 outside man, the cornerback. This was early in the year, and like I said in the video, we weren't perfect on this play. But the corner took a step inside toward the quarterback too, and by the time he realized that a pitch was going to happen all he could do was dive at our halfback's feet. Normally defensive coaches will make that #1 man responsible for the pitch back, and if we don't get at least a piece of him, we're in some trouble if we pitch.

Our tight end was supposed to block the outside linebacker, who would be the #3 man. I don't think he got very much of him. But he may have forced him to the inside briefly, because by the time he re-appears in the frame, he has very poor angle to try to tackle a kid as fast as our halfback.

One of the neat things about the option is that even if you don't do things perfectly, you often have just a little bit of space to let a good athlete make some things happen. In this case, the space was out on the perimeter, and our halfback (Peyton, #21) was plenty fast enough.

We won this game 12-0, and yes, we did throw it a couple of times on them. Had to really, as they had no safeties at all. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What Coach Said, From Dad's Point of View

I have four kids in sports. I've had the opportunity to coach them all at one time or another. But I have actually spent far more time as a parent, watching them coached by others, than I have as their coach.

One of the frustrating things about being the non-coaching parent of a player is that you don't know entirely what the coaches are saying. You suspect that your child is perhaps a better player than he's showing, or that the coaches might be telling him two different things and he's confused. Or maybe they just aren't playing him in the position in which he needs to be play. Or perhaps you suspect your kid isn't quite there where you want him to be yet. Sometimes it is difficult to tell, but that in itself is frustrating.

To reduce my frustration, I try to do three things every time I'm talking to my kid about their participation.
  • I always ask my kid, "How did it go out there?"
  • I always ask my kid, "What did coach have to say afterwards?"
  • I try to remember to always tell my kid "I really enjoyed watching you play."
I picked some of this up from the NAIA. I do enjoy watching my kids compete. And I think it helps them love the game more, and it is my way of thanking them for being involved and playing the game.

Regarding the first question, especially in football or soccer, you might think that I know how things went, because I have some coaching experience. But the truth is, I don't know. I wasn't out there. I didn't experience the game the way they did. My arm didn't get whacked by that helmet, the ball didn't skid away from me because of a bad bounce. I don't know how hard things were, when things were going badly.

I also want to know their mindset, and an open-ended question like "How did it go out there?" gives them opportunity to expand on any topic they want to discuss. I think it helps that I have a genuine interest in the nuts and bolts of what they experienced, but even if they want to talk about the officiating, or their opponent, or the weather, or the field - whatever - they're the star of that conversation.

But this post is really about that second thing I always ask. Doesn't every parent want to know the thoughts of the coach? And why is that? For me, about half the time I want to reinforce what coach said, and the other half of the time I want to modulate it or improve it.

But nowadays, in my advanced age and medium-depth wisdom, I try not to do either. When I ask my athlete what coach had to say, I'm trying to make sure that they've listened, and that they know from my asking that I think whatever coach had to say is an important part of the equation. But my response to whatever it was that coach had to say is non-committal. Or, at least I try to keep it that way in front of my kid.

I really do try to avoid editorializing, criticizing, or even applauding the opinions of the coaches. If I undermine what coach says, or if my kid can only wait until I've approved what coach said before they can accept it, that hurts his development. He can't be as successful as he might otherwise become trying to serve three masters - coach, dad, and himself.

For a parent, letting go of what coach said - being non-committal, when you just KNOW that the coaching they're getting isn't what you'd do - is quite difficult. But it's the right thing to do.

I did a little math, and determined that I now have accumulated 105 youth, high school, or collegiate parent-of-the-athlete seasons, with three more in progress at this moment. My children have had almost 70 different adults that coached or assisted coaching them. In all that time, among all those coaches, I've had a grand total of one coach for two seasons that I thought MAYBE did more harm than good.

That's not to say I haven't had issues with coaches, or questioned whether they were doing it the way I would do it - that's pretty much a daily occurrence in my little brain. What I'm saying is, in the biggest equation - relatively good, or relatively bad - my wife and I have been blessed by the adults that have coached our kids.

As you engage your kids about their athletic experiences, I understand you'll want to know what we coaches had to say about things. And in your shoes, I do the same thing. But this fall my two college kids won't be where I can ask them what coach had to say, and consequently I can't be any sort of barrier, buffer, filter, or lens for them. But I think they'll be ready.

Super Bowl Sunday

The NFL finishes its season today, while those of us with younger players are all in the thick of basketball, wrestling, and various activities of winter. It is the end of things for one season, even as the beginnings of things for next season have already commenced.

College signing day is behind us now, though many are yet to decide. My son Austin, for those of you that follow the ONW program, is still debating between Benedictine and the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

Some college coaches have taken off for greener pastures - see Carrol, Kiffin, Gill, etc. Other college coaches have been shown the door - Mangino, Charlie Weiss, Mike Leach, etc.

Local small colleges have made news - William Jewell's Fran Schwenk has retired. Kirby Cannon has resigned after 11 years at Missouri S&T to take an assistant coaching gig at D I Central Michigan with a new coaching staff there.

Even the high schools change things a bit, as former St. Thomas Aquinas coach Kevin Kopecky finds himself in Leavenworth. Happily, he's not behind bars - just coaching at the high school - but a college coach told me that the two are much the same. He called the Leavenworth job a "coaching graveyard". Coach Kopecky had a great run with the Saints. It will be interesting to see if he can get it going that way with Leavenworth. They've always had some athletes - they've just never seemed to be able to put it together as a football team.

Ryan Majors is out at Shawnee Mission North and in as an assistant at William Jewell. Jewell will transition to Division II by 2012, and I wonder if it is out of the frying pan, into the fire, for Coach Majors.

Closer to home, rumor has it that 4th grade dad/ONW math teacher Greg Morgan will coach the freshman football team at Olathe Northwest next year. Let's hope so - it that pans out, what a great grab for ONW.

Soon enough we will be talking about NFL draft prospects, FCCJC board meetings, summer football camps, league sign-ups, and a new season of football will roll around again before you know it. But until then, and for today, enjoy the game.