Category Archives: Coaching Philosophy & Strategy

The 3 Types of Offensive Coordinators: Go from Good to Great

There are 3 types of offensive coordinators in my opinion. To be honest, only one of them is really special, and the best part, most play callers can get to that level, but most don’t.

The three offensive coordinator types are: player coaches, schematic coaches, and matchup coaches. Keep reading to find out which is the great one! Continue reading

3 Tips for Football Coaches Going to New Teams

strong football coachcp curtis peterson

My First Year at C-Ville was Awkward in the Beginning, but that soon changed.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a coach is go to a new team, especially when the staff is already established. I thought I would write a quick post on some tips that might help you out.

Tip 1: Be Yourself

This applies to everything, but especially with high school aged kids (and junior high and college really). They will see right through you if you aren’t yourself. Don’t try to be something your not. It’s okay to work on improving something (aka, cussing less, yelling less), but don’t forget who you are. Continue reading

Enhancing Player and Coach Relationships: Using the Five Love Languages

As coaches, we need to realize that our kids each respond differently to different interactions. I understand that some coaches believe in positive or negative interactions to get a charge out of their kids. Motivation, and even developing a good relationship with any of our players, goes much further than that.

I’ve been doing some reflecting and I came across a book called the Five Love languages. I haven’t read the entire book, but I think there is some application. Now, this may seem corny to some, but I think it has some merit for us as coaches.

The Five Love Languages

The five love languages, according to the book (written for both spouses and someone’s children), are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Now, obviously, some of these are easier said than others in a coaching setting.

Physical touch may seem inappropriate at first glance, but a high five or a fist bump could be more than enough, and it’s obviously something that both parties would agree to in order to execute (both coach and player), making it okay.

Acts of service and gifts may seem hard too, especially given “bounty gate” in regards to gifts. However, I’m a strong believer that a hand written note can be a gift, or a text message if you’d prefer that (Hudl can help you with making that easy). Breaking down film of practice and giving the analysis to the kid one on one may work too.

An act of service might include working on a highlight film. Maybe it’s helping a kid with getting the gear setup properly. Going out of your way to show them a specific technique for a minute or two after practice can be seen as an act of service as well. Defending a kid who is being picked on (by either a coach or a player), even if it’s funny (a good way to ease up a destabilizing situation) can go a long way.

Finally, some of the five love languages may seem easy. For instance, words of affirmation and quality time may be two of the harder languages. You need to be careful with your words if you want to develop a relationship with the kids. It’s easy to say great job (and not enough of us do that). However, these kids may be hurt worse if you correct them, even in a good tone. Be careful when you know kids respond to words the most.

In addition, quality time is tough because we lead our own lives outside of football, and so do the kids. Also, being alone with a kid is seen by many as inappropriate (for good reason especially given terrible tragedies that have come up recently), even if you are breaking down film. Try texting them, or talking to them one on one as you go back to the building after practice.

Now, you may laugh at this post, but I believe that each kid is unique, as is our relationship with each of our athletes. It’s hard to figure some of this out (plenty of spouses never figure it out). However, I encourage you to keep a note-card if you’re struggling to remember, and mark the things you do. Keep track of how you’re developing that relationship with your players. The note-card system can be really helpful if you have a large program, where you have lots of coaches over each year of the program. They can share there notes and make sure that every relationship can be maximized.

Conclusions on the 5 Love Languages

Finally, you may say that you shouldn’t “love” your players and that’s what the book is for. Regardless of what you call it, most of us want to have a strong relationship the players we coach. That’s what this is about. So maybe these languages don’t work for you, but hopefully that get you thinking about new ways to develop the relationship with your players.

For others, the five love languages may work well. Don’t stop there. Try to find other things that can build and enhance the trust between yourself and the players. They’ll only continue to work harder as a result, and both sides will get more out of football.

Thoughts Behind Building Football Playbook Answers

Watching the IU – Syracuse game last night got me thinking (and usually basketball doesn’t make me think) about the the needs for football playbook answers. I don’t watch much basketball at all, I’m not even really a fan, but IU really only had a couple of options with that 2-3 zone that Syracuse played, especially considering their size and physicality inside.

Every football playbook, and I use that term loosely because it doesn’t have to be a playbook per say, needs to have some kind of answer for basic problems. IU couldn’t score on the outside so they needed to get it inside. Then they struggled because they couldn’t execute. Either their players weren’t good enough, they had barely practiced the concepts against the 2-3 zone until that week, or the play calls weren’t good.

Football Playbook Game Planning

I feel like a lot of coaches put a game plan together, and then don’t have an answer if something doesn’t work. They have plan A. But what happens when the defense executes a different game plan? What’s your answer?

That is why it’s important to practice concepts throughout the season. If you’re facing an passing offense, and the QB goes down and they place a tailback type at QB and start running some option, will you be prepared? What if the defense, which usually plays quarters starts playing cover 2 and is getting pressure with defensive line stunts so you can’t get the ball deep on them with play action or straight drop back passes?

You need to have at least, in your head, football playbook, or hopefully your playcall sheet, answers to these questions. What happens when they start running cover 3? Well, we got to run 4 verticals or a curl/flat concept with a drag over the middle to hold the hook player. But here lies the problem. Did you practice these concepts enough to execute them fast enough to win? Or will the players hesitate a little bit, even after a sideline meeting with you reviewing the concept because the steps on their route are slightly off?

Football Playbook Answers

So a football playbook, along with all of it’s answers, needs to have some base thoughts practiced every week and practiced against concepts outside of what the defense plays. When I ran the scout defense during the playoff/state-championship game run, most teams had one or two base coverages. However, I would throw in, at least a few times a practice session, between 3-4 other coverages from their looks. The goal was to prepare our kids for the outlier scenarios. AKA, what to do when they change their game plan on us, for whatever reason.

So your goal is to always have answers in your football playbook. It’s also to ensure that you practice enough base concepts against different looks no matter what each week. Do they run the spread? Run a few option plays during the week each side even if they hardly run it to make sure option responsibilities are still sound. You don’t need to waste a lot of time on the field reviewing small mistakes on these concepts. You basically want to maintain the intellectual training of your kids throughout the season. That way, you don’t run into IU’s problem. They routinely said that they hardly time saw the 2-3 zone, and didn’t practice against it much. By running against it for even 5-10 minutes total out of your week, you will avoid that issue altogether. That leads to my last point.

Sign up for the free 4-3 Defense Course! It includes 12 articles (and growing!) on the 4-3 defense from Strong Football and other top coaching websites. Join over 80 teams! Just enter your email below!

Football Playbook Answers: Execution

Even with all the answers built throughout your season or in your football playbook, you still depend on the players execution. They need to psychologically be prepared to handle the change. It’s easy to say player’s didn’t execute. That’s true. But they also didn’t execute for how many weeks during the season because they didn’t see it or didn’t rep against it? That’s why they didn’t execute. One week is never enough to prepare for one opponent, especially in football, who does something totally different. I’m not saying you need to prepare for a flexbone offense when facing the Air Raid, but I’m saying repping a few option concepts that week for about 5-10 minutes, will much better maintain summer camp mental awareness and muscle memory and “rep memory” more than not practicing at all.

Why Congress Gets Involved: Concussions in Football

Let’s be honest. We all hate that government is taking a position on football. Concussions in football is becoming so serious that our government is bringing up legislation. CTE is a real thing.

But here’s the bottom line coaches. We are the reason this is happening.

Yep. Us. It’s not government’s fault. It’s our fault.

Whenever a coach let’s bad fundamentals slip because the player is a skilled athlete, that’s us making a mistake.

Whenever we get made that a trainer takes a kid out because of concussion like symptoms, that’s us making a mistake.

Whenever we let our kid’s lead with their head in-order to enhance a block or tackle, that’s us making a mistake.

I am very against any legislation in football. But when something consistently shows the inability to govern itself, government steps in. It does. That’s a fact of life. You might say it hasn’t stepped into women’s soccer or cheerleading, but that’s because it’s not a “big issue” yet. Big issue is defined by the public. Concussions in footbaIl is now a big public topic. If there is enough public outcry, fear, or anger, some politicians jump on the bandwagon to make a change. And let’s be honest, limiting hitting to one hour a week is a result of us letting kids have bad technique, or us not coaching coaches who allow bad technique to happen.

At some point, for many coaches, they will likely have 15 minutes to teach blocking. Then 15 minutes to teach tackling. Then they’ll have about 30 minutes for team scrimmaging. If your players only play one way, you’ll be at less of a disadvantage, you’ll get half an hour to teach tackling, then half an hour for team. Then that’s it for the entire week. Don’t believe me, check out this football bill originating in Texas. Similar stuff is being asked in other states, like Illinois.

I don’t know about you, but with somewhere between maybe 2-3 hours of teaching proper blocking or tackling technique before a game, there is no way I’m letting the average first year player touch the field. You can conceptually teach techniques, but without much time for half speed contact to teach it properly before full speed contact, it’s not going to be engrained in muscle memory.

I don’t have kids. Let me start by saying that. My kids, when I have them, if they want, will be allowed to play football. But I will be watching the youth coaches (if not coaching them myself) unless youth football doesn’t exist in 10-15 years. If it doesn’t, I will be watching the high school coaches like hawks. I’ve seen enough bad coaches when it comes to technique in my time that I don’t trust a coach at first glance.

What’s funny, I think a lot of coaches feel the same way. Maybe they won’t be a bad parent, but they want to make sure their kids are taught safe technique. Unlike arguing whether the skip pull or the traditional pull is a better technique, safety is something that strikes the heart of all parents, and it should for coaches as well. If you want to teach my kids to skip pull, that’s fine (even though it’s not my favorite pulling technique), however I will be giving a call if you let my kid learn to duck his head when making a block or tackle.

Does that seem bad? I hope not. But you know what? That’s what government is trying to do. Government doesn’t have the resources to watch you like a hawk. But they can enforce rules on you if they don’t think something’s being done to the public’s liking.

So here’s my challenge coaches. We need to clean up our act. Or, if you see bad technique being taught by another assistant, it’s time to have a chat. CTE is real. Concussions are real. Unless we fix it soon, we will be limited to one hour a week of hitting, or we’ll be trying to compromise for just two. It’s in our hands. So stop complaining at spring and summer practice about the rules or how we’re making this a weaker sport. We did this because we were lazy or let bad coaching happen.

And if you’re worried that your win loss record may suffer or that the parents or even the kids might be mad you made “Johnny”, who is clearly your top player or even has potential to be a top recruit, sit on the bench rather than start, just tell them the truth. Tell them that Johnny refuses to use safe practice technique. The other athletes understand it, so something is being taught right, he just refuses. And until that is fixed (and you must keep trying), he will keep riding the bench. You know what will probably take the hardest convincing out of those 3 parties (parents, kids, your win/loss record)? It’s probably YOUR win/loss record. When I started using that process, that’s what scared me the most. I had parents actually thank me. The kids understood. I took the most convincing, and that was wrong.

Concussions in football is a real thing. Soon congress getting involved in football will be a real thing too unless we start doing something about it in practice.

Safety and Protection at Football Practice


We’ve seen a terrible, terrible tragedy in our midst recently. As the tragedy played out Friday, I came to one conclusion. At previous coaching stops, I would be totally unprepared if something like what happened at Sandy Hook took place at practice.

I, as a coach, will always be asking what the plan is from now on if I am not informed. Whether I need to go to the head coach or the athletic director.

This could just as easily happen (if not easier, with our football practices being outside) at practice. I encourage you and your staff to reflect upon this issue. Begin the conversation if it’s not already happened. Have a plan.

Curtis Peterson