After the season is over and before your off-season really kicks off, each football coach needs to reflect on what happened last year, and what he would like to have happen next year. This isn’t just a list for head coaches, a lot of assistant coaches at different levels of football could ask some of the questions themselves.
What was the play we practiced the most but used the least in games?
Perhaps one of the most important questions any coach should ask. Time is our number one resource in coaching. Whether that is the time remaining in a game or in a practice, you need to figure out if you use plays as much as you practice them. For instance, if you spend the most time going over cover 4 (run fits, coverage, ect…), but only run it 20% of the time in the game, is it really worth all that time? If you run cover 4 60% of the time, you should spend 60% of your time covering the techniques and skills necessary to make it successful.
What was the most taxing practice item and was it worth all the trouble?
This is related to the question above, but it doesn’t have to be a play. For instance, do you add the bubble option to your zone read? How much prepartion does it take from week to week to get all the reads, technique, timing, and spacing down? Is it worth all this time, even if you use it a lot? Could you instead just make it a pre-snap read or a “check with the sideline” call and save the time needed to read it on the fly or the technique to throw it after the the pull? Should you get rid of it all together and run something else or becoming more efficient at just the zone read aspect and the blocking out of the slot?
What junior can play on the other side of the ball next year?
Do you guys split your guys up by offense and defense? We had a guy who was a guard and fullback his whole career switch to linebacker this year and become an immediate stud. He was too small to play guard but wasn’t a natural in the backfield. However, because he was familiar with line play and physical enough, he was a solid linebacker. Some may say that he’s at a disadvantage, but you’d be surprised at how much is carried over from even a linemen to a skill position.
Where were the team chemistry issues and how/who should we address them so they don’t happen again?
Sometimes you need to look yourself in the mirror and realized you or staff member may have caused a problem. Does your offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator make it too competitive in one on ones? Maybe you need to have a conversation with an unsatisfied player or parent, as much as you don’t want to.
Based on your current schemes, what type of playmaker is the least utilized and how can we make them more efficient?
Do you run a base 50 front with a 0 technique nose tackle who get’s constantly dumps double teams? Maybe you under utilize some fantastic athletes at the fullback position which you barely run b/c you are predominantly in spread sets? Can you get away with putting a lesser athlete in these positions and get almost the same effectiveness with proper coaching? I hate looking back and realizing I could have put a kid in a better position to be successful AND make the team successful with a few personnel adjustments.
What was our top 3 tendencies we did nothing about all year… and do we HAVE to address them?
We run the football 90% of the time on first down. We feel we don’t run it enough on first down. But, we do this b/c we want yards to make it a second down and medium, b/c that is when our offense is the most lethal. Most teams load up the box but we still get 3-4 yards. Yes, we could throw play-action, which we do the other 10% of the time, but I’d rather scare teams on second down. At other times, we are making mistakes. Are we following the fullback too much when we’re in 22 personnel? Can we address this by running split flow action plays (trap, inside zone, ect…)?
What coach developed his players the best and grew the most?
Who is your rising star on the coaching staff? If you’re an assistant football coach, what is that person doing that you could be doing? A lot of young coaches spend too much time on the X’s and O’s. They should be spending the time developing the techniques of their players. Growing could also mean they are volunteering for more responsibility.
What are 3 elements we (or I) want to learn and who can we learn it from or how can we learn it?
Do you run a 4-3 cover 4? However, you want to learn Cover 2 read (a close variant)? No 4-3 teams run it near by? Live near TCU (okay, a lot of drill downs here, sorry!)? Contact TCU’s coaches or their secretary to see if you can talk with them. Even though they run a different defense, the drills and the coverage should carry over. It’s just like a clinic. Just because you go to a clinic doesn’t mean you should buy into every word the speaker says. Don’t change the way you drive block because some NFL guru says to do it one way. Maybe take some drills or a bit of technique from them, but take their best information and apply it to what YOU already know.
What tools and equipment can we use to improve our fundamentals and/or our scouting?
We’re getting Hudl next year. I’m pumped. Why? I can do my work from HOME. Not only that, but we can share the workload more easily. The QB coach can break down last nights film while I breakdown the upcoming opponent. At the same time, our runningbacks coach can breakdown another game. This is an efficient tool. What about equipment? Can we get a 2-man sled that runningbacks, receivers, and linemen can use efficiently rather than a 7 man that no tailback can use well?
What 3 in-school kids can I recruit to play football next year?
Is there a shot putter who should be a tackle? Why didn’t he play? Can you address his fears (or maybe his parent’s fears?)? It’s okay to recruit, as long as it is in your own building. Make sure you do your background research first. Maybe the kid plays basketball and you have a basketball coach on your staff who the kid doesn’t care for, so obviously don’t send him dispite the sport connection. You may intimidate the kid. Maybe instead you should get someone who doesn’t coach football (but obviously likes it) to do some of the research for you in exchange for a cup of coffee or a beer.
Overall, I hope these tips help you reflect on this past season and make progress towards next year. I tried to make them applicable for all levels. Obviously, if your an assistant or a youth coach, some will be harder. But you can make some adjustments (if your a youth coach, go to other youth sport games to find “recruits”).