|Our Mason staff preparing for the state quarterfinals in November of 2013. Photo by Zack Klemme|
Last Sunday, 8/6, was my last day off either until the season ends or we might possibly get one day during our open week. Beginning this weekend, the grind of game preparation has begun. Eat your Wheaties and get to work.
This plan has evolved from the days of my Dad's Sunday night meetings in his basement office at our house. Those meetings were so well-established, one Sunday night, the opposing staff showed up to get the game plan!
As soon as the game is over on Friday night, we will view the video, individually as a staff. Some time over the weekend, position coaches will share Hudl notes with their position.
I try to be very efficient with my time. When watching the game video, if something did not work, I find out why. The answer to those questions will drive my team preparation for the week. And, of course, the things that we are good at doing will become more important. By the time I go to bed on Friday night, I want to be 100% done with that game, win or lose. If I can get in bed by 2 AM, that is a very efficient night.
In the morning, I will begin working on our opponent. I want to get their base defense and best personnel. I also gather down & distance information, as well as information in regards to the area of the field. Once that information is gathered, I will put together a playlist on Hudl which will serve as the scouting report for that defense. Hudl notes are a big part of this scouting report. I really enjoy being done with paper scouting reports. Those were not as efficient or as visually effective as seeing the video.
At this point, I will begin to gameplan based on the scouting report. I will then do a self scout of our offense using Hudl. My objective is to mesh the gameplan with an effort to break tendencies AND add formations our opponent has never seen or rarely seen.
From lunch time until Sunday morning, I will start to put together the script of plays. We also have down & distance scripted, situations, defensive fronts/personnel to attack, etc. Basically, what ever fits our opponent and our team at that point in the season. We will have any where from 30 to 40 base plays scripted. This script allows us to be very multiple in our sets. I would like for opposing defensive coordinators to have at least 50 formations to break down when they prepare for us.
On Sunday our staff comes in and we review the previous game. We make gameplan adjustments for all 3 phases of the game, discuss personnel, etc. It is also a time for our staff to get stuff off their chest. It is not unusual for there to be some significant disagreement & arguing. But, that is why the foundation always must be that you build your staff with great people. We always work through it and come up with a plan, together.
We will plan practice that week and script every offensive period. It takes more effort for the DC to script all of the defense and he works that out as needed on a daily basis.
On Sunday, we should be done between 5 & 7 most weeks. In 2017, we are making our Sunday meeting window from 2-5 pm. We all have been doing this for a long time. If we can't get it done by 5 pm on Sunday, we are struggling.
And, that is another important point.... I NEVER meet just to have a meeting. They are short & efficient. These guys are husbands, fathers & teachers. They are professionals. We get our work done and go home. Some staffs like to hang out and talk all day, and pretend they are working hard. I can't stand that model for coaching HS football. That is a great way to alienate a coach's wife. Do that enough, and you are looking for coaches, and they won't be as good as the ones that just quit.
The heavy work load on the weekend is driven by the fact that on Monday morning, our staff is back in the classroom and teaching. Our teaching job comes first and we need to excel in the classroom. But, my Monday morning, all of the plan is in place and we should be ready to go.
Bill Walsh said to make every important decision that can be made before game time, in a calm, thoughtful process/setting. We try to make 100% of those types of decisions well before the game. That process has served us well over the past 20+ years. I also find that I ENJOY football practice and games much more the better I am prepared. Football is fun and anything I can do to keep it that way, I try to do it.
I hope this can help a coach, staff, and even the family of a coach as the season gets started in 2017. Friday nights are almost here. Enjoy them!
PS- I took my little girl to college today. Very tough. For an old football coach, there is nothing like your little girl. There have been many Saturdays after a loss, especially when she was little, that she was the only one that could put a smile on my face. I am really glad that I spent as much time with her at home as I could. I never cut corners on the job, but I also never wasted time I could be with her, her mom & my boys. Coaches....keep first things first this fall.