Consider helping MosleyTheCat keep the web hosting hamsters fed and happy. Please Donate.

Author Topic: Game Day Coaching  (Read 11938 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline coachdoug

  • Silver
  • Posts: 1061
  • Total likes: 262
  • "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." - V. Lombardi
  • Coaching: High School
  • Defense: Other
  • Offense: Spread Formation
  • Title: Head Coach
Game Day Coaching
« on: March 25, 2015, 11:24:46 PM »
In another thread, the topic of game day coaching was brought up.  It occurred to me that when I first started coaching (and for probably at least 10 years), I was really weak in this area.  So, I thought I would share some of the things I’ve learned over the years that have allowed me to become much better at this particular part of coaching.  Like many things, most of the things that I’ve learned that have made me a better coach have little to do with what you actually do on game day – most of it is about preparation.

So, here are 10 things (in no particular order) that have helped me to be a much better game day coach (many of which are interconnected):

1.   Script your first 10-20 offensive plays.  As Bill Walsh described it, you will make much better decisions in your office on Tuesday evening than you ever will in the heat of battle on game day. At the youth level, there are several more advantages.  You can maximize the MPPs you get into the game every play (see #4 below) – if you’re running sweep, for instance, you can probably sub in for 4 or maybe even 5 players without affecting the play.  I always script at least the first 10 plays, and I’m usually well past 50% done with mandatory plays by the end of the script.  Furthermore, because we practice the entire script (with subs) at least once (usually twice and sometimes three times) during the week and again during pre-game, the kids know what to expect, when they’re going in and what they need to do.  Consequently, once I started scripting the opening plays, our scoring percentage on our opening drive roughly tripled.  There will be a very large amount of pressure to discard the script and adjust your play calling to what you see.  Don’t do it – in 10+ years of scripting my openers I’ve only come off the script 2 or 3 times (like in 4th and 1 situations on the goalline and the script called for 4 verticals).  Trust me on this – even if the call seems ludicrous for the game situation (and all your assistants are telling you to call something else), stick with it – the kids will have confidence in it and I’ve seen these plays work in real life, probably because it caught the other team off-guard.  In any event, unless there is a once-a- season type of irregularity, don’t depart from the script.  Take your time when creating the script and make sure you're calling plays that will be appropriate for likely down & distance scenarios as well as horizontal field position (i.e. position relative to the hashes).  This becomes very difficult after the first 3 plays or so, but if you know you want to run a play that should be called from the left hash, run sweep left (or something similar) the play before.  Writing the script is a lot harder than it sounds, so give yourself plenty of time, especially the first few times you do it.  Make a chart and plot where you think the ball is likely to be after each play and what the likely down and distance scenarios are.  I always work a couple Freeze calls into the script as well - even if I forget to do it for the rest of the game, that's usually enough to keep them off-guard for the rest of the day.

2.   Have a written game plan.  This doesn’t have to be fancy, but again, you’ll make better decisions in the calm of the week than during the heat of battle on game day.  A simple chart that lists the plays you want to run in various scenarios (1st & 10, 1st & 5, 1st & 15+, 2nd & short, 2nd & med, 2nd & long, 3rd & short, 3rd & med, 3rd & long, 4th & short, 4th & med, 4th & long, coming out from your own goalline, on their goalline, last 3 plays of the half, etc.) is all you need.  In addition, I have all my plays listed by category (runs, screens, quick game, 5-step concepts, specials, etc.) and for each play I have every formation/motion/tag that I can run that play from listed, so I rarely call the same play twice from the exact same look (don’t want to give our opponents any tells to give away what we’re running), and I don't have think through the formations/tags/motions that work with that play (limit opportunities for mistakes).  Again, unless your opponent shows something totally unexpected, don’t discard your gameplan – even then you should think hard before making any changes.  The game plan is 80%-90% internally focused (i.e. what do we do well in various situations), so an unexpected defensive scheme should typically have little bearing on what your team should do in various situations

3.   Know the rules.  You’re going to have a tough time on game day managing the game if you don’t know the rules.  It’s easy to think that you’ve been watching football your entire life, so of course you know the rules.  However, most youth leagues play high school (i.e. Federation) rules, but most of what you watch on TV is NFL or NCAA rules.  I read the entire rule book cover-to-cover before every season (22 years now) and every year I come across something I hadn’t caught before.  If you don’t know exactly what starts and stops the clock; if you don’t know exactly who can be where when (i.e. can the coach be on the field outside the numbers, outside the hashes to call a play in? to talk to his players between plays?  to talk to players during a timeout? How about water boys?); if you don’t know exactly what constitutes an illegal shift/illegal motion (can your motion guy start before the line gets in their stances? Can your TE put his hand down then pick it up? How about your OT or OG? Can a WR on the line go in motion?); if you don’t know exactly what constitutes a completed pass (does your receiver have to maintain possession through going to the ground? How many feet have to be inbounds?  If it’s one, what if he catches the ball with one foot touching in and one touching out?); if you’re not 100% sure of any of those scenarios, you probably would benefit from spending some time with the rule book.  Another benefit is that once you actually know the rules, you’ll probably spend a lot less time arguing with the officials – time that will be much better spent focusing on your team.

4.   Have an MPR strategy.  Rookie coaches routinely feel like every drive early in the game is too critical to risk subbing in MPPs.  Then they are in a panic mode trying to get everyone done during the 3rd quarter only to be forced to put them all in until they’re done at the beginning of the 4th quarter.  There are many strategies for getting your weaker players’ plays in without hurting the team.  I’m not going to say that one is better than another here, so long as you have a strategy.  If you just go into the game thinking you’ll get everyone in when it’s convenient, you’ll probably end up with 5 or 6 weaker players in the game all at once at the beginning of the 4th quarter in a close game.  You can sub away from the play call on offense, sub the interior line on defense, have a MPP offense with 5-8 MPPs on it with their own play package, or work rotations at a number of positions, among other MPR strategies.  If you script plays (see #1 above) you’ll get a large percentage of your minimum plays done during the script.  While I won’t endorse or criticize any particular MPR strategy here, I will say that in general, you don’t want to get many MPPs in on defense.  On offense you can run away from them, but on defense they are a liability that can be exploited.  If you have to play some on defense, try to put them in interior line positions where they can have strong players surrounding them to protect them.  In general, you never want to play an MPP at OLB, CB, S, or DE.  If you don’t plan and strategize to get your minimum plays done, at some point it’s going to bite you in the ass.  I generally start subbing on the 1st or 2nd play of the game and try to make sure I have at least one MPP on the field at all times until they are all done.

5.   Prepare and practice a 2-minute offense.  This starts with knowing the rules about what starts and stops the clock (see #3 above).  Make sure your players know the clock rules as well.  It’s incredibly frustrating to see your ball carrier get tackled a yard from the sideline when you desperately need the clock stopped and he easily could have stepped out of bounds, but you never coached him to do so.  You may not be able to do this for game one, but you better have this in by mid-season (earlier if you know you’re going to have a tough opponent and a likely close game) or you’re likely to regret it.  One or two 10-15 minute sessions should be enough to make sure you can call 2 plays at once (easier if you’re no huddle), that all your players know what stops the clock, that you know how to spike the ball to stop the clock (hint – you can’t do it from shotgun – see #3 above).  It’s not a bad idea to have a series of 3 or 4 plays installed as a 2-minute “indy” series that you can just yell out a code word and the team knows to run those plays as fast as possible – they can be on your wristbands, but ideally your players would have that week’s package memorized for each game.  Make sure your guys know what to expect – don’t leave anything to chance.  For instance, if the ball hasn’t been marked ready for play yet following a first down, the umpire will stand over the ball and tell your linemen to wait if they try to line up.  If they do that, you’ll have a hard time snapping the ball in anything less than about 5 seconds after the ready-for-play signal (which also starts the clock – see #3 above).  You need to coach up your linemen to respond to the umpire that they know they can’t snap the ball until they hear the whistle, but they’re going to go ahead and get set now.  One time, we had exactly this situation with 1.5 seconds to go in the first half – my entire team was set before the ready-for-play signal – my center snapped the ball when he heard the whistle and my QB spiked as quickly as he possibly could and we stopped the clock with about a half second to go (we were on the road so I’m sure we got no favors from the clock operator).  We threw a TD pass on the next play.  This never would have happened if we hadn’t practiced this exact scenario.

6.   Prepare and practice a 4-minute offense.  If you’re ahead by 2 scores or less in the fourth quarter, you’re going to want to be able to drain as much time off the clock as possible.  Again, make sure your kids know how to keep the clock running – no going out of bounds, no incomplete passes, try to avoid penalties, etc. (see #3 above).  Your kids will get very anxious if they’re waiting in the huddle (or at the line if you’re no huddle, like we are) for a play call and you’re trying to drain the clock, unless you’ve practiced it and they understand what you’re doing.

7.   Learn Time Management.  This ties in with #5 and #6 above and is one of the most overlooked aspects of coaching at all levels.  In the last Super Bowl, the Seahawks got a lot of criticism for the play call on the interception at the goal line, but the bigger issue that no one seems to be talking about is that the Seahawks made major time management mistakes that led to the defeat.  They had all three timeouts left at the beginning of that last drive, but they called two of them (when the clock wasn’t even running) because they failed to get plays called into the players in time – absolutely inexcusable.  You don’t have to be an absolute expert, but try to know at least some of the basics:
  • If you’re trying to conserve time, use your timeouts on defense, not offense.  If you’ve practiced your 2-minute drill (see #5 above), you should be able to get plays off with only about 10-15 seconds coming off the clock, but a defensive timeout should save about 40 seconds on the clock.  If I’m behind and need to use timeouts to save time on the clock, I’ll start taking them on defense with about 4-5 minutes to go in the game.  It is far, far better to get the ball back with, say 3 minutes on the clock and no timeouts, than less than a minute and 3 timeouts.
  • If you’re going to call timeouts on defense for some reason other than conserving time (i.e. give your players a rest, stop the other team’s momentum, give your players some instruction/adjustments, etc), don’t be in a rush.  Most coaches just call timeout the second they think of it.  Why rush?  I always wait as long as possible to take these timeouts – I’ll tell the official on my sideline I’m going to call timeout so he’s listening for it, and I’ll stand as close to him as possible, but I’ll wait for the offense to break their huddle and come to the line before I’ll actually call it.  This accomplishes a number of things – it shows me how they were planning on lining up – if that’s a tell, I can prepare my team during the timeout (and the other team will likely change their play call); it frustrates their players (one game, after I did this for the third time, their QB threw his hands up and yelled “Aw, c’mon!!”  I was definitely in his head at that point and it clearly affected his play); and it maximizes my players’ rest.  One other possibility that won’t come up very often, but could – if the other team comes out in some crazy formation with the intention of forcing us to waste a timeout to align to it – if I’m already planning on calling a timeout anyway, I won’t have wasted anything, but they won’t know that – they’ll think they’ve accomplished something, when, in fact, they have not.
  • In general, you want to play as fast as possible if you have the better team or if the outcome is in doubt (more offensive reps generally leads to more points), and especially if you are behind, but if you are ahead late in the game (see #6 above), or if the other team is clearly better than yours, you want to go into a slowdown mode to keep their offense off the field.
8.   Have a Halftime strategy.  Early in my coaching career, I’m embarrassed to say that a lot of my halftime talks went something like this: (score Them 18 Us 6) “Okay guys, I’ve got news for you – they aren’t any better than you are.  They’re not bigger, stronger or faster than you are.  There is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to beat these guys.  Right now they just want it more than you do.  Let’s come out fired up in the second half and show these guys what we’re capable of!  I know you guys can do this!  What do you say?  Who wants to win today!?!?!”  Needless to say, we got a lot of yelling and whatnot, but we usually got our asses handed to us in the second half.  If this sounds anything like how you address your team at halftime, pay careful attention to this.  This is what we do now – we send the players off with the team mom/manager and let them have water and orange slices (or whatever we have that week) while the coaches meet off to the side.  We discuss what we all saw during the first half and if there are any adjustments we need to make.  This whole bit takes no more than 3 minutes.  The head coach then addresses the team, focusing on what worked well in the first half and what adjustments we’re going to make, as well as getting feedback from the players.  Then the coordinators address the team.  That also takes no more than 3 minutes.  Then we’ll split into groups and let the position coaches address their groups – about 2 minutes total. Finally, we’ll call them back to the bench area and have them do some warmups (typically on their own) before the second half kickoff.  This approach ensures that the team gets a consistent message from the coaching staff, that coaching adjustments are addressed in a professional manner (which actually makes the kids feel more comfortable and confident), and doesn’t insult the players by stating that things would be better if they only tried harder (when all the kids probably feel like they’re trying their best – we may know they’re not, but if they haven’t been coached how to give maximum effort yet, they won’t have any idea how to do so).

9.   Have well-defined (i.e. written) responsibilities/assignments for all coaches/volunteers.  If you don’t tell everyone exactly what they need to do on game day, they’ll all become spectators and just watch the ball and at the end of the game, everyone will say something like, “I don’t know how they were doing that.”  Start with your volunteers – make sure your team mom or manager has all the halftime and postgame snacks assigned, as well as the chain crew, MPR play counters, scoreboard/clock operator, announcer, videographer, etc. Then make sure every coach on your staff knows his game time responsibilities – you need a “get back” coach (someone to police the sidelines and make sure the players and coaches are all back far enough to not get flagged for sideline interference); you need a coach to track the MPRs – yes, you’ll have a volunteer doing the official count, but you should also have a coach assigned to make sure they’re getting it right – this coach should have your script (see #1 above) and know who’s going in when and be able to tell your counter, “#77 is going in, this will be his 5th play coming up; #63 is coming out, he just completed his 3rd play, and #14 is still in, he just completed his 7th play and the next play will be #8 for him).  It may seem like overkill, but this kind of oversight on the MPR process will save you a lot of headaches.  With regard to your coaches, try to avoid saying things like “when we’re on offense, watch their linebackers and let me know if you see anything.”  In all honesty, I still say stuff like this, but I can tell you from experience that it’s not terribly effective.  What is much more effective is to give much more detailed instruction.  E.g. “When we’re on offense, watch their LBs.  Stay close enough to hear my play calls, look at your wristband and make sure you know the play call – ask if you’re not sure.   If we’re running Power, watch the Will LB – let me know when he starts flowing hard and abandoning his Boot/Counter/Reverse responsibility.  If we’re running a RB screen, watch all the LBs and let me know if any of them read it.  If we’re running Jet Sweep, tell me how the OLBs are reacting to it – is the playside OLB stepping up to play force?  Is the backside OLB running with the Jet Sweeper?  Whenever we send a player in motion, how are the LBs reacting to it?”  You get the idea – you need to know when the defense if overreacting to what you’re doing in an unsound manner that it opens up other things in your playbook.  If you give your coaches general instructions like “tell me what you see” you’re probably not going to get the info you need.  Be specific.

10.   Know the metrics of success.  The exact numbers will vary a bit from team to team and depending on your local rules (mainly how long your quarters are) and what schemes you run, but it is a very good idea to know the following metrics regarding your team and your league:
a.   Average number of offensive, defensive, and special teams plays per game
b.   Average number of plays per score
c.   Average gain per rushing attempt
d.   Average gain per passing attempt
e.   Average gain per completed pass
f.   Average first downs per game
g.   Average rushing yards per game
h.   Average passing yards per game
i.   Completion percentage
j.   TD/Int ratio
k.   Penalties and penalty yardage per game

There are plenty of others and the most important ones will vary depending your philosophy and scheme – those are just some of the main ones I look at.  Know what the benchmarks are for you to be successful and when you are aren’t hitting those benchmarks on any particular metric, devote more practice time to improving that specific part of your game.  In a game day situation, recognize that the other team may be game planning to take certain things away from you.  I try to look, in particular, at average yards per attempt for both rushing and passing in real time during the game.  Ideally, we want to average at least 4-7 yards per attempt on running plays and 8-12 yards per attempt on passing plays with at least a 60% completion rate.  It we’re well above any of those marks, we’ll do more of that (i.e. if we’re average 15 yards per attempt rushing, we’ll keep the ball on the ground; or if we’re averaging an 80% completion rate or 25 yards per pass attempt, we’ll keep airing it out).  You’ll need to figure out what the benchmarks are for your offense and your situation, but this is critical information to know and to understand.

One quick thought on play calling - always be thinking at least one or two plays ahead.  I see so many coaches call a play, then watch it, wait to see what the result is, then take 15-20 seconds to figure out what they want to call next.  It's a lot more effective to consider the 3 or 4 most likely outcomes from the current play (it goes well - a new 1st & 10; it goes poorly - next down same yards to gain; or it's a disaster - next down and 10-15 yards additional to gain), and think through your next play call for each of those scenarios (refer to your game plan for guidance - see #2 above).  Then when you determine the outcome of this play, you'll already have your next play call ready and you'll already be thinking about what the play call after that will be, depending on the outcome of the next play.

One final thought - the players will mimic your attitude, so if you panic, they're likely to panic as well, but if you remain cool, calm, collected, and confident, the players will likely do so as well.

I hope that is useful to some of y’all.  Please share other things that you do to be a better game day coach.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 11:45:17 PM by coachdoug »

Offline bigshel

  • Silver
  • Posts: 1539
  • Total likes: 216
  • Coaching: 9 & Under
  • Defense: Killer Bee
  • Offense: Single Wing
  • Title: Coordinator
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2015, 12:08:51 AM »
This is great information, Doug. I'm saving this.

Thanks!

Offline mahonz

  • Administrator
  • Kryptonite
  • Posts: 24075
  • Total likes: 2416
  • No Wimps
  • Coaching: 7 & Under
  • Defense: DC 46
  • Offense: Single Wing
  • Title: Head Coach
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2015, 12:16:43 AM »
Great Article Doug.

Amazing how hard we all work during the week then our brains tend turn to mush on Game Day.

Cant tell you how many times on the way home after a game I have thought....oh yah....or why didn't I.....

Collect moments, not wins.

Offline COACH JC

  • Platinum
  • Posts: 6933
  • Total likes: 724
  • Coaching: 13 & Under
  • Defense: Other
  • Offense: Wing T
  • Title: Head Coach
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2015, 12:38:41 AM »
Great stuff doug. I remember a couple years ago I started a thread on how to steal a few wins a season, and a lot of this stuff came up on the thread.

Thanks for sharing, I'm def slacking on some of this stuff.
It's all about having fun.  But losing aint fun!

Offline COACH JC

  • Platinum
  • Posts: 6933
  • Total likes: 724
  • Coaching: 13 & Under
  • Defense: Other
  • Offense: Wing T
  • Title: Head Coach
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2015, 12:41:58 AM »
Great Article Doug.

Amazing how hard we all work during the week then our brains tend turn to mush on Game Day.

Cant tell you how many times on the way home after a game I have thought....oh yah....or why didn't I.....

So many times!!

Film study w/ OC's: "Oh man. Red sweep is open all day!" "Yep, gotta hit it at least 10 times this week". "No doubt!"

Game film review: "Why did we only run red sweep 2 times? It was wide open". "Crap."
It's all about having fun.  But losing aint fun!

Online MHcoach

  • Platinum
  • Posts: 7728
  • Total likes: 1816
  • Coaching: High School
  • Defense: Other
  • Offense: Other
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2015, 09:05:07 AM »
Doug

Great Post! Very well thought out. This is exactly why you are successful.

Joe
"Champions behave like champions before they're champions: they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners"
Bill Walsh

Offline tiger46

  • Copper
  • Posts: 360
  • Total likes: 102
  • Coaching: 12 & Under
  • Defense: Killer Bee
  • Offense: Double Wing
  • Title: Coordinator
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2015, 10:14:16 AM »
STICKY!!

But, just in case it isn't turned into a sticky, I'm copy & pasting this into a Word doc.

Thanks, Coach!    ;D
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. ”  ― Frederick Douglass

Offline rsmdavis

  • Copper
  • Posts: 20
  • Total likes: 6
  • Coaching: 12 & Under
  • Defense: Killer Bee
  • Offense: DC Wing T
  • Title: Head Coach
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2015, 12:14:12 PM »
Saved to my football file. Thanks Coach

Offline RJGiants75

  • Copper
  • Posts: 406
  • Total likes: 14
  • Coaching: 9 & Under
  • Defense: Wide Tackle 6
  • Offense: Single Wing
  • Title: Head Coach
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2015, 03:20:41 PM »
Thanks Coach! Saved here as well.

Rob

Offline Seabass

  • Silver
  • Posts: 1117
  • Total likes: 446
  • Coaching: High School
  • Defense: Other
  • Offense: Spread Formation
  • Title: Assistant
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2015, 03:00:25 PM »
Incredibly useful stuff!! Thankyou

Offline CoachSmith74

  • Copper
  • Posts: 1
  • Total likes: 0
  • Coaching: Middle School
  • Defense: Undecided
  • Offense: Undecided
  • Title: Other
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2015, 09:40:00 AM »
Very, very helpful! Thanks

Offline Test Account

  • Platinum
  • Posts: 8625
  • Total likes: 3
  • Admin Dead Account
  • Coaching: 6 & Under
  • Defense: Undecided
  • Offense: Undecided
  • Title: Other
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2015, 12:38:30 AM »

1.   Script your first 10-20 offensive plays

Unless you run an offense predicated on reading the defense (single wing, double wing, wing-t, option, zone read).

MPRs are something I don't care for (you have no say there)unless the kid is getting quality instruction, playing a good position for him and not simply being split out where "they can't hurt the team" or taking the runt of the litter and making him an A gap crawler.  Every year I havr coached the JV players has been a blast.  My rule has always been that each player gets at least a quarter at their position.  You have never seen a happier looking group of kids.  And the kicker is that they win.  The last season I coached the JVs they went 7-2.  We lost the last game of the season, throwing a pick inside the 15.  The other game they lost I could not make it as my varsity duties come first.  The kids were pissed as a lot never saw the field.

Good piece coach.  Just wanted to mention the scripting issues.  And as far as my MPR issues, well it is just something I do not like.
Please don't PM or respond to this Member. It is an account for all of the posts from abandoned or banned Member Accounts.

Offline cbrm

  • Bronze
  • Posts: 586
  • Total likes: 33
  • Coaching: 13 & Under
  • Defense: Other
  • Offense: Other
  • Title: Head Coach
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2015, 08:59:51 AM »
I loved the OP the first time I read it.  When it popped up again today, I read it again.  Can you double like a post? :)

Thanks CoachDoug!

BTW, has anyone done something similar for defensive game planning or game-day coaching?  I'm eager to "like" another post.

Brian
Do right by Him, and you'll do right by them.

Offline CoachDavidP

  • Silver
  • Posts: 2056
  • Total likes: 53
  • (Fizzlife)
  • Coaching: 6 & Under
  • Defense: Undecided
  • Offense: Undecided
  • Title: Other
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2015, 09:32:51 AM »
Yup, this is immediately printed out.

and at least one copy left sitting in our field office where other coaches might decide to take a peak at it. lol I just can't tell them it came from some "dumb coach online".

Thanks for taking the time Coach Doug.
David (Fizzlife)

Extreme Ownership -- Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Offline CoachMattC

  • Gold
  • Posts: 2606
  • Total likes: 226
  • Skype ID: cale.matt
    • Videos
  • Coaching: 12 & Under
  • Defense: Undecided
  • Offense: Undecided
  • Title: Positions
Re: Game Day Coaching
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2015, 12:31:42 PM »
In another thread, the topic of game day coaching was brought up.  It occurred to me that when I first started coaching (and for probably at least 10 years), I was really weak in this area.  So, I thought I would share some of the things I’ve learned over the years that have allowed me to become much better at this particular part of coaching.  Like many things, most of the things that I’ve learned that have made me a better coach have little to do with what you actually do on game day – most of it is about preparation.

So, here are 10 things (in no particular order) that have helped me to be a much better game day coach (many of which are interconnected):

1.   Script your first 10-20 offensive plays.  As Bill Walsh described it, you will make much better decisions in your office on Tuesday evening than you ever will in the heat of battle on game day. At the youth level, there are several more advantages.  You can maximize the MPPs you get into the game every play (see #4 below) – if you’re running sweep, for instance, you can probably sub in for 4 or maybe even 5 players without affecting the play.  I always script at least the first 10 plays, and I’m usually well past 50% done with mandatory plays by the end of the script.  Furthermore, because we practice the entire script (with subs) at least once (usually twice and sometimes three times) during the week and again during pre-game, the kids know what to expect, when they’re going in and what they need to do.  Consequently, once I started scripting the opening plays, our scoring percentage on our opening drive roughly tripled.  There will be a very large amount of pressure to discard the script and adjust your play calling to what you see.  Don’t do it – in 10+ years of scripting my openers I’ve only come off the script 2 or 3 times (like in 4th and 1 situations on the goalline and the script called for 4 verticals).  Trust me on this – even if the call seems ludicrous for the game situation (and all your assistants are telling you to call something else), stick with it – the kids will have confidence in it and I’ve seen these plays work in real life, probably because it caught the other team off-guard.  In any event, unless there is a once-a- season type of irregularity, don’t depart from the script.  Take your time when creating the script and make sure you're calling plays that will be appropriate for likely down & distance scenarios as well as horizontal field position (i.e. position relative to the hashes).  This becomes very difficult after the first 3 plays or so, but if you know you want to run a play that should be called from the left hash, run sweep left (or something similar) the play before.  Writing the script is a lot harder than it sounds, so give yourself plenty of time, especially the first few times you do it.  Make a chart and plot where you think the ball is likely to be after each play and what the likely down and distance scenarios are.  I always work a couple Freeze calls into the script as well - even if I forget to do it for the rest of the game, that's usually enough to keep them off-guard for the rest of the day.

Been putting a lot of thought into this recently. Not on whether or not to script, but exactly how to create the script. I'm thinking it's more important to me that I have a series of plays that are preselected versus what we expect the defense to do. It is less important to me what order the plays get run in, although there are exceptions (not going to run Naked before I run Zone, for instance).

With that in mind, what does everyone think about a flexible script? The idea would be here are 15 plays we are definitely running before we run anything else. We put those plays in buckets appropriate for down and distance (which is consistent with how we create our overall call sheet). So, it might look like here are four 1st and ten plays in order, here are three 2nd and short plays in order, here are three third and long plays in order, etc. I've never done things this way before. Am I overthinking this or making it more complicated than it needs to be?
‎"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." Benjamin Franklin