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maximize your practice time with a grid

maximize your practice time with a grid

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Published by Michael Schearer

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Published by: Michael Schearer on Nov 16, 2008
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Thank you for the opportunity to repre-

sent all of the fine California communi- ty college coaches at the 2002 A F C A national convention. The purpose of this presentation will be to introduce a teaching modality we use at Reedley College to maximize our individual and cross group periods.

I will use the installation of a basic Power play as an example of how the posi- tion coaches here at Reedley College might introduce and/or maintain one of the most basic plays in our offense. Again, the emphasis will be on how we use the grid as a teaching tool rather than the power play itself. Below is a diagram of the power play with the player rules following.

Each position coach has an assigned \u201cgrid\u201d to be used as \u201chome base\u201d for his players. The \u201cgrid \u201c is simply nine five-yard cells created by painting lines parallel to one of your sidelines at five yard spacing. What you end up with is a 15-yard by15-

yard working area for each of your position coaches to call \u201chome.\u201d In it\u2019s simplest form, think about how much time each of your coaches use collectively just to say , \u201cOK, you line up here and you line up here,\u201d etc. When we transition from warm ups to individual \u201cgridwork,\u201d each player runs to their little corner of the \u201cgrid!\u201d Vertical and horizontal lines are already created for you for drill set up.

Let\u2019s use the Down Block Right skill for the offensive line as a first example. With the offensive line coach standing in the middle of this \u201cgrid\u201d cutout, four pairs of offensive linemen are working on a \u201cpull start\u201d left at \u201cthree o\u2019clock\u201d. Each offensive lineman preloads his right foot and pushes off with a left foot \u201crecovery step\u201d (shaded). The beauty of this \u201cgrid\u201d teaching tool is that both the player and the coach can use the vertical and horizontal lines as refer- ence points for this step. There\u2019s no more \u201cyour step is too long\u201d, or \u201cyou stepped in the bucket\u201d. Instead, we simply say \u201ccheck it out\u201d, which means the player can look down at his left foot and expect to see it parallel with the horizontal line of the \u201cgrid\u201d while his heel has cleared the vertical line for width.

On a second command, the player will take another step to re-establish his base and find the horizontal line splitting his crotch. We believe that this visual land- mark allows our players to understand how important the first two steps are in the game of football. After having said that, we finish each drill with a third or final command of \u201cfinish\u201d, which tells the offen- sive lineman in our example to accelerate his feet through the next vertical line. The bag holder releases the player once his heels cross this \u201cfinish line\u201d with the word \u201cbreak!\u201d

When first teaching a skill, we obviously have each pair of players work one at a time. If we are in a maintenance mode, the coach simply turns to each pair to set them off, making short \u201cword picture\u201d coaching points. He then turns to the adjacent pair

P r o c e e d in g s
79th AFCA Convention
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Michael White
President, California
Community College Football
Coaches Association
Head Coach
Reedley College
Reedley, Calif.
Maximize Your Practice
Time With a \u201c Grid\u201d
Skill Position Blocking
Assignments for Power
\u2022 PSWR: (Z) Stalk MDM Outside
\u2022 BSWR: (X) Cutoff (punch and pivot)
\u2022 FB: (or A replacement) Fire block EMLOS

\u2022 QB: Reverse Pivot on midline, 2nd step adjusting to H.O. finish with roll passaction. Know your opposite key!

\u2022 TB: Ball carrier. Drop step (from I) to

midline and insert yourself in the \u201ccheeks.\u201d Favor the down block,shy away from the fire block.

Offensive Line Blocking Rules for

\u2022 PST: Read Down \u2022 PSG: Read Down \u2022 OC: Away

\u2022 BSG: \u201cSycle\u201d pull, eyeballing PSILB from 1st

step to last.
\u2022 BST: Inside Set to MDM backside
\u2022 TE: (playside) Read down

Diagr am 2

Each cell
is 5 yds x
5 yds.

Total grid
size is 15 x
15 yds.

doing the same, and so on. When he returns to the original pair, the players were to have rotated and are ready to go again.

Diagram three depicts the next offen- sive line skill inherent in the power play, the Sickle Pull. In this grid cutout, two players (it may be more) align with their respective right foot in the junction of the grid. The left foot is preloaded (shaded) and the first \u201crecovery\u201d step with the right foot is simply a pull start at 3:00 p.m. We

emphasize the width of this step and want to see the heel of the right foot well past the vertical landmark.

We \u201ceyeball\u201d the play side inside line- backer from this step to finish. Steps two and three are for depth as we coach our linemen to keep their toes \u201ceast and west\u201d until they plant off the instep of the third step and square their shoulders to the hole. The guard should be about two yards from the horizontal line (LOS) at the top of this path. On the fourth command the guard is square to the hole and begins to re-estab- lish his pad level on the backer. As is always the case, \u201cfinish\u201d is the last com- mand and the guard accelerates through the hole, \u201ccovering\u201d the linebacker. \u201cBreak\u201d again releases the guard from the drill after \u201cduckwalking\u201d past the next horizontal line five yards ahead. The coach and bag hold- er can vary the tempo and defensive reac- tion as the offensive lineman becomes pro- ficient with the \u201csickle\u201d pull skill.

The third and final offensive line skill necessary to run the power play is the Inside Set. Here, two pairs of linemen work to \u201ckick start the motorcycle\u201d on the first

command (non-shaded foot). We want to
see the vertical line appear in the crotch of
this backside tackle.

On the second command we again lose ground (shaded) and maintain our inside relationship to the defender with the line still in our crotch. As the third command is given and the inside foot is planted, we ask the tackle to \u201cshot-put\u201d the defensive line- man up the field with his right (inside) hand. He steps four, pivots just as a shot putter would do in the ring and on the fifth com-

mand of \u201cfinish\u201d we will accelerate the bag and finish crossing the horizontal line five yards behind the start point (Diagram 5).

Once the offensive line coach and his players become comfortable with the \u201cgrid- work\u201d for the power play, imagine a setting where all three are taught at once! With the coach positioned where he can see those vital \u201cfirst two steps of football,\u201d you may have the Down Block Right skill at one cor- ner, across from that, the Inside Set for the backside tackles and working in the other direction, on the opposite side of the \u201cgrid\u201d are the guards working their Sycle Pull skill. The coach centers himself within the \u201cgrid,\u201d makes quick \u201cword picture\u201d coaching points and turns from skill to skill. Within a 10- minute period a lot of quality work can get done! But again, both the offensive player and the bag holder must appreciate their starting points on the \u201cgrid\u201d in order to maintain their relationship to the landmarks created by the \u201cgrid\u201d.

During the same \u201cgridwork\u201d period, the runningback coach and his players have sprinted to their respective \u201cgrid\u201d and with the command \u201cFire Block Right\u201d each play - er steps into a junction with his right foot. Bag holders align \u201ccatty corner\u201d from the blocker some three yards away. On the first command the blocker pushes off the left foot and recovers with a fire step right. The right heel should be in the adjacent corner at a 40-degree angle with the chest on the thigh and his head, shoulders, hips and knees in the same direction. The second step re-establishes his base as he \u201cstomps the inside foot\u201d of the bag holder. This is the

inside-out block under which the ball carri-
er will run. The drill ends with the \u201cbreak\u201d

command by the bag-holder as the block- er\u2019s heels have crossed the corner oppo- site his starting point (Diagram 6).

As the ball carrier, the tailbacks work in the other direction on the same grid work- ing on their tracks. When the coach turns his attention to this group and gives the first command, each player will take a drop step with his right foot (non-shaded) and on the second command a lead step in the same direction with the left foot. This second step should be on or near the vertical line as we ask the ball carrier to begin to establish their track to the hole.

While there are no linemen in this drill, we ask the ball carrier to visualize the \u201ccheeks\u201d he will see as he receives the ball. We ask the tailback to \u201cinsert himself\u201d between the inside butt cheek of the full- back\u2019s lead block and the outside butt cheek of the sickle pulling guard. We preach patience because most ball carriers lose this relationship and end up ahead of the pulling guard or outside of the fullback. On the fifth command of \u201cfinish,\u201d the ball carrier has received the imagined hand off and \u201cpresses the line of scrimmage,\u201d mak- ing one solid move on the bag. (We may also include a \u201csniper\u201d behind the bag. This \u201csniper\u201d makes one aggressive attempt to knock the ball out of the ball-carrier\u2019s hands, thus adding a ball security element to this drill.)

The football is not added to the running back \u201cgridwork\u201d until the quarterback coach has spent time on his respective grid work -

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ing the hand-off footwork. Again, we go without a football first, in the belief that many a drill is \u201cscrewed up\u201d by the football! It is important to note here that the quarter- backs will always start one yard off the hor- izontal line and with the vertical line split- ting their crotch. This represents the posi- tion the quarterback takes relative to the center has he takes the hand up from the line of scrimmage.

In the Power play, the quarterback pre- loads his play-side foot and pivots to reverse out on the first command. The imaginary ball is \u201cstabbed\u201d into the quarterback\u2019s belly on this turn and on the second command he continues to work away from the line of scrim- mage with the vertical line in his crotch (non- shaded). We tell the quarterback to \u201ccheck out\u201d this step when he over-rotates across the vertical line, explaining that he cuts off the vision of the ball carrier when he does so. T h e third command is the adjustment step to the ball carrier that may vary slightly from tailback to tailback.

The ball is now extended on this step as the fourth step continues past the ball carrier and the quarterback\u2019s empty hands are \u201cpocketed\u201d away from the defense for decep- tion purposes. The \u201cfinish\u201d command tells the quarterback to continue with the flow for a

\u201cBrett Farve\u201d roll pass action. He should carry out this fake, avoiding the bag holder, past the original line of scrimmage (Diagram 8).

Finally, the wide receiver coach has his players positioned on their \u201cgrid\u201d during the same period working on the STALK and CUTOFF BLOCKS. In one direction, he may have the flankers working in pairs with a good stance and first step start on the command. Steps two, three, four, and five are first verses \u201cair\u201d as we teach \u201cfast feet off the line of scrimmage.\u201d We then incor- porate the bag holder who retreats, then plants and drives to the ball. (On occasion we have the bag holder just continue to retreat, coaching the wide receiver to react by running him off.)

We explain that the timing of the block is much more critical than it\u2019s ferocity! We don\u2019t want to have to block the defender forever, but instead block him when the ball carrier arrives. The defender himself will tell you this with his reaction. Once recognizing the plant and drive reaction however, we ask out wide receivers to \u201cstop when he stops and slough o ff 2-3 steps, gaining leverage. We say, \u201cblock a number!\u201d If we want inside leverage, we block the inside number and visa versa.

As the play-side flankers work the Stalk, the split ends work the backside Cutoff in pairs. The first step is a Pull Start, crossing the vertical line for width. Steps two and three continue on this path behind the line of scrimmage. This is the same path we take when cracking the second level, so there is some carryover for our players.

On the fifth command of \u201cfinish,\u201d the receiv- er continues to climb up the field, meeting the b a g - h o l d e r, who represents the safety. We obviously want to get \u201cacross the bough\u201d of

the safety to prevent a clipping penalty, finish- ing with the blocker\u2019s heels crossing the next vertical line (Diagrams 9 and 10).

It is not until all of the position coaches have \u201ccoached up\u201d this \u201cgridwork\u201d that we come together as quarterbacks and running- backs on one grid, or quarterbacks, running- backs and offensive linemen on a \u201cgrid.\u201d We will again go without a ball for the first few reps, until the coaching staff is happy with the basic skills involved with our Power play. We then progress into working as many play- ers as possible on several grids and then finally verses bags and a scout defense.

Thank you on behalf of Reedley College and the California Community College Football Coaches Association for this tremendous experience. Please feel free to contact me at (559) 638-0369 if you have any questions or comments.

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Diagram 10
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NCAA Rule Regarding Tobacco Products

NCAA Bylaw 11.1.7 Use of Tobacco Products. The use of tobacco products is pro- hibited by all game personnel (e.g., coaches, trainers, managers, and game officials) in all sports during practice and competition.

Uniform penalties (as determined by the applicable rules-making committees and sports committees with rules-making responsibilities) shall be established for such use.

(Adopted: 1/11/94 effective 8/1/94; Revised: 1/10/95, 1/14/97 effective 8/1/97.)

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