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keys to defensive co

keys to defensive co

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Published by: Michael Schearer on Nov 17, 2008
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02/01/2013

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Keys to Defensive Communication
By Jeremy Conn

This is a handout I give to our players and coaches. It will help them to learn exactly what we want from them. To often we focus on how they are moving and not enough on what they are thinking, seeing, and saying. If they do not understand all of the article, that is good, as long as they take the time to discuss it with you. This article can and should lead to further discussion to continue their education as football players.

Communication is another key to team success. Especially on the defensive side of
the ball. There are several reasons defensive players need to \u201ctalk it up.\u201d

1) Communicate with own players. Be on the same page. Tell other players what
you see. You may be in a better vantage point than them. For example,
Defensive backs can see a lot more of the offensive lineup than Defensive
lineman. Tell them what you see. Instill teamwork and confidence with
your fellow players. If they hear you talking you are helping them gain
confidence in you, your team, and themselves.

2) Intimidate the opponents. If you are talking it up it means you are really into
the game. And into your opponents head. If you start calling out their possible
plays, they will lose confidence if you call out the actual play they are running.
Of course you are just guessing. But they may think you know what they are
doing and lose confidence in the play they have called. Plus you are also
reminding our players what to look for. And if you call out possible plays they
like to run the coach might be reluctant to call that play. For example, if you
yell, \u201cwatch for the reverse,\u201d their coach may lose confidence in running the
reverse later as he thinks you are really looking for it. There have been times
when I should have called a play such as a reverse but the other team talked me
out of it and I went conservative, or too radical. But the point is, by \u201ctalking it
up,\u201d you can help take the opposing offence out of their game plan.

There are three phases of defensive communication;
1) Pre-snap 2) During play 3) Post play.
1) Pre-snap

When the offence breaks the huddle quickly look for their strengths. Where do
they have more players? Where are their best players? Quickly try to find the strength
call. Game by game there will be adjustments we need to make based on these types of
recognition. And the way we talk reflects our team. If only one player is recognizing the
offence and talking it up then it seams that our defense is only made of one player. Of

course this is not true. But we have to represent the type of team we have. We want a
team that works together to succeed.

Once we see strength we make a strength call. Right or Left calls usually have
codewords or callwords. Most programs have their own distinctive calls. We may call
\u201cRingo\u201d -Right or \u201cLucky\u201d-left. Now we call \u201cRip\u201d and \u201cLiz.\u201d In the past it was
\u201cRandy\u201d and \u201cLarry.\u201d Whatever the calls, just have them set and talk it up.

Of course strength is not always based on the offence. Sometimes you may choose
to make a strength call based on the field. If you are on the hash marks you may choose
to defend the field instead of the offensive formation.

Next we must recognize Offensive Alignment. How are their running backs and
receivers aligned? Call it out. Call out back formations; \u201cI,\u201d \u201cSplit,\u201d \u201cAce,\u201d etc. You also
need to call out their receiver formation. Make calls such as; \u201cPro,\u201d \u201cSlot,\u201d \u201cTwins,\u201d
\u201cTrips,\u201d etc. There are numerous calls and formations to be recognized. We will teach
you the proper words to identify and call out. By doing this players will usually also pick
up plays by formation (as coaches should teach them to do). Of course they must always
be alert for series plays and not overreact to tendencies. Their coach may be hoping you
do so. But still \u201ctalk it up.\u201d

Guess at their plays. Yell, \u201cWatch the sweep\u201d or \u201cWatch for Screen.\u201d Whatever you think may be coming or vocally hope to take out of their game. If you guess right, their offence loses confidence. If you guess wrong they get over confident. Either way we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you look and act like football players you will play like football players.

2) During play
When the ball is snapped move and dissect. Call out what you are seeing. Again
think of vantage point. Defensive Backs have the best view of the whole picture. But

they are not close up like Defensive Lineman and Linebackers who can see up close what is going on. All players need to \u201ctalk it up.\u201d Help each other out. Even if it\u2019s as simple as play flow. Yell \u201cRight, Right.\u201d Read offensive Lineman. It can be as simple as \u201crun, run\u201d when they come forward. How much you want to communicate often depends on your level and understanding of the game. Of course this factor often decides the best from the rest. Look for other keys. If they run and toss right quickly scan for their wide receiver and see if he is coming back for a reverse or coming inside to crack block. Whatever you see, \u201ctalk it up.\u201d \u201cReverse, Reverse.\u201d

When the action reaches climax is when we really have to talk it up. Especially on
the pass. Coaches never emphasize enough how important communication is. When the
quarterback drops back yell \u201cpass, pass.\u201d When the balls in the air yell \u201cpass, pass.\u201d
Keep yelling it. The Cornerback in man coverage against a go route will thank you later.
If you don\u2019t yell to him he may have no idea where the ball is. The receiver may catch it
or the Corner might draw pass interference. All because he didn\u2019t get or hear a \u201cball\u201d call.
Be loud, and keep on being loud. While we say \u201ctalk it up\u201d of course we mean yell, and
yell loudly. Losing your voice is a lot better than losing the game.

Some coaches may say that players will never be able to hear each other. The
stadium is packed, the fans are screaming. Well, this may be true. It may be too loud to
hear each other. But players will learn selective hearing from practicing communication
with each other. They will have to learn to block out the fans and pick out each other\u2019s
communication. This can be done. But like everything else in teaching football it will take
practice and repetition. This is why defensive \u201cbuzz words\u201d are important. Use
distinctive defensive language so players know what to listen for. \u201cTalking it up\u201d is more
than just helping your teammates. It also helps the individual player. It keeps his head in
the game and helps him release his nerves and build up his confidence. It is also important
to play head games with the opponent. We have to gain any advantage we can. Of course
it is best to create your own advantages. And our leaders especially have to be active in

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