Copyright  MikeRight Productions, 2015

All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this work – in whole or in part – and in any form or by any
electronic, mechanical, or other means now known or hereafter invented including xerography,
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without the expressed written permission of the author.

The NFHS Coaches Code of Ethics
The function of a coach is to educate students through participation in interscholastic
competition. An interscholastic program should be designed to enhance academic
achievement and should never interfere with opportunities for academic success.
Each student should be treated with the utmost respect, and his or her welfare should
be considered in decisions by the coach at all times. Accordingly, the following
guidelines for coaches have been adopted by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The coach shall be aware that he or she has a tremendous influence, for either good or ill,
on the education of the student and, thus, shall never place the value of winning above the
value of instilling the highest ideals of character.

The coach shall uphold the honor and dignity of the profession. In all personal contact with
students, officials, athletic directors, school administrators, the state high school athletic
association, the media, and the public, the coach shall strive to set an example of the highest
ethical and moral conduct.

The coach shall take an active role in the prevention of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse.

The coach shall avoid the use of alcohol and tobacco products when in contact with players.

The coach shall promote the entire interscholastic program of the school and direct his or her
program in harmony with the total school program.

The coach shall master the contest rules and shall teach them to his or her team members.
The coach shall not seek an advantage by circumvention of the spirit or letter of the rules.

The coach shall exert his or her influence to enhance sportsmanship by spectators, both
directly and by working closely with cheerleaders, pep club sponsors, booster clubs, and

The coach shall respect and support contest officials. The coach shall not indulge in conduct
which would incite players or spectators against the officials. Public criticism of officials or
players is unethical.

The coach should meet and exchange cordial greetings with the opposing coach to set the
correct tone for the event before and after the contest.

The coach shall not exert pressure on faculty members to give student special consideration.

The coach shall not scout opponents by any means other than those adopted by the league
and/or state high school athletic association.

Reprinted with permission from the
National Federation of State High School Associations

How to approach “Winning” in Education-based Athletics
By David Hoch, CMAA
It is difficult to imagine anyone in interscholastic athletics who hasn’t heard about the philosophical concept of education-based
athletics. Whether one has or hasn’t, education-based athletics is the approach in which the interests of the student-athlete come first.
Therefore, this also means that winning is not the most important outcome in high school athletics.
Young people should learn life-long values and qualities, develop and grow as a person, and understand and embrace
sportsmanship. These are just a few of the outcomes that are ultimately much more important than winning. This doesn’t mean that
coaches and teams shouldn’t prepare and strive to win, because they should as long as this is not the singular or ultimate objective.
If continuing to prepare and striving to win finds its right place in the equation, what does this mean and what is involved?
Good coaches should:

Prepare well-thought out, sound and comprehensive practice plans. This step is akin to classroom teachers preparing a solid
lesson plan for each class every day. A good practice plan ensures the efficient use of time for the appropriate drills that are
within the proper scope and sequence for the athletes and covers all of the necessary details to prepare for the next
opponent. Good instruction starts with a sound plan. Often it may take twice as long to plan for a practice session as it does
to conduct one. And student-athletes in education-based athletics deserve the best instruction.

Provide simple, clear and consistent instructions during practice sessions and games when correcting mistakes. This can go
a long way toward eliminating communication gaps that may cause mistakes or prolong the learning curve or improvement
period. It is vital to remember that a key objective in coaching is for the athlete to understand what the coach expects in
terms of execution.

Try to keep instruction as positive and encouraging as possible. Not all athletes learn at the same rate and they often need
repetition, helpful corrections, and a supportive and nurturing atmosphere. Berating and abusing athletes does not enhance
retention or the mastery of skills and concepts.

Use video for instructional purposes when possible. It has been determined by educational research that there are various
learning styles and video images may be the visual component which ultimately helps some athletes. Being able to see the
mistakes in skill work or in the execution of an offensive or defensive concept can be invaluable for an athlete to understand.
Verbal instruction simply doesn’t reach all athletes.

Scout opponents whenever possible. In some sports such as football and basketball, scouting is a well-established effort. It’s
an advantage to preparation and its utilization is more readily understood. But scouting is also important for most sports not
just for a select few.
Depending upon the size of a coaching staff, coaches may have to be creative in order to find a way to scout opponents. Consider
sending an assistant, who leaves practice early, in order to see an upcoming opponent, or send one a parent to video tape a match
that features a team appearing on the schedule later in the season. There’s always a way to scout.
Scouting will provide tendencies, strengths, weaknesses and details of individual athletes and the team’s execution. These factors can
and should be incorporated into the practice and game plans in order to prepare more completely for an upcoming opponent. Better
preparation puts the players in a position to play more effectively and can help produce more wins.

Continually learn more about the skills and strategies of a sport. Staying abreast of the latest developments is
essential in order to best prepare athletes. This may mean attending clinics, reading books, watching videos and
observing college practice sessions. Professional development will directly help the players and team.
Get feedback from their athletic director and ask what suggestions he or she may have for the development as a
coach in education-based athletics. Usually, most schools have a formal evaluation process at the completion of
the season, but coaches don’t have to wait to get solid advice which can help them improve through the year.
Avoid becoming negative or abusive with the players after a loss. Losses, just like wins, can usually be easily explained. The
apparent reasons are usually that the opponent was much bigger, faster and more skilled, or athletes made mistakes at
critical junctures of the game.

It is, therefore, important to carefully and honestly analyze why a team lost. If it was a better opponent, move on to prepare for the
next game. If there are correctible mistakes, plan practice sessions to incorporate drills that will continue to help the players develop
the necessary skills. Go back to the drawing board and work hard.
In education-based athletics, coaches definitely should be using “teachable moments” with their teams. They should also promote
academic achievement, help their athletes learn to persevere, teach good sportsmanship and many other valuable life-long lessons
and qualities.
But, this doesn’t mean that coaches should neglect or forgo the preparation and effort to win. As long as winning doesn’t become the
sole purpose of an approach to coaching, coaches should also strive to win. Simply provide the best effort and a nurturing
environment, and the young people will benefit from the experience.
About the Author: Dr. David Hoch recently retired as the athletic director at Loch Raven High School in Towson, Maryland (Baltimore
County). He assumed this position in 2003 after nine years as director of athletics at Eastern Technological High School in Baltimore
County. He has 24 years experience coaching basketball, including 14 years on the collegiate level. Hoch, who has a doctorate in
sports management from Temple University, is past president of the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association, and he formerly
was president of the Maryland State Coaches Association. He has had more than 350 articles published in professional magazines
and journals, as well as two textbook chapters. Hoch is a member of the NFHS High School Today Publications Committee.

Four Basics for 4 Quarters
knowing WHERE YOU ARE TO BE on the football field
everytime you’re ON the football field…

from WHERE YOU ARE TO BE on the football field
everytime you’re ON the football field…

from WHERE YOU ARE TO BE on the football field
everytime you’re ON the football field…

simply DOING each of these things – as well as YOU can –
every chance you get… everytime you’re on the football field!

On Offense… on Defense… and on Special Teams…
at EVERY Practice… and in EVERY Game!

Team Rules

NO use of alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs!
School comes first (before sports).
Attend all practices, games & team functions.
Report any and all injuries to coaching staff.
Treat all teammates, coaches, opponents,
officials, and fans with dignity and respect.

General Operating policies:
These team rules will serve as a guideline for
determining individual standing and continued
participation of players, cheerleaders, coaches, staff,
and volunteers within our football team. Transgressions
of these team rules will be handled on a case by case
Among the determining factors involved in each
individual case decision will be the overall well-being
and positive long term development of the individuals
involved in each particular situation, as well as the
continued positive growth and development of our
football program.
Our Football team will also strive to work in concert with
school, community, and municipal agencies in
determining any club administration of consequence for
each individual case and situation.

Coach’s Points

Your helmet is on your head for protection – it is NEVER to be used as a weapon.
If you attempt to use it as a weapon, you will be removed from our team!

Never use your helmet to block or tackle. The main point and force of all contact must be
your shoulder or chest.

Remember – at all times on the football field (in all practices and games) –

ALWAYS remember: NEVER block an opponent if you cannot look him in the EYES.
Or, in the words of an immortal coach: “If you can see his crack, you must hold back!”
(or, “If you only have his side, ya gotta let him slide…”).

Always play through the whistle, never after it.

In every pile – after every play has been whistled dead – always push off the ground,
not off your opponent.

Always strive to play as COMPLETE a football game as you can (in practices and on
Game Day). Recognize your weaker areas and work hard to improve them – don’t simply
try to hide them away! Remember: the more complete YOU are as a football player, the
more complete WE are as a football team!

Our football players are ALWAYS responsible for maintaining and demonstrating a high
level of courteous and sportsmanlike conduct on the field of play (this includes: sidelines,
practice fields, fieldhouses, locker rooms, etc.). ANY and ALL unsportsmanlike conduct
penalties thrown against one of our student-athletes WILL result in that flagged player’s
IMMEDIATE removal from the game for NO LESS than the next four plays from
scrimmage. After those four plays, it will be at the discretion of the Head Football Coach
as to when (or if) that player returns to the game.

Any players who commit thoughtless penalties and/or executions on a continual basis may
also be removed from game situations. In these cases, those players will remain on the
sidelines until the situation can be most positively addressed and remedied – either
through sideline component coaching or individualized attention in a practice setting.
Our players are directly and soley responsible for maintaining a courteous and respectful
relationship with game officials at all times. Absolutely NO displays of disrespect of any kind
will be tolerated at any time. Players in violation of this policy will be immediately removed
from the game and will not return.
It is further expected that every member of the our football team will
conduct themselves with utmost regard for decency, fair play, courtesy,
and good sportsmanship at all times, and under all circumstances, while engaged
in any activity as a representative of the our football team.

Nothing less is expected – nothing less can be accepted.

General Team Policies

We believe in the “Do Right” Principle. This means we expect our participants to know
“right” from “wrong”… and to DO RIGHT in any situation! There are instances when
following – or failing to follow – this principle may be the deciding factor involving
determinations concerning any individuals, their actions (or inactions), and their continued
participation in our program.
Remember: There’s never a “wrong” time to do the right thing…
More importantly, there’s never a right time to do the wrong thing!

NEVER, EVER walk on the football field!!!!!!!
o RUN onto the field to start every practice!
o RUN to all stations, groups… and breaks!
o RUN into all huddles; RUN from all huddles to the line of scrimmage!
o RUN onto the field; RUN to the sidelines!
o RUN off the field to end every practice!
o NEVER, EVER walk on the football field… PERIOD!!!

o If you can’t give the effort at practice, you won’t give it in a game!
o Remember: we have 1 scrimmage, 10 regular season games and three possible
playoff games (Yes, going to States is something we plan for each year…!)
= 14 total possible “game” situations
o We have 14 pre-season practices, 49 regular season practices, and 15 post season
practices scheduled
= 78 total possible practice situations
Games allow us to showcase what our PRACTICES instill in us!!

NEVER “talk the talk”… ALWAYS “walk the walk”!
o You don’t ever need to talk about it – you only ever need to just DO it.
o Let your actions speak more completely and totally than words ever could…
o Never give an opponent more reason than he already has to elevate his game.

We follow the “ABLE” approach to problem solving. Learn it, appreciate it… and
USE it to help YOU help US get from where we ARE to where we NEED TO BE!!
FIRST: Make NO excuses!!!
(An “excuse” is an attempt to explain away a problem without owning up to it!)

We need to fix the problem! If you communicate honestly what happened (what you saw,
what you did, etc.) we can begin the “FIXING” process… If you only offer excuses, the
problem only remains – and gets worse!

Accept that something did happen.
Believe that YOU can make it better.
Learn how to correct it.
Execute that correction from then on.
If we can all follow this approach we will be ABLE to improve as football players
and football coaches, and THAT will improve us as a football TEAM!

We believe we stand a much greater chance of being successful –
in whatever pursuit we’re engaged in –
if we work together to eliminate as many mistakes as possible.

We must work consistently to eliminate ALL penalties, most importantly the really sloppy,
lazy, “non-judgement” calls like:
o Illegal participation
o Illegal formation
o Illegal motion
o False starts/offsides
o Holding
o Block in the back/clipping

We will NOT tolerate unsportsmanlike penalties of ANY kind (on the field or on the sideline!)
o Late hits
o Spearing
o Taunting
o Foul/abusive/disrespectful action and/or language

We must also strive to eliminate ALL mental mistakes as possible. Some very positive
ways to achieve this are to constantly and consistently emphasize proper and complete:
o Game situation knowledge and awareness (Field position, down & distance,
quarter/half, time remaining, etc.)
o Preparation = staying focused on your responsibilities so that you can have the
most positive impact on our team effort when you’re on the field.

We must work to eliminate as many physical mistakes as possible, as well. Some positive
ways to achieve this are:
doing YOUR job as thoroughly and effectively as YOU can on each and every play
o By consistently demonstrating a dogged determination to be a positive part of
every play – by never giving up, and never giving in – and by never settling to
simply stand by and become a spectator (or cheerleader!).

Player Responsibilities

Participants are responsible for providing their own transportation to and from ALL team
functions where school based transportation is not provided). While arrangements can be
made through our team for car pools and such, no team coaching personnel will be
responsible for the transport of participants (whom they are not in the direct
care/supervision of).

Participants are responsible for attending all team functions (outside of practices and
games). Participants are expected to follow all team guidelines, policies, and rules when
involved in these functions.

Participants are directly responsible for maintaining and displaying a high level of
courteous and socially acceptable behavior at ALL times – most especially whenever they
are involved in any activity in which they are wearing our team colors and/or logos!
Remember: each of you represents the very best our program has to offer, and our
program – our ENTIRE program – will be judged by the behavior of every one of its

ALWAYS know who and what you are –
and let your behavior reflect that at all times.
Take PRIDE in that – and make us PROUD of YOU!!
(Everywhere you go, and in everything you do!)


All participants are expected to dress appropriately for all practice situations and
conditions (i.e. in all required equipment, in weather specific clothing, etc.)

ALL personal business (bathroom breaks, equipment repair, etc.) is to be taken
care of BEFORE practice STARTS.

Team Practice STARTS at 3:30 PM!!! If you’re not ON THE FIELD, WITH
(Those requested for “Pre-Practice” please make the previous times 3:10 and 3:05 PM!!!)

Helmets go ON at the opening whistle of football practice. They come off only at
the closing whistle of football practice – or if a coach asks you to take them off!

ALL participants are expected to remain alert and attentive to all coaches’
instruction and requests throughout football practice.

All participants will be given water and rest breaks when appropriately
scheduled or warranted, as a group or individually.

All participants are expected to practice earnestly and enthusiastically.

“Bring it in” means simply that. While gathering together, participants will give
the coaches their UNDIVIDED attention, and will refrain from any lounging,
talking, clowning, or any other displays of disrespect.

Practice is over ONLY after the final whistle of the day.

All equipment is to be worn until practice has ended, unless specifically directed
otherwise by a member of the coaching and/or medical staff.

All participants are expected to egress the practice facility – in a clam and
rational manner – at the conclusion of each practice.

Participants are SOLEY and directly responsible for their belongings while at
football practice – and are discouraged from bringing any and all non-essential

General Practice Timeline
3:30 – 5:30 pm
3:10 – 3:30 = Pre-Practice

Football Team Goals:

3:30 – 3:45 = Team Lap/Stretch/Form Running
3:45 – 4:05 = Individual Technique Stations
- Offense:
- Defense:
• Line
• Line
• Ends
• DE’s
• Backs
• LB’s
• QB’s
• DB’s
4:05 – 4:30 = Group Technique
- Offense
- Defense
4:30 – 4:50 = Game Situation Skellie
- Our Offense vs. their defense
• Kick Return – kickoff
• Offense vs. defense
• PAT on score (or FG)
• Punt
4:50 – 5:00 = Team PAT/Field Goal
5:00 – 5:20 = Game Situation Skellie
- Our Defense vs. their offense
• Kickoff – kickoff return
• Defense vs. offense
• Punt Return
• PAT/Field Goal defense
5:20 - 5:30 = Perfect Play

- Drive whenever we have the ball.
- Always come away from the “Green Zone” with points.
- Finish every touchdown with a successful try.
- Score points in every quarter.
- Do not turn the ball over. Ever.

- Do not allow our opponent to mount any sustained drives.
- Do not allow “the BIG Play”.
- Never allow a two point conversion.
- Allow NO points in the 4 Quarter
- Force at least 1 turnover a game.

- Never allow an opponent to score a TD on special teams.
- Limit their return yardage – maximize ours.
- Maintain COMPLETE ball maintenance.
- Never allow our kicks to be blocked. Ever.
- Execute all our fakes properly – deny them theirs working
at all.

PLAY like you PRACTICE…!

Four Quarters
You hear your coaches talk time and time again about the ingredients
neccessary to produce a successful football program:

While these are the essential four cornerstones our program has been built on,
they will not guarantee success unless they are applied for FOUR QUARTERS!

And we can’t ever PLAY for FOUR QUARTERS
if we don’t always PRACTICE for FOUR QUARTERS!
This type of commitment and dedication is not something that cam be turned on and off like a faucet.
It IS – it MUST BE – a constant…
Every chance we get…

This is what will separate us from our opponents…
This will be the strength we draw from…
This is something we will HAVE that they WILL NOT…
THIS is what makes us WHO and WHAT we are!!

Always remember: The 4th Quarter is OURS –
our PRIDE, our EFFORT, our SWEAT, our DESIRE… our VICTORY!
Raising those four fingers at the start of every 4th Quarter we play is
an earned privilege that each of us deserves to display – high and proud!
It places us in an exclusive fraternity – the fraternity of winners…
the fraternity of CHAMPIONS!!
You have earned the right to raise those four fingers,
just as surely as we will earn the right to own every Fourth Quarter!
“FOUR!” means that all through the off-season - in every weight room session and
every 7-on-7 opportunity and every Big Man Challenge competition - through every
day of summer practice – in every two-a-day and in every walk-thru and every film
session and every chalk talk – and in every single practice opportunity throughout
our season to that point, every single one of us has busted our butts, and laid
everything on the line in search of championship execution – putting this TEAM,
this SEASON, this Opportunity and this QUARTER before everything else…
“…poor men wanna be rich… rich men wanna be king…
and a King ain’t satisfied ‘til he rules everything…”



Football Officials
Positioning & Responsibilities








Referee - General oversight and control of game (Head Official). Gives signals for all fouls and is final authority for rule interpretations. Takes a position in backfield
10 to 12 yards behind line of scrimmage, favors right side (if quarterback is right-handed passer). Determines legality of snap, observes deep back(s) for legal
motion. On running play, observes quarterback during and after handoff, remains with him until action has cleared away, then proceeds downfield, checking on
runner and contact behind him. When runner is downed, Referee determines forward progress from wing official and, if necessary, adjusts final position o up legality
of blocks by near linemen. Changes to complete concentration on quarterback as defenders approach. Primarily responsible to rule on possible roughing action on
passer and if ball becomes loose, rules whether ball is free on a fumble or dead on an incomplete pass. During kicking situations, Referee has primary
responsibility to rule on kicker’s actions and whether or not any subsequent contact by a defender is legal. The Referee stays wide and parallel on punts and will
announce on the microphone when each period has ended.


Umpire - Primary responsibility to rule on players’ equipment, as well as their conduct and actions on scrimmage line. Lines up approximately four to five yards
downfield, varying position from in front of weakside tackle to strongside guard. Looks for possible false start by offensive linemen. Observes legality of contact by
both offensive linemen while blocking and by defensive players while they attempt to ward off blockers. Is prepared to call rule infractions if they occur on offense or
defense. Moves forward to line of scrimmage when pass play develops in order to insure that interior linemen do not move illegally downfield. If offensive linemen
indicate screen pass is to be attempted, Umpire shifts his attention toward screen side, picks up potential receiver in order to insure that he will legally be permitted
to run his pattern and continues to rule on action of blockers. Umpire is to assist in ruling on incomplete or trapped passes when ball is thrown overhead or short. On
punt plays, Umpire positions himself opposite Referee in offensive backfield - 5 yards from kicker and one yard behind.


Head Linesman - Primarily responsible for ruling on offside, encroachment, and actions pertaining to scrimmage line prior to or at snap. Generally, keys on closest
setback on his side of the field. On pass plays, Linesman is responsible to clear his receiver approximately seven yards downfield as he moves to a point five yards
beyond the line. Linesman’s secondary responsibility is to rule on any illegal action taken by defenders on any delay receiver moving downfield. Has full
responsibility for ruling on sideline plays on his side, e.g., pass receiver or runner in or out of bounds. Together with Referee, Linesman is responsible for keeping
track of number of downs and is in charge of mechanics of his chain crew in connection with its duties. Linesman must be prepared to assist in determining forward
progress by a runner on play directed toward middle or into his side zone. He, in turn, is to signal Referee or Umpire what forward point ball has reached. Linesman
is also responsible to rule on legality of action involving any receiver who approaches his side zone. He is to call pass interference when the infraction occurs and is
to rule on legality of blockers and defenders on plays involving ball carriers, whether it is entirely a running play, a combination pass and run, or a play involving a
kick. Also assists referee with intentional grounding.


Line Judge - Straddles line of scrimmage on side of field opposite Linesman. Keeps time of game as a backup for clock operator. Along with Linesman is
responsible for offside, encroachment, and actions pertaining to scrimmage line prior to or at snap. Line Judge keys on closest setback on his side of field. Line
Judge is to observe his receiver until he moves at least seven yards downfield. He then moves toward backfield side, being especially alert to rule on any back in
motion and on flight of ball when pass is made (he must rule whether forward or backward). Line Judge has primary responsibility to rule whether or not passer is
behind or beyond line of scrimmage when pass is made. He also assists in observing actions by blockers and defenders who are on his side of field. After pass is
thrown, Line Judge directs attention toward activities that occur in back of Umpire. During punting situations, Line Judge remains at line of scrimmage to be sure
that only the end men move downfield until kick has been made. He also rules whether or not the kick crossed line and then observes action by members of the
kicking team who are moving downfield to cover the kick. The Line Judge will advise the Referee when time has expired at the end of each period. Also assists
referee with intentional grounding and determines whether pass is forward or backward.


Back Judge - Takes a position 25 yards downfield. In general, favors the tight end’s side of field. Keys on tight end, concentrates on his path and observes legality
of tight end’s potential block(s) or of actions taken against him. Is prepared to rule from deep position on holding or illegal use of hands by end or back or on
defensive infractions committed by player guarding him. Back Judge times interval between plays on 40/25-second clock plus intermission between two periods of
each half; makes decisions involving catching, recovery, or illegal touching of a loose ball beyond line of scrimmage; is responsible to rule on plays involving end
line; calls pass interference, fair catch infractions, and clipping on kick returns; together with Field Judge, rules whether or not field goals and conversions are
successful; and stays with ball on punts.


Field Judge - Operates on same side of field as Line Judge, 20 yards deep. Keys on wide receiver on his side. Concentrates on path of end or back, observing legality of his potential block(s)
or of actions taken against him. Is prepared to rule from deep position on holding or illegal use of hands by end or back or on defensive infractions committed by player guarding him. Has
primary responsibility to make decisions involving sideline on his side of field, e.g., pass receiver or runner in or out of bounds. Field Judge makes decisions involving catching, recovery, or
illegal touching of a loose ball beyond line of scrimmage; rules on plays involving pass receiver, including legality of catch or pass interference; assists in covering actions of runner, including
blocks by teammates and that of defenders; calls clipping on punt returns; and, together with Back Judge, rules whether or not field goal attempts are successful.


Side Judge - Operates on same side of field as Head Linesman, 20 yards deep. Keys on wide receiver on his side. Concentrates on path of end or back, observing legality of his potential
block(s) or of actions taken against him. Is prepared to rule from deep position on holding or illegal use of hands by end or back or on defensive infractions committed by player guarding him.
Has primary responsibility to make decisions involving sideline on his side of field, e.g., pass receiver or runner in or out of bounds. Side Judge makes decisions involving catching, recovery,
or illegal touching of a loose ball beyond line of scrimmage; rules on plays involving pass receiver, including legality of catch or pass interference; assists in covering actions of runner,
including blocks by teammates and that of defenders; and calls clipping on punt returns. On field goals and point after touchdown attempts, he becomes a double umpire.

Football Officials Positioning & Responsibilities
UPDATED Changes, Additions, etc.
NFHS (High School) - 5 man crew






Generally for regular season games there will be a 5 Man Crew, as shown. MPSSAA rules mandate a 6 Man
Crew for all MPSSAA state playoff games (replacing the Back Judge with a Side Judge and a Field Judge).

NCAA (College) - 8 man crew*









Beginning with the 2014 season, the NCAA now allows any conference that wishes to use the eight official
system to do so, adding the position of Center Judge (“C”), who positions in the offensive backfield opposite
the Referee (like the Umpire now does in the NFL).

NFL - 7 man crew
In 2010, the NFL moved Umpires from behind the defensive front seven to behind the offensive backfield,
opposite the Referee.
In four games in the 2010 preseason, the NFL experimented with an eighth official, a Deep Judge, in the
defensive backfield opposite the back judge. Primary responsibility for this new position is the action of
receivers, and it allowed the NFL to adjust coverage after the umpire was moved to the offensive backfield.
The experiment was continued for 12 games in the 2011 preseason. The league has yet to implement such
a system for the regular season or the playoffs

Team Football Officials Policy
Our football team realizes that the relationship we build and maintain with the dedicated men and
women who officiate our games is paramount to our entire program working positively to achieve
all of the successes we espouse to strive for.
We – as team administrators, coaches, players, and supporters – can never afford to have any
shade of hypocrisy sour or blemish that essential relationship.
In order to create, foster, and maintain as positive, respectful, sportsmanlike and consistent a
relationship as possible, we must strive to uphold not only the letter of all our stated team rules,
responsibilities and attitudes, but also the very spirit of those essential ideals, as well.
And we must do so on a consistent, continuous basis.
For these and other obvious reasons, our team policy regarding game officials shall be as follows:

Our Head Football Coach will be the only representative of our football team to speak
(either directly or indirectly) to any game official on the field during the course of a game
regarding any game situation/ruling/decision/rules interpretation/etc.

Whenever the head coach does speak to any game official, he shall do so in as courteous
and respectful a tone and manner as possible.

All team representatives will refrain from addressing or speaking to any and all game
officials anywhere off the field of play, other than to greet or thank them as graciously as

Game officials are our equals – they are here to provide and perform just as valuable
and important role as any team administrator, coach, player, or supporter.

As we err, so might they… in that instance, we must afford them the same respect,
understanding, empathy and support we would hope to have reserved for ourselves!
The game officials are the neutral parties!!! We (the team administrators, coaches,
players and supporters) are the ones with the “vested interests”, so theirs must be the
benefit of any doubt!!!

Always bear in mind, as well:
“You don’t know what they know…
and you didn’t see what they saw…”


Copyright  MikeRight Productions, 2015.
All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this work – in whole or in part – and in any form or by any
electronic, mechanical, or other means now known or hereafter invented including xerography,
photocopying, and recording, and in any information storage and retrieval system, is forbidden
without the expressed written permission of the author.

“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the
combinations of these five give rise to more melodies
than can ever be heard.
There are not more than five primary colors, yet in
combination they produce more hues than can ever
been seen.
There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet
combinations of them yield more flavors than can
ever be tasted.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“My philosophy?
Simplicity plus variety.”
“There are few secrets in football.
So execute.”

- Hank Stram
“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few.
The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods.
The man who tries methods - ignoring principles - is sure to have trouble.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Buck Wing Offense
What is the “Buck Wing”, and why do we use it?

Our Buck Wing Offense is designed for consistency and strength, and is ball control oriented.

Our formations are characterized by a wing/slot back so there is the threat of at least three
ballcarriers and/or three deep receivers on almost every play we can run.

Our quarterback threatens the flank on every running play, providing either an additional threat
to attack the flank or misdirection threatening the flank away from flow.

All four backs are close enough to the formation so that they may be used as blockers, ballcarriers, receivers or for deception, both from set positions and from motion.

The Buck Wing Offense is designed with complete run and pass backfield series action, each
of which presents multiple threats to the defense on each potential play from every series.

It offers a balance of passing threats (much of which is predominantly play action in nature).

Our spread of potential receivers is accomplished through the deployment of ends, slots and
flankers, and is designed for the dual threat of facilitating the running game while also serving
as a viable and threatening mechanism that enables and enhances the passing game.


The Buck Wing offense we use is designed to score points while at the same time controlling
the ball, maintaining and controlling field position and wearing down our opponent’s defense –
both physically, mentally and emotionally.

It is important that our passing game compliment our running game, to avoid our offense
becoming too one dimensional and predictable, while also allowing us to pass whenever we
want to (instead of only when we have to!). We use mostly play action passes to accomplish
this – therefore we must execute those passes, and the play action that sets them up, well.

For our offense to be as successful as it can be, our offensive linemen and ends must get off
the ball and sustain their blocks down the field (10 steps and 5 seconds). Our backs must
carry out their fakes completely and to their extreme (10 yards and 5 seconds). We will spend
considerable amounts of time, effort and energy to practice these fundamentals – and get the
entire concept and execution as right as we can, as often as we can!!


Apply the basics of proper alignment, assignment, technique and execution on every play!

Carry out ALL fakes to the EXTREME – on every play!!

Non-stop blocking by EVERYONE from the snap to the echo of the whistle – on every play!!

Teach and use GREAT fundamentals (If we don’t coach it, we don’t GET it!!) – on every play!!

First level (LOS) Blocking: Be able to block every defense front/stunt/blitz packeage we see!!

Second Level (Downfield) Blocking: Physical blocking with great effort & drive – on every play!!

Execute great counter and reverse action (fake and carry) to dishearten and destroy pursuit!!

Execute great play-action passing (fakes, route running, passes, catch and carry!!)

Passing: Waggle, Flood, Flat, Go, Cross – throw and catch on the run – and do it well!!

Accept repetition – and correction - with enthusiasm!!


Football is a very simple game. And it has always been the teams that execute their basic
offense effectively who have enjoyed the most success. Just good, old fashioned, hard
nosed, down your throat, “stop us if you can” offense. And that’s exactly the way the we
play offensive football! Every team has to start somewhere, and our team prides itself on
running an established, basic offense – and running that offense WELL! It is an offense
that demands proper execution through hard work, determination, and attention to detail.
It is an offense that promises success on the filed through proper execution.
We would have it no other way… and we will get it no other way…

What it takes to play OUR Offense:
1. Know your ALIGNMENT, know your ASSIGNMENT.
On each offensive play, you must know where you are to be – and what you
are to do from there. If you can do this, we can effectively move the football.
If YOU can’t… WE can’t, either!

2. ALWAYS use proper TECHNIQUE.
When carrying the ball, taking a fake, running a pattern, or throwing a block,
PROPER TECHNIQUE is a must! Not only do we eliminate offensive
breakdowns by eliminating poor technique across the board on each and
every play, more importantly, we lessen the risk of serious injury by doing
the right thing the right way!

3. Get where you’re going “Firstest with the Mostest”.
Offense always has the advantage of knowing the snap count. Use that
advantage to our advantage by getting where you need to be as quickly and
effectively as possible. (And always arrive in an ill temper!)

4. Drive until the whistle blows.
We play hard on every down – on each side of the ball – and nothing demonstrates
this more than our entire offense driving until the whistle stops play – on EVERY

5. Stay focused – move ahead productively.
In order to move the football and score points we must operate together as
a team. We must stay together – and stay on task – by not dwelling on
what has happened (good or bad), but by focusing on what is happening –
and on what we need to make happen to keep moving forward.

Our Offensive Goals:
We approach each game we are to play as the ONLY game we are to play. We prepare
for each game generally with proper conditioning and a focused attitude, and specifically
by concentrating on whatever aspects of our overall team effort we must fine tune to be
successful against that particular opponent. No matter what we may determine to be our
most productive formations, plays, and/or executions for each of these specific opponents,
we have found that certain general offensive goals MUST be pursued against ALL
opponents if we are to hold out any reasonable hope of being successful offensively.
Chief among these are the following five basics:

1. Drive whenever we have the ball.
It is the job of our offense to put points on the scoreboard. The most convincing way to
do this is to simply drive the ball through our opponent and into the end zone – and to do
so every time we have the ball!

2. Always come away from the “Green Zone” with points.
We call the area from the plus 20 yard line to the goaline the “Green Zone”.
(Conversely, we call the area from the minus 20 yardline to the goaline the “Red Zone”…
Think about it… “Green” means “GO!”, “Red” means “STOP!”)

Whenever we have the ball in this area we must execute our offense as well as we
possibly can – and come away with something positive (like POINTS!!). If not, it’s like
setting the table… and throwing away the meal!

3. Finish every touchdown with a successful try.
Whether it’s one or two (especially two!) we must convert the try after we’ve gotten the
touchdown. To put it simply – points are points are points, and our job on offense is to
make sure we end up with more of them than our opponent does.

4. Score points in each quarter.
Scoring points is a direct result of proper offensive execution – and proper offensive
execution is our goal every time we have the ball. Therefore, if it can be assumed that we
should have the ball at least once every quarter, it can then be assumed that we should
generate offensive points in each quarter! (Think about it…!)

5. Do not turn the ball over. Ever.
Our offense can simply not score points without the football, gentlemen. Enough said…

Offensive Terminology
Concepts of:

Offensive “Right” and “Left” = mean as WE align (FACING our opponent)…
“Playside” and “Backside” = PLAYSIDE means the side of the offense the play is designed to be run
to… BACKSIDE means the opposite side (away from designed point of attack…!)
INTERIOR Offensive Line = Center, Guards (left and right) and Tackles (left and tight). These
positions are ineligible to go downfield to receive passes – and the last player on each side of the
interior offensive line (usually the Tackles) MUST be “covered” on the line of scrimmage by an eligible
receiver = our Offensive ENDS…
Offensive ENDS = TIGHT(Y) and/or SPLIT(X) (on each end of the Interior Offensive Line)
REMEMBER: we play TIGHT ENDS and/or SPLIT ENDS ONLY!!!! (we have no positions called
“wide receiver”, or “wide out”… We call those positions “Slot Receiver” and/or “Flanker”…)

In ALL formations and at ALL times we need:
(and only FOUR in the backfield!!)

* no interior lineman should ever be “uncovered” (making the formation illegal by us having 5 in the backfield!),
and no eligible ends should ever be “covered” (and thereby made ineligible) at ANY time for ANY reason**!!!
** see Coaching Points as related to “Over” call/set, and that relationship as per “covering”

Offensive Backs: Quarterback (1), Slot/Wing back (2), Fullback (3), Halfback (4),
Offensive Ends: Tight End (Y), Split End (X)









SLOT (slot left shown)

WING (wing right shown)





PRO* (pro right shown)





SPREAD (spread left shown)

Buck Wing Offense







Φ = Quarterback = 1
Z = Slot/Wing = 2
F = Fullback = 3
H = Halfback = 4



Tight End = Y
Split End = X
Flanker = Z(2)
Slot Receiver = H(4)














Offensive Formation:

Our offense is a multi-set, multi-attack offense based on modular principles of formation,
as well as the basics fundamentals of proper Alignment, Assignment, Technique, and Execution.
We begin by setting our offensive FORMATIONS (where we line up):
we use basic SET calls to indicate the alignment of our ends and backs.
BLACK/BLUE = tight end left, split end right, and wing back left (aka WING LEFT sets)
BLACK sets both the half back and full back in the backfield,
BLUE sets the full back behind the QB, and the half back as a tight slot opposite the wingback
WHITE/RED = set the tight end right, split end left, and wing back right (aka WING RIGHT Sets)
WHITE sets both the half back and full back in the backfield,
RED sets the full back behind the QB, and the halfback as a tight slot opposite the wingback
STEEL/SLATE = tight end right, split end left, and wing back slotted left (aka SLOT LEFT sets)
STEEL sets both the half back and full back in the backfield,
SLATE sets the full back behind the QB, and the halfback as a wing opposite the slot back
GREEN/GRAY = tight end left, split end right, and slot/wing back right (aka SLOT RIGHT Sets)
GREEN sets both the half back and full back in the backfield,
GRAY sets the full back behind the QB, and the halfback as a wing opposite the slot back

Buck Wing Offense


“Left” sets

“Right” sets

WING Left set

WING Right set

SLOT Left set

SLOT Right set

WING Left, SLOT Right set

WING Right, SLOT Left set

SLOT Left, WING Right set

SLOT Right, WING Left set


Copyright  MikeRight Productions, 2015.
All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this work – in whole or in part – and in any form or by any
electronic, mechanical, or other means now known or hereafter invented including xerography,
photocopying, and recording, and in any information storage and retrieval system, is forbidden
without the expressed written permission of the author.

Our defense will base itself out of the 4-3 scheme - and will be viewed as an attacking, forcing
– and forceful! - unit. Our objective is to thwart our opponent’s entire offensive effort through
the disruption of their schemes, patterns and plans; the relentless pursuit of the football on the
ground and in the air; and sure, strong, tough tackling (tackling designed to secure the
ballcarrier and – whenever possible – to separate him from the ball!).
We will work toward presenting our opponent what appears to be a very complicated defensive
scheme, but one that is, in actuality, very easy for our athletes to comprehend and execute.
This type of defense will force offenses into both mental and physical mistakes due to our
various and varied fronts, stunts, blitzes and coverage packages and executions. This style of
defensive play also serves to frustrate and confuse our opponent’s offensive effort – making
them unsure and untrusting of their gameplan, their scheme, their coaching – even the effort of
their teammates! Disruption on this scale helps eliminate any sustained offensive production,
shuts down the possibility of “the big play” – and enables our defense to spend less time on the
What our defensive players need to know:

Understand the basic scheme of our defense and their individual positional responsibilities in it.
Know the strengths and weakness of that overall defensive scheme - and all of our defensive
personnel (starters and non-starters).
Know the strengths and weakness of our opponent’s offensive scheme and personnel.

The heart of our defense is pursuit. Pursuit is dedication. Pursuit is persistence. Pursuit is the refusal to
be denied. Pursuit is getting to the ball carrier, by taking the shortest route possible and - when you get
there, having the desire and ability to deliver the surest, most effective tackle you’re capable of making.
It’s the absolute responsibility of every defensive player on the field to pursue the ball carrier until the
whistle blows - on every single play from scrimmage. Our goal is to have every single defender within
two yards of the ballcarrier every time the ball is downed – plain and simple!
“A defensive player’s value to the team can and will be measured by his distance from the ball at the
end of every play.” - Bob Stoops, Head Coach, University of Oklahoma
Our defensive philosophy will center on a foundation of stopping the run. An effective run stopping
defense must present a TOUGH physical presence - from first snap through final gun. We will expect
our defensive players to play hard - and play to the whistle. Remember: “Effort and Attitude are the only
things you have complete control over. Give 100% on every play, stay focused, stay positive – and
good things WILL happen!”
“We want to do the common things, uncommonly well.”
- Stop the run and control the pass.
- Attack and pressure the run and pass.
- Adapt and adjust quickly and effectively - which makes scheming easier.
- Always be difficult for our opponent to prepare for.
- Make it difficult for their O-Line to block - defeat their blocks and and defeat their schemes.
- Dictate TO the offense because of our attacking, pursuing, relentless style.
- Be a fundamentally and technically sound defense all of the time.

Five factors that exist on a quality defensive unit:


Team Work: The defense must play together as a unit.
Movement: This common denominator is fundamental to our defense. The determination of position
placement will depend a great deal on this trait.
Mental discipline: The defensive players must know their assignments for all defensive calls. Players
must have knowledge of opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. The defense must be
prepared for sudden change and play each play one at a time!
Communication: Players must talk on defense. Players must communicate checks and offensive
Physical discipline: Defensive players must be aggressive. Players must use proper position
fundamentals and techniques.

Basic Defensive Theories
Two basic objectives that our defense must accomplish in order to be successful:

Get Possession of the Football
1. Force the opponent to punt.
2. Force a turnover. Fumble recovery or Interception
3. Forcing mistakes by our opponent is the winning formula. We can accomplish this by elimination of our
mistakes, great execution (sound techniques), aggressive play, maintaining confidence and poise at all times.

Defensive Score
- Fumble recovery, Interception, Safety.
Defensive scores can serve as a turning point in close games or turn a close game into a rout.

Basic Overall Defensive Goals:
- Read keys, pursue the ball, tackle effectively
- Stop the run (squeeze down from the outside - contain to force to alley)
- Limit the pass (no completions over 25 yards, ever!)
- Gain possession of the ball (or, at least, provide positive field position)
- Hold opponent scoreless
- Score on defense

Defensive players and coaches must believe:

Understand our defensive system, and couple that with the discipline to execute it correctly.


Know that these principles, applied in a dedicated and consistent manner, will lead to confidence and
belief in team, which leads to success on the field.

Potential Defensive Game Goals

WIN, WIN, WIN! (Your positional battle… the line of scrimmage on every play… the down and distance
battle every series… the score in each quarter… the score by the end of the game!)


Keep opponent from driving (hold opponent to under 100 yards rushing, under 75 passing)


Keep opponent from the “big play” (no runs over 15 yards, no passes over 25)


Win on third down!! (Force “3 and outs” – don’t let them stay on the field!)


Stop opponent from scoring (no more than 12 points per game)


No “lazy” defensive penalties (encroachment, offsides, etc. – and no substitution penalties – EVER!!)


Eliminate personnel breakdowns (missed assignments, missed calls, missed tackles, lack of effort)


Force long yardage situations – and make all “big play” opportunities!


Force turnovers by gang tackling, disrupting offensive patterns, relentless and disciplined pass rush,
aggressive ball hawking pass defense


Score on defense!


Be very aggressive on each and every play (100% all the time)

The Approach to a Successful Defense
1. Keep it simple.
2. Be flexible. Adjust without taking aggressiveness out of players and calls.
3. Attack!
4. Win on first down… kick ass on third down!
5. Control the Line of Scrimmage
6. Work hard on position fundamentals
7. Big plays – Prevent them/ Make them
8. Sudden Change = “So what?!!”
9. Prepare - and expect - to win
10. Have fun!!

- By far the most important thing is that ass players are fundamentally sound in the techniques for each position.
- Each player must constantly strive to improve the individual techniques he must perform.
- A team plays the way it practices. Each practice should be a challenge for self-improvement.
- Only the players that care will pay the price to be a champion.

Multiple Fronts
- We will confuse our opponents by giving the same looks and playing varied techniques and vice versa.
- Our defenses are designed to provide our front line with not only every sound variation in location and intensity of
charge, but also in variations for the number of men rushing - and from multiple directions.
- Our defensive front is positioned in sets which are even, odd, combo, flexed and stemmed.
- We may align a player in a gap but we will never align our entire front in gaps.
- Our secondary will have a basic look with variations. Pass defense will include zone and man coverage.
- Our defensive backs must take away the “nevers”, those routes that specific coverage is designed to stop.
- Pass defense is a TEAM responsibility - NOT just the responsibility of the secondary!

- We may play a defense close to perfection, but if we miss the tackle or allow the ball carrier to gain yardage after
contact we are defeating the purpose of playing great defense.
- One of our primary goals when meeting a ball carrier at or near the L.O.S should be to stop his forward progress
immediately. To do so, we MUST keep a low center of gravity, control, balance and drive through the BC
- Proper use of arms will prevent many missed tackles.
- Perfect form is not always possible but it is a goal we should strive to meet on every tackle.
- Gang tackling is also a big factor in stopping the forward progress of a ball carrier.
- In the open field our primary goal is to bring the ball carrier down any way possible. We want a sure tackle, not
necessarily a devastating tackle, to prevent a long run or TD.
- When attempting a solo tackle, the tackler should be under control and force the ball carrier to commit.
- When tackling in close quarters or where there are several defenders in the area, the tackler can afford to be
slightly more aggressive and try and make a bigger hit, since the ball carrier does not have as much room.

What do we want other teams to say or think about us when they watch film?

- “They never stop attacking!” - The difference between a good defense and a great defense is what happens
from snap to whistle. Every defense gets off on the snap - it’s the great defenses that goes all the way to the
“They don’t make mistakes – and they play together!” - Everyone knows their job – and DOES IT as well as
they can – on EVERY play and in EVERY situation.


- “Man, they BRING it on every play!” - No one out hits us!

What we need to be a successful defense:
• Know your proper Alignment, Assignment and Technique (and Execute them as well as you can!)
• Proper Pursuit = Fly to the Football
• Play snap to Whistle
• Gang Tackle = Punish the ball carrier
• Force Turnovers
• Play with High Intensity – for ALL four quarters
• Communicate = Checks, Motions, Adjustments
• Dominate the QB - on pass rush and option (make him give up!)

1. Every offensive play must be met by a COORDINATED defensive effort. Every player must know and
execute their proper alignment, assignment, technique and execution within our TEAM defensive scheme
on EVERY play from scrimmage!
2. Follow and pursue the football – relentlessly. If all 11 defenders constantly and consistently follow and
pursue the football we will win more plays than our opponent – especially the “big” ones!
3. Use proper angles of pursuit on every defensive play. There are correct pursuit angles every player can
take to track down the ballcarrier on every play. Sounds simple enough, but this is the most violated basic
game fundamental – make sure we don’t fall into that trap! Run to where the ballcarrier will be – not to
where he is - or was. (And never, ever follow the same color jersey you’re wearing as you do!!)
4. Tackle as a GANG – beat down our opponents will to play by gang tackling consistently (and with a
vengeance!). Demonstrate our desire to win by gang tackling on every play we can!
5. Force turnovers – and cover (or take them!) when they’re on the floor or in the air. Every time the offense
throws a pass (forward or backward) the entire defense must react to the ball – both in the air and when
it’s caught. As soon as the ball leaves the passer’s hand everyone yells “AIR!”, and flies to the ball!!
Remember: there are 11 eligible receivers on the defense and only six on offense (think about it – three
backs, two ends… and the QB!!). If you are the second or third man in on the tackle, go for the football!
Your angle of attack will determine your technique for removing the football (strip or punch). Make sure
the first tackler has secured the ball carrier, then remove the ball from him as you bring him down!
6. Always make the offense go the hardest way – every defender must make the offense question their
desire to move the ball on every offensive play. Make them earn every single inch of every single yard.
No easy runs… or passes… and certainly never, ever an easy score.
7. Always know the game situation: down, distance (long/short yardage), game score, quarter, time
remaining. Learn the scouting report so that we know their tendencies better than they do!
8. First down is the key down – set the tone and tempo of every possession, and set it in our favor!
Third down is the critical down – our goal is 60 to 70% shut down (denial of first down).
Remember: “Win on first down… kick ass on third down…!”

The five MUSTS for championship caliber TEAM defense are:

Explosion off the ball
Recognition of the play
Attack, Attack, Attack!!
Pursue, Pursue, Pursue!!
Sure, strong, gang tackling

The “DO'S” of Defensive Football
The “DO'S” of Defensive Football

- Know and demonstrate proper Alignment, Assignment, Technique and Execution on every defensive play…
- Know
and demonstrate
and –Execution
on every
You were
chosen to be proper
in this position
on Assignment,
the field of play
for a reason
validate that
on eachplay.
snap!. You
were chosen to be in this position on the field of play for a reason – validate that reason on each snap!
- Keep your HEAD UP – eyes open – your shoulders square and lower you’re your opponents –
- Remember:
Keep your HEAD
– eyes
– can’t
your shoulders
lower you’re
opponents – Remember: “You
“You UP
hit what
see… andsquare
– ALWAYS…!!!”
can’t hit what you can’t see… and LOW PAD LEVEL WINS – ALWAYS…!!!”
- Attack your opponent, strike him first, and immediately destroy his attempt at a block. Attack his block attempt,
- and
strike him
first, and immediately destroy his attempt at a block. Play the head tough, and
as contact
is made.
fight pressure as contact is made.
- Get free of your opponent’s block as quickly as possible!! Work for lateral movement toward the ball –
- Get
of yourBLOCKED!!
opponent’s block as quickly as possible!! Work for latral movement toward the ball – DON”T
- Keep your feet on a parallel plane. Keep your knees bent, and behind your shoulders. Keep your opponent off
- Keep
your feet on a parallel plane. Keep your knees bent, and behind your shoulders. Keep your opponent off
your legs…
your legs..
- Pursue… Pursue…PURSUE!! We live and die by pursuit. Pursuit is desire, hustle, and pride in defense.
- Pursuit
We teammates
live and die –byand
PursuitIf is
pride in area,
is respect
for yourself, your
the game.
ball ishustle,
in yourand
for yourself,

it – if is away from your area, take the correct pursuit angle and GET TO THE BALL!!
toward it – if is away from your area, take the correct pursuit angle and GET TO THE BALL!!
- GANG TACKLE! This helps demoralize an opposing ballcarrier – and his entire offense! We want every defender
helps and
an as
and his
to get to
the ball as
– and to –arrive
in an
ill temper
to get to the ball as quickly and effectively as possible – and to arrive in an ill temper when they get there…!!
- Be alert for those things you’ve been taught to be alert for (KEYS!). Watch for things like: pulling guards;
- Be
alert forlinemen,
those things
taught or
to telegraphing
be alert for (KEYS!).
or ends
their moves,
TO our
or telegraphing
TO our
up in playing
the gametheir
that moves,
you forget
the game…
advantage. NEVER get so caught up in playing the game that you forget HOW to best play the game…
- Play your position first, then support other areas as quickly as you can. Remember – never, EVER vacate your
- area
Play of
position first,
as quickly
you can.
Remember – never, EVER vacate your
are 100%
hurt us!!
area of responsibility until you are 100% certain your leaving won’t hurt us!!
- Second effort! Never say die! Never give up! Never give in! Constant hustle! Refuse to be blocked! Make a
- Second
say die!
give up!of Never
in! Constant
to be blocked!
Make a
play on effort!
every play!
are the
a greatgive
are theRefuse
of Championship
on every play! These are the hallmarks of a great defense… These are the descriptions of Championship
- Be tough, be determined, be aggressive and be quick. Believe you can improve each of these attributes and
- more
Be tough,
be determined,
be aggressive
and be quick. Believe you can improve each of these attributes and
dedicated, diligent
hard practice!
more through dedicated, diligent hard practice!
- “Attack – Pursue – Gang Tackle”. Make this your defensive motto!
- “Attack – Pursue – Gang Tackle”. Make this your defensive motto!

The “DON’T’S” of Defensive Football
The “DON’T’S” of Defensive Football
- Don’t “catch” the block of your opponent. (YOU hit HIM!)
- Don’t “catch” the block of your opponent. (YOU hit HIM!)
- Don’t play around your man. (Play THROUGH him!)
- Don’t play around your man. (Play THROUGH him!)
- Don’t watch the backs – they’re trying to trick you. (Read your keys, find the ball, and fly to it!)
- Don’t watch the backs – they’re trying to trick you. (Read your keys, find the ball, and fly to it!)
- Don’t bury your head. (Keep your head and eyes up at ALL times)
- Don’t bury your head. (Keep your head and eyes up at ALL times)
- Don’t make up your own defenses, stunts or blitzes!!. (Everything we need, we have!!)
- Don’t make up you rown defenses, stunts or blitzes!!. (Everything we need, we have!!)
- Don’t lose your poise - NEVER lose your cool. (A hot head only defeats himself, and hurts us.)
- Don’t lose your poise, NEVER lose your cool. (A hot head only defeats himself, and hurts us.)
- Don’t fool around with your man. (Destroy his block and get rid of him – this ain’t Arthur Murray!)
- Don’t fool around with your man. (Destroy his block and get rid of him – this ain’t Arthur Murray!.)
- Don’t assume the play is over. (Be sure – Hustle until the ball is whistled dead)
- Don’t assume the play is over. (Be sure – Hustle until the ball is whistled dead)
- Don’t ever relax on defense. (Be ready as soon as the center breaks the huddle.)
- Don’t ever relax on defense. (Be ready as soon as the center breaks the huddle.)
- Don’t ever stay blocked. (Even the greats get blocked – don’t STAY that way!! Beat your guy at the point of
- attack,
Don’t ever
guy at WANT
the point
of attack
the ball!)
ball, make
it more

The “Sudden Change Situation” is the real test of a great defense. This is the situation in the
game where our offense has turned the ball over to our opponent (possibly even in negative
field position for us) and our defense must suddenly take the field – and stop our opponent
from scoring.
What you must do as a defender after a “Sudden Change”:

Always huddle up with coach before you go back into the game.
Gain control of your thoughts and get yourself ready to play defense again.
Realize that you must get yourself and your team up mentally. Rise to the occasion. Play smart, play hard
– turn the momentum back our way.
Understand how much affect the “Sudden Change” can have on the outcome of the game - it’s not just
another series.
Know that this is the real test of our defense. Realize the situation -accept the challenge – adapt, adjust
and overcome!

The “Sudden Change” situation can occur in any game. In the close games - or big games - theses sudden
change situations usually decide the outcome.
This difference - between winning and losing (especially in big games) - can almost always be traced to how well
(or poorly) a defense responded to the “Sudden Change” situations it found itself in during that game. To be a
successful defense – to be the better defense - we must hold our opponents to a FG or less in any and all
“Sudden Change” situations. We must own the crucial portions of each game we play – and no portion is more
crucial than the “Sudden Change”!
Make the “Sudden Change” ours!!!
When a sudden change situation arises you’ll know what’s at stake - and the importance of accepting that
Remember, the “Sudden Change” is ours!!!! We have a tradition of excellent defense - and this is one of the

Time is Running Out - and We Need the Ball!!!
This is another critical situation that often occurs during the course of a season. We would find
ourselves in “Desperado” mode near the end of the game (inside four minutes) – with us trailing
our opponent. Obviously, we must get the ball back and preserve as much time as possible for
our offense.*
* That is, if we can’t get the ball and score directly ourselves…!!
General “Desperado” Principles:
- Whenever possible force the ball carrier out of bounds.
- In short yardage situations be alert to the hard cadence to draw the defense
off sides. Stay poised - watch the BALL – and react to it (not cadence!!)
- Be sure, effective tacklers (no extra yardage!). Second man in strip the ball.
- Be aware of the rules – know what stops the clock and what doesn’t.
- All linebackers and defensive backs immediately look to our bench after the bail is
down for a possible time-out call.

Understand the importance of this game situation, and what we need to do to maximize our chances of success
when in it.
- Know the total situation
- Do they need a FG or TD to win?
- Do we want to expend time?
- Do we need to gain possession of the ball?
- Do we need to conserve time?
- Execute the defense called — stay disciplined!! (No time for free lancing “heros”)
- Play with pride – play with poise
- Increase your intensity (last drive drill!)
- Think on your feet---adjust your thinking
- Know the down and distance.
- Know what they like to do in those situations
- Communicate what you know – and what you see - to teammates
- Play with mental toughness.
- Keep the ball inside our defense and in front.
- Flat defenders drop wider and deeper to stop out cuts and keep flat
routes in bounds
- Contain rushers contain.
- ILBs drops deeper to stop deep crossing patterns. Force them to throw in
front of you – and come up hard and tackle them when they do

Defensive Clock/Field position Situations

Time is running out and we are behind by 6 or more
Time is running out and we are behind by 3
Time is running out and we are ahead by 3 or less
Time is running out and we are ahead by 6 or more

“Bleed Time”
We are ahead and the clock is on our side. The pressure is on our opponent:
- Know The Situation
-What do they need to win or tie?
-Number of time outs remaining
-Special situations (no huddle, tripps and trick plays)
- Know The Rules
-The clocks stops when a penalty, incomplete pass, runner out of bounds, injury, measurement or change
of possession occurs.
-If we intercept stay in bounds and go to the ground before you are tackled.
-If injured leave field if at all possible on your own.
-Clock starts BE READY!
- Gang tackle
-Stay on the pile, but be ready when the official winds the clock.
-Second and third tacklers should try and strip the football.

“Save Time”
When we are behind and need possession of the football.
- Time Outs
-Can ONLY be called by Head Coach or designated player.
- Know the situation
- Be quick and aggressive – but sure handed.
-Create a turnover
- Know the rules
- Know how to stop the clock

Special Situations
- No snap, long cadence (trying to draw us off).
- Do they need to go for two?
- Offense shifts to a punt formation.
- Offense shifts from a punt formation to a pass or run formation.
- Punt team wants to take a safety.
- Offense wants to run a play, but not score a TD (to kill clock & set up for field goal)

“Leave as little to chance as possible. Preparation is the key to success” - Paul Brown

Overtime Situations
NFHS rules (which MPSSAA subscribes to) use what’s known as the “Kansas Tie Breaker” for all overtime
situations at he Varsity level. As in the beginning of the game, both teams’ captains are called to the center of the
field for a coin toss. The winner of this toss may decide to either go on offense, defense – or they may choose
which end of the field the first overtime period will be played in. (Some states mandate that the entire overtime –
how ever long it goes – take place in this originally chosen end of the field, while others still allow for alternating
ends for each subsequent overtime period.) The loser of the coin toss then gets the next selection. After it’s
determined who will be on offense, who will defend, and which end of the field will be used, the ball is placed at
the ten yard line, with the offense heading into the endzone.
The offense than has four plays to either score a touchdown (choosing to either kick for one or try for two points if
they do) or kick a field goal. Once they’ve had this chance, their opponents then get the ball at the ten, with four
plays to either score a TD or kick a field goal. Obviously, whichever team scored more points would win… if they
tied in score, another overtime period would be run, thias time with the team that had the ball first in the previous
overtime being on defense, and the previously defending team on offense. These periods are run until a victor
(Unlike college football, there is no requirement to “go for two” at any time in this process)
We want to be on defense first. This allows us to set the tempo. It allows our offense to know how many points it
needs to win the game.
1. We lose the corn toss and are on defense second.
- We will execute our red zone game plan.
- On 2nd and Long~-we will bring some form of pressure or movement.
- On 3rd and Long.--we will continue to pressure the offense, or bluff with zone pressure.
2. We lose the corn toss and are on defense second.
- The opposing offense needs a TD to win and a FG to tie us. Our thought process is a little more
conservative. We will still execute our red zone game plan.
- The opposing offense needs only a FG to win. We will play a very heavy run defense. We will bluff and
possible stem to try and force a mistake. We stop the offense and block their FG attempt
Some General Thoughts on Overtime:
- We need to have a 2-point defense ready.
- Poise; expect the long count - No foolish penalties!!
- On second and third down, expect screens, draws, delays, corner routes.
- We need to study a team’s red zone offense. (Be alert to any “Muddle Huddles”, tricks, etc)
- We will discuss overtime procedures every Thursday in GameScript walkthrough.
- We could be on defense two consecutive series.
- We only have one time out per overtime; we want to use it smartly.
- As always, we need to be tough minded and determined- the game is ours to win!

The discipline we stress in our football practices, in our football games, and in all football team functions
should also be practiced everywhere you go – most certainly including the way you conduct yourself on
campus, in the classroom, and within the community. As coaches, we expect nothing but the most
positive and productive displays of this discipline – especially on our sideline during each and every one
of our games. Listed below are some of those expectations:
- When the ball changes hands and our offense is taking the field, run off the field as quickly as possible
(keeping your helmet buckled up and on until you hit the sidelines). There is nothing worse for the
morale of the entire team than to see members of the defensive unit limp off the field with their hats in
their hands. If you are too tired to run off the field, please notify the defensive coach on the sideline and
he will see to it that you will not have to run back onto the field the remainder of the game…!!
- As soon as you reach the sideline, report immediately to the defensive bench. After the defensive field
unit is seated, the remaining defensive personnel will gather behind those seated players. Everyone will
then pay attention for any instruction from the Defensive Cooridnator – he may have something very
important to say to you specifically or to the entire defense as a whole. When he is finished with the
group, he will turn you over to your specific postion coaches – it is from here that you may get a drink,
see the trainer, etc.
- When you are not in the game, offer encouragement to those that are. Whenever you are on the
sidelines, you should become our team’s most enthusiastic fan. You are responsible for watching your
position(s) and knowing what is going on at all times (be aware of being “Turked” by Coach Lukk!!).
Remember to call out everything you see: “PASS!”, “AIR!”, “BALL!”, etc. as SOON as you see it – stay
involved in the game for the whole game – you never know when you’ll be IN the game!!
- When the defense is on the bench, anticipate the time when you will be going back into the game. For
example: our offense is on the field in three down territory, it is third and long yardage, and we have just
thrown an incomplete pass. When you hear Coach Lukk call “PUNT!, PUNT!”, this is your cue to get up
and get ready to go into the game.
- When the time comes to go onto the field, run onto the field as a group. This does not mean jog or trot
on, hustle as though you just cannot wait to unload on somebody. Get out of the huddle quickly and be
ready to go.
The defensive area is the benches across the 50 yard line on the southern end of the field
(to the LEFT when standing at the fifty looking toward our sideline from the field).

Some of you may have heard it said that “The best defense is a good offense.”
While that may be the thinking of some of our opponents, it simply will not do for us.
We know that the best defense is THE BEST DEFENSE! That means THE best defense
– second to none!! What is required to achieve that defense is each individual athlete on
defense playing to the best of their given ability and working well with each of their
teammates to produce simply THE BEST DEFENSE.
You owe that to your team, you owe it to yourselves and we – as coaches –
will accept nothing less.

What it takes to play Our Defense:
1. Know your ALIGNMENT, know your ASSIGNMENT.
On every defensive play know where to be and what to do from where you
are to be. If all eleven defenders do just that, basic defensive breakdowns
are eliminated – and our defense plays like it’s capable of.

2. ALWAYS use proper TECHNIQUE.
Again, you owe it to the team, to yourselves – and to your opponents. We
will not tolerate sloppy, cheap, dangerous defensive technique! You
can be just as tough, just as aggressive, just as effective within the rules of
the game – and that is the only way we play the game!

3. Play with pride.
Remember who and what you are – and let your play reflect that at all times.

4. Be a hitter.
Be aggressive – take the initiative on EVERY defensive play. Remember, “It’s far
better to give than to receive!”

5. NEVER say “Die”.
“I can’t” means “I don’t want to”… No matter what the situation, no matter
how bad things may appear – if YOU, as a player, refuse to give up, then
WE – as a TEAM – will not…

Our Defensive Goals:
As you know (from carefully having studied the “Offensive” section of your playbook
already!), we enter each of our games with a set offensive game plan – meaning: we have
a list of certain, specific things we feel we need to accomplish on offense to be successful
against that particular opponent. Well, we do the same thing on DEFENSE, as well – and
a key ingredient to our achieving success on the field is that the heart of our defensive
game plan – our defensive goals – never vary from game to game, from opponent to
opponent. We want our defense to dictate the flow of the game. We know that if the
following five defensive goals are achieved in each game and against each opponent, the
result will be nothing short of success:

1. Do not allow our opponent to mount any sustained drives.
The best way to keep an opponent from scoring is to keep their offense off the football
field. Simple enough.

2. Do not allow “the BIG play”.
Nothing hurts a defense more quickly or more deeply than keeping an opponent down,
only to have them bust out with a large gain (or a long score!). Remember, each play is
crucial – as soon as YOU let up, you let US down…

3. Never allow a two point conversion.
This comes down to pride, gentlemen… A touchdown hurts enough – don’t allow an
opponent to add insult to injury with a successful two point try! We need to take whatever
momentum they thought they got with the six by denying them the two!

4. Allow no points in the fourth quarter.
Again, this is a matter of pride. To control the game, we must control the final period of
play. If we are behind, we cannot afford to fall further behind. If we are ahead, we
cannot allow our opponent to get back in the game.

5. Force at least one turnover a game.
Average football teams wait for things to happen – good teams MAKE things happen!
We can score points more quickly – and score more points! – with the ball than without it!

Defense 101: TACKLING
In order to be an excellent and effective defensive football player it is necessary to practice the
fundamentals of tackling on a frequent basis. A PROPER TACKLE is an aggressive, attacking action
that incorporates the fundamentals of: APPROACH, COLLISION, & FINISH.

THE APPROACH: Attack the ball carrier where he is – as you approach, keep your butt down, your
knees bent, and your head up… keep your eyes open and at ball level.

THE COLLISION: As you come to the point of contact, accelerate through the ball – make contact
with your chest, punch your arms up through his armpits, snap your butt and roll your hips into the ball
carrier, keep your legs driving and pumping.
THE FINISH: Envelope, grab cloth, squeeze with your arms…and continue to drive your legs!!
Get after people on every play, and OUT HIT THEM!
Once you see the ball, come full speed – not half speed!
You’ve got to want to get in on the hit on every defensive play!!

This is what defensive football is all about! You can’t beat a defender who’s going full speed toward the ball
carrier. This is where playing the best defense you’re capable of gains respect for you as a football player, and for
us as a football team. If you can tackle aggressively and effectively in every game, opponents will let down when
they play us! Every part of every tackle is important – an assisted tackle is just as important as a solo tackle! If
eleven defenders are flying to the ball on every play we’ll get as many of us as possible on the ball carrier…


hit with your head!!
Do not lead with your head - the
MAIN POINT and FORCE of contact
MUST be your shoulder or chest!
Leading with your head or shoulder is an ineffective way to tackle. Countless times, we’ve seen defenders
go in for a so-called “kill shot” only to bounce off the ball carrier and end up on the ground. When you
leave your feet and try to deliver a single blow, you violate the number one rule of tackling: hit, envelope
and run through. For this reason, no rational football coach has ever taught his players to tackle using
helmet-to-helmet contact.
To prevent being penalized, injured or simply run over by a ball carrier, use these tackling guidelines:
- See what you hit. Focus your eyes directly on the ball carrier’s chest.
- Lead with your chest, not your head or shoulder, to tackle in squared-up fashion.
- Do not leave your feet; keep them driving through the ball carrier.
- Keep your hips below your shoulders. Begin low and rise through the tackle.
- Shoot your arms UP, grab cloth, drive your legs!!!

Proper Tackling = Safe, Effective, FUN!!
Basic Qualities of a Sound Tackler
Desire – Effort – Form - Ability
Proper Hitting Position
- Good base, neck bulled, elbows in.
- Eyes open and feet accelerating on contact.
- Ankles and knees flexed (power angles!)
- Weight on balls of feet.
- Shoulders square.
- Slight forward lean (shoulders over balls of feet)
- Target and aim point- aim point will be the football or the base of one number depending on approach angle
- Be under control!!!
- Attack!!! Shoot your arms and drive up through the ball carrier. Accelerate on contact and do not over stride.
Carry your technique beyond the ball carrier, shoot your arms and grab cloth, drive your legs.

On Contact
• Shoot, grab cloth and drive your legs
• Stop the runners forward progress and take his legs away
• If you lose your leg drive and the ball carrier is not on the ground, drop your weight straight to the ground and pull

Basic Techniques for Different Types of Tackles
- Angle- Get your head across in front of the ball carrier and deliver your blow using a shoulder tackle. Get
shoulders square and drive ball carrier up field. If ball carrier tries to spin out work your back hip up field.
- Open Field- You must stop the TD run. Give ground if needed and take proper pursuit angle. Do not try and
make the perfect tackle. Just get a hold of the ball carrier and wait for help.
- Head on- Use proper stalk/breakdown technique, sink and step, slide head on contact, roll the hips and shoot
the arms through, driving the same leg, same shoulder into the ballcarrier and keep driving your feet
- Rear- If you can get to the ball carrier on your feet, this is a position to strip the football. If needed dive and clip
the heel of the ball carrier.
- Gang- Excellent team pursuit is what creates great gang tackling. Second or third man to the ball should be
tackling and stripping the football. Never stop until you hear the whistle.
Tackling Tips:
- If you are the second or third man in on the tackle, go for the football! Your angle of attack will determine your
technique for removing the football (strip or punch). Coaching Point: make sure the first tackler has secured the
ball carrier.
- If you are being contained by a blocker and cannot get a good shot, reach out for the football with BOTH hands.
Tackle the football!
- If you are approaching the ball carrier from behind and capable of tackling high, strip the football. This how a
large percentage of fumbles are caused.
- Through film study and scouting reports we will pick up hints as to which ball carriers are more susceptible to
having a forced fumble.
- When rushing the passer, go for his passing arm and slap at the football or arm.
- Gang tackling is the single best method of causing a fumble.

Specific Tackling Technique While Rushing the Passer
- Watch the QB’s eyes and tackle high – NEVER leave your feet!!!!!!
- Wait until you are about 2 yards from the QB before raising your arms – aiming point: the QB’s throwing arm.
- When you are in a position to tackle the QB, tackle high and squeeze him, pin his arms to the side. Don’t reach!

Defensive Communication
In all of our defensive sets COMMUNICATION is the key that will unlock the door to our greatest success.
No matter how physically talented we are as a defense – no matter how strong, how fast, how smart, how
tough, or how nasty we may be – if we don’t COMMUNICATE (and communicate effectively!) we will never
come close to realizing our full potential as a defensive unit. We’ll never be as good as we could be. We’ll
never play at the level we’re truly capable of achieving…
And that is certainly not what we’re about…!
One of the things that allows our defense to communicate effectively is making sure everyone is involved in
that communication. And we do mean EVERYone! The players on the field… The players on the sideline…
The coaches on the field… The coaches in the pressbox… EVERYONE!! As soon as you recognize a
play, YELL!! If you see a sweep, yell “SWEEP!”. If you see the quarterback drop back to pass, yell
“PASS!”. If you see a draw play, yell “DRAW!!”. Always remember: in order to play solid defensive
football, we need to know what’s happening at all times!! As soon as you see something happening – alert
your teammates!!
Besides these obvious, recognition-type calls (i.e. “SWEEP!”, “COUNTER!”, “PASS!”, etc.) we also have a
few other key defensive communications. Whenever the football is on the ground (no matter who put it there
– or how it got there!) we ALL yell “BALL!!”. This alerts our entire team that the football is free somewhere
on the football field – and greatly increases our chances of falling on it…!! Whenever you HEAR “BALL!!”,
YELL “BALL!!” – whether you’ve actually seen it or not…!!! Footballs are well known for taking crazy
bounces, and if there are eleven of us looking for it, chances are it’ll bounce our way…!!
Whenever the opposing quarterback drops back to pass, naturally the defense yells “PASS!!”. But what do
we yell when he actually throws the football? We all yell “AIR!!” – this allows everyone on defense to make
an immediate and seamless transition from “pass rush/pass coverage” to “pass defense and pursuit”…
Since our defense is now more effectively defending the pass while it’s still in the air, we should naturally
expect to produce a greater number of passes defensed… and interceptions. Whenever we intercept a
pass, the defender who made the interception yells “SCORE!!”. Once again, whenever you hear
“SCORE!”, yell “SCORE!!” (whether you see the interception or not!). This allows our entire defensive unit
to immediately and seamlessly transition to an OFFENSIVE UNIT – producing legal blocks and positive
return schemes that move the ball further up the field in the direction we need to go!!

To play quality defense…
To play successful defense…
To play CHAMPIONSHIP defense…

We ALL have to know what’s going on at all times!!
Which, in turn, allows us ALL to

“Leg ‘em down… and yak ‘em schmack ‘em!!!”
on each and every play!!

General Defensive Considerations:

Opponents skills and abilities: 
Size, strength, speed – and ability to use them effectively on the football field…

Your own skills and abilities – strengths and weaknesses: 
Size, strength, speed – and ability to use them effectively on the football field…

Your knowledge (and application!) of correct and accurate game situation: down, distance, time…

Your actual play = Alignment, Assignment, Technique, & Execution

No dumb mistakes… (mental and physical!!)

Know field and playing conditions – and play accordingly: 
Wet = give a bigger cushion, strive for more controlled cuts, possibility that straight
ahead running replaces “edge” running, possibility that passes may not be thrown
as accurately or with as much velocity… 
Windy = the football may carry when thrown with the wind, and hang when thrown
into the wind… Cross winds may also affect movement of the ball in the air…


Defensive Huddle

Our DEFENSIVE huddle remains the same in principle regardless of the base
defense we’re in, or the defensive variation called: MONSTER ½ yard off ball,
facing huddle, Defensive Linemen, Linebackers, D-Backs.
All defensive players will face the ball (except M, who faces huddle).
The defensive unit will huddle @ 1 ½ yards off the football on the “HUDDLE! HUDDLE!” call
of the designated “huddle caller” (usually TANK)…

**** “HUDDLE!” means SILENCE!!! ***** “HUDDLE!” means SILENCE!!! ****
After huddle is formed (as MONSTER gets defensive call from sideline) SHARK will make the
“Down and Distance call” (this must be done on every play!!)
Example: “Third and seven… Third and seven”
MONSTER then steps up to huddle, makes defensive call:
After making defensive call, M says, “Ready… BREAK!”, with the rest of the huddle clapping
loudly and answering “BREAK!” on that command…
The defense then aligns in it’s proper set, any/all “read” calls are made…
C.P. = In any “hurry up” or “No huddle” situations, M makes defensive call “Maryland! Maryland!!”

TEAM Defense



Gap Responsibility/Alignment “techniques”:
Each player will be responsible for a gap on the LOS based upon the huddle call.
The huddle call will align our players in “techniques”. The gaps are shown in RED
and techniques are shown in BLUE:


TEAM Defense


BASE 4-3 Defense
The 4-3 defense is a very utilitarian defense equally effective against the run and pass. One drawback to the 4-3 is that it
tends to be a little bit more vulnerable to the run in high school football when compared to a 5-2 or a 5-3. There are a couple
of simple wrinkles that can be utilized such as a 4-3 over and a 4-3 under which are discussed below. There are a couple
basic pass coverage concepts such as a Cover 2 and the Tampa 2.
This formation also allows for basic blitzes and stunts
4-3 Defensive Alignment - The graphic below demonstrates a typical 4-3 alignment. The 4-3 consists of four defensive
linemen, three linebackers, two corner backs, a strong safety and a free safety.

Gap Responsibilities - The graphic below details 4-3 alignment and gap responsibilities for d-linemen and linebackers.

Weak side D Gap – corner/safety
Weak side C Gap – RUSH End
Weak side B Gap – HERO ‘backer
Weak side A Gap – NOYCE
Strong side A Gap – MONSTER ‘backer
Strong side B Gap – TANK
Strong side C Gap – SHARK ‘backer
Strong side D Gap – ATTACK End
Gap Alignment vs. Assignment – Linebackers have gap alignments as described above, however linebackers do not
maintain the exact same gap discipline that a defensive lineman does. For instance, the MIKE linebacker in the above
graphic is aligned on the strong side A Gap, although this gap is his primary responsibility and he must be there to make the
play, he must also develop the ability and the discipline to read what the offense is trying to do and be prepared to attack any
gap where a window appears. The MONSTER, HERO and the SHARK are all looking for “The Window,” the same window
the running back is looking for, that the offensive line is trying to open. A linebacker cannot simply run to the same gap at the
snap every time and expect to be successful with any regularity. A disciplined linebacker reads the offense first, finds the
window and then attacks. If a savvy offensive coach were to see a linebacker firing to the same gap every time he would
simply lay a trap for him and run the ball right past him. This is where the gap discipline differs from lineman to linebacker.
The defensive lineman has his gap responsibility and his discipline to maintain control of that specific gap whereas the
linebacker has to be disciplined to not only cover his gap but also decipher the play and be ready to attack anywhere.

Pass Responsibilities – we can and will run both man and zone coverage packages from our 4-3 BASE alignment be knowledgeable and prepared to properly execute both… and COMMUNICATE coverage responsibilities/adjustments at


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1. In high school football – on average - one out of every five plays, or about 20 to 30 plays per game, is a
special teams play of some sort. For example, the 2011Caravel Academy team (Delaware Division II State Finalist)
averaged 22.5 Special Teams plays per game:

@ Pennington = 19
@ Woodbridge = 25
vs. Pencader = 20
vs. St. E’s = 27
vs. Archmere = 29
vs. Archbishop Curley = 15
@ Poly Tech = 30
vs. Christiana = 19
@ Lake Forest = 17
@ Chester = 20


vs. Delmar = 24 (Playoff Round 1)
@ Hodgson = 23 (State Semi-Final)
@ Indian River 25 (State Final)

2. Every one of these Special Teams plays represents either a direct scoring attempt (either for or against) or a change
of possession (either gaining or giving). And what are two of THE most critical kinds of plays in football? Ironically
enough, those would be “Scoring Attempts… and Change of Possession”…!!
3. Sizeable amounts of yardage can be gained or lost in these change of possession situations (not to mention
the possibility of points being scored - and huge swings in momentum!). An average of 25 to 40 yards of field
position can result from these typical change of possession special teams plays.
4. Plays that do not involve a change of possession are direct attempts at scoring (or defending a scoring
attempt). 25% of all scoring plays can be directly attributed to these special teams plays.
5. SPECIAL TEAMS start every half of every game - and very often also play crucial and critical roles in the
closing seconds of those halves and games.
6. 70% of all close games are directly decided by SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYS – either by points scored or denied
on special teams plays, by possession of the ball gained or denied by special teams plays, or by yardage gained or
denied on special teams plays…

1. Set the Tone.
- There is no substitute for toughness and determination.
2. Ball Security
3. Penalty Free
4. Proper Substitution
5. Establish/Deny Field Position
6. Make a Big Play

1. Eliminate Mistakes
• Know your alignments
• Concentrate on assignments
• Learn rules to take advantage of them
• Know situations
• Know what opponent is trying to do
2. Intensity
• Pay attention to detail
• All out Pride – Hustle – Desire
3. Fundamentals
• Precise Skills – Punters, Kickers, Snappers, Holders, Returners
• Concentration, Distance to locate yourselves on kicks, timing
– Hours of work.
4. Personnel
• Best Players Play
• Reckless Abandon – No restraints
• Unselfish, Team Oriented, Courageous, Enthusiastic Winner

AMBITION – Desire for high goals. Hates to lose. Can’t stand failure. Has goals above ability.
COACHABLE – Takes advice and easy to coach. Eager to learn. Easy to approach. Follows rules and
directions. Always works to improve. Knows the game – and wants to learn more.
AGGRESSION – “First place belongs to me” type. Asserts himself. Intimidates opponent through his play.
.Has killer instinct to put games away.
LEADERSHIP - Shows the way and sets a good example. Respected by team members. Mixes well. Others
follow his example and take his advice.
TAKE CHARGE GUY – Will take over when things go wrong – and work hard to make them right. Under
pressure, does something positive about the problem (never contributes to that problem!)
PHYSICAL TOUGHNESS – Develops toughness through hard work, day in and day out. In great physical
condition, can play strong for four quarters, every game. Keeps rules and trains year round.
MENTAL TOUGHNESS – Never gives into negative feelings or emotions. Has a “Never give up” attitude.
Ignores heat, cold, and pain – and mistakes (and never repeats them!)
PSYCHOLOGICAL ENDURANCE – Stays with job until the job is done – and done right! Will do his best against
the best – toughest competition brings out his best. High endurance all season. Reliable in all circumstances.
Never lets up – never gives up.

To control vertical field position in every game:
• How goal will be measured: Weekly game goals
Score or set up a score at least once per game:
• How goal will be measured: Points scored by special teams and/or points scored by the offense after being
given the ball in scoring position by the special teams.
Do not allow any blocked kicks:
• How goal will be measured: No opponent will touch a kicked ball.
Create a turnover or block a kick:
• How goal will be measured: By taking the ball away from our opponents or blocking a kick.
How these goals will be attained:
• Strategy… study each opponent and devise appropriate strategies, capitalizing on opponent’s weaknesses
and/or personnel - and neutralizing opponents strengths.
• Coordinating player’s abilities in relation to their role within our schemes
• Teach players the knowledge and techniques needed to execute their assignments.
• Practice strategies and techniques every day in practice.

9. 100% PAT AND FG

As having as firm a grasp and understanding as
possible of not only proper individual and team
alignment, assignment, technique and execution is
crucial for the success of all of our on-field
endeavors, we use terms like “Field” and
“Boundary”, “Numbers”, “Hash”, and “Midline” to
specifically identify our position on the field – and in
space – to best help us be as precise as possible.
This being the case, we use the terms “PLUS” (+)
and “MINUS” (-) to more specifically locate the ball
on the field in relation to our offense and defense,
and in our kicking game.
These terms (and the concepts and perspective
they represent) may seem confusing at first but,
like SO many other things in football, are quite
simple to get – once you understand them!

Put in the simplest terms possible:
“PLUS” (+) territory is always where we need to go
to score, while “MINUS” territory is where we want
to keep our opponents from scoring in.
“PLUS” (+) is always where we’re facing,
“MINUS” (-) is always at our back.
The fifty yard line is always used as the dividing
line between “PLUS” (+) and “MINUS” (-) territory.
When we’re KICKING the ball, “MINUS” (-) territory
is the side of the field with the end zone we’re
DEFENDING (the part of the field at our backs) –
while “PLUS” (+) territory for us would then be the
opposite side of the field (the side we’re facing).
Likewise, when we’re RETURNING the ball, the
same holds true: “MINUS” (-) territory is the side of
the field with the end zone we’re DEFENDING (the
part of the field at our backs) – while “PLUS” (+)
territory for us would then be the other side of the
field (the side we’re facing, and trying to score in!)

At first glance, special teams play may seem very unglamorous, unrewarding, unimportant, and
unenviable. That may be how many of our opponents feel about special teams, but we know
better. We, however, will always take a great deal of pride in the play of our special teams – and
in our special teams players. We have seen time and time again how crucial this phase of the
game truly is. To put it simply, special teams can make or break a game. Special teams plays
executed properly can lead to a HUGE momentum swing for us: possession of the football, great
field position, and (best of all!) POINTS. Special teams play executed poorly can only hand these
things to our opponents – and take away from our total team effort…

Remember: Every phase of the game is important –
and the team that dominates the most phases enjoys the most success.

What it takes to play Special Teams for us:
1. Know your ALIGNMENT, know your ASSIGNMENT.
Knowing where to be and what you are to do every time you’re on the field – and
then just doing it!!

2. ALWAYS use proper TECHNIQUE.
Nothing kills a seemingly great special teams play more quickly or cruelly than an
illegal block, a hold, or an arm tackle. And nothing can be more dangerous – to
yourself, to your opponent… even to your teammates. Remember – we may only get
one chance to do something, but we do it the right way every chance we get!

3. Desire.
Wanting to make a positive impact on the game by making something good happen
for us.

4. Determination.
Knowing that it’s up to you to do your job for the play to turn out successfully – and
letting no one and/or no thing stand in the way of your doing it.

5. Pride! Pride!! PRIDE!!!
In one form or another, one of our special teams is always the first unit of our team
that an opponent sees. ALWAYS let them know – right from the start – who we are,
and what we’re about. Set the tone… Set the tempo… and follow through every
chance you get…

Our Special Teams Goals:
Just as with our offensive and defensive units, our special teams units have an established group
of gameday goals, which we are determined to meet – against every opponent we play, and in
every game we play them. These are constant, consistent goals we strive to consistently achieve,
with the knowledge that doing so will only improve our total team effort to succeed… and that
failing to meet them is not an option!


NEVER allow an opponent a touchdown on special teams.
We need to dominate this area of the contest – totally and completely. Nothing
demonstrates this ideal more concretely than denying any of their units the end zone.


Limit their return yardage – maximize ours.
Our job is to set our offensive and defensive units up with the most advantageous field
position possible. This means bottling our opponents up and not allowing them to
establish better field position when we kick the ball to them – and moving the ball further
back up the field from where they kicked it to us. Simple…


Complete ball maintenance.
Whenever our opponent kicks us the ball we must maintain it. Whenever we kick it to
them we must contain it – and cover it if they put it on the floor.


Have none of our kicks blocked. Ever.
This is a matter of pride – and proper execution. Most blocked kicks are the direct result
of improper and/or lazy execution on our part. We don’t teach football that way – you
don’t play football that way.


Execute our “fakes” properly – deny their “fakes” the
possibility of working AT ALL!.
We play hard-nosed, up front, “in your face and down your throat” football all the time.
But, every once and awhile, we throw something “extra” in to the mix. If we ever do –
when we do – that “something special” MUST work. Conversely, we cannot afford to
EVER have those tables “turned” on us, so to speak. Much like blocked kicks, successful
“fakes” by our opponents (onsides kicks, fake punt/PAT/field goals, etc) are the direct
result of improper/lazy execution on our part. Again, we don’t TEACH football that way –
you don’t PLAY football that way. EVER!