The Recruiting Process: Making the List (Part I of III)

I had the opportunity to listen to a college coach speak to a group of aspiring high school football players about the recruiting process. He answered some basic questions and then said something quite profound that I wish more high school players could hear, “If I’m recruiting a position, I may begin with 100 names on my list. But because time and resources are limited, I’m looking for ways to cross you off that list, not keep you on it.”

This month’s blog will be part one of a three part series that focuses on the recruiting process of a high school football player and includes insights from coaches at the NFL level, D1, 2 & 3 colleges and our Trickey-Wright QBR staff.

Part One: Making the List

  1. Your play on the field:

Making the recruiting list of any college football program will be dictated first and foremost by your play on the field. Coaches are looking for players who they feel can benefit their program to help them win games. Stats and end of season recognition (All-Conference, All-Area, etc…) will help you catch the attention of certain schools. However, when it comes down to evaluation, the film never lies! The coaches I spoke to listed a couple specific things they need to see from QB’s and Receivers.


  • (#1 by far) Being able to make all the throws on the field (Short, Medium, Long)
  • Pocket Presence / Mobility
  • Athleticism
  • Play Making Ability
  • Accuracy
  • Toughness / Leadership

Receivers (could include TEs/RBs and how they look catching the ball):

  • (#1) Catching the ball away from your body (Hands)
  • Making plays with the ball when you get it
  • Change of direction
  • Route running
  • Speed
  • Explosiveness
  • Versatility (Returning kicks, making tackles on special teams etc.)
  1. Create a highlight Video

As you look at those things that coaches say they are looking for, it is important that you set-up your highlight film with those in mind. Making touchdowns against bad teams are definitely ok to show, but that doesn’t demonstrate much to a college coach. With all of the film a coach has to watch, the first 3-5 plays should “jump out” to a coach. From there, you build a collection of clips that solidify what the coach saw from those first clips.

  1.  Your measurables:

Whose list you make it on after they view your film, or sometimes even before the film, will come down to your measurables. Height, weight, 40 yard dash or official track time. Typically for these position’s weight room numbers don’t need to be included at first, but will become important down the road. If you do not have official numbers on those, you can download the Hudl Combine App and record yourself running your 40 and other tests. They will be verified and you can share them with coaches.

While the tendency on high school rosters can be to add an inch or two, plus 10 pounds, this is an area that will go along way towards earning the trust of a coach: REPORT ACCURATE NUMBERS! The coach is going to find out eventually when they stop at your school or see you in camp. Don’t waste their time and get your hopes up by embellishing your numbers. Believe it or not, even an inch can make a difference.

  1.  Preparing for recruiting visits:

One really important thing to keep in mind is the timing of recruiting for different divisions. As a general process, coaches will come through the high schools in the spring once spring ball is done and “bump” into a player and communicate with your high school coach. However, their interest at that time does not mean you’re getting a scholarship or that you are high on their list. They want to get eyes on you and hopefully shake your hand and see how you can communicate. Remember, coaches don’t coach you over text messages. They use that first meeting to make a judgement about what kind of man you are. If you can’t look them in the eye and hold a conversation, there is little chance you’re making any list.

  1.  Be realistic in your expectations and stay positive:

I’ve seen many high school players get really let down or anxious when they don’t have any offers coming into their senior year. If you’re an elite player with a chance to go to an FBS school, there is a chance you already have some offers entering your senior season; if you’re off the charts, maybe as a sophomore or junior. However, everything trickles down from there. Not all FCS scholarships are given before senior seasons. Division 2 schools may have been communicating with you, but if you’re not super high on their list, you may not get any offer until after the season when they can see your senior film and get you on campus. Finally, D3 and NAIA schools come around after your season AND their season is done. They’re looking to see who fell through the cracks and who would love an opportunity to continue their playing career.

While there is a lot of hype and money surrounding recruiting, the coaches we talked to suggested the importance of slowing down and understanding that very few players are early offer athletes. That doesn’t make you a bad player or someone who is not qualified to play college football. It just means the coaches need more time to evaluate and get to know you before they make a decision.

In the next blog I’ll discuss “How to  stay on this list”, including how to select the right college camps to attend.

Posted in Goals, Recruiting

Will You Accept The Risk???

The phrase “Accept the Risk of Leadership” was adopted by Coach Trickey in 1988 after he read an article about responsibility and risks of putting yourself in front as a leader. He told me that he connected so deeply with the message that he felt compelled to share it at every camp he did.  

That message has resonated with me ever since I attended the Trickey-Wright camp back in 1999 as a high school junior. I wanted so desperately to be a leader, and even though I was named a captain by my teammates in high school, there were some “risks” that I was unwilling to take. All of those risks simply would have involved speaking up to my teammates about making better choices in multiple facets of life.

But why didn’t I do it? Why didn’t I say anything? I didn’t want to “risk” the social criticism from my teammates. I didn’t want to “risk” being laughed at. I didn’t want to “risk” being called a “suck-up” “snitch” or any other derogatory phrase. I didn’t want to “risk” making anyone feel uncomfortable or hurt their feelings in any way. Instead I choose the “lead by example” route. While I consider my senior season a success, I feel like I failed myself and my teammates by not saying more.

Dealing with high school students every day, I can confidently say that risk of leadership for today’s teenagers is purely a social risk.  No one wants to be vocal or extend themselves for fear of being criticized by their teammates. What can make matters worse is how quickly information can travel through text and social media channels. There becomes a perpetuating fear that if you say or do something different it may get around to “everyone you know” and suddenly your image will be ruined.

According to the author of the Team Captain’s Leadership Manual and student-athlete leadership expert, Jeff Janssen, there are five reasons why student-athletes don’t want to take on vocal leadership roles:

  1.       Lack of confidence in their status and legitimacy
  2.       They don’t understand the importance of being vocal
  3.       It’s not in their nature
  4.       They don’t know what to say
  5.       It’s not a habit

But what athletes fail to understand is the risk they pose to themselves and their team by not being a leader. According to Jeff, “Personally, they are missing the chance to become the best version of themselves. They not only shortchange themselves, but the entire team as well. Their team likely won’t achieve its potential because they withheld their leadership.”

Which leads me to ask; if you don’t accept the risk of leadership and speak up, are you willing accept the risk of your team not reaching its full potential? For those of you who invest so much time and money coming to our camps to improve your skills, why would you throw it away by not saying what needs to be said so that everyone can thrive?

I’m not naive to believe that confronting a teammate, group of teammates or entire team will be easy on you. Leadership is never about doing what is easy. It is about doing what is right so that everyone can be better. While I cannot accurately predict how those people will react in the short term, in the long run, I don’t know of a great leader who regrets a decision to say what needed to be said.


If you are interested in learning more about the Team Captain’s Leadership Manual, or other leadership training resources from Jeff Janssen, please visit

Posted in Leadership, Uncategorized

Social Media – Expert Advice

Although most athletes today have used social media for years, many (their parents included) still don’t understand it’s immediate effect and potential repercussions well into the future.  According to Karen North, a communications professor and director of digital social media at the University of Southern California, “What I say when I talk to athletes (student and professional) is, if you think it’s temporary, it’s permanent; and if you think it’s private, it’s public.  It doesn’t matter if you delete it.”

For this month’s blog we wanted to enlist the help of an expert. PL Hade is a Social Media and Digital Safety expert who is also the moderator of @HSSocialMedia. We connected with him on twitter last month and he agreed to answer some questions to help write this blog in an effort to help our athletes to understand the gravity of what they’re doing on social media and to avoid snaps/posts/pics/retweets/gifs/favorites/likes that could jeopardize their goals and dreams.


Question 1: What are some general thoughts on the rise of social media and its impact on high school age students? Athletes?

Answer: Social Media has opened a world of possibilities for High School athletes to connect with specialists, with others playing their position and with college coaches. It also gives them access to academic experts, college admissions experts and a host of fans. Used well Social Media can become a program driver. Used poorly it can derail an athletic career.

Question 2: What are 2-3 of the common mistakes that players make?

Answer: The first mistake that players make is thinking that only their friends are going to see what they put out on social. Social media is a multiplier and one RT in Twitter or share in Instagram can add thousands of strangers who are looking at what you say.  We’ll invite you to try that out. Tweet something out and tag @HSSocialMedia, we’ll RT. That adds about 70K potential people who will see what you sent out.

The second mistake is believing that what they send privately will stay private. Friendships fall apart, people get jealous and what the athlete privately sent to someone 4 years ago can suddenly reappear, even if they deleted the original. (People take screen shots.)  Especially with sexting which has potentially huge legal consequences in most states athletes are vulnerable to ramifications years later.

For Football Players a huge mistake is to DM just Hudl links to a coach, recruiter or influencer with no introduction and no reason for the recipient to click on the link. It’s considered a sign of laziness; not something any college coach wants on their team or the impression you want to leave with people who can potentially help you.

Question 3: You recommend having the same name on all of your accounts? How does that go into building your brand?

Answer: The idea of a brand is that you can identify it and then you associate specific traits with the brand.  That’s the reason that companies don’t change their logo. All you need is to see the swoosh and you know the brand is Nike.  When you have the same name and profile picture on all your accounts that psychologically reinforces your presence and makes it easier for people to recognize you.

Question 4: Why should high school students care about “their brand”? What does that mean to them long term?   

Answer: Long term whether you get accepted into a college, get offered a roster spot, are allowed to rent an apartment or get hired by an employer partially depends on who they think you are from your social background check. If you build a brand that implies that you:  1) Plan 2) Are organized 3) Are disciplined 4) Care about your image in the world.  Those are all traits that will help you at each level of your athletic and academic career.

Question 5: What are some dangers with snapchat? recommendations?

Answer: The real danger with Snapchat is that people believe the Snaps actually disappear; they don’t.  First they are stored in Snapchat’s server until all the recipients have opened the snap – that can be eternity. Each Snap is archived for a minimum of 24 hours and people can pay to look at them again. (Say you sent something that was questionable and someone who wanted your roster spot happened to know that, they can ask a recipient to send it to them and then take a screen shot. That screen shot may find its way into your Coaches DM.)  Lastly, although Snapchat does not allow third party storage apps, those apps are out there and they are viable until Snapchat gets them taken down, which can take a while. And everyone can take screen shots before a Snap disappears.

Question 6: How can you harness social media for good? With your team? Within your school?

Answer: Social Media is one of the few ways that different groups in a school can actively support each other which enriches the entire school community. For a team social can be everything from a motivator to a way to quickly communicate changes in schedules.

Question 7:  Just how permanent are your posts? What impact could that have?

Answer: The minute anything is out online, including in chat rooms, you have no control over what happens with that particular post, tweet, pic or vid. We have archives of tweets and posts that were deleted within 10 minutes of being put up.  This year a sports announcer was fired a day after being hired because of a post that he put up more than 12 months prior to his getting the job. Recently a professional soccer player also had one day on the job before fans found tweets a friend had put on his account 3 years earlier; his very lucrative contract was cancelled. If you put it out there it has its own life and you have no idea when it will show up again.


While social media have possible pitfalls, athletes can also use them as vehicles to control their message, build brands and directly engage with fans.  North said she believes the rewards of building a powerful social media presence outweigh the risks, if athletes treat each tweet as if it were being shared with a group of reporters at a press conference.


Posted in Goals, Leadership Tagged with:

Rest your BEST!

While the latest sports supplement or protein drink can make outlandish claims about improving performance, the real powerhouse to improving performance and reducing injury is sleep. In 2012, a study was done with teenage athletes and it was concluded that athletes who slept less than 8 hours a night were significantly more likely to be injured. The fascinating part was that many other factors were taken into consideration – gender, hours played per week, strength training among others – and only sleep was a variable that actually was proven to have a significant outcome.

Other sleep studies have been done to show how pro athletes are more successful with more sleep and how college basketball players can improve on court performance by getting 10 hours of sleep. The NFL has taken notice and in 2013, the Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll began using sleep training to help his players reach their highest athletic potential. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl that season!

Through all the articles I’ve read (check the hyperlinks!) and consulting with a sleep expert, there are a couple key factors for athletes to consider.

  1. Same time EVERY day:  In order to get into a sleep rhythm, getting up at the same time each day is important. It creates a schedule for your body. So if you’re searching for more sleep, you don’t want to sleep in, but rather go to bed earlier and maintain that same wake time.
  2. 10-6 > 12-8 (not all “8 hours” are the same):  Your body is more ready to shut down between 10-11pm and is better prepared to enter into the REM sleep cycle.
  3. Big Sleep – Big Gains: The majority of your body’s recovery chemicals are released at night. However, if you don’t reach the deeper levels of sleep (REM sleep), the amount of chemicals released will be reduced.
  4. No screens: The blue light emitted from cell phones, TVs, laptops and tablets tricks the brain into staying awake. When used immediately before bed, it delays the person’s ability to fall asleep and again, affects the quality of sleep that you get.

The sticking point with today’s athletes is not understanding that sleep is critical to performance. The other sticking point is whether they believe the benefits of good sleep outweigh the benefits of interacting on social media or watching Netflix to cap off their night.  Much like diet and exercise, seeing the benefits of sleep can only be seen by a long-term commitment. One night simply will not do.

In this phase of your life,  “accepting the risk of leadership” will demand purposeful planning and commitment. Fortunately, the choice will require minimal sacrifice in exchange for what you’ll gain in return. True leaders, after all, don’t think twice about sacrificing what is desired in the moment (sleeping in, the next “big” update on social media), to accomplish what they’ve dreamed about and worked so hard for (conference championship, playoff birth, state title, college scholarship).

Posted in Goals, Training Tagged with:

Why – How – What

          I’m honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the Trickey-Wright QBR camps. I attended my first Trickey-Wright camp going into my junior year of high school at Madison Memorial (Madison, WI). I was impressed by the amount of reps I had to throw the ball and was even more excited about the leadership aspect emphasized at camp.  As I moved on into adulthood, I would continue to see the camp t-shirts stamped with “Accept the Risk of Leadership” and it would always take me back to camp memories where I learned how important that phrase is for young men. Since most readers are current Trickey-Wright QBR athletes and parents, I thought it fitting to share some insights about why choosing these camps is a great idea, what you can do to maximize your camp experiences.

Why Trickey-Wright?

          Much like our athletes are competing for a  spot on their team, we are competing in a growing market of off-season player development. There are now a growing number of opportunities to improve as a football player on a year round basis.  Having worked and seen many camps in the past 10 years, as a coach, what I find most compelling about Trickey-Wright QBR is the commitment to helping every player improve, regardless of their grade-level, ability or position on the depth chart. Sure, we take great pride in the college and NFL alumni who have continued their careers. Fortunately though, we realize that 90-95% of high school players do not move on to that level, and their final game as a high school player will be their last time playing competitive football.

          Knowing that their youth and high school football career can be short lived, our limited camp size allows us to focus and work with every athlete to ensure they get the most out of our camps both in repetitions and instruction. Other camps may position themselves to help improve a player’s opportunity to get recruited. We’ve made a conscious effort to stay out of the recruiting aspect and instead focus on skill and character development. If you apply what you learn at our camps and you have the desire and talent to play at the college level, the recruiting side will take care of itself. Part of “accepting the risk of leadership” on our end is to stay away from the hype of recruiting and/or meet and greet autograph sessions and not waver in our commitment to help every athlete who steps on the field become a better player and person.

How can YOU leverage our camps?

          Each camp that we offer is created to meet a different need in the process of off-season development.

          Our oneday youth camps (4th-6th) are an excellent place to get basic instruction. These camps provide passionate, informed and fundamentals-based instruction that will give an extra layer of experience to any aspiring quarterback.

          Igniter Workouts (7th-12th) are offered to knock off some of the rust that can build up in the off-season, and to focus on simple, staple concepts necessary to succeed at the QB and Receiver positions. These are small group sessions where kids get plenty of one on one instruction and TONS of reps in a two and half hour session and serve as a precursor to our summer camps.  These workouts are also great opportunities for QBs and Receivers from the same high school to get off-season work together in a controlled environment.  The more reps you have throwing and catching, the better you can be on game day.

          Our two-day Developmental Camps (7th-12th) are the heart of what we do at Trickey-Wright QBR. These camps provide a large-group, high energy environment creating the feeling of a pre-season summer camp at a high school. Our high coach to player ratio allows for the athletes to be actively coached through all 8 hours of camp. To get the most out of camp, come with a plan or goal, such as “What do I need to get better at to help my team win?” Athletes receive high amounts of position-specific knowledge both on the field and in the classroom.  We want nothing more than to help each player get another step closer to achieving their goals.

          The three-day Advanced Camp (10th-12th) is for those athletes who really want to take it to the next level. Coach Trickey, Coach Wright and staff take their extensive knowledge of offensive football and pour as much information and coaching into the players as they possibly can. Although most camps are held towards the end of the summer with the intention of players to continue the momentum of that instruction right into their high school season, an earlier option is available for those wanting to prepare for summer college camps.  The only thing needed to excel at this camp is to be open to receiving and implementing coaching. There are more than enough reps to go around, but whether you can get better with each rep is really the challenge.

What you need to do to be ready for camp

          In addition to having an improvement plan for camp and mobilizing your teammates to join you, the most important thing that you want to do is to be physically prepared for the number of repetitions you’ll get at camp. Depending on your commitment to other sports or off-season conditioning, athletes may not be throwing many passes or running routes at full-speed during the off-season. A solid warm-up on the day of camp may not adequately prepare your body for the demands of camp. Quarterbacks should be working on their footwork and throwing regularly. Receivers should be running routes or doing sprints and change of directions drills. We want to ensure that we limit the potential for injury to maximize the effectiveness of camp. Next month I’ll be continuing on the topic of training and how to maximize your performance through proper sleep, hydration and nutrition.

Posted in Training

Emulate the Greats

One of my very favorite questions to ask players during warm-ups of the Trickey-Wright QB-R Camps is “Who is the player you model your game after?” It’s fun to hear and see the various responses. A large majority of the players give a blank stare as if they’ve never really thought of the question before and then the wheels start to turn. You can see they want to respond but have not given the question much thought. They typically throw out a famous player who likely plays for their favorite team. But then I’ll get the rare player who with the snap of a finger answers the question confidently. You can tell they’ve not only thought about the question, they’ve taken action. They have strategically chosen a player that is similar in some way to them and have actively studied what makes them great.

My son Ben is almost two and loves to throw a ball. His favorite thing is to see how far and high he can throw it. Like most little kids, he stood with both feet on the ground and just used his arm to throw. But just recently he saw baseball on TV for the first time. He got super excited when the pitcher was throwing the ball because he recognized the pitcher was doing something he loved to do: throw a ball. I was so surprised to see Ben the next time he threw a ball. He lifted his left leg up in the air, twisted his body and then threw the ball. He had modeled his throwing motion after what he had seen the pitcher on TV do.

Although a simple little example, this is a great insight into how powerful watching, studying and imitating can be for an athlete. Great athletes have spent years practicing and perfecting their mechanics. What an incredible resource for an aspiring athlete. There is much to be gained emulating great players.

So here is the challenge. Think about the question: “Who is the player you model your game after?” Don’t answer it quickly. Take your time. Think about your body type, your natural skills on the field, how you play the game. Write them down. Then do some research. Who are the players in the NFL or college or even at your high school who have similar characteristics and have been successful? Identification may come right away or it may take some time. Be patient but persistent in finding the right player to model your game after.

So now that you have your guy(s), the fun and real value begins. You now have a model to study and emulate. Spend time watching him play. Watch him live. Look up highlight tapes on YouTube. Study his mechanics. Watch how he reacts to different circumstances in a game. Imitate and practice the movements he makes. If your player is an NFL player, there is an incredible resource online called NFL Game Pass. For $100 you get access to game film for every game since 2009, including the “all 22” coaches film. This is an awesome resource to dive deep into a study of your player and all the players at your position in the NFL.

One last related tip. Spend your Saturdays and Sundays watching football. Don’t just watch the game like the average fan. Spend your time learning and studying the game. Watch the strategy of the players and coaches. Begin to put yourself in their shoes and think through what they should do. The more time you spend role playing in this way, the more you will learn the ins and outs of the game. Then on gameday you’ll find yourself better equipped to handle the situations that come your way.

Posted in Film study, Goals, Practice

In-Season Advantage: Film Study

The season is now in full swing. You’ve grinded through off-season workouts, two-a-days, scrimmages and the first half of the season. Maybe your season is going well, but you know you have some tough games coming up with playoff implications. Or your season is not quite off to the start you wanted and you need something to jump start your season. Wherever you’re at right now, the number one way to gain an advantage during the season: film study.

The rise of the video editing company Hudl and others like it give a huge resource and opportunity for separation for today’s high school athletes. Advanced film study and analytics at the college and pro level are standard. The level of film study and preparation at the high school level is highly variable with incredible advantage to be gained.


Most people think of film study is exclusively watching your opponent.  Preparation for the next opponent actually starts with evaluation of yourself. The first item of business in any game week should be to dissect last week’s game. Many coaching staffs will sit down with their players and review areas of improvement. A common pitfall many players fall into is watching film for entertainment. Self-scout should not be watching to see the highlight plays or just watching the ball carrier. The great players I’ve been around become great because they not only pay attention to the details their coach’s point out but are their own worst critics. They identify self-tendencies their coaches don’t even notice.

Take this template for evaluating each play of your own film. Write down items you need to improve this coming week in practice.

  1. 1. Assignment: Did I correctly attempt to do what the coach assigned me to do?
  2. 2. Execution: Did I successfully fulfill the assignment?
  3. 3. Technique: Was I technically sound? (Think about the things you were taught at Trickey-Wright Camp.)
  4. 4. Tendency: Am I doing anything that my opponents will key in on to gain an advantage?

Opponent Scout

The advantage of opponent film study can be almost as drastic as stepping into the opponents meeting rooms during the week or their huddle every play. Watching opponent film is not like watching football on TV. When you watch football on TV you casually observe, spending most of your time with your eyes on where the ball is. Effective film study is purposeful and focused on the details that are most meaningful.

Every player is in a different stage of their career with varying experience watching opponent film. I’ve provided guidelines for those who are: beginner, intermediate, and advanced in film study. Find the level that is appropriate for you and take your game to the next level by advancing your film room preparation.

Beginner: (You may have watched some film with your coach but have never studied opponent film on your own)

  1. 1. Ask your coach how you can get access to opponent film. Most coaches, especially at the high school level, will have access to opponent film and have the ability to grant you access. It will likely be a password that your coach gives you for an online film software like Hudl. Ask your coach to show you how to login and the basics of how to watch.
  2. 2. Watch the opponent’s most recent game.
  3. 3. Take out a piece of paper and write down:
    • a. The positions and uniform numbers of the players you will going up against
    • b. Write down those players strengths and weaknesses
    • c. For each play write down the number of deep players and if you can, identify the coverage. Tally each coverage type.
  4. 4. If you have time, study additional games

Intermediate: (You’ve spent a little time watching film on your own but are looking for more guidance on exactly what to look for)

  1. 1. Watch 2-3 of your opponent’s recent games.
  2. 2. Take out a piece of paper and write down:
    • a. The positions and uniform numbers of the players you will going up against
    • b. Write down those players strengths and weaknesses
    • c. For each play identify the coverage the defense is playing and any blitzes you see. Tally each coverage type. Write out any tendencies you see.
  3. 3. Watch each game again.
    • a. For each play, identify the offenses formation. Think of the offensive plays your team has in that formation. Imagine those plays verses that defensive structure. QB’s: think through your progression. Wide receivers: Imagine your route verses that coverage. Take notes on anything you notice in that process.

Advanced: (You’ve spent substantial time watching film on your own and are wanting to prepare like a college or pro player)

Note: This section requires game data to be inserted into your video software. Some coaching staffs may input this information for you. If not, consider inputting manually this information yourself into the corresponding columns. (Columns needed: Down, Distance, and Offensive Formation)  This is a very advanced way to look at film but the ability to sort film by these factors will drastically improve your ability to find tendencies and give you an advantage over your opponents.

  1. 1. Follow step 2 of intermediate for 3-4 of your opponent’s games in which their defense played a similar offense to your own.
  2. 2. Open all 3-4 games in the same cutup. Sort the down and distance columns from low to high. Tally the defensive coverages in each situation.
    • a. Normal Down and Distance (1st-10, 2nd and 6 or less)
    • b. 2nd Long
    • c. 3rd and short
    • d. 3rd and long
    • e. 3rd and medium
    • f. 4th down
  3. 3. Sort and watch plays by formation of the offense.
    • a. Write down the coverages you see verses that formation. Tally the number of times you see each.
    • b. Look for any tendencies you see that give away specific coverages.
    • c. Look at that week’s game plan and imagine each offensive play you have in that formation against the opponents defensive set.
  4. 4. Go back and watch through each game from start to finish.
    • a. At the beginning of the play look at the down and distance. Quiz yourself on the coverages that team tends to run in each situation.
    • b. See the offensive formation. Go through your read or visualize how various routes will take shape for each play you have in that formation.

The separation is found in the preparation. Take your preparation to another level with effective film study.

Posted in Film study, Practice

We Talkin’ About Practice

“…I mean, listen, we talkin’ about practice. Not a game! Not a game! Not a game!…What are we talking about? Practice? We talkin’ about practice, man!…”

These infamous words from Allen Iverson to the media after skipping out on a practice (video link) although controversial, misguided and far from a great example, do point out one nugget of truth: the day-to-day toil of practice is not glamorous. Not everyone wants to do it and not everyone attacks it the same way. There is no question about it; practice is a grind.

Everyone can get up for a game. Game week comes and everyone’s preparation changes a little bit. We’re more conscientious about clearing our head and focusing mentally, getting to bed at a good time, using the cold tub and foam roll to get our muscles right, and eating healthier. It’s easy to get motivated for game day.

I would propose, however, that it is exponentially more important to be mindful of your mental and physical state between practices than the days leading up to a game. Think about it this way. The average high school has roughly 20 practices before its first game. Each week during the season, a team typically has four days of practice to one game. Everyone wants to feel great mentally and physically for game day. The sum of how you take care of yourself between those 20 preseason and four weekly practices will determine your physical and mental preparedness exponentially more than the few days leading up to game day.

Four Keys to Physical and Mental Recovery Between Practices:

  1. Preventative Muscle Recovery
  • Stretch – While your muscles are still warm, find a shady place to stretch your muscles.
  • Foam Roll – Spend time rolling out the muscles that are sore. This breaks up scar tissue and tightness and lengthens muscle fibers, which prevents injury and increases recovery.
  • Cold tub – Every day. It hurts but your muscles will love you for it the next day.
  • Get your body moving between practices. It can be as simple as a walk or a bike ride. Getting your heart rate slightly elevated and your blood moving allows the lactic acid to push out and the right nutrients to get to your muscles. The exception to this is in between same day practices.
  1. Eat With a Purpose
  • Recovery food – Within 30 minutes of practice being over get a good source of protein and carbohydrate in your system.
  • Meals – It’s quite simple but really hard to do. Fruits, vegetables, protein and whole grains. No sugar, no grease, nothing processed. Even if you don’t feel like it. Eat at least three meals each day including the most important: breakfast. You will be amazed at how your body will recover. I believe this is the number one thing high school athletes miss out on.
  1. Get Away Mentally

Be sure to spend time in your playbook and in the film room, but it is necessary to find a low stress activity to get your mind away from football in between practices. Know yourself. Find something that refreshes you and takes your mind away from the grind of the game.

  1. Sleep

8-10 hours of sleep are essential when athletes are putting their bodies under as much stress as fall camp demands. Sufficient sleep not only makes you feel better, it actually helps to cement what you learned on the field both mentally and physically. Neural pathways are created and reinforced during sleep. Studies show that good sleep can not only increase mental recall but also improve speed, accuracy, and reaction time in athletes.

It takes discipline to do these well and consistently between practices but the benefits are undeniable. These four keys are not glamorous but I believe the most important things you can do during fall camp and throughout the season. Not only will you be more prepared for practice and ultimately games but I’ve found that when I adhered to these guidelines, I enjoyed all parts of the game so much more, including the grind of fall camp.

And remember: We talkin’ about practice man… and for good reason.

Posted in Practice

Timing Is Everything

For QBs and receivers timing is everything. Drop, route, throw, and catch need to be synchronized to the tenth and even hundredth of a second. The average high school football player can move over three inches every hundredth of a second, over two feet every tenth of a second, and eight yards every second. If a QB takes one extra step in his drop or waits for the receiver to break out of his cut before throwing or if the receiver cuts his route short or takes inconsistent angles our of the cut, timing is off and the risk of an incomplete pass and even interception skyrockets. Each hundredth and tenth of a second not synchronized exponentially changes your pass completion percentage.

The ONLY way to work toward synchronizing your timing in the pass game is to practice, to actually work on your timing, over and over. If you wait until August training camp you are too late. NOW is the time to start.

5 Keys To Developing Timing:

1. Practice Your Route Tree On Air

This is priority number 1. To really develop the timing you need you should spend 3-4 times a week in July running and throwing the routes you have in your offensive system without a defender.

2. Practice Your Route Tree at Game Speed

The only way to synchronize together and develop chemistry as a QB and receiver is to practice your drops and routes at full speed. The timing to a hundredth of a second comes after repetition after repetition at game speed. The drops, routes, throws and catches should become automatic together.

3. Get All Your QBs and Receivers To Join

Great offensive pass games have balance. If it’s just a one QB to one receiver show, the offense is imbalanced and the defense can adjust accordingly to shut you down. Timing with the whole receiving core (WR, TE, RB) will provide the balance you need to take pressure off of the top receiver(s) and giving the space needed to really use their skillset.

4. Practice 1 on 1 Vs. Defenders

As many times a week as you can, get defenders to work one-on-one after routes on air. Defenders add a variable. It’s the next step in synchronizing QB/receiver chemistry and timing. It’s incredibly valuable for QBs and receivers to actually experience the different adjustments needed when a defender disrupts a route. Adjustments need to be made and experience is the only way for a QB to anticipate the adjustment a receiver is going to make.

5. Organize 3 Defenders Vs. 2 Receivers and/or 7 Defenders Vs. 5 Receivers

One or two times a week, work to end your throwing sessions with a defensive unit giving various coverage looks. An additional set of variables is added that can adjust timing. A QB must work individually to read the defense and still maintain precise timing. A receiver must learn how to adjust to each of the various coverages and get to the spots where their QB can get them the ball. The key however is to build an understanding together of how each will react in various circumstance so a QB and receiver can anticipate and react as one with precise timing.

There is no substitute for practice. The more you practice, the less the imperfection.





Posted in Practice

Offseason: The Most Important Part Of Your Season

Summer is here! School is done and for many it’s the end of a three sport cycle. Although there are leagues and tournaments, it’s the first time during the year many football athletes are not in season. The next two months is the only window when the weight room and speed and agility can take priority 1a. This is a bold statement, but I would argue this is the most important two months for you and your football team. The work done in these summer months is the foundation of your season. The way you and your team prepare will set the trajectory for what you will accomplish. With every team and player across the state determined to get an edge on you, how do you set you and your team apart from the rest?

In all the seasons I’ve been a part of, both as a player and coach, there have been three key components of a summer program that determine the altitude of a player and team.

  1. Intensity

A high school football game has 60 minutes on the clock. On average the ball is actually live and in play only 10 minutes of that time. Break it down further and you’ll find the average high school football play lasts roughly 5.6 seconds. These 5.6 seconds are intense, ferocious, aggressive, violent, fierce… I could go on with the adjectives but you get the point. A football game is intense. You’re training has to meet and even exceed the intensity bottled up in a single play.

Every rep, every set is important to developing this intensity. This is hard to do day in and day out over a two-month period. Here are a few tips I’ve found get your intensity up for a workout.

  • Glance through your short-term and long-term goals before stepping into the weight room. (See previous blog for how to set goals.)
  • Right before your workout, head outside and let out the most primal grunt/yell you can muster. This will get your fight or flight hormones pumping.
  • Aggressively grunt throughout your reps when the weight starts to get heavy or you’re working on explosive movements. People may look at you funny but you’re going to up your intensity tenfold.
  • Get competitive with your yesterday and last week self.
  • Get competitive with a teammate who is similar to you in strength and agility.
  1. More…Smarter

Jerry Rice had a mindset that set him apart. “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”

Your coach, along with every other coach across the state, has developed a program for the summer. What are you willing to do that others are not? Most players are willing to do what the coach asks them with varying degrees of intensity. Not many will seek out the extra and attack it.

You’ll notice I added the word “smarter” to the title “more.” The key to doing more is not blindly doing more. The extra you do should be tailored to what you need to accomplish.

  • Think about your weaknesses in the weight room or on the field. Develop your extra training around those.
  • Think about the movements you do on the football field. Find ways in the weight room and in speed training to focus on the explosiveness and efficiency of these movements. Be creative.
  1. Lead

Focusing on “intensity” and “more” individually will get you individual results. Football is the ultimate team game and your success depends on the person lined up next to you. The real power comes when a team has an individual or group of individuals who can compel the team’s “intensity” and “more” to unprecedented heights.

Each of you has varying degrees of influence on your team. Some of you may be team captains or you may be an incoming freshman who is just starting football. You may not believe me but all of you have influence. For a younger player it may only be one other teammate that you challenge to join you as you work on your “intensity” and “more.” For other players it may be a position group or even the entire team.

Focusing on self-improvement is good and imperative. Leading others to follow your “intensity” and “more” is multiplying and impactful.

“If everyone doesn’t pay the price to win, then everyone will pay the price of losing.”- John C. Maxwell, Author

Posted in Goals, Leadership, Training