Archive for February, 2012

When I started my coaching career I bought an instructional video by Urban Meyer titled Fundamentals of Developing the Complete Wide Receiver.  At the time the video was produced, the now high profile coach was still enjoying some anonymity as the wide receivers coach for Notre Dame.  He had yet to embark on his meteoric rise to the top of the college coaching ranks.  In terms of a nuts and bolts teaching tool for a young coach, I found the video to be very detailed, straightforward and informative (For a link to the DVD, click here).

Meyer’s video helped me to lay a foundation for how I wanted to approach coaching the wide receiver position.  Through 2010, I used his top of the route drill to teach a break technique emphasizing sinking the hips, planting and driving – promoting acceleration in and out of the break point.  It has been a great resource for me and I have followed Meyer’s career over the years, probably no closer than any other coach looking for examples of how to run an effective program, and collected several additional resources including clinic talk transcripts, playbooks and team manuals.

Thanks to, I recently came across an excellent youtube clip of Coach Meyer speaking at an Ohio football coaches clinic.  The notes below summarize his beliefs on teaching and coaching, his definition of competitive excellence and the importance of developing a concise coaching progression.  Eleven of Coach Meyer’s former assistant coaches have become head coaches.  He is earnest in his belief that these men have earned their opportunities because they were teachers first.  According to Coach Meyer, effective teaching is the most important element of a successful program.  He also credits Coach John Wooden in helping him to develop his foundation for successful teaching and coaching.  He says that the foundation for building competitive excellence lies in the ability to build cohesiveness or alignment within a coaching staff, where personal agendas are set aside, and formulate direct teaching strategies aimed at creating an “on the edge of your seat” learning environment.

His process of direct teaching, rehearsal, mind/body reinforcement, situation specific drilling, and creating a game-like atmosphere around team practice segments is aimed at building what I like to term stimulus response In other words, when all is said and done, the athlete can take the playing field free of any mental barriers and simply rely on the neuromuscular patterning created as a result of the entire teaching progression.  The goal is to take the thinking out of the execution and to promote a series of actions and re-actions based on cognitive and kinesthetic conditioning.  The athlete will develop an automatic trigger mechanism through learning, applying, adapting and repeating the specific skills necessary to gain the mastery associated with confident, high-level, winning execution.

Notes from Coach Meyer’s 2012 Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Clinic:

“No lawyer or doctor ever approached the top of the ladder in their profession who did not love or have an unyielding enthusiasm for it . . . likewise; no man can be a football player and not love the game.  Half-heartedness or lack of earnestness will eliminate every man.  The love of the game must be genuine.  It is not devotion to a fad that makes men play football.  It is because they enjoy the struggle.” – Fielding Yost


Objective – To get the student to:

  • Retain information/skill
  • Use information/skill
  • Increase production because of information/skill


  • Clear: Organized & clear objectives
    • What are you asking that kid to do?
    • Is he getting it done?
    • Must be an objective to what you are asking him to do, or don’t do it.
    • Clean: Use of tools, tip sheets, video, etc.
    • Concise: Broken down to the smallest detail necessary – get to the point
    • Direct: Student engaged in discussion – ability to teach
      • Create an environment that puts students on alert – promote stimulation to the brain.
      • The difference between a teacher and a presenter is that a presenter presents information and fails the student if they don’t get it.  The teacher is creative and uses all resources at hand to help students learn.


  • Clean organized environment
  • Desk with notebook and pencil (no pen)
  • Both feet on the ground; no hoods/hats; no cell phones
  • Engaged – teacher moves around the room
  • Students are on edge

Every action is either taught or allowed, good and bad.

Presenters present information and hope it works out.

Teachers present information and find a way to make it work out:

  • As a coach, when you evaluate your players on film and what you see is not what you are teaching, you have to blow the whole thing up; don’t wait – something’s not right.
  • This is when a coach has to take the ego and put it aside and say, “Wait a minute, this is not working.”  It’s NOT the kid!  You never want to hear, “That damn kid didn’t do this or that.”
  • As a coach, it is your job to get that kid to do this or that, because you are a teacher, not a presenter.
  • Your job depends on your ability to help your kids figure out how to do things the right way.

Content is 20% of what a student learns.  How you get that [20% – content] into someone’s mind is more important; it’s the delivery, the passion, moving around using teaching tools.  It’s the ability to, after 15 minutes, get them up, stretch, and tell a joke, whatever stimulates that teaching environment.

It’s not just the content that is important in the teaching.  If it was the content, everybody would do the same stuff.   It’s the delivery, the passion, the way that a coach moves around the teaching environment that counts.

Become a head coach because of the passion with which you teach.

Competitive Excellence – the basis of who we are; developing players toward competitive excellence:

At the end of the day, when that number is called, are you ready?

1. Game reps vs. mental reps

  • 16 reps in team/skelly/scout; how to get the most out of those?

2. Teaching progression

  • Before a kid is ready to make a play it has been:
    • Installed in a meeting room, checkers, video, etc.
    • Direct teaching – it has been rehearsed back
    • Walk through – teach proper details; spacing, alignments, etc.; body learning
    • Individuals – developing the specifics
      • Developers – what are the fundamental skills of each position group to be developed every day
      • Specifics – job descriptions, put player in position to do exactly what we expect him to do, i.e. double team, kick-out, turnover circuit; you get what you emphasize
    • Group Work – QBs/WRs, RB/OL, etc.; scheme specific skills
    • Scout Work – teach tempo
    • Game Rep – preparing them for the main arena by creating a mini arena based in competitive excellence, O vs. D – backups get mental reps with unit coach
    • Showtime – “Rip the chains off and go play as hard as you can, you’ve trained your entire life for this moment, and you are officially at competitive excellence. You are ready . . . make all the mistakes you can, point A to point B as fast as you can go – 4-6 seconds of relentless effort and go play!  Get there in a hurry and be a little pissed…”
  • In the end, it’s all about building confidence so that players are ready to step in and compete at the highest levels possible.

“If you practice the way you play, there shouldn’t be any difference, that’s why I practice so hard.  Anything was possible once the game started . . . everything we did at practice became competitive.  I took pride in the way I practiced.” – Michael Jordan


Every phase of teaching for competitive excellence includes 1) a clear objective (meeting room; cone signifying finish in drill, etc.), 2) a clear expectation by the teacher and 3) concise planning and execution (broken down to the smallest point; what is your step angle; what is your hand placement, etc.).



Posted: February 12, 2012 in Coaching Chronicles, Memoirs

The Doctrine

Respect all/fear none

Be genuine . . . be yourself

Be accountable to your brethren

Never give up in the face of adversity

Strive for perfection – seek daily improvement

Defend our cause with honor, principle and character

Represent those who have preceded you with class

Set the standard for those who will follow

Give great effort in all that you do

Take pride in your sacrifice

Humble in Victory and

Gracious in defeat