Coaches, Fight for Football!

Coaches we’ve been saying that the game is under attack for years, and it’s never been so evident than it is now with the laws certain states like California, Maryland, Illinois, and New York are attempting to put in place. As coaches, we’ve seen what football can do for a young man, and it is our duty to protect that for generations to come! Think we are blowing this out of proportion? Look at the tweets of California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Assembly Member Kevin McCarty who want to pass legislation to make it illegal to play tackle football until a certain age.

It is times like these, more than ever, that we must come together as a football coaching community, and stand up for the game that has made us into the men we are today. We are trying to do our part at RTP to build a community of Football Coaches that love the game, the players, and the lessons football has taught and is continuing to teach us in life.

If you’ve created clinic film that would benefit football coaches around the country, don’t just sit on it, join and contribute like so many other coaches have to the RTP community by contacting us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, or by emailing us at coach@runthepower.com . Go check out our Free Clinics on YouTube, our Podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher, and our Articles on RunThePower.com to be a part of the RTP coaching community. We are humbled to be part of such a giving and caring community of Men, and we look forward to serving you and football for years to come!

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Me and My Dad
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Me and My son
Walz Coaches
Coach Walz with brother Ryan and father Darryl, both football coaches

Practice Solutions

Several of us are probably working on those resolutions and improvements for next season. I have had a few coaches reach out to me about this topic, so I decided to give my take on some possible solutions because we have had the same problems getting our 2-way players and our backup players enough reps in practice at various stops I’ve made along the way.

The best solution I have seen: Split Defensive and Offensive Emphasis Practices.

Why Split Practices? At the end of the day, it is all about player development, program development, and winning (getting our best players on the field). This practice system allowed us to get all 3 goals accomplished.

Weekly Practice Schedule

WEEKLY PRACTICE SCHEDULE
Weekly In-Season Practice Schedule

Obviously most of our heavy work and fundamental development is getting done on Monday and Tuesday. This is the emphasis of this article.

Monday/Tuesday Practice Schedule

OFFENSIVE DAY
Defensive Practice Schedule – Offensive Practice Schedule

So here is the schedule for a sample Offensive Day. This means Offense has 70 minutes of practice to script, and Offense has the choice of ALL PLAYERS it wishes to have for VARSITY OFFENSE. Now, we would have some Offense Only players and some Defense Only players. They would stay on that side of the ball for the entire practice. Any CROSSOVER PLAYERS (2-WAY PLAYERS) would go to OFFENSE first since it is an Offensive Day. All JV/Sophomore/Developmental Players would go to Defense.

Segments like Inside Run/1 on 1, 7 on 7/Pass Rush, and Team Offense, we would come together and service/scrimmage each other as best we could. Many times I would take the Scout Team because our defensive coaches didn’t know what defense the opposing team was running, so I would let them stay with their older defensive specialists to work  on their game plan and technique. It made things move smoothly, and I didn’t have to explain a card/read to the coach and the players.

Offensively, we ALWAYS had 2 huddles going in Inside Run, 7×7, and Team. We maximized reps for all of our developmental guys in every segment. This is why we were able to reload with players each year (program development).

We would switch emphasis after our Team periods, and Crossovers would head to Defense for 35 minutes of whatever they needed. As an offensive coach, I would coach our Scout units HARD for our Defense to get a look. It was also 2 huddles of Scout Offense, so we had more young guys getting great reps vs our 1 Defense.

We would finish with Special Teams for 20 minutes, giving several units (OL, QB especially) more time for corrections and Indy work as well at the end of practice.

Tuesday, we would rinse and repeat but flip Defense and Offense. We were able to develop our Crossover players and our JV/Second Unit players in a multitude of ways.

I hope you got a nugget or two from this article. If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or contact me. Thanks for reading, and PAY IT FORWARD as a BALL COACH!

Game-Changing Stats Coaches May Be Overlooking

What if the stats coaches normally use to analyze football games are really not that telling? What if the game has changed? What if coaches are biased to certain information and it clouds their vision of important indicators in football games? Is there a better way for coaches to self-scout and create goals each week for your team to give them the best chance to win?

SportSource Analytics is a sports-focused analytics company dedicated to enabling better decisions with better data through the use of customized platforms and services.

I met these guys at the AFCA Convention in Nashville a few years back, and I’ve been a big fan of their work ever since. They are the official data analytics platform for the College Football Playoff, and they provide platforms, consulting, and data services for many major college programs and conferences. They offer insight that few can, and I highly recommend their services and Twitter feed.

I was able to ask them a few questions this past week, and they gave some great ideas for BALL COACHES to change their thinking, scouting, coaching, and goal setting week in and week out.

What are some of the most under-utilized statistics for measuring OFFENSIVE success that coaches should be focusing more toward in their preparation?

It’s all about being efficient and being explosive. Given that, we advise that coaches put a lot of focus on the following statistics:
P & 10 efficiency: One of the most important plays in football
1st & 10 efficiency: Over 40% of football is played on 1st and 10. If you aren’t successful on 1st and 10, it’s hard to be a great offense
Walsh Ranking: Bill Walsh said that great offenses are the best at avoiding 3rd down. What percent of your first downs are coming on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down. What percent of your plays are on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down? Best offenses don’t wait until 3rd down to gain first downs
Points Per Possession: How efficient are you being with the ball?
Plays Per Point: Helps measure both efficiency and explosiveness
Quality Play Index: We have what we call a quality play index. This looks at what percent of your plays were Good and Great plays. A Good Play is any play that gains a 1st down, results in a TD, or results in first down. Great Plays are any plays of 25+ yards and/or a TD.

What are some of the most under-utilized statistics for measuring DEFENSIVE success that coaches should be focusing more toward in their preparation?

Defensive Mayhem Index: This measures what percent of the time a defense gets a sack, TFL, or a turnover.
Points Per Possession
Plays Per Point
3 and Out Percentage: What percent of opponent’s drives are three and out
Trips to the RZ: Red Zone efficiency can be a bit overrated. The goal is not to allow the opponent to get to the Red Zone.
P & 10 Defense: How often are you keeping opponent’s from being efficient on P&10
3rd Down YTG: Best way to be good on 3rd down is to put offenses in situations where it is difficult to gain a first down. What is the average Yards To Gain on 3rd down for your opponents.

What statistics are the greatest indicators of winning and losing?

Winning the Efficiency Battle
Winning the First Half
Winning the Big Play Battle
Winning the Trips to Red Zone Battle
Winning the Tackle for Loss Battle 
Scoring First
Be Good on the Firsts

When hiring coaches, what are the most important analytics/attributes to consider from the research you have performed?

It’s all about looking at the job a coach has done relative to the situation he took over. Where did they get better or worse? How much impact did the coach in question have to do with that improvement? Also, looking for consistency so we don’t fall prey to a What You See Is What Is bias. Good coaches can have down years and bad coaches can have up years.  We also like to test how coordinator dependent a coach is. When it comes to using data in the hiring process, it has to be a very holistic approach that takes a very deep dive into the data.

I think this is some fascinating insight from SportSource Analytics. It has helped mold and change the way I evaluate my coaching style and emphasis and how I evaluate the formula needed to give athletes the best chance to be successful. Focusing on the most important situations in football can give any team the edge needed to win more games, especially when the talent differential is minimal. Ball Coaches search and find ways to win ball games.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Leave some comments/questions to discuss further!

Marrying Backside Zone Doubles With Frontside Gap Doubles


In a previous article I wrote about the benefits we gain from using inside footwork on our gap double teams. One of the reasons I decided to wait to publish in another article is how well it marrys with our backside zone double teams. When a gap scheme play is called, we know are stepping with our inside foot first. When a zone scheme play is called, we know we are stepping with our playside foot first. These two rules are known by our players day one, and when they are used properly the footwork of our frontside gap double teams are nearly identical to the footwork of our backside double teams on inside zone.

GUARD – We make our zone double team calls based on covered/uncovered players on the offensive line. For the remainder of this post, we are going to assume a Right Guard and Right Tackle have made a backside zone double call from a 3 technique to a backside linebacker stacked over them. The goal of the guard is to try and turn the shoulder of the defensive lineman, and work to his landmark on the linebacker, all while staying square throughout the play. In order to do this, the guard must have a great Position and Power step. The key part of any block regardless of scheme is our first two steps which we call our Position and Power step. The guards position step should be at a 45 degree angle gaining ground. This step needs to be quick and should put the guard in an ideal Position to execute his power step and make contact. The guards Power step is the most important and difficult step on a backside zone double. In order to not get pressed into his inside gap, and instead help his tackle on the double team. The guard’s Power step must gain ground, get vertical, and get into the ground before making contact with the defensive lineman. The alignment of the linebacker dictates what body part the guard contacts the defensive lineman with, and how long he is able to stay on the double team. If the linebacker is stacked over the 3 tech or further backside (an alignment we refer to as THICK) the guard knows he has more time to get to the landmark on his linebacker. He can use his shoulder against the defensive lineman, and stay on the double team longer before he presses off square on his angle to the linebacker. This allows him to have a better chance to get movement and get the defenders shoulder turned on the double team. If the Linebacker is inside of the 3 tech or further frontside (an alignment we refer to as THIN) the guard knows he doesn’t have as much time to get to the landmark on his linebacker. He can only use his hand against the defensive lineman’s shoulder. He must use the punch and his power step to propel him square on his angle to the landmark on his linebacker. This doesn’t allow him to get as much movement or shoulder turn against the defensive lineman, but allows him to get to his linebacker square. Allowing the runnin back to make the proper cut.

TACKLE – The goal for the tackle on a backside zone double is to get to his landmark on the defensive lineman, working the guard off to the linebacker all while working his hips square. In order to do this, the tackle must do a good job of throwing his head towards the guards hip with his position step. The tackles position step should  be flatter than the guards, but should still not lose any ground. If possible, depending on how tight the 3 is, the tackle would still like to gain a little ground with his position step. The most difficult and important part of the tackles power step is gaining enough ground to be able to start working square, but not so much ground that it crosses the position step. Once the tackle hits his landmark on the defensive lineman, he wants to fight his playside hip forward and press through the defensive lineman’s playside shoulder at the angle the tackle finds it.

The footwork of a backside zone double is extremely similar to the footwork of a frontside gap double, allowing you to kill two birds with 1 stone in practice. The major differences in these two double teams is the angle the guard must push to after contact, and the ability of the tackle to take over the playside shoulder of the defensive lineman on backside zone double teams.

A Letter to a Younger Coach Harper

I wanted to gear this post towards “new” offensive line coaches because I feel that I am still in the later part of that category, and there is no better time to remember information than when you are going through it. I am starting my 4th year coaching football and I have learned valuable lessons in my first 3 years of coaching that I would have loved to have heard my first year of coaching. So, in an attempt to not offend any new coaches I have decided to write this “letter” to my 23 year old self that just landed a job coaching Offensive Line at the biggest high school in the state of Oklahoma.

Obsess over football! If you want to be great one day, (and let’s face it – if your going to do something you might as well be great at it), you need to be obsessed with football. Don’t buy into that garbage that mediocre people say, “You should be very balanced as to not get burnt out.” It is NOT true! If you want to be great at coaching football you have to do what others are not willing to do. You have to learn in 1 year what other coaches have been learning for 15+. The only way to accomplish this feat is to be completely and utterly obsessed with football, which is not a bad thing, no matter how many average coaches tell you it is. There will be plenty of older coaches making fun of you or telling you that your work ethic won’t be the same after 10 years of doing this job with obsessive enthusiasm, but DO NOT listen to them! Just because they are okay with being average doesn’t mean you should be.

 These are the best ways that I have found to keep your obsession of football going.

Find a Mentor! Seek out a coach that has your same goal of being great. Find a coach, hopefully on your staff, that obsesses over the game of football and is well on their way to being a great coach. This guy won’t be hard to pick out. Find the coach that never complains about coming to work, never says he is tired, never admits to being sick or not feeling well. Find the coach that seems to never leave the office and while he is at the office is constantly watching film. This coach is often not best friends with all the other coaches. They respect him and like being around him, but they can also tell that he has a much higher level of commitment to the game of football than they are willing to have. Listen for the coach that all the other coaches say will be burned out in 5 years, that’s the guy you want to emulate. Watch him carefully! When does he show up to the office? Try to beat him there. When does he leave the office? Stay until he leaves. You are not trying to outdo him with this tactic. You are trying to make his habit your habit. Also, by staying at the office 2 hours passed every other coach, you are allowing yourself time to ask questions. When the entire staff is not in the room, you are much more likely to get full honest answers, as long as you ask them humbly. Also, obsessive football coaches love obsessed football coaches! They won’t have a problem helping out what they see as younger versions of themselves.

Eat up Knowledge! Be done with the idiotic college thinking that “nerds” read books. Read as many books as you can get your hands on. Buy and read books, not only on football, but about a variety of topics. Read books about the schematics of football. Read books that the coaching greats have written. Read books about leadership that are often written by military personnel. Take any and every chance you have to go to a clinic. If there is a clinic within 8 hours of your house, find a way to get there! You need to have a clear mission for why you are there. Don’t go to clinics to hangout and have a good time with other coaches down at the bar. Remember, they all have 15+ years of coaching experience on you, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do if you want to be great! If there is a game on TV,  watch it. If it’s a Monday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, there is no reason for you to not be watching football and breaking it down.

These first 2 are going to be pretty easy for you, you love football and those two things helped you get through your college football career. BUT LISTEN UP!! These last two are going to be a lot more difficult for you, but they are just as important!

Be Humble! Just because your team has a good season doesn’t make you a good coach. You are still a young guy and so you know relatively nothing. You are a coach, not the player, so things are no longer all about you! You can either humble yourself, or you will shortly be humbled. Luckily, there are a couple of really good ways to humble yourself. The hard part, however, is going to be swallowing your pride to do these. Do the jobs none of the other coaches want to do. If none of the coaches want to stay late and wash laundry, you do it! None of the coaches want to do the boring input on film, you do it! Also, any praise that you get, deflect it onto your players or onto your superiors. This is probably a good practice to use all through your life, but it’s especially practical when you are a young coach.  In reality, you probably aren’t the reason things are going well.

Don’t Judge Yourself on Others Approval. It’s a good thing that you want to be great coach, but don’t judge your coaching ability on what other coaches think of you. This isn’t easy to do! It can feel like a cop out at times, but the quicker you can judge yourself truthfully the better off you’ll be. I have seen many overrated coaches, and I have seen even more underrated coaches. It doesn’t matter what other coaches think of you or how much notoriety you garner for being a good coach. What matters is your ability to be very truthful with your own faults and strengths and to judge yourself. It doesn’t matter what others think of you, as long as you can lay in bed at night knowing your living up to your standard of trying to become a great coach.

I want to leave you with the most important rule of all. Always remember why you are a coach. Coach for the love of the game and the ability to transform boys into young men.

Skip Pull

When we run weak or strong power our backside guard doesn’t throw his elbow, open his foot and shoulder, or wrap around the double team. Instead, he pushes off of his inside foot kicking his outside foot back behind it with depth. He stays square and comes down hill off of the double team. We call this a skip pull. Coach Gordy Shaw would hate that I call it that. He was my offensive line coach my senior year at Houston. He said that he invented that pull years ago and that the right term for it was a Glide Pull. Either way – we don’t open pull on power.  I know there are a lot of teams, including about half of the NFL teams I watch that open pull on power, but I think skip pulling gives us a couple of very distinct advantages.

  1. Staying tight to the double team

When weak or strong power is called, the first thing our backside guard does is find the linebacker he is pulling for and finds where the double team will be happening playside. We teach the guard that his job is to read the double team up through his linebacker’s inside hip.  The worst thing a guard can do, other than fall down I guess, is pull and be too loose to the double team. When this happens the linebacker sets up the guard and beats him inside, which is not good because that is where our running back is looking to hit power. I have found that when our guards skip pull they have a much higher percentage of staying tight to the double team. The reason? Depth increases the pullers vision. When a player skip pulls, he gets himself away from all the big bodies on the line of scrimmage. This allows him to see the entire frontside of the play as he comes downhill towards the double team and adjust as needed.

  1. Bringing power with your pull

We want our guards bringing as much power as they possibly can so they can get the playside linebacker, or any color that shows up from slanting down linemen, out of the hole. The obvious reason a guard is more powerful with a skip pull is that he is gaining momentum by setting back with depth. That is the reason fullbacks are 3 yards in the backfield, so they can have momentum coming forward. The other, less obvious reason is also vision. When a guard open pulls he rarely has a good view of defenders coming downhill because he is stuck in the land of the trees. He is often “surprised” in the hole, either by a down lineman or a good linebacker that was hidden behind the double team. However, when a guard skip pulls with depth, he gets back behind the line of scrimmage and gets a much clearer picture (much like a running backs view) of when a defender will be filling the hole, allowing him to make contact, instead of being contacted.

Effective Position Meetings

We have all been in that brutal AM staff meeting. You can hear the complaints. Heck, maybe you are the one saying them.

“Why are we here?”

“Couldn’t this have been sent out in an email?”

“This is too much information. There is no way I can remember all of this.”

These are ADULTS! Now imagine being a teenager or a college student-athlete. We all know they didn’t sleep 8 hours. They have been in a minimum of 4 hours of classes that they can’t stand. And now we are going to install 2 new fronts, 4 new blitzes, go over a scouting report, and watch film. All before going out to practice for 2 hours and maybe some post-practice film correction.

Our time is valuable. We MUST be effective in how we run our position meetings! Research says humans can best remember a maximum of 4 pieces of information, so here are 4 ways to help you design more effective position meetings as a ball coach.

Put First Things First

This is one of the 7 Habits that Dr. Stephen Covey outlined in his famous book: spend more time on PREPARATION, PREVENTION, and RELATIONSHIP BUILDING when starting meetings. Drawings, installs, film, and handouts should be prepared before your players arrive. Have drawings already on the board. Have film cutups already built. Use all of your meeting time as efficiently as possible.

The start of a meeting is an excellent time to let your players know you care about them. This is the PREVENTION and RELATIONSHIP BUILDING.

Matt Campbell, HC at Iowa State, begins each meeting with a short story or quote to get guys thinking about a topic that benefits them. For instance, the Spring Ball meeting I attended he was talking about Spring Break and the people his players would be around and the decisions they would be making. He would make his leaders read the quote/excerpt aloud to the team, and they would discuss it. It was a 3-5 minute conversation, but I thought it was genius because it let everyone know PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS COME BEFORE FOOTBALL.

Ask how players are doing. Ask about important things in their life. Congratulate them for things they accomplish outside of football. Show fun videos, or show videos on topics you feel need to be addressed before you meet. PREVENTION and RELATIONSHIP BUILDING will go a long way in building your position group and team morale.

Smart Seating

One of the more profound things I learned when I was in college football was extremely simple: PLAYER SEATING IN POSITION MEETINGS.

When I was at Tulsa, Denver Johnson outlined a specific way for me to set up for meetings every day. He wanted 3 rows of tables with 5 chairs in each row facing the film projector. I thought it was odd at the time, but it made perfect sense when the Offensive Line came in. The first unit sat in the first row, in order: LT, LG, C, RG, RT. The second unit did the same in the second row, and the young guys were in the 3rd row or aisle. This was genius. It created a routine for the players. It gave them more opportunities to communicate with players that played next to each other. They could make calls, coach each other, build better relationships, and Coach Johnson knew exactly where each player would be so he could locate and coach or correct him. It also allowed me as the assistant OL coach to sit in the back with the younger players to answer questions and get them up to speed more quickly since they were receiving fewer reps than the older players. When watching End Zone film, players could watch themselves literally in the position they were playing most of the time. I feel it really accelerated their learning and communication skills.

This concept can be applied to any position meeting. Boundary Defensive Backs and Field Defensive Backs can sit next to each other (or right and left side if that fits your scheme) to communicate coverages and calls. Quarterbacks should sit with the WRs that play the most so they can communicate route adjustments and signals.

Smart seating can be a simple solution to some problems you may be having in educating your athletes or getting your athletes to communicate more effectively.

Simple and Clear Mission

Every meeting MUST HAVE a simple and clear mission. What are we going to accomplish? What are the standards and expectations for behavior within the meeting? What materials are needed for this meeting? What is the weekly and daily schedule? ARE WE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE? DO WE ALL BELIEVE IN THE MISSION?

One of the premier books any coach should read is Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. It has taught me more about leadership skills than just about any resource I have ever found. It outlines the most important factor in the success of any team, large or small: LEADERSHIP. If your position group is not performing up to standards, it is the coach’s fault, plain and simple. The coach needs to take responsibility and find out what the problem is and come up with a solution or the group will continue to fail.

Most often the coach has failed to provide a SIMPLE and CLEAR mission that everyone UNDERSTANDS and BELIEVES IN. A standard of excellence needs to be set, and it needs to be modeled and enforced on a daily basis. If your players are not doing what needs to be done, chances are they don’t UNDERSTAND or they don’t BELIEVE IN IT. It is your job to get that done.

Some helpful hints in setting a standard with a SIMPLE AND CLEAR MISSION:

  • Outline and Model rules and expectations for meetings. Keep it at 3-4 simple rules. Reteach, if necessary. POST THEM IN YOUR MEETING ROOM.
  • Have a daily, weekly, and monthly agenda or calendar visible to your players.
  • Have a standard for how your players will conduct themselves, practice, and play.
  • Explain HOW and WHY the skills you are teaching your players will benefit them to increase BELIEF AND UNDERSTANDING. Kids love WINNING and PLAYING WELL. Start there!

Here are some example slides I used to use with my Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers in 2015 at Broken Arrow. This was our Standard and Mission. We preached it daily, and when we were having problems, we went back to this and did Level Sets. Where are you now? Where do you need to be?

PLAYBOOK.pptxPLAYBOOK.pptx (1)PLAYBOOK.pptx (2)PLAYBOOK.pptx (3)PLAYBOOK.pptx (4)

PLAYBOOK.pptx (5)
We were going through a Quarterback competition, so I outlined the skills needed to win the job.
PLAYBOOK.pptx (6)
Here I outlined how we would win, and it was my job to get them to BELIEVE and UNDERSTAND

Time Management

Always start and end meetings on time. Always be cognizant of how much information you are providing your players. Do your best to keep it simple, concise, and constructive.

During an Iowa State special teams meeting I observed, the Special Teams Coach was showing clips from the previous practice’s Indy period. He would show 2 clips of the technique desired in this drill being executed flawlessly. Then he would show 1 clip of the technique that needed to be corrected. Several players had made mistakes in this technique, but he didn’t take time to correct each one. HE DIDN’T HAVE THAT MUCH TIME! Instead he showed the desired result and what needed to be fixed. He would get the others later in practice when he had that opportunity. Then he moved on to the next Indy drill, and he did the same thing: 2 perfect reps, 1 rep that needed correction. He was modeling the desired technique so the players who needed work knew what it should look like. This is excellent Time Management.

Finally, I will leave you with another clinic note and story I heard from Scott Frost, current Nebraska head coach. When Coach Frost was at Oregon as WR coach, HC Chip Kelly had brought in an outside consultant to evaluate their meetings and overall operations. Imagine that: a team on the cusp of a National Title bringing in an outside set of eyes to improve what they were doing: A BALL COACH MOVE. Anyway, Coach Frost knew he would have this gentleman in his meeting, so he had a perfect one planned. He was organized. He asked great questions. His players were engaged and prepared. He filled up his allotted time with activity and learning, and then he sent his players off to get ready for practice.

Immediately following the meeting, the consultant quickly grabbed Coach Frost to give him feedback. He told him what an awesome meeting he had just executed, but he also had just one question for him.

“Scott, I’m just wondering. Since Oregon is known as the fastest team in football with their practice style and tempo, why do you meet so long and relaxed with your players?”

Coach Frost, rather than being offended, said he didn’t know why, but said it made perfect sense! He knew the guy was right. So he changed the way he met. He met SHORTER. He made players answer questions quickly to mimic the tempo they had to see, process, and execute in a game and at practice. His players believed in it, and they got better, more efficient use of their meeting time. Plus, they were done with meetings faster!

Analyze your meeting time. Find creative ways to maximize your time. Make it better for your players and yourself.

I hope you got something out of this. Please feel free to contact me with suggestions, comments, or needs. I’m here to help you guys. More to come!

Who is Brady Walz? Why Ball Coach Development?

Mini Walz
Coach Walz as a pup with my father Darryl.

I guess you could say I started learning about “ball” at a young age. This is about 1982. I was 3 years old, and I’m sitting with my father Darryl Walz enjoying some cereal, probably Cheerios. He is wearing his 1981 South Dakota High School Football Playoffs shirt, where he was Offensive Coordinator of a Frederick team that won a 9-man State Championship. For those that don’t know, Frederick is a town of 199 people north of Aberdeen, SD, basically on the border of North Dakota. 9 man football is a cross between rugby and arena ball with offensive tackles removed. It is awesome. And from the stories I’ve heard, my dad could coach it pretty well. He had quite the team in 1981, and he also worked with some excellent coaches. They had to coach both sides of the ball, and they loved every minute of it.

As excellent as Frederick was, the salary for 2 teachers and a family of 4 was not going to allow for much growth, so we moved to Brandon, SD, for a year and ultimately landed in Pierre, SD, my hometown and where both my parents live to this day. I was lucky to have this small town upbringing with two parents who taught me discipline, love, appreciation, and hard work.

Long story short, my father is my hero. I have grown up to be very similar to him: I teach, and I coach. He was always an assistant coach, sacrificing his own career so he could watch his boys (me and my brother Ryan) grow up, and so he could be an excellent husband to my mother Marla. Simple goals, simple life. But he was an unbelievable ball coach. He could coach and reach all kids. He coached every position in his career. He could coach the Offensive Line, and then he could turn around and call the defense. On  a staff with 3 coaches total, he was running 3 fronts with multiple coverages and multiple pressures. And teaching run schemes and pass protections. To me, that was the definition of BALL COACH: I can coach and develop all kids; I can coach both sides of the ball and special teams; and I don’t think I know it all, so I’m going to continue learning as much as I can. Oh, and I’m going to be a great dad and husband, too.

Darryl Walz – BALL COACH. Brady Walz – BALL COACH in Training. This is who I am, and it never stops evolving.

Walz Coaches
Coach Walz with brother Ryan (left) and father Darryl (right) after beating Union in semifinals in 2012 before winning the 2012 Oklahoma 6A state title.

As I write this first blog, it still amazes me the football education I’ve been fortunate enough to attain. A Doctorate in Ball Coaching.

How many coaches can say they worked for both Allan Trimble and Bill Blankenship, head coaches who have combined for 18 State Titles (and counting) in Oklahoma and Arkansas? How many coaches can say they worked for and LIVED WITH the man who developed quite possibly the most influential offensive system in HS football history (R4 Football System) in Dub Maddox? How many coaches can say they learned Offensive Line play from legendary coaches like David Alexander and Denver Johnson? How many coaches have been a Strength Coach, Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, College Position Coach, JV/Freshman Coach, and Graduate Assistant for teams that went undefeated or didn’t win a single game? How many coaches have built their own business? It has been a unique experience, to say the least. But it wasn’t always roses. It was hard work.

When I got started, I was AWFUL. My first 3 years of coaching – coaching RB, WR, QB, defensive backs, and all special teams; OC for 9th grade/JV (Denver South), and varsity (Golden HS); head coach in Nebraska (Tekamah-Herman); all while, quite honestly, NOT HAVING A CLUE WHAT I WAS REALLY DOING. Sure, we set some offensive records at Golden HS, but then as a head coach I didn’t win a game in Nebraska! F.A.I.L. – First Attempt In Learning. I was learning on the job, and I needed to learn more. Luckily, I had met some good Ball Coaches along the way who were willing to help me. BALL COACH rule #1: Pay it forward. Always be willing to develop other coaches.

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Coach Mulls, the OG

Ryan Mullaney gave me my first job. I think he felt bad for me, or he really needed coaches, but I can guarantee I wasn’t his first choice. His impact on my career continues today, but I always remember the 2 things he taught me:

  1. You can know the SCIENCE OF COACHING all you want, but you need to become an expert in the ART OF COACHING.
  2. LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT are the most important skills you will ever learn.

You see, in addition to being a great football coach, Coach Mulls (what everyone calls him) was also pretty good at leading multi-million dollar sales and telecom companies. I was getting a crash course on management, leadership, and the art of coaching daily. I also got my first taste of the AFCA Coaches Convention with Coach Mulls, where he would force me to go out and meet new coaches and introduce myself despite my hatred of those situations. And guess what, I am still learning these things today. Currently, we collaborate on a platform helping coaches and athletes develop called Team Attack Academy.

Brad Salem
Brad Salem, QB Coach, Michigan State

Brad Salem hired me from the HS ranks in 2007 to coach WR at Augustana University (SD) as a GA. I would be making $526 a month, but I leapt at the chance to learn more football. I needed to learn how to watch film, how to recruit, how to better manage a position group, and how to be a professional. Coach Salem, Coach Mike Aldrich, and Coach Steve Olinger were tremendous coaches to learn these skills from. I became much more well-versed on defenses and run game. I learned how to sell and develop a program. In the spring, I was able to move to Tight Ends to learn more of the run game. Coach Aldrich, I felt, was the ultimate Ball Coach. He played OL in college, and he was an undersized, nasty player. He was the Defensive Coordinator, but he always took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions and teach me defensive football. He was also the DC for the Sioux Falls Storm, an indoor football team with several championships. Kids and men loved playing for him. His confidence and belief in his system and players was contagious. He has been a successful head coach now for several years, both at Augustana and Minot State. I definitely wanted to have that kind of impact on young men like Coach Aldrich and Coach Salem had on our athletes at Augustana.

Mike Aldrich
Mike Aldrich, Head Coach, Minot State

After a couple years back home in Pierre developing a successful strength program and business from scratch, my coaching education was about to enter Hyperdrive: Coach Mulls had helped me land a job coaching at Jenks High School, which would end up being the smartest football move I ever made.

Dub Maddox
Dub Maddox, OC/QB Coach, Jenks HS Founder/Developer of R4 System

Dub Maddox accelerated my Ball Coach education probably more than anyone. Here was a guy I could sit with in the Lab, talk football 24 hours a day since he was nice enough to let me live in his guest bedroom for a season, and challenge me to find out ways we could coach and teach things SIMPLY and with MORE UNDERSTANDING for our players. It was phenomenal. The perfect set up for a football coach. I am forever grateful to Dub for giving me that opportunity and for helping me learn more football than I thought possible the 3 seasons we worked together. Practice planning, game planning, offensive precision, staff management, film breakdown, mechanics and footwork, play diagrams, teaching progressions, common language…the list was endless. He also trusted me enough to let me coach Tight Ends in 2010, Running Backs in 2012, and Offensive Line in 2013. We ended up winning 2 state titles (2012-2013) and 1 runner up in 2010, where we set numerous scoring records but came up just short in the finals. His offenses have broke just about every record there is to break at Jenks and in Oklahoma 6A football. Quite simply, he is the best OC I have ever worked for. Period. A BALL COACH.

Since Dub believed in me enough to give me a job, I was also able to meet 4 other men whom I consider some of the best to ever coach the game of football. TRUE BALL COACHES.

Allan Trimble
Allan Trimble, Head Coach, Jenks High School

Allan Trimble is the head coach at Jenks High School. He is the epitome of BALL COACH. He could coach any position in any sport. I have never met a better man in my life. His approach to program development has been emulated and will be emulated for many years to come. He develops a standard for coaches and players, and he holds you to that standard. Coach Trim is dedicated to his Faith and church, and he walks the walk. The man has had a tremendous impact on my coaching philosophy as well as the way I live my life. The list of things he has done for me can fill many blog articles, so I will leave it at that. His current battle with ALS is as inspiring as it is saddening. His greatest impact: THE ULTIMATE IN PAYING IT FORWARD AND BEING A MENTOR TO OTHER PEOPLE.

Please donate to his cause if you are still reading this: Trimble Strong

David Alexander
David Alexander, Head Coach, Broken Arrow High School

David Alexander is another Ball Coach I was able to meet at Jenks. He was the OL coach, and he was probably wondering who is this young coach Dub and Trim are bringing in to coach Tight Ends in 2010. We formed a lasting friendship, and he has ended up being one of my best friends and mentors in the game of football. He played OL in the NFL for 10 seasons, he was HC for the Tulsa Talons, and now he is the current HC for Broken Arrow (OK). I have learned a ton from this man. He also knew I needed to learn more about OL play in order to be the coach I wanted to be. I appreciated his willingness to teach, and his willingness to help me get a job at Tulsa to learn this final piece of the puzzle.

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Bill Blankenship, Head Coach, Owasso High School

Bill Blankenship hired me to be an OL assistant in 2011 under Denver Johnson. Again, not many people have worked for 2 coaches that define high school football in a state like Oklahoma like Bill Blankenship and Allan Trimble. They have won 18 state titles, the most recent coming this season for Blankenship at his new school Owasso. Blankenship is the son of a coach. He knows football inside and out. He has impeccable character. And he was awesome to work for. He allowed me to learn a ton of football. I bet I broke down close to 200 games, watched over 3000 possible athletes, and had a seat in the room for the best OL coach in America, Denver Johnson. What did I learn? A better question is what didn’t I learn. We had film on everyone. Air Raid, spreads, pro-style offenses, zone schemes, gap schemes, man schemes, pin-pull, power, calls and checks, technique, play action ideas, defenses, coverages, blitzes, blitz pick-up, angles and footwork, hand placement, drills…it was heaven. When I wasn’t learning OL, I was watching other films. What did Alabama do on 3rd down? How can we shut down Boise State and their pressures? What are the secrets to Texas A&M and Oklahoma tempo? Who is TCU recruiting? Oh, and we played Oklahoma, Boise State, Houston, and Oklahoma State with some of the most prolific quarterbacks and offenses in college football. An awesome environment to learning OL, football, and how to run a program. All while making $1000 a month, sleeping in the office or my car, knowing full well I could be teaching/coaching and making a comfortable living. But I needed to do it, and I did it.

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Denver Johnson, Head Coach, Missouri Southern University

In the end, I was able to go back to Jenks to win state titles, and I was able to follow Coach Alexander to Broken Arrow as Offensive Coordinator. We nearly won the school’s first state title in 2015, but we couldn’t quite beat Trimble, Maddox, and Jenks in the finals. But I was able to finally put all of these things together to make an impact on an offense, manage coaches (several of which went on to get better jobs), and make a positive impact on kids (dozens went to college to play and improve their life). I still remain in contact with many today, and several of them want to become coaches. PAYING IT FORWARD.

It continues today. BALL COACH DEVELOPMENT. I’m developing myself, and I’m trying to develop other coaches and players to reach their own goals. I now have a circle of BALL COACHES I can depend and lean on. Guys like Jordan Johnson (Jenks), Bobby Klinck (Owasso), Jason Semore (Montana) and the GA Crew from Tulsa, Rowdy Harper (Broken Arrow), Tanner Antle (Flower Mound Marcus), Nick Bunting (Holland Hall), Rick Nelson and Nick Nelson and others from Ankeny High School were I currently work. The list continues to grow.

And I hope I can help some of you become better BALL COACHES. Not gurus. Not “neat guys”. But guys that want to learn the entire game of football. Guys that want to pay it forward and help other people. And guys that love what they do as much as I do.

Dad, I hope I have made you proud. Your son…BALL COACH IN PROGRESS.

Using Inside Footwork on Gap Doubles

My dad is the Head coach/Offensive line coach at a different school in Oklahoma, so naturally when we get together we talk a little about the grandkids and family, but the majority of our conversations come back to coaching football. Last week we were talking about running power and the conversation shifted to “Why don’t you near step your Gap double combos?” This was an interesting question so I decided I would make my answer my first blog post and subsequent video.

The reasons we inside step our gap doubles is so we can Control Angles, and Get Vertical Movement without the need to crowd the football in our stance. The benefit of not crowding the ball, we believe, is that we can run Zone, Gap, and Man schemes, as well as setting the line of scrimmage behind the ball further in pass protection. In order for us to be effective in our gap double teams, and be off the ball in our stance, we must step with our inside foot first to control the defensive lineman’s angles, and create timing to get the movement we need to run our gap scheme plays.

Controlling Angles – I hate to say it to a bunch of offensive line guys but defensive lineman are often much more athletic than offensive linemen. As offensive lineman however, we work hard in the offseason to be stronger and more powerful than the more athletic defensive guys. With both of those things being said, in order for us to win we must close angles and get our bodies on down defenders. For the following example let’s imagine a Right Guard and a Right Tackle are gap doubling a 3 technique to a backside linebacker. In our gap scheme runs, our job is to block our inside gap. If the RG steps first with his outside foot to the 3Tech his Rt foot and his Rt hip will be up above his left foot and left hip at the first half second of the play. When this is the case, we are actually opening our hip to allow an easier angle for the defensive lineman to slant inside than we would have if we wouldn’t have stepped at all! This then, is why we step with our inside foot first and try to gain “some” ground. When we do this, we actually cut the angle of a defensive lineman slanting inside. In less scientific terms, when we have a good first inside step, we make the defensive lineman have to slant through our body.

Getting Vertical Movement – Again, imagine a Right Guard and a Right tackle are not crowding the ball and are gap doubling a 3 technique to a backside linebacker. We always teach that to be able to make contact with a defender we must first get 2 steps into the ground (our position and power step) we are not taking 1 long slow step, we are taking 2 small quick steps. If the RG were to step with his outside foot first, he would be making contact with the 3Tech while his left hip and foot where ahead of his right hip and foot making his left side his dominant side. This is a problem! The toughest part about being the inside player on a gap double (the post player), is that you are trying to get vertical movement and not get pressed into your inside gap, all while taking on the entire force of the D-Lineman and half of the force of the drive player working with you, all on only one half of your body! So, when the RG’s left foot is forward on contact all of his power and strength is in his left side while all of the force and power is being applied to his right side. Not Fun! In order for us to get vertical movement, instead of getting caved into our inside gap, the RG must apply an outward 45 degree force to the defensive lineman. The most powerful way he can do this is when his right side is the dominant side at contact. By stepping with his inside foot first, both the RG and RT’s dominant side is the side of their body they are using agaisnt the defensive lineman. This allows the double team to use the maximum available power to get vertical movement on the Defensive Lineman.