Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hudl Meet-Up: Kansas City

"Video Editing Sucks"

That was the sign that greeted approximately 100 coaches to the first Hudl Meet-Up that took place at Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, KS on April 19th, 2011.

Hudl is the industry leader in sports video editing software. Two months ago, I wrote about their iPad app which is a game-changer for all coaches.

Just last week, Hudl released an update to the app which solves the problem of downloading film to the iPad for the times when you don't have an internet connection.

I am a football and technology geek, so when I heard that Hudl was going to host a meet-up for coaches 10 minutes from my house, it was the perfect combination of football and technology for me. As you can see from this picture, it was a full house:

The Hudl crew provided pizza and soda to start the evening. Kim Burnham from Hudl organized the event and introduced the speakers:

1. Coach Nolan Hochgrebe from Blue Springs High School spoke about how they structure their week with Hudl.

Oh Snap!

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Best tips:
  • Find great student managers to help set up the video equipment, film, input data, and upload to Hudl.
  • Their Saturday schedule for how they divide up their film work has some great ideas for work-flow.
  • They also have an Excel file that they input data into that will then create grading sheets and a Hudl import file.
  • Their data entry coach on Friday nights wears headphones so he can hear the formation and play calls as he is entering in data. This is a great idea if you have an extra set of headphones.
  • Coach also discussed some great ideas for marketing your team through your website and Twitter account. Their team website is and on Twitter at

2. Next up, I presented "The Quick Game: Ninja Style" You can read about it here.

3. Coach Jared Kenealy from Liberty North High School presented "Effective Video Study Practices":

Best tips:

4. Kim Burnham closed out the evening by talking about upcoming updates from Hudl and answering questions from the audience. She told us that there is a new video uploader in beta testing right now, as well as continual updates to the iPad app. In fact, there is now an entire team devoted just to the iPad app.

 For a couple of years, Hudl was one of the best-kept secrets around. I was reluctant to tell coaches from other schools about it because I felt like it gave us a huge competitive advantage. The secret is now out. It was great to be in a room full of coaches sharing ideas about how to get better by using video and technology. I want to thank Hudl for putting this together. Hopefully it becomes an annual event here in Kansas City.

Questions? Post them in the comments below!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Oklahoma State "Diamond" Plays

Last weekend, our staff visited Oklahoma State's coaches clinic and spring practice. Here are my observations from watching practice.

They worked on their "Diamond" formation that became popular last season. This is a great analysis of OU's package from the "Offensive Break Down" Blog.

Here are two new wrinkles that I saw Oklahoma State working on during practice: Power with the back kicking out instead of the backside guard pulling, and outside zone that looked more like inside zone.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Oklahoma State Practice Observations

I attended the Oklahoma State University Football Coaches Clinic last weekend. The clinic talks were good, but the best part of the day for me was watching OSU go through a spring practice at the end of the clinic. There were two reasons why I was looking forward to it:
  1. I enjoy watching other teams practice. Our staff went to watch a couple of area teams practice after the season and you can pick up so many ways to organize and structure practice.
  2. Okie State ran the Air Raid the last couple of years under Coach Holgerson, who is now the "Head Coach in Waiting" at West Virginia. I was very interested to see how much, if any, of the Air Raid principles were still intact this year.
Here are my observations from watching practice:

1. Here are the offensive and defensive practice schedules for the day.

2. Practice started with the offense going through a walk-through of their team script plays vs. offensive players as the scout defense. No helmets or shoulder pads. The coaches were coaching and correcting a ton during this time. One assistant told me that this takes some time away from their meeting time, but they do this so they don't have to stop and correct during team time at the end of practice.

3. The segments were controlled by a scoreboard timer in the corner of the endzone. The home team "score" showed what period they were in. The timer counted down. An air horn sounded to start the next period. The coaches were moving from drill to drill based on this timer, but they weren't married to it. At one point, Coach Gundy was personally running a 1-on-1 lineman drill and it ran a minute or two over the time for that segment. The manager waited to start the timer until he was finished running the drill.

3. After the walk-through, the entire team came together to do dynamic and static stretches. The QBs warmed up on the other field by just playing catch and basic warm-up throwing drills.

4. They did not do Settle and Noose drill. In fact, I did not see Mesh at all.

5. The QBs and RBs worked a good drill after individual where they just worked on the swing/check-down route. The RB lined up in the Pistol or offset, and ran his swing to the numbers where he settled. The QB went through his progression and threw the check-down to the RB. This was a huge emphasis all day.

6. Pat and Go was 10 minutes long. They threw for 5 minutes to the right, and 5 minutes to the left. They threw a quick slant, quick screen (foot fire) and fades. I didn't see a huge emphasis on the WR squeezing the numbers or working on the over-the-shoulder fade. The fades were at full-speed.

7. Routes on Air was very standard to all Air Raid teams. Five quarterbacks throwing to all receivers. One difference: They didn't use pop-up bags. Instead, the coaches/managers stood where the secondary would be and gave different looks/alignments.

8. The primary routes they worked on during this practice were: Snag, Shallow (Y & H), All-Curl, Quick Screen, and Jailbreak Screen.

9. At the end of 1-on-1 time with the receivers and DBs, the offense lined up in trips on the 5-yard line vs. two defenders (outside linebacker and corner). They threw their quick screen to #2, and #1 and #3 had to block the defenders. It was live to the ball and they got after it.

10. Everything was no huddle. I spent a great deal of time watching the communication system they had. The coach on the sideline signaled in the play. The QB was the only one really looking at the signals. He yelled out the play to the OL, and gave a quick signal to the receivers, and they ran the play. The signal from the QB to the receivers was very quick and simple. The QB said to the line "23.. 23.." and that was it. They were very sharp with their communication.

11. During team they were working situations. Since it was spring ball, the first offense was going vs. a scout defense while the #1 defense was on the sideline. After several plays, they switched and the #1 defense came on. They may have been doing that since high school coaches were there watching, but it didn't appear that they were game planning at all for opponents, just working on doing what they do.

12. "Game Time" at the end of practice was a 4-minute offense/defense situation where the #1 offense was against the #1 defense. They put 3:40 on the clock and the offense needed to get a first down to win. They got it to 2nd and short, and the defense called a timeout. On 3rd and 2 the offense converted, but Coach Gundy called holding on the offense, which put them in 3rd and 15 or so. They ran a jailbreak screen, but didn't get it. It was a highly competitive and spirited session.

13. From what I could tell, all of the numbered routes from the Air Raid were the same.

14. They ran their "Diamond" 3-back formation a little. Outside zone, inside zone and power.

One interesting play: They motioned the back who was lined up to the left of the QB over so he was directly behind the RB on the right. Then they ran Power with the entire line blocking down. The back to the right of the QB kicked out the end. The back who motioned over led through (instead of pulling a guard), and the QB handed off to the back lined up in the pistol. It was like an I-Formation lined up to the QB's right, but giving the ball to the back lined up behind him. It was a nice wrinkle, and a way of overloading that side of the defense.

If you have any specific questions, please post them in the comments below!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Coaching Clinic Do's and Don'ts

I believe that coaches must be excellent teachers in order to be successful. It is extremely challenging to bring a large number of student-athletes together and motivate, instruct and get them to buy into a common vision in order to win games. Sure you can have great athletes and still win games, but in order to win championships you must be a great coach and teacher.

We know that coaches can teach players what they need to do. What I have found discouraging are the instructional strategies coaches employ when they are giving clinic presentations to a room full of coaches. It amazes me how many outstanding and successful coaches use teaching techniques that would never be effective with students in the classroom.

I realize there are many constraints that coaches are working under when they are giving a clinic talk. They don't want to give away "secrets" to competitors in the audience. They only have an hour to talk. I have given clinic talks before, and I know that speaking in front of your peers can be one of the most frightening things ever.

As teachers, we intrinsically know effective strategies when we teach students. However, that does not always translate over to when we are teaching our peers. I began thinking about what I would like to see in clinic presentations to make them more effective. I also brainstormed some things that coaches should try to avoid doing in clinic talks, but we have seen far too often (or been guilty of ourselves).

  • Talk TO the audience the entire time. Ask questions of the audience. Engage them in discussion.
  • Show a PowerPoint slide full of words... and proceed to read every word to us. Use the slide as a starting point, not your script.
  • Devote more than two minutes and one slide to your season stats.
  • Show cut-ups that are in no real order or sequence (and stop to explain each play before the play starts).
  • Have several slides explaining each athlete's responsibilities, but no diagram of the play.
  • Use unique terms that mean something to you, without explaining the terms to us. For example: "In 54 Nebraska Y Cobra X Rambo... the Y is going to run his Cobra route and then the QB will look to the Rambo."
  • Devote more than two minutes and one slide to your coaching philosophy.
  • Show your season highlights.
  • Also, avoid these "clinic cliches":
    • "Men, we are in the best profession in the world."
    • "This works at our level where we can recruit... it may not work at your level."
    • "Can you guys hear me in the back? Can I go without the microphone?"
    • "I made some copies of this PowerPoint for you so you don't have to write it all down."
    • "I'm not very smart, so we use the KISS method."
    • "I had our technology GA put this together. I don't know anything about technology."
    • "Ya'll are welcome at our place any time. We have no secrets. Just call and let us know."
    • "We learn more from you than you learn from us."
    • "Recruiting is like shaving.. if you don't do it everyday you look like a bum."
    • "I have the best coaching staff in the country. They are all smarter than me.
  • Go in depth. Choose one small idea to talk about and explain it in full detail.
  • Discuss in detail one run play, one complimentary play and a play action pass off of it.
  • Explain how you teach, install and drill the play. Show the entire progression.
  • Demonstrate drills. Live. Bring volunteers up front and teach them technique in front of everyone.
  • Show video from practice of drills and team time. Then show the play executed in a game.
  • Use non-exemplars too. We can learn more from when the players didn't execute correctly than film
  • Choose unique topics beyond the X's and O's. Examples:
    • Take us through your entire practice. 
    • Demonstrate how you break down film. 
    • Explain how you game plan. 
    • Show your offseason schedule. 
    • Discuss each coach's responsibilities
    • Talk about fundraising ideas.
Finally, here is an excellent blog called "Speaking about Presenting" that has great articles about creating effective presentations. The ideas are applicable both in the classroom and in presentations. I highly recommend it.

As always, please add your comments below. What are other coaching clinics do's and don'ts that you would add to the list?