Wojciech Weekly: Innovate To Dominate

Wojciech Weekly
Innovate to dominate – thinking outside the box

The common stereotype is that American Football is not rocket scienc . I have to agree that the only common factor between football and astronomy is the “Black Hole” in Oakland. On the other hand high football IQ is in my opinion almost equally important to on-field success as physical attributes. 

For Coaching the cerebral aspect of the game is crucial you have to analyze data, find trends and take critical decisions in the span of seconds. As most of you enjoy the offseason I want to give you some food for thought and am looking forward to your feedback on your approach to innovation in football. 

The Hardware
This is the most visible aspect of football innovations, the evolution of equipment. In order to make players faster and safer manufacturers use space age materials and newest technologies. There is also considerable amount of marketing involved – i.e “the safest helmet in the market”, to justify spending the equivalent of annual GDP of a small African state on a single piece of equipment. 

If we are discussing financial matters, how many of us have found ourselves in a desperate need of training equipment like sleds, linemen chutes without sufficient funding? In order to solve this problem we use our sense of “MacGuyverism” to create affordable solutions. It’s funny how often homemade training equipment proves to be reliable and simply does its job. However, there is one constant in the world of equipment innovations- the ball. To contrast it with soccer where every major tournament has a dedicated model, The Duke has remained unchanged since the 40’s.

The Software
During my recent trip to Berlin I had the chance to attend HudlUP Tour, let me clarify I knew what Hudl was before, but I haven’t got any clue that software was so useful. To those of you who have already been using it, there is no need to endorse it, to all Hudl neophytes– one sentence – imagine it after you’ve done all the film work – you upload the videos online players watch it and before the practice you check how much time each of them spent on film study–boom! Another useful feature Tag a play app allowing doing real time play by play stats on your mobile, which later will be synchronized with the game footage. Also drawing playbooks become much easier thanks to programs like Playmaker pro, but PowerPoint can be successfully used for this task. 

I have to mention the concept of “flipped coaching” described by Coach Keith Grabowski on his blog. In general instead of long classroom sessions – coaches create a video lectures which can be uploaded to players tablets, so they can study at their own pace. In European reality of players missing meetings and practices due to work and other important issues – this can be a useful solution. 

The digital revolution makes coaching time efficient and allow us to save the most precious and unrenewable asset– time. On the other hand, those of us who aren’t blessed with a huge staff have to develop computer skills, I treat investment that will later pay dividends. 

Survival Of The Fittest
I’ve heard the concept of yoga for football back in 2010 when I organized a developmental camp. During gym session, Mark Philmore asked players if they have ever done Yoga as a part of their routine? That could be the secret of MP3’s flexibility, and if you still have doubts just find the videos from Nike Pro Football Camp. If you use twitter, follow @footballyogagal for more details . 

How about throwing in spinning or mixed martial arts to your conditioning program? As for the strength training kettle-bells, crossfit and calisthenics are the new buzzwords among football community . 

I believe that this is the section where I should write about the growing awareness in the field of nutrition and recovery. I’m not an expert in this area but I like the comparison of our bodies to engines, if we put low quality fuel we shouldn’ expect high performance. Recovery is often neglected, if You've seen CT Fletcher Over-training video, you know what my point is. Getting better doesn’t always mean you have to train harder, sometimes you just have to train smarter and if like you’re not an expert do not be afraid to ask questions! 

Tackling is one of the fundamental football skills and since our players safety should be our top priority I strongly recommend the HeadsUp initiative. Also some coaches apply rugby tackling concept -shoulder first. 

The Process
This is the Holy Grail of football innovation, the X’s and O’s, from Air Raid to Zone Blitz the process in never ending. We try to outsmart our opponents but in the constant pursuit of competitive advantage, haven’t we tried to re-invent the wheel? Maybe it’s better to stick with Keep It Simple Stupid rule? As cliché as it may sound the system you use should match with your players strengths and allow you to mask the weaknesses. Another fundamental issue players must buy into the system and follow the rules. 

In a great piece Peter King of MMQB described Stanford offense – which in the game vs Army used myriad of formations and was described by King as “the probing offense”. Maybe, this is the way of the future, especially in Europe, where players rotation, new opponents, and other external factors demand rapid adaptation. 

I encourage you to share your thoughts and comments on the story. For latest football news from around the world follow me @CoachVoyt

Wojciech Andrzejczak