Coach's Corner: Sam Knopik 7/28
By Sam Knopik Pembroke Hill Head Coach
Long gone are the days where high profile coaches would write solid, sound football coaching books. With multimillion dollar contracts those guys don’t need to write. Now the closest thing we can find from a “big-timer” is a treatise on leadership principles.
Seasoned coaches will know the truth that rarely, if ever, is there a new concept introduced to football that hasn’t been seen before. Out of print coaching books help remind us of this as well as share timeless insights that somehow have been lost on our contemporary play-by-play and color commentators. Younger coaches should take a look at any out-of-print titles and simply read the introduction and concluding chapters. In these brief pages you will find a goldmine of philosophy and football wisdom that no on-line, podcasted, Mega-Clinic can provide.
What follows are some of my favorites, not a top ten list or a ranking that would be too hard as there are too many good ones. Not all of these are football coaching books but they are all football related. Some you may be able to find at the bookstore while others you may need to hit eBay or the library.
No. 4 Winning Play Sequences in Modern Football, by Drew Tallman © 1971 Parker Publishing Company
Taking a series based approach to offensive study is important and if a coach is not disciplined it is easy to see how one can become caught-up in a variety of “best” offensive plays.
In his book, Oklahoma Split T Football, the great Bud Wilkenson warns “To my way of thinking it is a great mistake to try to pick individual plays from the various sound systems of offense and group them together to form an attack. When this is done there is no real sequence of plays and since the true value in any attack is its ability to look the same and still strike at different areas in the defense the sound concept and thorough exploitation of a real system is of vital importance.”
I love this book for its straight forward educational nature. While there is an assumed level of knowledge Tallman provides enough basic information and diagrams for a novice to understand the concepts presented. As we all know, nuances of each offensive attack we choose to employ are learned from their employment in practices and film study. However, clinics, coaching videos and books like this are a great way to be introduced to strategies.
An introductory chapter provides strengths and weaknesses of various formations and schemes that will be addressed. I would think coaches on both sides of the ball would appreciate these kinds of breakdowns.
Tallman sets his chapters up to give a brief overview of popular, well established play sequences used in football. For example Chapter 2 explains the Green Bay Sweep and its complementary attacks such as the blocking variations, Off-Tackle Power, four different trap concepts, and various action passes. Considering Vince himself once remarked that he could talk for eight hours on his sweep play, coaches should not simply overlook this concept as something they already know enough about.
Other series Tallman covers include Off-Tackle Power, Split T, Outside Belly, Inside Belly, Triple Option, Quick Pitch, Cross-Buck, and Sprint out and Drop Back Passing. After providing a philosophical foundation for each series he details the concepts of the base play and blocking variations. The diagrams are clear and effective, which is always a nice compliment to text based instructions.
Sam Knopik is the head coach at Pembroke Hill High School.
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