Thursday, May 28, 2009

On The Eve of Battle

At this writing, 30 hrs. til the first snap of the 2009 AA Jamboree. Players seemed restless and ready to go at practice yesterday afternoon. Team and individual photos today after school, final instructions re: hydration, itinerary, transpo and signals. A good night's sleep and lets close with our opponents tomorrow.

Similar feel to the eve of the clash between 7th Cav. and NVA in Ia Drang Valley...We Were Soldiers Once and Young.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nanaimo District HS Blog

Your Blog is Pro!!

Take their lead folks! Players, ask your coach to get something up soon and we will link it to the AA Network!

AA Spring Psyche-Up Video

The greatest NCAA squad ever assembled Hi-Lite Video
Proper Tunes Too!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Island Tier 2 Jamboree

Three teams today: Nanaimo District, Mark Isfeld and Gulf Islands.

The football was a lot better than I anticipated heading into the event. All three teams executed pretty darn good offensively, particularly Gulf Islands and Nanaimo District. Isfeld played some very good defense in their first game vs Nanaimo District and had a beautiful 90 yard drive for the winning score. Nanaimo District was very crisp offensively ripping big gashes in opposing defenses up front but could not finish drives with costly penalties followed by inopportune fumbles. The Nanaimo defense didn't allow a completion today and a very youthful group of second and third level players defensively filled vs the run admirably. Isfeld was physical on defense.

The class of the group however was Gulf Islands. They played nasty on both sides of the ball and have break away speed in all of their back-field and wing postions. Gulf Island numbers looked good in terms of bodies and boy oh boy could they bring it defensively. Many, many great hits. I think they are a reflection of their ol ball coach. He is a throwback and a tough nut who brings out the love of the game at a visceral level. During their second game vs Isfeld the Scorpions kept feeding off of the physical play and they got tougher and tougher with every dust-up. I have to credit Isfeld's QB and their RB/ILB's, they are good players.

Nanaimo District and Isfeld have BIG upsides headed into Fall Ball. As a very interested observer of BC High School Football I am more than ever a believer in the organization of varsity ball into three tiers. That was competitive ball today!!

Well Done!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No Huddle Offense

My Musical Interpretation of What a No-Huddle Spread Offense Must March To!

Why Uber-Nerds Count!

Malcolm Gladwell On Football
Gladwell is wired-tight! See how life is so interrtwined!!!!
From an ESPN Interview

JM: Early on in "Blink," you ask, "When should we trust our instincts, and when should we be wary of them?" That's a great question, and seems at the heart of what happens on the football field. You've got intense, detailed preparation leading up to the game, and lots of fast analysis between plays (by the coaches and players), and then the "instinctive" moves that happen once the ball is snapped. Let's say the Eagles call you up and ask you to spend a day with the team explaining the lessons of "Blink," and how they could be used in the Super Bowl. Would you take them up on the offer? If so, what would you say? Who would you spend the most time with? What would you want to talk about first?
Malcolm Gladwell: Well, it would be slightly terrifying to talk to the players, given that I'm, at my best, 135 pounds. So I'd settle for an hour with Andy Reid. I'd tell him the story from "Blink" about Millennium Challenge, which was the $500 million war game the Pentagon conducted in 2001. It was an elaborate dress rehearsal for the Iraq War, with one side "playing" the U.S. and another team playing Iraq -- and Iraq won. The chapter is all about how that happened, and it focuses on a retired Marine Corps General named Paul Van Riper, who was playing Saddam Hussein.

Gladwell on Sports
Interested in reading some of Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker articles that are directly related to sports? Check these out, at his Web site:
September 10, 2001THE SPORTING SCENEDrugstore AthleteTo beat the competition, first you have to beat the drug test.
August 21 & 28, 2000PERFORMANCE STUDIESThe Art of FailureWhy some people choke and others panic
August 2, 1999REPORTER AT LARGEThe Physical GeniusWhat do Wayne Gretzky, Yo-Yo Ma, and a brain surgeon have in common?
May 19, 1997DEPT. OF DISPUTATIONThe Sports TabooWhy blacks are like boys and whites are like girls.

Van Riper won by speeding up the game. The team playing the U.S. had all kinds of computer programs and decision-making systems, and experts on every conceivable problem. But when the war started, Van Riper hit them with so many unexpected plays so quickly that he forced them out of that kind of conscious, deliberate decision-making mode -- and forced them to rely on their instincts. And they weren't prepared for that. Van Riper, in a sense, went to the "no-huddle" against his much more formidable opponent. And his experience shows that being good at deliberate, conscious decision-making doesn't make you good at instinctive decisions.
That's why I've always been so surprised that more NFL teams don't use the no-huddle. It's not just that it forces your opponent to keep a specific defense on the field. It's that it shifts the game cognitively: it forces coaches and defensive captains to think and react entirely in the instinctive "blink" mode -- and when teams aren't prepared for that kind of fast-paced thinking crazy things happen, like Iraq beating the U.S. Andy Reid has to know that Belichick has an edge when he can calmly and deliberately plot his next move. But does he still have an advantage when he and his players have to make decisions on the spur of the moment? I'd tell Andy Reid to go no-huddle at random, unpredictable points during the game -- to throw Belichick out of his comfort zone.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Professional Development

Good News Coaches!

If you are a teacher you have a set amount of Pro-D money allocated yearly towards yourself. Go and check with your Pro-D person at your school and get an outline of what you can and cannot spend your $ on. I think you will find that books, videos etc. that are coaching resources fall under the domain of what is an acceptable use of Pro-D funds. This offers a terrific and lasting avenue for you and your staff to get better! Every bit helps!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Here Comes the Jamboree's!

Here We Go Again!!

Spring Ball is going to culminate across the province on different weekends with jamboree's, exhibitions and controlled scrimmages like a series of regional firecrackers! It is a real temptation to divine a lot of what Fall has in store for us all based on these tilts and after a decade and change of participating/observing them, I think a lot can be read into them.

First and foremost, these tilts are certainly a "Spring Physical" of the health of each program. You can gather a lot by how many kids are out, how many coaches present, support personel, fans and certainly, how deep and crisp the playbook. Are the kids in shape? Are the kids executing? When a player gets banged-up, does his replacement have a clue? What goes on in spring, I find will show you a lot about how a team will be doing by mid-October. An object in motion, stays in motion so to speak. Now these remarks need to be tempered by the various realities that each program exists in at their home school and the nature of the athletes that participate (VC kids at track, Carson kids with Rugby, kids playing baseball etc.) but by and large, the essence of a program is somewhat revealed in spring ball.

The ensuing three months after we are finished is a time to make adjustments and reaquire focus on goals/areas in need that are revealed during the spring tilts. Those programs who seize the opportunity to improve instead of taking a break, well, they are going to be much more prepared come September. In AA ball this year we are playing for keeps with the Coastal Division engaged in league play right out of the gates. Personally, I like this state of affairs as it will force a higher calibre of preparation, earlier for all concerned.

Back to Spring Ball. Three Jamborees of note on the Island:

Tier 2 Jamboree Sat. 23 May at Nanaimo District HS (NDSS, E. Milne, M. Isfeld and Gulf Islands).

AA Island Varsity Jamboree: Friday, 29 May 2 PM-5 PM @ NDSS (Mt. Douglas, Belmont, Windsor, Barsby, Ballenas and Timberline).

AA Island JV Jamboree: Sat. 30 May 11 AM-4 PM @ NDSS (Van College, Mt. Douglas, Windsor, Belmont, E. Milne, Parklands, Barsby, Ballenas, NDSS, M. Isfeld and Timberline).

Lots and lots of ball the next couple of weeks. Going to be fun!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Connective Tissue

We spread out our Spring Ball practices over almost a month by only practicing three (3) days a week and taking off Victoria Day Monday to add some healing time for the banged-up and the bruised. Usually this schedule is great for the squad as it is not shock therapy for bodies that have not been at football speed since November.

Well, it came as an unpleasant surprise at the end of week 1 to have our roster of 32 down eight bodies. Half of this total was the result of non-football incidents. Further, at least three of the 32 players we have out are brand new to the game so in terms of football brains, we were down to 22/30ths of the functional roster. Compounding things, 7 of the 8 missing bodies were two-way players. Psychologically, an injury is a tough, tough thing for any athlete to wrestle with from a purely individual point of view and from a team perspective, it is a big body shot as well.

I am proud to say that our players and team have responded exceptionally well! Firstly, the injured players have been very proactive in terms of their respective rehabilitation. Though the on-field portion of football has been closed temporarily, the guys have committed themselves to training the healthy parts of their bodies in the weight room; they have picked-up the academic slack and they are at their team practices as player assistant coaches, assisting their position coaches and helping keep the field equipment set-up and taken down as necessary. In short, they are taking positive personal steps for themselves and finding a way to get involved and make their team get better. This is character and it has brought us all closer.

The players that have remained have also responded. The idea of cross-training at multiple positions on both sides of the ball has manifested itself in the reality of our situation. Guys are unselfishly playing out of their preferred postion and in so doing, are building a new and important hubris of mental depth into our team. As our offensive and defensive schemes are becoming more widely understood, folks are buying in better and our long-term depth issues are in better shape. The new players are also being thrust into the mix at a far more rapid pace than they normally would. With the support of their injured comrades, they are also responding very favorably.

The end game is this: When the "starters" return, they are going to rejoin a battle-tested group of "starters" and this is going to give our team a lot more juice in September and October when we can substitute enough to never let up on the offensive, defensive and special teams throttle. The guys who have to respond now are our connective tissue and they are what is going to hold us together through thick and thin as 2009 unfolds. The injured will be back and they will have a new mental tool kit to work with long after their playing days are finished as well.

Opportunity Season is an amazing thing and we are now presented with another opportunity to get better. We are seizing the day!