It’s All In The Execution

Every program should have an overall team philosophy followed by offensive, defensive, and special teams philosophies as well as the expectations of each player.  A philosophy is set as an expectation for each game which, in turn, creates an expected result for the season as a whole.  Great coaches will always create a philosophy for their team to live up to in addition to what he expects out of each player as an individual.

I have always told my players that there are only two things that I will never tolerate from them as individuals and those are:

  1. Making the same mental mistake twice
  2. Lack of effort

By doing this I have set an expectation.  If a player does not live up to those expectations then I have justification for disciplining him appropriately.  I do not believe in discipline by way of conditioning because it teaches a player to dislike conditioning.  In my opinion, the best way to discipline a player is by taking away repetitions or playing time.  Since playing the game is what a player enjoys the most, taking that away from him is the best form of discipline.  A coach should NEVER discipline a player physically by striking the player, grabbing a face mask, or laying a hand on that player in any way, shape, or form.

Below is an example of an offensive philosophy we had at one of the programs I coached at:


  1. Attack the defense at it’s weakest point with our best players
  2. Attack the entire field horizontally from A gaps to flats and vertically from behind the L.O.S. to the back of the endzone.
  3. Be multiple by using a variety of formations, motions and personnel combinations to create overloads, mismatches in alignments, and take advantage of personnel match-ups.
  4.  Use different modes of attack such as the run (options and power) and the pass (drop-back, play action, and bootlegs/waggles).
  5. Create play series’ that anticipate defensive reactions and take advantage of them.  Examples would be:  Have a pass off of every running play, have a counter off of every running play, and run trick plays off of regular pass/run actions.
  6. Vary the snap count to keep the defense off-balance and control the tempo of the game.  Examples would be:  Be able to run “no huddle” at any time, be able to execute a “hard count” to draw a penalty, and be able to snap the ball at any time from a “first sound” to a long count.
  7. Two minute and goal line offense is an integral part of our basic offense and philosophy.


This offensive philosophy is what we, as an offensive staff, expected to execute versus our opponents.  More importantly, however, we made sure that our players understood the philosophy.  This is something that is often overlooked by coaching staffs.  In order for players to execute a philosophy they must understand it.  In other words, you can’t simply install a particular play without explaining the concept of the play and how the play is designed to take advantage of the opponent.  If the players understand the concept or the philosophy, they will have a better chance at executing their individual assignment within the play as they will understand their roll within the play.

By having a team, offensive, defensive, and special teams philosophy, as well as expectations for each player, a coach can create a foundation of success for his team to live by.  Additionally, by doing this, the coach has established a foundation from which discipline is justified if necessary.

Coach Van Tassel

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