Updated: Mar 5
A football team is built on the relationship between the coaching staff and the players. The strength of this bond can dictate the level of success that a program achieves.
As you look at position units within the team, the relationship grows even closer and becomes even more important. Coaches and players working toward a common goal is one of the reasons football is so great.
The development of a sound position manual helps map out a plan for players and coaches. A consistent plan allows players and coaches to communicate clearly while installing and teaching the playbook.
Many football coaches share samples of position manuals, but it is important to remember that the manual needs to support the system that you are in. Simply taking a position manual from a system that does not sync with yours could limit the amount of success you have and become counterproductive.
In reviewing a number of position manuals through the years the essential areas that should be covered are:
Philosophy, goals and expectations
What do you believe as a coach? What defines you? Great coaches usually have a great philosophy about coaching and it shows in what they do each day.
Coaching philosophy needs to reflect what you believe and although philosophy experiences changes, it is always important to stay true to your style. A strong philosophy leads to clear expectations for players.
It is important to stay as positive as possible in your delivery by telling players what you want them to do rather than what you don’t want them to do. The players should also know what to expect from the coach.
Goal setting is also important for players so they have something to attain throughout the year. Their goals should be measurable and reasonable. Team goals are a great way for players to bond and act as a unifying element for the position group.
The position manual should have a section for the basic fundamentals that each position needs to master. These are the essential to everyday performance and operate as the building blocks for how the position is played. Some universal areas include:
Stance/Start – All positions are going to need to have a start position and have the ability to move in a number of directions from it. A sound first step needs to be clear for every position on the field.
Block destruction/Block approach – Most positions on the field will be responsible for blocking an opposing player or beating the block of another player. Each position presents a variety of techniques.
Ball control/Ball disruption - On either side of the ball the goal is to keep it or to get it. Coaches should preach and coach this consistently.
Tackling/Blocking- Finishing plays is essential to success. The more this is consistently stated and coached, the quicker players can pick up proper fundamentals of blocking and tackling.
Rules and coaching points
Once basic fundamentals are established within the confines of the offensive or defensive scheme, a player’s individual rules and coaching points must support the scheme.
Players need something simple and likeable that they are able to easily recall in order to quickly rely on in situations like a pre-snap read. Rules are not limited to football fundamentals but they need to establish how to line up, what to read and who to block and any other essential assignment a player would have.
Consistent coaching points help support in-game corrections in just seconds. The player needs to be ready to perform at the highest level, many times rules are a big part of those corrections.
Basic drill work
Fundamentals progress themselves into combined group drills that put players into specific game situations.
Basic drill work with combination drills that require players to think and react can be defined early by illustrating them in a position manual. Clearly stating how each drill set up looks will eliminate wasting practice time on explanation.
Drill work should be named and have buzz words that are directly correlated with the skills associated in the drill. This enhances the players learning and builds shared language between the players and the coaches.
Working towards a common goal is the essence of a team. A coach’s job is not only to teach but to get their players to learn. Giving players a specialized guide for their position is one of many ways to help them learn and make the whole team successful.