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Player Coaches

We had just won the state title game and the local reporter from our area had made the 100 mile trek to watch the title game and I was surprised to see him on the field following the game. He started off by telling me I had called a great game as we had to rely on our offense for the first time all season to win what was a non-customary shootout.

I told him he could take that up with our QB because I had only made one call all game as the rest were made from the field. This seemed to catch him off guard as he did not have a follow up question on the matter.

Through the years I have had a number of different players make the calls in games on both sides of the ball. For me, this is logical because the downside is too great NOT to let the players have a say in the most crucial element of the game. The reasons are as follows:

  1. A player will be more apt to prepare if he or she believes their input will be utilized. You can't preach, study film, learn the playbook and then expect a player to do this in earnest if they are not going to have the ability to call plays and make audibles.

  2. A 50% chance of a player failing is better than 100% chance of the coach being correct. Read that again. I can be certain a particular play is going to work but would prefer a lesser play be called by a player. The reason is because I am not the one running the play. Coaches are not on the field and even the best called play when poorly executed will more often than not fail. I have watched player called plays succeed simply because the will to make them succeed was present and the players all bought in to the play.

  3. We are supposed to be teaching and grooming leadership. We preach to our players personal responsibility, preparation, hard work and being leaders. Why would we not want them to exhibit this on the field. I would risk losing games if it meant teaching these valuable skills.

The truth is that letting players call the game makes it much easier for me to concentrate on the bigger picture. When I do not know the play pre-snap, I am able to focus on all elements of the play. I can determine quicker in a game if a different formation on either side of the ball would be better or if the personnel might need to be changed. It is also much easier to edit a paper than it is to write it.

It is much easier for me to see a flaw in the opposing team's scheme , when I am not focused on calling all the plays or blitz packages.

My all time favorite play calling moments came when I was a younger coach and working with a youth football team. We had a fairly simple playbook and this one young QB kept calling a dive play over the right side of the line where a future college guard and tackle were playing.

He had run the play successfully for about 7 times and we had just scored our second touchdown when I asked the young man how many times he was going to keep calling that particular play. His response was, "Well I guess until the stop it." Out of the mouths of babes! I told him he was wise beyond his years and went back to being a coach and letting the professionals handle the rest of the game.


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