Simplifying Film Study for the Post Season
49 Questions You Must Answer
By Jeff Minter
Editors Note: Since 1998 Coach Minter has served as a head coach, coordinated all three phases of the game, and worked with the defensive line, offensive line, linebackers, quarterbacks, and wide receivers. In the past few years, Coach Minter has become one of the most popular and respected coaching bloggers on the web and is excited to be a regular contributor for X&O Labs.
Playoff season has arrived and with it comes more pressure, more responsibilities and in many cases unfamiliar opponents. Each of these factors makes it crucial for coaching staffs fortunate enough to be in the playoffs to have a detailed plan on how they plan on studying their opponent with the added time constraints and pressures.
The key to successfully navigating your post-season film study is simple…WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER!
In reference to coaching and film study this does not mean you can be lazy. You still need to put in the time. However, by prioritizing and organizing how you study film you can reduce the hours you put in allowing you to deal with all of the additional variables that come with post season play.
Delegate to Dominate
I have found it best to delegate film study by position group. Doing this not only empowers more coaches and helps them understand the opponent, but it also allows for more depth of study at each of the given positions.
Here is example questions that each position group can be asked to address prior to your first prep meeting:
Offensive Line Coaches:
- What are the basic alignments of their d-line?
- Do they change or tip stunts/blitzes based on alignment?
- What stunts can we expect?
- Who is their best player?
- Worst player?
- Do we need to account for any players with specific blocking schemes?
- How well do they redirect?
- Do they read or attack?
- Does stance get heavier or lighter based on situation?
- How will our Offensive Line win the game for us?
The Fastest Growing Coaching Resource in Football Today is X&O Labs’ Exclusive Membership Website – Insiders. Click Here to Join for One Low Price.
Running Back Coaches:
- Where will the linebackers align?
- Do they tip off blitzes base on alignment?
- What blitzes can we expect?
- Who is their best/worst player?
- Do we need to account for anyone with blocking, counters, or playaction?
- Who do they read?
- How do they handle counter?
- How fast do they flow?
- What is their reaction/responsibility to pass?
- Can we block the linebackers with our running backs?
- How will our Running Backs win the game for us?
Quarterback and Wide Receiver Coaches:
- What coverage can we expect?
- Who is their best/worst cover man?
- How can we create an advantage in the passing game?
- What routes do they struggle defending?
- Do they follow motion?
- How do they react to Play Action?
- How will our Wide Receivers win the game for us?
Defensive Line Coaches:
- Who is their best/worst offensive lineman?
- Do they tip run/pass or base/pull based on depth off line or heavy/light stance?
- Who can we attack in passing situations?
- How well do they pick up stunts/blitzes?
- What is their most common blocking scheme (base, zone, counter, etc..)?
- How will our Defensive Line win the game for us?
- Do running backs tip run/pass based on alignment, stance, or first steps?
- What type of flow can we expect to see most often?
- Are the backs likely to push the given hole, bounce, or cutback?
- Do the backs release in routes or stay to block?
- Do we have a personnel advantage/disadvantage anywhere?
- How is their ball security?
- How is the QB as a runner?
- On pass is the QB likely to step up in the pocket, throw it away, or scramble?
- How will our Linebackers win the game for us?
Defensive Back Coaches:
- What route combinations are they most successful with? Least?
- Do they tip run/pass by alignment, personnel, or takeoff?
- Who is their best/worst receiver?
- Do we need to double anyone?
- What is their “go to” pass route?
- How will our Defensive Backs win the game for us?
Putting It All Together
With all of this information compiled, the Offensive and Defensive Coordinators can now move forward with the game planning and schematic breakdown of the opponent. The information that they have been given by the position coaches helps them see a more clear picture and more quickly identify concepts and potential areas of strength and weakness.
- Get a head start… If at all possible, do as much of this preparation in the off season. You can assign coaches on your staff to do analysis of the potential post-season opponents and to procure as much film as possible so that you have a more developed base to start from when the time arrives.
- Limit The Factors… The data that we have is only useful if we use it. Eliminate extra work for coaches by only having them track the information that you ill actually use in creating the game plan. This also helps the assistant coaches understand the value of what you are asking them to do.
- Limit The Data Pool… Not all film is created equal. Do you really need to have a complete breakdown of film against a scheme that has no relevance to yours or the series in a game after your opponent went ahead by 35 points? Probably not. By cutting out parts of the film from the data pool you will ensure that your time is being spent on the most relevant film and that your data is not skewed.
Whatever you choose to do with your film time, it’s worth taking a look at the driving questions that will help focus your weekend film study so you aren’t lost in your basement with hours of film and an overload of potential information. The previous examples are just a few you can begin with, but whatever you choose make sure you are focusing on the questions that will help your team and address the needs of your scheme.
Hopefully these concepts can be useful to you and your team as you enter the next phase of your season. Good luck!
It’s Your Turn…
How does your team handle it’s film breakdown? Are their essential questions that your team answers that aren’t listed on Coach Minter’s piece? If so, please share in the comments section below.