Here’s a thread to jot down teaching points, anecdotes and other insights related to coaching.
For the first post, I want to start off with some comments I had about Pete Carroll’s remarks about a disastrous play right before halftime against the Vikings. The Seahawks had the ball on the Vikings 4 yard line, with 16 seconds and no timeouts. Russell Wilson drops back, slips, tries to scramble and then throws an INT. Anyway, Pete mentioned several things about this that I thought was interesting:
1. He mentioned that he kicked himself for not reminding Russ to throw the ball away if there wasn’t anything. You would expect Wilson to know this, but even really good players forget an important detail like this. (The radio announcer asked if it was similar to baseball players reminding each of the number of outs, and Carroll agreed.) The detail is interesting because it shows a way that professionals aren’t completely different from amateurs.
2. Carroll mentioned that they practice the exact situation over and over again. When I played on teams, the coaches I played for almost never practiced situations like this (i.e., little time on the clock, having timeouts or not, etc.) This isn’t the first time I realized the importance of practicing these situations, but if I ever coach seriously, this is something I’d do a lot with my teams. (I’ll explain the reason in the next point.)
3. Carroll explicitly or implicitly mentioned that they practice these situation over and over again so that a) the coaches don’t have to make a decision under duress. That is, they identify all the possible scenarios, decide the way they want to handle those scenarios, and then practice them over and over again, and b) by repeated practice, the players are comfortable and confident when these situations occur. (If I were the coach, I would try to also recreate the amount of pressure the players feel, and if possible make the pressure even greater than what the players would experience during the game. The idea here is to get the players used to playing under pressure. The more accustomed they are to pressure, the better chance they’ll be able to perform under pressure during the game.)
4. Regarding preparing for different scenarios, Carroll mentioned that they never really practiced a situation where the QB slips, and you can hear his chagrin of this oversight. To me, this illustrates the degree to which a coach would or should think of every possible contingency. Again, you want to do this and then expose your players and coaches to this in practice, so that they’ll be able to handle this well if it happens during the game. This is about being prepared, and being disciplined.