Monday, December 17, 2012

Paranoia and Game Plans

You know from my previous comments that I love Football Coaches, but goodness gracious, they are one paranoid group of individuals. 

I always get a kick out of watching the head coach or his offensive coordinator hold up a 4-color, laminated game plan by which to cover their mouths as they radio in the next play to their quarterbacks.  No doubt in the devious world of pro and college football, they must go to extraordinary lengths to protect themselves from the opposing team's Coach-in-charge-of-Lipreading.

Admittedly, I did very much enjoy working as team manager for my college's head football coach, Dewey King.  Dewey was a wonderful, gruff man... and as paranoid as the rest of them when it came to varsity contests on Saturday afternoon.  But he also called plays for the JV games on Monday evening, where he had a decidedly less suspicious nature (Nobody gets fired for losing JV games). 

Dewey would send in the play via messenger guard:  "Split Right Pro Slot Near, Tricky Red X Flash Z Whirligig 436 Whammo" (You know how FB coaches just love their play-calling terminology!)  If the play made 10 yards, Dewey forgot all about his Football Coaches Creedo to be sneaky, and just yelled out, for all the world to hear, "RUN IT AGAIN!"  And he would keep doing that until the opponent figured out how to stop the play.  But normally, those sacred game plans and play calls are double-top secret to Football Coaches. 

I, too, like creating a game plan, having made this a habit over the past 15 years. Here's my process:

First, I tear out a sheet of paper from a yellow legal pad, fold it in half, then again into thirds to make a trifold that will fit in my shirt or jacket pocket (no laminating required).  Next, I take out my pencil (one color only), and divide the front cover of the tri-fold into 4 quadrants.  In the upper left quadrant goes a list of our offensive attacks:   Zone offense, Man offense, Dead Ball plays, and our Delay Game.  In the top right quadrant I list the defenses:  On and Off presses (plus any press variations we are using for this game), and our blowout or lead-protect defense (usually a 2-3 zone). 

In the lower left quadrant go our Sideline and Underneath Out of Bounds plays, and any last shot special plays we might (or might not) have ready for that game.  For easy reference, I circle any of the OB plays that can be used versus a zone.  Finally, in the lower right quadrant I write the opposing team, their coach, the date, and the names of the three officials so I know who I'm yelling at during the game.

On the back of this tri-fold I draw a half-court diagram and place on it the number's of our opponent's starting five.  Next to their numbers, I write the names of the five players in our "Finishing Group."

I then open up one of the flaps and write on the inside of the plan any key things I want the team to focus on for this game.  Usually, like every game, I write
"REBOUND!!!" along with a brief list of what we expect the opponent to do (1-3-1 Zone, 3-up Press Break).

During the game, while I'm sitting there on the end of the bench watching the world go by, I'll occasionally pull out the plan, and jot down (again, on the inside flap) any ideas or problems I see with our play, things to be corrected at the next practice.  Usually, I list things like "REBOUND!!!"  or "PGs get to the rim!" or "We have no IDEA how to run OB 4!!!"  etc, etc.

The odd thing is that I almost never refer to my plan during the game. But if I didn't have it in my pocket, I'd feel unprepared to make those few decisions necessary during a typical System game.  I must confess that it has become something of a superstition with me to go through this planning process, like tying my right shoe first before every game... or was it my left????  Oh no, I'm doomed!

So, yes, just like my paranoid Football Coaching friends, I too have a mental problems, and I too have a Super-Secret Game Plan of Universal Enlightenment... but I still don't use it to hide my mouth from the lip readers.

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