The most important part of an install schedule is that it needs to be developed in partnership between the Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator and Special Team Coordinator. Without these conversations and collective vision, the practices through this period will be pointless and coaches will end up having to slow practice down with explanations, revisiting content as well as all parties becoming frustrated, due to a lack of clarity and organisation.
Step 1: How long have you got and what do you want in by game 1?
Typically, university teams have 6 weeks before their first game. In other formats of the game you may have longer. Regardless, of how long, you will never get everything in by Game 1. And nor should you try. The installation schedule is an outline and fluid document that needs to be revisited weekly for a couple of reasons:
- It might take you longer for a concept to be installed and fully understood. Therefore, you might have to scale something back the following week.
- Alternatively, players may pick something up more quickly than anticipated. You might be able to move on slightly but also consider the mastery aspect of the component that has been installed.
- Recruitment and Injuries – These can impact on the concepts that are being installed. These may change the direction of your offence or defence. Therefore, constant communication is key.
In honesty my personal approach would take our install to Week 2. From that we should have everything we need for the first half of the season. I don’t want to overload players because I want them to be secure in their knowledge and understanding to allow them to play FAST.
From this, our installation would then be a constant drip feed based upon, the direction of the unit, the secure knowledge and understanding of the concepts installed, the success of these concepts and game planning for our opponents.
NB. I do not have to keep installing. I want execution and mastery before adding more.
Step 2: The meeting.
This has to be led somewhat by the Offensive scheme. The reason for this is the Defence needs to be able to match up appropriately with the Offence. This is to enable fair and even competition between players, enable an effective and efficient practices and have the ability to run concepts vs a secure structured defence, that will enable a clear review and evaluation for coaches.
One of the most important reasons that the mapping of the installation between the units is required is for players confidence and emotions as well as their safety.
There is no point in the Defence running multiple blitzes when the Offence have not installed their slide concepts. Likewise, if the Offence is running Trips with motions and none of these adjustments are installed by the Defence. This will result in an unrealistic review by the offence and most likely frustration by the Defensive players and coaches.
We also need to consider scout within our install plan. This is especially important if the offence or defence run a less conventional system to those that you will face throughout the season. Therefore, it is important for the Offence to face the variety of fronts and coverages that they will likely see throughout the season. Likewise, the Defence may need to see a 21 personnel package in scout, as their teams offence bases themselves out of a 10 personnel package.
Step 3: Unit Planning
One area that may be missing from some install plans is the link between scheme and fundamental skills and techniques. There is no point the DB coach coaching Cover 3 technique if that week the focus for the install plan is Press Man.
The structure of the install schedule should be mapped to the individual skills and drills required to run that component of the scheme that week. For example, if we are scheduled to install Power from an offensive point of view we need to work on the following:
OL – Down Blocks and Skip Pull
RB – Footwork and the Read Triangle of the Centre and Pulling Guard
WR – Blocking and complimentary RPO
QB – Eyes (audible option to flip the play?) Footwork, RPO, Fake.
Step 4: Link to Special Teams
How can we utilise our teaching time of core fundamentals to fit with our Special Teams installation. There are phases within the Offensive and Defensive Install Schedule that lends itself to the different Special Teams Units. Also, the special teams install MUST influence the whole team core fundamentals teaching. So, when we are teaching open-field tracking and tackling, then this is the perfect time to be installing your KO and Punt Coverage Units. When we want to work on blocking as a team this will not only help the Defensive players that are going to be on the Return teams as well as their ability to use this skill set to return turnovers.
Question – Defensive Coaches – You work the takeaway but do you work the different elements of the return of this takeaway?
Step 5: Communication
The often over-looked element of the plan. However, one of the most important when it comes to communicating the plan with the players prior to the week of install. This will allow players to study what they need to know in the lead up to that week of practice. Also, allows coaches to set quizzes and develop resources associated the planned install, techniques and drills.
By promoting the install schedule to the players before hand this also supports with keeping players up to speed that may not be able to attend. Therefore, players know what is in the plan for that week. They can then review the practice film to ensure they are able to match the plan with the film for the practice they missed.
This communication as mentioned previously needs to be constant and in relation to the progress of the plan;
Offence need another week on Inside Zone before moving to Outside Zone.
Defence needs more reps vs motion. So, how do you adjust the plan to accommodate these elements?
Step 6: Linking it all together.
There are other elements that the rest of the coaching staff need to consider and plan for when it comes to the install schedule. These include:
Offensive and Defensive Common Terminology
Areas of contact Common Terminology
Blocking Install Schedule
Tackling Install Schedule
Position specific fundamentals install schedule
The planning associated to the install schedule is extensive. However, all of this will increase clarity across the staff, ensure time with players is optimised and finally that the Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator and Special Team Coordinator work as a cohesive unit to support the development of the players.