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Strength & Conditioning

Article Submitted By: Artie Margulies718-543-1000, Ext 1022 Part OneHi! Let me introduce myself; my name is Artie Margulies. I am part of the Coaching Staff at DeWitt Clinton High School (Bronx, NY). For your information, I am an NATA-Certified Athletic Trainer, an NSCA-Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, and a USWF-Certified Club Coach. I have been competitive in the sports of Weightlifting & Powerlifting for the last 25 years. I have also managed a Cardiovascular Fitness Center for the New York Police Department. Taking into consideration my academic & professional backgrounds, I feel I can offer you physiologically-sound strength & conditioning advice. I am just one of many resource people available to you, all of whom, may have different solutions/opinions regarding particular strength & conditioning program design. Please feel free to E-Mail me with your questions, comments, or criticisms at order to evaluate the effectiveness of any Strength & Conditioning Program, coaches must have baseline information on every athlete. This consists of a "Pre-Test" of some kind to quantify where your athletes are at that moment. It can measure whatever you want, & it is not limited to, the popular categories of Height, Weight, Speed, Cardio/vascular/respiratory Endurance, Local Muscular Strength/Endurance, or Flexibility. The design of your Program will be based on improving the baseline values you obtained in the Pre-Test. For safety’s sake, you must keep in mind the age-group of the athletes you are testing. Their present level of conditioning may influence the type of test(s) you choose. *Identification of any physical problems in the Pre-Participation Physical Exam may also come into play. The last thing you want is your testing protocol/Program design causing unintentional injury to your athletes! May I suggest when dealing with younger athletes, tests should involve calisthenics (Bodyweight-type) exercises, such as, Push-ups, Dips, Pull- or Chin-ups, Sit-ups/Crunches, Vertical/Broad Jumps, & 20yd Sprints. With Junior Varsity Football players, the latter can be augmented by moderate- to high-rep(>6 & <20 reps) weight training exercises + 40yd Sprints. Those players 16-18 years of age can further add lower-rep(2-3 reps) testing + 1 mile run. Finally, those players over the age of 18, can be tested on their 1 Repetition Maximum(1RM) + 12 min run. Remember, these are conservative guidelines! Notice the progression of the level of difficulty. There are "Norms" available to compare your Team’s results to, if you so desire. Anyway, you will be comparing your own Pre- & Post-Test results & hopefully there will be improvement(s) noted!If possible, the testing protocol should be explained beforehand, as well as, demonstration of exercises to be performed. Athletes should be given at least one(1) week to familiarize themselves with the proper performance of those exercises. For some of them, their motor patterns may be less developed & they may be awkward while performing those exercises for the first few times! Spotting techniques should also be explained. Once again, try to minimize chance of injury!On the day of testing, athletes should be properly warmed-up before any test are administered. Ideally they should raise core temperature of body just enough to cause a light sweat to appear. A general head-to-toe flexibility program follows. Finally, the tests are administered , followed by a cool-down period.In the articles to follow, I hope to touch upon Program Design & Exercise Choices, as well as, anything else you would like to discuss.Part TwoI know you have read the previous piece and are anxiously awaiting the next part in the series. Your wait is over. As stated, previously, this is just one of many ways to deal with this topic. I welcome any feedback you have.Because of the wide diversity of Football Coaches that visit this site, my talk about Program Design may be very general/conservative to some. Remember, by and large, we are dealing with a young population group whose epiphyseal plates (Growth Plates) have not yet fused. Supervision of the lifting is MANDATORY, from both an injury prevention, and, LIABILITY standpoint. You must be available to spot & modify/correct faulty technique. You must be up-to-date in your CPR & First Aid Certifications, because accidents DO happen! The layout of your training facility is another consideration when trying to minimize the number and/or severity of accidents that can occur. Safety in the Weight Room is PARAMOUNT!Why do you need a strength & conditioning program? There are numerous answers, but based on my experience, three come to mind - 1.Injury Prevention, or, when injuries do occur, they may be less severe. 2.Make your athletes stronger, which leads to many other possibilities, such as giving them more speed. 3.For reasons that defy explanation, the weight room is the one place where players can come together as a team, or, drift apart, depending on the atmosphere, chemistry, camaraderie, Program content or design, or lack of it, and proper supervision My philosophy regarding program design or content is that an athlete is only as strong as his/her weakest link! The strength & conditioning program should address strengthening those muscle groups and making more efficient those metabolic pathways & organ systems specific to that sport. Simply put, in case of football, that means strengthening the main muscle groups of the entire body("head-to-toe") and the ATP-PC/Lactic Acid(Anaerobic metabolism) Systems.Football plays usually last less than 10-12 seconds. There is a short break between plays. An average High School Football game may have between 60-80 Offensive & Defensive plays. Because of the "stop-&-go" nature of the sport, short sprints, are an excellent choice for sport-specific conditioning. They can range from 5 to 50 yards in length. To add emphasis on exploding out of your stance and making the transition to full speed, 10-20 yard sprints are ideal. I like to tell players, "We’re going to run 1/8, 1/5, 1/4, 1/3, & 1/2 a game." That means we run 20-80 10 yd sprints with a 10-sec. break in between each. (3:1/ work : rest ratio). Pre-Season, we start with 20 during 5-Day Prep and work our way up to 1/2 game by end of Camp. In-Season, we try to vary the number, depending on the number of days off between games & how worn-out the players are from the previous game(s). Rest/recovery is more important than the workout. If your athletes are over-trained, they’re physical & mental performance will deteriorate! We will also run sprints of 200 yards.(<30 seconds. for backs/ends & < 40 seconds. for linemen) with a rest period of 60 seconds for backs/ends and 80 seconds for linemen(2 : 1 work : rest ratio) over the summer to get them used to higher levels of Lactic Acid, which they can accommodate to! Because of the high summer temperature & humidity, they are done in the morning or evening, not during the day! We start in July with 3-5 sets and end with a goal of 10 sets. Increase set number when all players are finishing last set under the time allotment. Once again, do not overdo the 10 yd. & 200 yd. sprints. Use your judgement, err on the side of conservatism! Remember, they’re getting banged up(muscle soreness/injuries), it’s hot/humid (dehydration), they may not be getting the proper nutrition and sleep, the girlfriend is bitchin’ ‘cause he’s too tired to see her, teachers want their work done on time, Mom doesn’t like him coming home late/tired every day, Etc.!!!!Part ThreeThe CardioVascularRespiratory system workout previously described can be modified for In-Season (more of a maintenance workout) or Post-Season (tapering + Long , Slow, Distance [LSD] + Fartlek). This winds up the conditioning for the Heart/Lungs/Vessels "link" in our Conditioning "chain."The musculoskeletal system is the next area we will be discussing. Again, as a reminder, if you are dealing with young athletes, exercise caution in the area of Program design! As a sidenote, if you are dealing with an injured athlete, make sure you are collaborating with the Athletic Training staff(if you have access to one) so you do not administer contraindicated exercises! Do not exclude your Sports medicine experts, they are part of the Team! Work together for the benefit of the athlete/Team.In-Season we try to work out twice a week, schedule permitting. We look at this time in the season as a Maintenance-type period. Our percentages of our 1RM or projected 1RM are in the neighborhood of 80% for reps 5 or less and 2 sets for each Core exercise. We do no testing In-Season, 1RM percentages are based on last test done in the Summer lifting program. Athletes who weren’t around during the summer use a "best guesstimate." Because the athletes are recovering from aches & pains incurred in previous game, we try to allow 2-3 days rest between workouts to allow them adequate recovery time. We use the following Core exercises: 1.Back Squat 2.Conventional Deadlift 3.Standing Press Behind the Neck or Standing Behind the Neck Push Press 4.Power or Hang Clean 5.Shoulder-width Grip Bench Press or Shoulder-width Grip Incline Press 6.Dips with Weight for Backs/Ends & Lying Tricep Extension/E-Z Curl Bar for Linemen 7.Neck Machine in Flexion/Extension, Lateral Flexion & Manual Resistance for Rotation Auxiliary exercises done for 5 – 12 reps x 2 sets include: 1.Leg Press or Lunge 2.Leg Curl 3.Standing/Seated Calf Raise 4.Back Hyperextension 5.Lat Pulldown for Linemen or Pull-ups for Backs/Ends 6.DB Hammer Curl 7.BFS Dot Drill The reps vary but if <5 reps are done; weight is decreased or if >12 reps are done; weight is increased.We do not do any Plyometric exercise In-Season having found them to be the cause of Overuse-type injuries. By this point in time, the players have been together for a while, so we don’t have to spend as much time teaching the technique involved with each lift. We are more concerned with refining techniques with subtle changes where appropriate. As always, stress weight room safety & etiquette! We continue our formal Team Pre-Practice/Pre-Game Flexibility program. The Team breaks "a sweat" by a light ¼ - ½ mile jog; then the stretching begins. It includes a combination of Static and PNF Contract/Relax stretches. It covers the major muscle groups from Head-to-Toe. There is optional stretching after each practice/game, with more than 50% of the players choosing to participate(usually the Starters). Finally, this is one approach to In-Season training for the Musculoskeletal Sytem; there are many others. There is plenty of literature out there. Seek & ye shall find! Pick what you think is best for the type of athletes you work with.Part FourOur Post-Season program takes place three times per week, usually Monday, Wednesday, & Friday. It starts in December and runs until the end of June. Testing for 1RM or projected 1RM is done the week after the season ends. Re-Tests are done every seventh week. In between each Re-Test are six-week intervals where we manipulate the Intensity & Volume to give us a variety of mini-cycles. The change in mini-cycles seems to keep our athletes from going "stale." For motivation, we use a variety of strategies. We print up T-shirts, i.e., "The 300Lb. Bench Press Club," "The 500Lb. Deadlift Club," The 225Lb Power Clean Club," etc. and award these to those lifters equaling or surpassing those totals at each testing week. We also keep a board in the Weight Room, with records of all our Core lifts broken down by J.V. & Varsity. When possible we expose are best lifters to one Powerlifting and/or Weightlifting meet held locally during this time. In the past, our lifters have held age-group State Records in both PL & WL. On a side note, we also make the weight room a place where basic math is done. Players have to figure out what plates equal the weight they need. We try to get them to think on the fly – we really keep them on their toes when we switch back and forth between Kilos & Pounds!We break the team down by Offensive Position into "Linemen," "Backs," & "Ends." Each position is broken down into sub-groups of 5-6 players. These players lift together. To make things run smoother, the on-deck lifter is spotting/handing off and the in-the-hole lifters are resting, spotting, or loading . Suggested Warm-up weights are posted based on Work Set weight. The Core & Auxiliary exercises are grouped together by main muscle groups exercised. Group "A" consists of Back Squat, Leg Press, Lunge, Leg Curl, Standing/Seated Calf Raise, BFS Dot Drill, & Crunch with weight. Group "B" consists of Shoulder-width Grip Bench press, Shoulder-width Grip Incline Press, Weighted Dip, Lying Tricep Extension, DB Hammer Curl, & DB Side Bend. Group "C" consists of Standing Press Behind The Neck, Power/Hang Clean, Back Hyperextension, Lat Pulldown, Neck Machine, & Russian Twist.MONDAYWEDNESDAYFRIDAY
Each group of players hits each Group of exercises once per week allowing them to work hard and still have ample time to recuperate(1 week). We are lucky to have the space and equipment to train 60 –70 lifters. You may have to modify the above or add an additional lifting day to accommodate more players. Another way the accommodate more players, if they have Weight Training as their Physical Education class, is to do the workout during their Gym period(s). Yet another way, involves coming to school during "0" Period to lift. On the average we can finish a workout in 60 –90 min. If it takes longer than that, the attention span and energy of players starts to wane. A "sample" of the Reps-%age scheme follows:WEEKWEEKWEEKWEEK
1 10’s x 65%8 10’s x 70%15 8’s x 72.5%22 5’s x 85%
2 10’s x 70%9 8’s x 75%16 8’s x 77.5%23 5’s x 87.5%
3 8’s x 72.5%10 5’s x 77.5%17 5’s x 82.5%24 3’s x 90%
4 8’s x 75%11 5’s x 82.5%18 5’s x 85%25 3’s x 92.5%
5 5’s x 77.5%12 3’s x 85%19 3’s x 90%26 2’s x 95%
6 5’s x 80%13 3’s x 87.5%20 2’s x 92.5%27 2’s x 97.5%
Our Juniors & Seniors are Re-Testing 1RM; our Freshmen & Sophomore are Re-Testing 2-3RM and we will project their 1RM. Improvement varies because of many variables. Fiber type ratio(genetic) will affect the players & you will soon find out the "reppers" from the "singlers." We expect to see small improvements in our older players & greater improvements in our younger players. Motor patterns associated with lifting for the first take time to develop, but improvements are noted shortly, mainly due to repetition/practice. In the older players, with more developed motor patterns, strength gains slower due to a variety of neuromuscular factors.Part FiveThe part of our program that we have the least control over is the Summer Program. Before the players leave school, they are given the last Test after the 28-week Post-Season program ends. Players are given a Summer Workout Handbook. The Handbook outlines a general program that will last until players return to school for 5-Day Prep/Camp. There is no way of knowing whether or not the Handbook contents will be adhered to. We try to adhere to K.I.S.S. principle when drafting it, so it is basic/generic. It is broken down into 5 main areas, which are:1.Summer Lifting Program 2.Plyometric Program 3.Sprint Program 4.Distance Program 5.Flexibility Program The Summer Lifting Program includes all of our Core/Auxiliary Exercises + several others. We recommend 3 days/week of lifting. The Program is a "Bodybuilding" type of program with reps in the range of 8-12 and sets <5. Percentage of 1RM is in the range of 60 – 75%. The exercises suggested can all be done with Free Weights, in case the players don’t have access to anything else (Machines). They are, for Lower Body: ·Back Squat ·Front Squat ·BB or DB Lunge ·Stiff-leg Deadlift Off Platform(Weight never touches floor during set) ·Floor-supported Back Hyperextension(Weight Optional) ·Standing Calf Raise For Upper Body: ·DB or BB Flat Bench Press ·DB or BB Incline Press ·Standing Strict Behind The Neck Press ·Military Press ·DB Front, Lateral, Bent-over Raise ·DB or BB Shrug ·Power/Hang Clean ·Pull-up/Chin-up(Weight Optional) ·Dip(Weight Optional) ·DB Hammer Curl ·DB or Surgical Tubing Internal/External Rotation for Rotator Cuff ·Neck Manual Resistance(With Towel) in Flexion/Extension, Lateral Flexion. & RotationFor Midsection: ·Russian Twist ·DB Side Bend ·Crunch(Weight Optional)  Plyometrics are done also; they include: ·Continuous Broad Jumps ·1-Leg Bounding ·Box Jumps ·Dot Drill(Draw Dots on floor with chalk) Flexibility work is done with Static, 10-count Hold, then relax, repeat for total of 3 sets. The stretches are the same ones we use throughout the season, except for partner PNF stretches(We substitute static stretches for these).The Sprint Program is basically the same as we do during Pre-Season. For short sprint(<100yds) utilize a 3:1 Work : Rest Ratio. For longer sprints(<400yds) utilize a 2:1 Work : Rest Ratio. The short sprints work the ATP-PC system & the longer sprints work both the ATP-PC & Lactic Acid systems. We recommend starting with 8-10 sets & adding 1 set per week for the short sprints. For the longer sprints, we recommend starting with 3 sets and adding 1 set per week.Finally, we like the players to do 1 long jog per week, ranging in distance of 2-3 miles for backs/ends & 1-2 miles for linemen. These should be timed, but no Target times assigned. Again, advise doing the running in morning or evening before temperature/humidity gets too high.I have tried to give you a very basic and SAFE training program. Will you have to modify it? Yes! Is this the only type of Program of its kind? No! Please use common sense when adapting it to your program. Remember the goals are to prevent injuries, hopefully make players bigger, faster, & stronger, and to bring players & coaches together as a TEAM!