FNF Coaches Talk — Tackling Training in Texas, Mike McCarthy’s Mistakes in Green Bay, FNF Coaches Survey

FNF Coaches Talk

Good evening, Coaches. Here are three stories we’re talking about today.

1. In Texas, the Land of Football, It’s Rugby to the Rescue (New York Times)

Here’s a story that falls under the player safety theme, and it’s one we’ll be expanding upon for our May edition of FNF Coaches.

In Texas, the Texas High School Coaches Association and University Interscholastic League has mandated that the state’s 23,000 junior high and high school football coaches become familiar with a program that teaches rugby-style tackling. It emphasizes the use of the shoulder, not the head, in bringing down the player with the ball.

The program was created by Atavus, a company based in Seattle that says it can produce more effective tacklers by teaching defenders to square up before hitting a ball carrier and to use their shoulders and legs for leverage and power. Coaches like Kitchen seem receptive to the message Atavus is trying to popularize.

“The most important part of it is getting moms to realize that the game is safer than it probably ever has been because of coaches’ awareness of concussions and all the things we’re trying to teach them, and because of the tackling training that’s coming on board,” said D. W. Rutledge, who retired recently as the executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association.

From the viewpoint of the Texas High School Coaches Association, any program that might reduce the number of head injuries in football, and the apprehension that they create, is worth looking at. Even if the program is inspired by a sport, rugby, that is much more prominent in other parts of the world than it is in the United States.

After all, while participation in high school football in Texas has remained relatively steady over the past decade, the game is not growing here as fast as it once was. In part, that is because of specialization, which has locked some children into other sports. But another factor is the concern by a growing number of parents that football is simply too dangerous.

Rex Norris, a former football coach in Texas who helped develop the tackling program for Atavus, which is called Tacklytics, knew that some coaches might be suspicious of techniques borrowed from rugby, and consider them an attempt to soften the way football is played, even though rugby is a physical sport played by burly athletes.

What resources are you using to teach tackling to your players?

2. WHAT HAPPENED IN GREEN BAY — A checked-out coach. A tuned-out QB (Bleacher Report)

This is an interesting story for coaches at any level because it gives somewhat of a guideline of what NOT to do as a head coach. Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy was once believed to be an innovative offensive mind in the NFL, and perhaps he just lost his motivation after butting heads with Aaron Rodgers over a numbers of years.

Here are two examples of behavior that caused him to lose his team.

About once a week, a meeting would start up and McCarthy was MIA. Players weren’t quite sure where he was while, for example, an assistant coach would run the team’s final prep on the Saturday before a game. Eventually, word leaked that McCarthy, the one calling plays on game day, was up in his office getting a massage during those meetings.

That’s certainly not a good management strategy. If you want something to be important to your team, you need to show that it’s important to you.

He also seemed to stunt his assistants’ growth by refusing them the opportunity to advance their careers outside of Green Bay.

As the years grinded on, McCarthy tried to take on more of a CEO-like approach with the team. He would routinely deny outside interview opportunities for assistants if they were under contract, so this was his way of giving them more responsibility, to prep them for an eventual promotion elsewhere.

If you’re not looking out for the coaches on your staff, don’t expect them to look out for you.

How do you make sure your message doesn’t grow stale?

3. Last call for the FNF Coaches Survey (FNF Coaches)

We like to hear directly from our coaches on what products are the best for their high school football teams. Please take a few minutes to share your experiences with us. All answers will remain confidential. We plan to close the contest next week, so act fast and you’ll be eligible for the following prizes.

  • Tackle Tube
  • DJI Osmo Pocket
  • Get your school on the cover of FNF Coaches
What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!