By Jason Thier
Dickinson State University (ND)
Our belief here at Dickinson State Football is one of the most critical parts of our job as coaches are to be great teachers. It does not matter what we know, it matters what our players know. To centralize our teaching and limit confusion, we have a specific method of organizing our playbook and conveying information. We utilize the “bucket system” to group like concepts together to assist with retention of information. For example, boys’ names are two-person line games, girl names are four-person line games, NBA teams are inside linebacker blitzes, etc. We also have a shared vocabulary for movement and coverage techniques to cross-train positions, creating scheme versatility. Finally, we use a tag word system in our pressure package to determine the location of the pressure to cut down on verbiage and endless memorization. The focus of this article will be on how we implement our tag word system when bringing pressure and how it can be adapted to any scheme.
How does the use of tag words cut down on verbiage and endless memorization? We identify six different locations we can choose to bring pressure from at any given time. Those locations include field, boundary, at a TE, away from a TE, at an RB, and away from an RB. In a non-tag word system, say your favorite pressure pattern is called Smash and Smash comes at the TE. Now, let’s say you want to call the same pressure patterns, but away from the TE. You must assign a new term telling your players it is the same pattern but from a new location. To be able to bring this same pressure pattern, from all six possible locations, you must create six different terms and then require your players to associate those six different terms with the same pressure pattern. Thus, to install five different pressure patterns, which come from all six locations, you would need 30 different terms. It is easy to recognize how this could lead to verbiage overload and confusion when teaching.
In a tag word system, by using independent terms for pressure location and pressure patterns we can install those same five patterns, from all six locations, with 11 terms. All while our players only need to associate one term with each pattern. That is nearly two-thirds fewer terms being used in a tag word system than a non-tag word system to install the same five pressure patterns. Less verbiage and memorization allows players to think less and play faster. It also allows for the expansion of your pressure package, without putting too much on the player's plates.