By Eric Anderson
Inside Linebackers Coach
Bishop Chatard High School (IN)
As coaches, we all would like to maximize the quality of practice. If you can create an environment that has energy and efficiency, it will definitely transfer into good things on Friday night. We all attempt this. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t but we all strive for that perfect practice. I believe, as I’m sure many of you do too, that in order to even have a chance at creating this environment for your two deep depth chart (the guys that play), the competition they face must be formidable. Enter the Scout Team.
If you don’t have the opportunity to two platoon, then you definitely use a scout team. Most teams use scout players in all phases of practice. If you want your offense, defense, and special teams to get the hands-on experience they need, then their competition must be able to effectively recreate their opponent. We want our players to be ready for anything on Friday night, so we must try to create that environment during the week.
When you want your players to buy in, the first step is to show them that you have bought in. So, if you are in charge of teaching the scout team, it is important that you are well versed in the scheme they need to know. Be able to answer questions about the scheme and provide them coaching direction as if you are the coordinator. As a scout coach you should also bring a positive and competitive energy to the task. Once they see you are excited about the opportunity to coach them, they will be eager to compete against the starters. Enthusiasm won’t solve everything, but it is a good place to start.
There are a few other things we do to try to create buy in. The most important being recognition. We have “Scout Players of the Week” every Thursday before we start our walk thru practice. The Head Coach will announce these in front of the players. Some kids like the mention, but most of all it allows them to see that they are being evaluated. Every year a few guys that started on the scout team earn a chance to play on Friday Nights. When players know they are getting a chance to “show what they got” you get a unique kind of energy.
Scout Team starts with scout players. We want to face the best competition without putting our starting units at risk. Early in the season we as coaches collaborate to create what we call a “Scout Depth Chart.” I’ll use Scout Offense to explain this.
I first work with the D coordinator and D assistants to know who will be taking 1st and 2nd team reps that week of practice. Once we have that, we go to the Offensive Coaches with the leftover players to see who we can’t use for the sake of the team. The common players on this list include your kickers and O starters. Once you have your scout players you create a depth chart according to the opponent’s personnel. We pay attention to skill, size, and position. The closer we can mimic our opponents, the better. We have a depth chart ready to go by Monday, but it is a rough draft. You will have to be ready to adjust because of injury, kids missing school, or even JV games, etc. We are fortunate to play a lot of our JV games on Saturdays, which allows a scout preparation period on Mondays.