After personal player evaluation, we now come face-to-face with where we are as a team. Football is not about 11 players doing their own thing, but about 11 players working together to accomplish one thing. A good way to illustrate this is to compare the football team to an orchestra. Listen to an orchestra rehearse or tune up before a performance. As the musicians tune their instruments, the sound grates on the ears.
After all the instruments are tuned, the focus shifts to the conductor, and the performers begin to play the assigned notes at the right time, creating beautiful music. We can say the same of a football team. We have the task of evaluating team performance so that we play as a team, not as a group of individual players.
Practice Field Performance Evaluation
The first step of team performance evaluation occurs on the practice field. We do this with each unit—offense, defense, and kicking—each day by viewing video of the previous day’s practice. We watch ourselves both as individuals and as an offensive unit, defensive unit, or kicking unit. Something I’ve tried to do more lately is get the entire offensive unit in a room with all the coaches, the defense in a room with all the coaches, and the kicking units in a room with all the coaches. That way everybody knows what everybody else is doing and saying.
In this day of specialized football, the right hand sometimes doesn’t know exactly what the left hand is doing. Sometimes we communicate poorly. We alleviate these problems by looking at video of each unit with all the coaches in the same room with the players. We make this a quick overview because we don’t have much time. We must get to position meetings.
We conduct short, snappy practices with high intensity. I give awards on the field. For example, if we have offense going against defense on perimeter or skeleton situations, I may tell the offense that if they complete a certain number of passes, the defense does push-ups. When we struggled a bit with turnovers early one season, I said that any time the quarterback turned over the ball, Coach Sparks would do 10 push-ups.
If the running back committed a turnover, the running-backs coach would do push-ups. We didn’t do that long because I was doing all the push-ups! We’ve had some success with those approaches to getting players to think about their performance on the field.