While casual observers tend to look at football for leisure or as a simple sport, to the coach it involves a far more in-depth approach. There a number of factors to consider before and after the snap, all of which real-life coaches take into account as they try to make adjustments that will hopefully lead their team to a victory. In this article, we'll discuss some coaching tips you should know on and off the field.
As a coach you should observe the opposing defense's tendencies and adjust to what the defense is doing to prevent the offensive from gaining yards. A lot of these adjustments revolve around play calling. For example, if the defense is anticipating a run play and has several players positioned near the line of scrimmage, a smart play call would be a play action pass (faking a handoff to the running back and throwing to a receiver). If the defense is not honoring the run and has multiple players backed up off the line of scrimmage to defend against the pass, a running play up the middle will likely yield a solid gain.
While coaching the game, also be sure to pay careful attention to the defenders' body language. Frustrated or over-eager defenders are vulnerable to making silly mistakes such as jumping over the boundary line before the ball is hiked, allowing the offense to move up five yards as a result. In these situations, you can expect the offense to utilize what is commonly referred to as a "hard count." Hard counts involve the quarterback yelling his cadence (ready...set...HUT) multiple times, emphasizing the 'hut' portion of the cadence in order to fool the defense into thinking the ball is going to be snapped.
From a defensive perspective, coaching football requires you to be mindful of all the different tactics the opposing offense is using in an attempt to confuse the defense. Is the quarterback using the same hand signals to change the play at the line of scrimmage? Are the offensive linemen firing off the line of scrimmage or standing up to pass block? Where are the receivers aligned? Finding answers to these questions makes the offense easier to stop, as it gives the defense a better indication of what the opposing team is trying to accomplish.
Throughout the course of the game, note which defensive players are assigned to cover each of the offensive players. The offense will often alter the starting position of their fastest receiver (i.e. moving the receiver closer to the linemen as opposed out near the sideline) in order to get a slower defender matched up with the speedy player. The defense can counter this approach by having their best cornerback or safety "shadow" the offense's best/fastest receiver, following the receiver wherever he goes before the play begins to ensure the right matchups.
As a coach, it is important to observe each coach's tendency to take risks. For example, if the offense is faced with a 4th down and needs two yards to secure a 1st down at the middle of the field, the coach will either elect to drop kick the ball (or punt) to the other team or run a play at the risk of losing possession should the offense not reach the 1st down marker. In the same 4th and 2 situation, the defensive coach will either call a blitz (sending multiple players after the quarterback and leaving only a few players in pass coverage) or leave a majority of the defense to guard against the pass.
Making the right decision in high risk/high reward situations often represents the difference between winning and losing a game. If the risk pays off, the team is well on its way to a victory. If the risk backfires, however, the team has severely jeopardized its chances to win the game.