Making In-Game Adjustments

Do you take notes during the game?

When I was in the booth, it’s easy to take notes. I had ready made templates to draw up the opponent’s alignment to our formation. I used printed spreadsheets to jot down my thoughts on how the OL performed on each play. I’m not talking about detailed reports, but just enough to remind me of things to talk about to the coach on the field, and to the OL at halftime.

When I am on the field, taking notes is much harder. I use more mental notes than anything, and I also have to trust the memories of the players. I’ve tried writing quick notes on a small notebook, but I find that the action of the sideline and my ability to write anything don’t go hand in hand. So I have to make a point to remember a specific play and what I saw. I find my conversations with my players to be most beneficial. I can ask them what they are seeing and why they are doing certain things. This helps me make note of ways to adjust and perhaps execute a better attack.

At what point during a game do you make adjustments to the game plan?

You have to be ready to adjust from the get go. Not that what you saw on film was wrong, or what you went into the game with was a bad plan. But remember that the other team also came into the game with a plan for you.  So it really depends on the success you are seeing with your plan, and also what is causing the failure. You could be moving the ball down the field, but once you get closer to the end zone, penalties and unforced errors (bad snaps, bad routes, misalignment, etc) keep you out. 

Maybe your adjustment is a player substitution. Maybe the play you want to run works better from a different formation. Don’t scrap what you planned right away, if at all. Sometimes it just takes a tweak here or there.

Do you have a set procedure for making/approving adjustments during the game and during halftime?

When the coaches from the booth and the sideline coaches get together at half time it offers a quick meeting of the minds to share each other’s notes and thoughts. Much like talking to your position between possessions, it is important to let each coach share what they are seeing and what they think could work. The goal should be to all be on the same page with how you’re going to approach the first possession of the second half and ready to present to the team.

Do you have built-in adjustments for each week? When do you plan them and do you practice the adjustments?

This can be difficult. When preparing against an opponent, you practice your plays and schemes a specific way all week. Sometimes preparation does include adjustments WHEN they do THIS. It is easy, but also wasteful of your time to get caught up in the what ifs to prepare for it all. You have to prepare for what you have seen them perform in their season so far, or how the opposing coaching staff and team played you in the recent past. You can never cover it all, so prepare for what you know.

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