Playbooks 101: Keeping It Simple Stupid
By Anthony Stone on Mar 17, 2017


A great coach is never satisfied. That is why even after a win the coaching staff is breaking down film to prepare for the next game or season. Whether it is on the field, getting an athlete in the weight room more, or fine tuning their playbook, there is always room to improve!

Coaches understand that their players are very important and that they can’t run a certain offense unless the correct personnel are in place to implement it. The other part that is important to remember is the players can’t run the offense if they don’t understand it because the playbook is too long or complicated!

The majority of football coaches know the mnemonic KISS in Football means: Keep It Simple Stupid. The question is: Why do coaches over complicate their football playbook by putting in way too many plays that a player can’t run correctly? The key to being a successful coach at any level is to always keep in mind what age level you are coaching! It is essential to understand that youth players don’t comprehend at the same level of the coach and their football IQ grows with their football experience. Also, some football coaches must keep in mind that just because it worked in the Madden video game doesn’t mean it will work in real life with their players!

KISS: Have an insertion schedule!

No matter what level you coach having an insertion schedule is the backbone to your playbook. It allows the coach to make sure the plays aren’t going in too fast and helps the players understand what they are supposed to do.

KISS: Getting players to remember the plays!

“If you never study math could you do arithmetic problems without getting one answer wrong out of 25 questions?”
Unless you are a genius the answer is no! Then how can a coach expect a football player to learn a football playbook without providing them with one? At the youth level, make sure the playbook is explained and given to the parent/guardian so they can study it with the player. This opens communication and helps prevent any frustration between a parent and coach in addition to promoting family time.

Another way to help players remember the plays better is by actually breaking down the play instead of just saying, “Run right” or “Run left” or physically moving them on the field.

KISS: Playbook size

The older the player gets the bigger the playbook should be.
Key Points:
• Don’t be a youth coach that wants to run 1000 different plays! Keep it simple!
• Make sure your plays complement the team by assessing your players!
o If you have fast players then you need to get the ball to the outside right away.
o If you have a bigger team then you should be a ground pound team.

KISS: Online Playbook Resource

If you are new to coaching and not sure how to create a playbook or where to start looking then go to: It is an excellent resource! There are a lot of plays to choose from along with a description of what each player is supposed to do. The membership is worth it because it will help keep you from getting frustrated as a coach, it is cheaper than a year of Netflix, you can make your own playbook for both tackle and flag football, and it also has plays for special teams. It is a complete package!

I am personally using it for the Australian Outback Women’s National Tackle Football Team. We will be playing in the 2017 IFAF Women’s World Championship in Canada this June!

KISS: Playbook 101

There are four things that go into an Offensive play:

1) Formations
2) Motion (If Needed)
3) Play (Run or Pass)
4) Snap Count

Start your youth playbook by having a couple formations, 5 different running plays, and 5 different passing plays. Once they have it mastered it is OK to add a few more plays to arsenal for the offense. Coaching Tip: When creating plays, use terminology the players can understand in the playbook. For example, use animal names or NFL team names for positions in flag football or use words that have “R” in them for plays that go to the right or words that have “L” in them for plays that go to the left.

Some coaches that are considered “old school” don’t do playbooks because they think that someone is going to steal it. Football has been around long enough that coaches have to understand that everyone has either ran that play or just changed it to their own terminology.

Here are some Examples of flag positions:
Insert picture of a 6 player flag team

Bear = Center
Lion = Quarterback
Monkey = Fullback
Cheetah = Running Back
Hawk = Right Wide Receiver
Eagle = Left Wide Receiver

I recommend using this blog as a resource to analyze your playbook and make sure you aren’t over doing it.

Anthony Stone is a Physical Education teacher at Gregory Elementary School and Quarterbacks Coach at Boylan High School in Rockford, IL.  He is also the Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach for the Women’s Australian National Outback 2017 Team. In July 2016, he was named to the Hudl Top 100 list. He has presented at IAPHERD, the top physical education convention in the state of IL, on how to get students moving with his Games Galore presentations. He has also presented at the Chicago Glazier Clinics on Quarterbacks & Special Teams. He was the Defensive Coordinator for the 2010 U.S. Women’s National Tackle Football Team, winners of the IFAF Women’s World Championship in which Team USA did not allow a point in three games with an overall score of 201-0. It is still a record. Stone has coached in the CIFL and the IWFL Leagues as well as Beloit College (Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator) and Rockford University (Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers). He has also coached football at the youth, middle school and high school level. He will be putting on fundamental football youth camps around the world in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @Coach_Stone_MT and use the Hash tag #TwoClaps to share your success.

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