Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Point Method-Part IV

Ok, this is the final installment on the Point Method!!!!  We've learned history, methodology, and reasoning, now it's time for, as we say in the South...the meat-n-taters of the whole thing!  What drills can you use to teach the Point Method to your QB's?  For those of you who are option QB coaches, you already know these!  That's the great point, none of your standard option QB drills need to be altered at all.  I'm going to go through some of the drills I used, and how I used these drills to teach the Point Method to my option QB's.

The first drill, I simply called "Steps" because that's what we were doing, was getting our steps correct.  Much like in dance, you have to step in the proper place and sequence or you stand the risk of throwing everything out of kilter.  With my step drill, I started out on what we call the "fire hose". 
We spaced the position markers at 3 feet on center so our reads/mesh were as they would be in game-like situations.  I had all the QB's align on this strip facing me and get in their stances.  I wanted the weight balanced on both feet so we could push off either direction with equal leverage.  When we first started, we did not use a football in these drills.  In this drill we started with the first step of the inside veer (ISV).  We would go right first.  I believed teaching the method, from beginning to end, in one direction only.  This allowed the player to master the skill in one direction, rather than confusing the opposite sides of the brain, because we were continually switching.  We would do the first step roughly 20 to 25 repetitions on the first day.  As time went on, this drill could be phased out of an older QB's daily drill set.  Our JV QB's, however, did at least 5 reps of this drill each day.  Anyhow, back to the drill.  The QB would take his first step, and point the football.  What I looked for was good balance, no overstepping and the toes being pointed into the line of scrimmage (LOS).  We repeated this, and corrected each individual when needed. 

Young QB's starting the drill

Option QB's taking their first steps
 Once the first step is mastered, then move on to the QB's second step.  As mentioned early this is a step that I call "come to balance".  I play a little game with the QB's on this one.  I time them to see how quickly we can get that second step in the ground.  Obviously the winner gets a Gatorade, or a Popsicle or T-shirt, but it helps promote competition, in what really can become a boring drill.  Again, the coaching point here is not just speed, but you have to make sure the toes are pointed into the LOS.  The weight should be distributed evenly on both feet here as well. 
After the QB masters the first two steps, we add in the point.  The QB should now point the ball down the LOS as he takes his steps.  I have them point and look down their forearms to begin with.  As we progress and the drill individualizes, I have them point at me and read my far shoulder as they do.  I simply have them take their steps, point the ball at me and literally tell me what they would do with the football, by saying "keep" or "give".  This way your QB is not having to make decisions on the run, and you are "easing" him into his reads.  This is extremely helpful for the young option QB who may have never done any of these skills in his prior training. 

Once the steps, and the point have been established it becomes time to speed things up a bit.  We now progress into attacking the option alley.  We do not read this, as we want this look from our QB every time, regardless of a give or pull read.  We have the QB take his first two steps, and then on command he will snap the ball back to his chest and sprint out into the option alley.  I mark this alley by setting cones on an angle that would attack hash, numbers, then sideline.  This gives the QB the feel of pulling the football and attacking the option alley.  Again, we do not do reads here, because we want this look trained into our QB regardless of whether or not we have a give or a pull read.  The QB is just as effective pulling defenders out of the box on a give read if he accelerates off the mesh and runs to the alley. 
Now you are ready for a football and a FB.  I will not go into the teaching for the FB's in this piece, we'll save that for later posts.  Anyhow, with the FB and QB in their proper stances and alignments, we will, at half speed have the QB and FB execute a give read.  I tell the QB his read.  This is important, again, you are easing these kids into something they may not be used to, so take it slow and easy.  I align as a 5 technique and show them what their reads are, all the while, telling them what to do with the football.  A major coaching point here, is that the QB still accelerate off the mesh, regardless of the read.  I usually start with give reads first and then move into pull reads.  As things progress you can then quit telling the QB his reads, and have him start reading them on his own.  Another good coaching point for your option QB is to tell him, that if he guessed on his reads, theoretically he'd be right 50% of the time.  All we are asking him to do is be right, on 25% more of those reads.  Ideally we'd like to see QB's in the 70 to 75% range on making the correct reads.  Don't be flustered early on, when your QB guesses or doesn't read it correctly, this skill takes time, and patience to mater, don't rush him!  We did this drill every day in the spring, and every day during fall camp leading up to our first regular season game.  As the start of the season progressed we dropped this drill to twice per week, and then down to once per week later in the season.  I think this drill must be done weekly regardless of the age of your QB.  As a rule of thumb, tell yourself, your QB cannot ever get enough mesh reps.

Some problems you may encounter with your option QB is the fact most of them will want to look at the FB in the mesh.  Here is a drill we use to counteract that problem.  I found that in the steps drill QB's could guess whether or not to tell me to give or keep, or they found it easier to read with no FB present.  So what I did was instead of having them tell me "give" or "keep", I had them shout out the number I was holding up when they pointed the football at me (I was standing where the handoff key would normally be).  This forced them to get their eyes on me, and focus on me, not the FB.  We did this in mesh drill, with give reads only, so the QB could focus, and not necessarily have to make a read. 

Another problem is not accelerating off the mesh (one of my pet peeves).  We handled this, by using a drill we called "double ball drill".  We placed the fire hose on the ground, and aligned the backfield.  We had both slots, and a FB for this drill as well.  We placed a coach as the handoff key and just beyond him was another QB holding another football.  We ran through mesh drill, but off the mesh, the QB had to sprint down the line at the extra QB and take the football.  He then turned upfield into the option alley and pitched the football on command.  Later we incorporated a pitch key so the QB would have to make all of his option reads.  Obviously, if the QB got a pull read he just kept the football he had and accelerated to the option alley.  Here is a graphic of the drill:

*HOK= Handoff key

The key to all these drills is to start slow, allowing your QB to gain confidence in himself and his ability to make reads.  As he progresses you give him more and more.  Like I said earlier we did all of the drills daily until the start of the regular season.  Then we progressed to our in season routine, which looked like this:

QB's/FB's- Mesh drill 15 min.
All backs- Veer/Midline drill 15 min. (This included pitching the football as well)

All backs- Veer/Midline drill 15 min.
Team- 1/2 line drill 20 min.

All backs- Veer/Midline drill 10 min.
Team- 1/2 line drill 15 min.

Wednesday was usually our passing day, so we spent less time on option on Wednesdays.  I have even done these drills on Thursdays and the Mesh Drill was a part of our pregame warm-ups. 

By no means is this a comprehensive guide to coaching the Triple Option QB, yet a guideline on installing the point method.  These are just some things I picked up being a Triple Option coordinator through the years that helped us and our QB's be successful. 

So long...Peace in da Middle East!!!