Tools for Successby: AFM Editorial Staff
© March 2013
The NFL High School Player Development program presented by the National Guard worked with Al Golden and the University of Miami to produce the 2013 practice plan and DVD – benefitting every high school program in America.
When it comes to supporting the nation’s high school football coaches, no program can match the NFL High School Player Development program presented by the National Guard. Not only does HSPD provide coaches with the opportunity to give back to the game by coaching in multi-day instructional and character development camps across the country, but each year they also deliver an incredible coaching tool to every high school head coach – the annual practice plan and accompanying DVD.
The printed practice plan, which is a collection of team and position-specific drills that serves as the basis for football skills instruction at HSPD camps, is developed each year with a collegiate head coach and his staff. The DVD features coaches and players demonstrating every drill in the practice plan – drills that are the same ones used by the university. Also included are tips on making practice safer for athletes.
As a sign of their support for high school coaches and their desire to promote player safety, HSPD and the National Guard reproduce copies of the practice plan and DVD in order to distribute them to every high school head coach in America. Coaches are free to incorporate some parts of the plan, or all of it, into their future practices.
For the second time in four years, University of Miami Head Coach Al Golden worked with HSPD to put together the practice plan and produce the 2013 DVD. This year’s DVD uses Hurricane game footage to demonstrate how the skills that are developed in drills are utilized in actual game situations. That innovation, plus the addition of 7-on-7 offense and defense drills and strategies, Coach Golden’s 25-minute “Eye of the Storm” segment about safer tackling and special teams, and his “8 Pillars of Performance” motivational guidelines make this year’s practice plan and DVD the most extensive ever and invaluable for high school coaches.
The positive impact of Miami’s participation in the HSPD program has not escaped Golden. “We are building something special here at the University of Miami and believe this is an amazing branding opportunity for our university,” he said. “Not only is ‘The U’ one of the most iconic brands in all of college football, but it will now be distributed to every single high school in the United States. That’s phenomenal!”
The NFL’s Senior Director of HSPD, Jerry Horowitz, who worked on the 2010 practice plan and DVD with Golden when he coached at Temple, was pleased to have another opportunity to feature his coaching methods and philosophy. “Coach Golden has a great understanding of what it takes to be a successful student-athlete,” said Horowitz. “He also is extremely safety conscious and is concerned about changing football’s culture in positive ways.”
AFM recently asked Coach Golden to elaborate on his involvement with the HSPD practice plan and DVD and how this year’s program will benefit high school coaches everywhere.
AFM: What does it mean to you, your coaching staff, and the Hurricane football program to be involved with the NFL through the 2013 High School Player Development Program?
Golden: It is a tremendous honor for the University of Miami, our football program and our coaching staff to be selected by the NFL to produce a DVD for its HSPD program. After receiving the incredible privilege of being chosen by the NFL for the second time in four years, we believe it serves as a testament to our overall approach to student-athlete development.
AFM: Your staff provides the actual Miami practice plan and drills for coaches to use at the HSPD summer camps and also for high school coaches everywhere to incorporate into their programs. How do you think high school athletes will benefit from having actual collegiate drills and coaching points?
Golden: The mere fact that this is the same practice schedule used by the Hurricane football team should underscore that this is the real deal! It is about a commitment from the NFL, the National Guard, and the University of Miami to improve the greatest game of all – football. Our Hurricanes staff has worked vigorously to give coaches and student-athletes a practice plan aimed at (a) cultivating their individual skill set, (b) incorporating group and teamwork, and (c) improving unit execution. Every practice is designed to be efficient and fundamentally-based with a premium placed on player safety. These practices are prepared with the expectation that passion and energy are required from both coaches and players to bring this practice plan to life.
AFM: Can you describe your personal participation in the DVD with your “Eye of the Storm” segment?
Golden: The “Eye of the Storm” segment brings together three philosophical approaches to practice that we believe are critical to both safety and success here at the University of Miami: (1) tackling fundamentals and injury prevention, (2) conducting safe practices by compartmentalizing contact, and (3) educating your team on the impact special teams will have on a game’s outcome. In this section, coaches and players will have the opportunity to view a 20-minute tackling clinic in which we outline the proper fundamentals, student-athlete safety, and corresponding drills. We also identify common tackling pitfalls which predispose student-athletes to injury so that coaches and players alike can identify and prevent potential problems. Secondly, we have provided coaches with six safe contact drills that we utilize here at UM. In this segment, we emphasize the importance of “compartmentalizing” your contact in a controlled environment to reduce the injuries that commonly occur in an 11-on-11 session. The philosophy here is to teach proper fundamentals, provide participants with a safe environment for repetition, and ultimately learn how to bring your fundamentals and techniques to a competitive setting. This can be done while also controlling the variables in order to prevent unnecessary risk. Lastly, we have included our Canes Combo Scrimmage. This is our special teams scrimmage that we hold 2-3 times during preseason camp. It is designed to refine your team’s special teams execution and improve your team’s FBI (football intelligence) by putting them in a host of critical special teams situations (backed-up punting, “mayday” field goal, plus territory punting, etc.) and demonstrating to your team the impact that field position has on results. Moreover, it strengthens your sideline control (communication), exposes all players and staff to resolving substitution issues, and reinforces “PCP” (players coaching players) during the game. It also reduces the risk of substitution penalties, which plague so many teams in the first third of the season.