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August/September 2013

August/September 2013

Managing your Program - “Flipped” Coaching

by: Keith Grabowski
Offensive Coordinator Baldwin-Wallace College
© August/September 2013

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In a clinic talk in 2012, Urban Meyer spoke of how he wants the Buckeyes to be taught and coached through “direct teaching.” He made a point of using the technology and tools available to teach rather than just present to players. Meyer said, “The greatest teaching tools available in the history of this sport are now available to you. The days of saying, ‘I don’t use that’ are not acceptable at the Ohio State University. We’re going to be on the cutting edge of every teaching tool that is available.”

As Meyer pointed out, technology allows us to move well beyond the black and white “X” and “O” diagrams. One way of maximizing teaching is to borrow from classroom teachers a method that has become known as “the flipped classroom.” This is basically having students watch recorded presentations and lectures as often as is needed to grasp the subject.

This process can clearly be applied to coaching. The basis of flipped coaching is to increase retention of learning and to increase understanding at a deeper level. Research shows that lectures promote only 5% retention. The more interactive the learner is with the material, the more information is retained and the better he understands.

Presentations are moved to time outside of the meeting room onto pre-recorded videos watched at the players own time and own pace. Though they are still lectures, retention is much greater because now the player can rewind and listen again as many times as he needs.

By creating a video, a coach can make the best possible instruction session. If a player is switching or learning a new position, he can easily review all the instruction that has been given up to that point. If a player needs a reminder, he can go back at any time to re-learn a topic.

Several coaches have begun to experiment with this method. Doug Patterson, the co-offensive coordinator at St. Cloud State, became involved with flipped coaching in order to find a better way to make his players responsible for their learning. Patterson said, “The number one reason I was interested in going this route is it is imperative that the players are involved in the learning process.” Two years ago, Patterson had four players who had started every snap for three years. He had reached a point where they could coach themselves. In both position meetings and sideline adjustments, the players problem solved from what they saw on film and transferred it to the game. This past year, with most starters not having much experience, Patterson found himself talking too much in the meetings and he didn’t always feel like the players were engaged enough. Flipped coaching allowed Patterson to engage his players in the way he wanted. What took Patterson years to develop with those four experienced starters could be accomplished quicker with flipped coaching.  

Jason Hahnstadt was introduced to flipped learning when its originator, Jon Bergmann, was hired at his high school. Hahnstadt thought that coaches could take advantage of this learning method to make practices more effective. He has been making flipped coaching videos for his athletes for about two years now. He points out that he is able to go beyond the presenter role to the next step. In football, that is a walk-through or Q and A time in the classroom, where players are interacting instead of just sitting and listening. Hahnstadt points out, “When we go over a play or concept in practice, the players are able to take their knowledge and progress further than if it was just introduced. Doing all this promotes higher learning sooner and we are saving valuable practice and meeting time.”

Jeff Floyd, who has coached for over 30 years on both the high school and collegiate levels, is also an adopter of flipped coaching. Floyd first focused on using the method on strength and conditioning techniques. With weightroom time at a premium at most high schools, teaching technique with a video outside of training time allows for maximum use of the time available. Floyd will be using the methods in the fall, specifically with install and drill introduction. Floyd said, “The advantages are more time spent teaching fundamentals during the drill, or play concepts, rather than spending practice or meeting time with basic information they can pick up on their own at home or on their own device. Presentations are not ‘one and done.’ They can watch them over and over prior to practice or meeting time.”

Floyd sees an advantage gained for up tempo teams as well. “If you are successful in truly flipping the practice field, then the tempo of practice could actually be sped up. You will have more time for reps rather than introducing and installing.” Up tempo practices underscore the need for even better classroom teaching by using technology and making the learning interactive.

The meeting room isn’t necessary eliminated. We have progressed to very interactive offensive position meetings at Baldwin Wallace. The players take control of the meeting by talking through video and making their own coaching points as they watch themselves perform. They will stand up and demonstrate a technique as they make a point on film. Furthermore, they begin to coach each other on and off the field because they have a deeper understanding of what they are supposed to do.

With technology, all of this becomes more and more possible and makes teaching and coaching more effective and efficient. The coach moves from the role of presenter and can help the players solve problems. When players begin to understand offensive and defensive systems more like a coach, execution and adjustment on the field on game day is greatly enhanced. The ultimate goal is to help the players find success on the field, and the flipped coaching method is definitely a tool to accomplish this.   


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