How statistics can improve workouts — not just game day

October 5, 2018 / Football
You’re keeping track of statistics. You probably have an assistant on the bench tracking everything: gains, sacks, turnovers, passing yards, plus score and everything in between. Figuring out how to take these stats, analyze them and use them to increase your players’ abilities is the hard part. Do you feel like you’re using these stats to put together lines, or are you using them to improve your players’ abilities? If you’re just using them for staffing, read on.

Are you utilizing one of the many software programs or apps in the market that analyze this data for you? If not, then tracking by hand or in a spreadsheet is your option.

Set up your sheet to tally the totals and percentages for each type of stat you’re tracking. For example, calculate the total number of times your quarterback was sacked. Calculate the percentage of sacks out of the number of snaps. Also calculate pass attempts, interceptions, the number of first downs, average passing yards and sneaks. Of those, what are the highest numbers? Take the top three and use those to influence your practices then do the same type of calculations for all positions.

Next, play detective. If sacks top your list, also look at your defensive line. Are certain players always on the line when a sack happens? Where is the weak link? Is the quarterback attempting to evade the sack, or does he get taken by surprise?

Watch how your players react to a sack. If they seem sluggish, they may need to work on footwork, ankle strength and flexibility. The line may need more time on overall strength and conditioning, especially if they currently aren’t doing much of it. The strength and conditioning coach can be an excellent resource. Add conditioning in the weight room if they’re not already spending time there every week.

It’s one thing to make sure the line won’t let a sack attempt through, but it’s another when an attempt turns into a sack. Work with your quarterback team to increase awareness in their periphery and flexibility in their hip flexors and ankles. Exercises that strengthen movements in all direction will help them avoid a sack — while also avoiding injuries that can happen with sudden unstable movements. Some things to try may be lunges at various planes, squats, and bracing and core strength exercises. . In fact, all players can benefit from this type of training.

Besides these position-specific needs, all players need to be able to complete sprint ladders. This means they sprint short distances and rest between, with small increase each set. Sprint 10 yards and rest 10 seconds, then increase to a 20-yard sprint and 20-second rest. Continue this up to 40-40 and then reduce by 10 back down to the start intervals. This workout will test them and work on their cardio in a way similar to what they’ll experience on game day.

Tracking statistics and correctly applying the results is the way to ensure the decisions around play time and positions are accurate. Without it, coaches are flying blind. Consider how you will use statistics and detective work for other positions to improve your players’ performances and make a plan to start applying them this season.

© 2018 USA Football

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