Monday, July 21, 2008

Walk-throughs, dummy drills, and timing routes...

With NFL training camps opening this week, I was thinking about how football coaches run "dummy" offenses, working on the motion, mechanics, and careful timing of each play. If you've not played football or watched a practice before, teams run their skeleton offenses again and again and again.

Having spent time visiting and observing coaches like Jon Gruden, Norv Turner, and Jeff Tedford, I can tell you it's something they spend a lot of their practice time on.

Of course, basketball teams walk through their plays. Depending on the team's make-up and their offensive system, some coaches spend more time on it than others.

When he was with the Twolves, my father would, from time to time, dry-run the entire playbook (75-100 plays). Often, when there was a missed shot out of a particular set, he'd run it 5-6 times until the same player made the basket repeatedly.

I've read where the legendary Vince Lombardi would pay such close attention to detail that he'd run the same plays over hundreds of times so that his Packer players could run the plays automatically.

I love watching receivers and QBs connect on timing routes -- pass patterns when the QB releases the ball before his receiver has made his break.

What if passers in basketball focused on delivering the ball to a shooter off a screen the same way a QB does with his receivers? What if it's something a point guard practiced "timing routes" with his team's primary shooters/scorers the way a QB and receiver practice their timing? How much better would a shooter be if the ball was delivered at just the right moment? Is it worth an extra 2-3 points a game?

Insignificant? Maybe. But over the course of a long season, focusing on details like this could be the difference in a few games.

In the words of Bear Bryant:

"The little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things."