Online Supplemental: Making an Impact with Flipped Coaching

In the August/September of American Football Monthly, I describe a method known as “flipped coaching.” This coaching method is something borrowed from classroom teachers. “Flipped learning” is a teaching method developed by Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams. These two chemistry teachers realized they had an innovative way to present the lecture portion of their lessons in a way which every student could progress at the pace which worked for them. Some students could move on and go deeper into the subject, and others could review the subject matter again and again if needed until they understood it. The primary way they accomplished this was through screencast videos of their lessons. The results were that their students scored better on tests and understood chemistry at a much deeper level.

In this post, ideas for using “flipped coaching” will be shared with specific video examples from coaches who already use this method. Challenges of using this method will be addressed by these coaches as well as by the classroom teachers who first implemented flipped learning.

Teaching vs. Presenting

Before delving into the specifics, let’s review some basics of teaching and learning. In the magazine article I mentioned Urban Meyer and his desire to be on the cutting edge with every teaching tool that has been developed. Flipped coaching fits into the profile of exactly what Meyer is talking about. Meyer went on to further explain that presenting is not teaching. He said, “The objective of a teacher is to get the students to retain the information and the skill, use the information and the skill, and to increase production because of the information and the skill.” This is exactly what flipped ;learning is about.

Meyer’s entire clinic talk can be seen below. He addresses some key points about teaching vs. presenting, direct teaching and “on edge” coaching.

The premise behind this idea is promoting the retention of learning. This can be illustrated in the learning pyramid. Meyer’s point is valid as you can see that lecture or presentation promotes the lowest retention of learning. I also over-layed my notes on what these translate to from a football coaching perspective.

Moving the Presentation out of the classroom for better learning

The problem though is that the presentation part needs to be done. With such a limited amount of time, we need to find the way to best teach our players. Moving the lecture out of our meeting time may be the best option. Bergmann, the developer of the flipped classroom, pointed out, “The whole point is to push for mastery of the subject matter whether it is chemistry or football.” The primary way that he accomplished this was through screencast videos of his lessons. With screencasts, the learner can progress at a pace which works for him.

Making the Screen Recording

Making a screencast isn’t too difficult. Jeff Floyd, who has coached at both the collegiate and high school level, outlines the steps on his blog here. Floyd said, “It is amazing all the uses you can think of for this process once you learn how to do it.” In speaking with all of these coaches about screencasts, the aspect they emphasized again and again was just to sit down and do it. This does not need to be a slickly produced video. Sit down and get it done. The information being shared and available for review is the most important part. Being perfect in putting a video together is not necessary.

Here is an example of a flipped coaching video of an installation of an offensive play

With most of our coaching time being spent on offense or defense, being able to put more into special teams through this method certainly has merit. Jason Hanstadt uses flipped coaching with special teams. Here are some examples of the install videos that Hanstadt recorded for his players.

Punt Team Installation

Kickoff Installation

Uses beyond installation presentations

This year might be too late for you to use this in an install of your offense or defense, but it is certainly something that can help you present game plan information for review throughout the season. As coaches we do install a game plan each week and share important information with our players on how we plan to beat our opponent. Those key pieces of information are often shared with our players in a meeting. What is verbalized and shown on film in a meeting can also be shared with them through a screencast. The benefit is that it is there for them to review throughout the week as needed.
Here is an example from Floyd. In this example, he gives his linebacker reminders for checks against certain alignments.

Let your players see practice before practice

Many video editing systems allow you to create playlists and share them with players. A learning advantage can especially be created for your defense where recognition is key to proper alignment and adjustments, and run fits or pass coverage. If your players could view what they were going to see prior to seeing it, their ability to recognize and react will be greatly enhanced. Floyd points out that only additional time investment is making sure the script is completed and play list posted on your video system in time for your players to study prior to practice.

A sample Tuesday video might look something like this – in this sample he gives the intro and runs through a few plays. The actual script video would be 20+ plays long depending on the day of the week. The intro isn’t as necessary as giving the defensive players the film to review of exactly what they will see in practice. The investment time is minimal for the coach, and review of the list from start to finish would only take five minutes for the player if he only had time to watch it once straight through. Additional learning and understanding makes an impact, especially if the player has a little more time to spend on the video.

Here is an example of a play list script

Flipped Coaching Review Sessions

In my experiences at both the college and high school level, finding time to review practice with players is difficult. As coaches, reviewing practice film to find the errors that must be corrected in the next practice is very helpful. It would have a bigger impact if the player sees the error on video and can gain the understanding of exactly what he needs to do to correct it. Whether it is through a screencast or through a text or audio note shared with the video clip in your editing system, that information shared with the player can enhance learning. In the next video, Hahnstadt gives an example of his screencast review session.

Final Test or Review

Floyd also uses short videos to test his players at the end of the week. He gives the players an answer sheet for recording their answers.

Challenges of Flipped Coaching

Flipping football instruction may present itself with a few challenges, but they can be overcome. One common objection to flipping is “What if the players don’t watch the videos?” Hahnstadt replied, “To me, this one should be the easiest one to overcome for a football coach. It’s simple, players who aren’t prepared don’t play. A few “reminders” may be necessary at times as well but in my experience, most athletes are motivated enough by playing time.”

Another challenge is in making all the videos and the time commitment necessary. Bergmann said, “Do you want the videos done perfect or by tomorrow? Essentially, don’t try to make everything perfect, just make them. All you are doing is videotaping your presentation and then uploading it for players to see. Once they are done you have saved yourself a lot of time from repeating yourself every year over and over again.”

Hahnstadt does exactly this in creating a library of “skills” videos that his players can watch at any time, including the off season. Here is a video giving the exact coaching points of recovering a fumble.

What to do with extra time that’s freed up?

Another question is what is done with the time freed up by not having to present the installation of a play or game plan since it is now done on video and viewed on the players own time? One answer can be found in Urban Meyer’s style of “on edge” coaching.

This philosophy fits with the flipped classroom method. The flipped classroom approach requires that the meetings should be all interactive because the presentation has already been done. Players should meet the expectation to get their learning outside of the meeting room. Then, as Meyer has said, a coach must progress to the walk through and then the run-through on air or with bags. Meyer also emphasized “mastery” before advancement. Too often coaches will jump to live plays without adequately progressing and getting the mastery needed to be successful. Many times this is a function of not having the time necessary for a walk through or run through. With presentation time freed up, this becomes possible.

Hahnstadt finds the mastery aspect of the flipped classroom intriguing. “Imagine having a progression of skills that players can work through at their own pace. One player may need to focus on alignment while another is ready for more advanced skills. This could direct what athletes should be working on in a pre-practice session where they have control over their own progress.”

As Bergmann says, “Flipping the classroom is more about a mindset: redirecting attention away from the teacher and putting it on the learner and learning.” As you become more and more comfortable and proficient at adapting flipped coaching, you will find that the player can come to practice prepared and engaged. Deeper understanding of what he needs to do to perform properly on the field will translate to better practices and ultimately, success on game day.

Beyond Screen Recordings

I’ve found other uses of technology that fit into this method of teaching. In his video, Meyer talks about keeping players on edge. As he points out, this involves setting up your classroom coaching sessions so that a player knows he may be called on at any time. Some students are pretty good at feigning engagement in the class so that they aren’t called on. As coaches, we may call on the most talented guys who see the field because their knowledge is critical to team success. What if all of our players in the classroom could be held accountable for showing their understanding? There is a free app called Socrative. The app is web-based and a download is not required. The teacher/coach or student/athlete can run this app from any device with a web browser and internet connection.This is a great app that allows you to easily check for understanding and get immediate feedback both for how you are doing in teaching a concept and how well your players are grasping it. It provides you data to make decisions on how fast you can continue to progress on your installation meetings or if you need to go back and review. The app has uses in installing your offense or defense, and quizzing players on game plan and scouting report information. If you are assigning players to watch presentations before the meeting, you can quiz them at the beginning of the meeting to see exactly where they are at and if the have done their homework.

Review of concepts is another way to increase retention of learning and performance on the field. The iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch with flash cards is a great tool to teach something as simple as the basics of your offense or something more complex like weekly coverage indicators for the quarterback. A free app called gFlash+ is a useful review tool. As a coach, you create the flashcards which can include diagrams, still shots from video, or simply terms and definitions. You can then email your stack of cards to your players so they have something to review. The email provides a link to the app store so they can download it to their iPhone or iPad. Now they can take a few minutes between classes, eating at the cafeteria, or walking to class to review what they need to know.

Here are some uses I see for the flashcard apps:

Key terms in our offense.
Learning of formations.
Learning of run and pass concepts.
Coverage indicators for our next opponent.
Opponent personnel tips.
Weekly front recognition for our offensive line.
Blitz indicators for our next opponent.
Quarterback checks/audibles.
Key information from position tip sheets and game plan.

While it may not fit into “flipped learning”, another way to make an impact with learning is to provide instant feedback. We will be doing this during our practices this season. The following video shows Nebraska using an iPad on the field for players to view themselves and receive instruction from coaches so that correct performance is reinforced or so they can correct their technique in the next rep. We will be doing this in position drills, inside run and team periods. Some position groups will have built in review and correction time so that the coach can review the film with them for a few minutes and they can make any corrections needed before our team period.

With any technology you add as a coaching tool, you will want to get maximum efficiency; you want to spend little time in creating the material and get a big impact from the use of the technology. Hopefully, the ideas shared in this post allow you to begin using some methods that will enhance your coaching and improve performance on the field.

I’d like to thank Jeff Floyd, Doug Patterson, Jason Hahnstadt, and Jon Bergmann for taking the time to teach me more about these methods. Below are links to websites for further information on this topic.

Flipped Learning-Jon Bergmann

Flipped Coach-Jason Hahnstadt

You Can Do More-Jeff Floyd