1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Learning football strategy

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ConnSox5, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. ConnSox5

    ConnSox5 Guest

    Hello all,

    I was wondering if someone here (or a few of you) might be able to point me in the direction of some kind of book to help me learn and understand the game of football. I'll be covering a team for the first time this fall and, always being a basketball guy, want to understand the sport pretty well.

    Mainly, I'd be looking for something that goes beyond the definition of a quaterback - I'm looking for something that explains the roles of all players in a 4-3 defense, the advantages of a spread offense, the definition of a boundary cornerback, and anything in between. I imagine that somewhere there has to be some kind of all-encompassing book - but my quick browse of Amazon.com and Google searches have left me in the dust, and my quick look at Borders didn't give me what I wanted.

    Any links, titles, anything would be greatly appreciated.


  2. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    They might be out of print, but the best basic books strategy I know of are "Football: The Violent Chess Match" by Tom Flores and Bob O'Connor and Sports Illustrated's "Football: Winning Offense" and "Football: Winning Defense" by Bud Wilkinson.
    I also have a Don Shula video that goes over basic formations, plays and defenses.
    If you're covering high school football, I feel it's important to understand the differences between that level and what you see on TV in college and NFL games.
    I was going to start a thread on this, but here is as good a place to say this as any.
    I have met far too many writers and local access TV guys who learned everything they know about football from watching the NFL and playing Madden. The rules are different and it's more of a running game than it is at higher levels (At least around here it is).
    Once a when a punt returner slipped and his knee touched the ground a writer asked me "Why didn't he get up and run?" Well, in high school, the ball is dead once the ballcarrier's knee touches the ground, whether a defender touches him or not.
    In another game, the local access guys I was in the booth with begged for the hometown coach to pass more. Apparently it never occurred to them that maybe the team didn't have the personnel for the West Coast or spread offense that they see every Sunday. The talent varies from team to team more in high school than at higher levels and the best teams are usually the ones that can run the ball and stop the run better than the others. At higher levels where the difference in talent is not as great, passing becomes more important.
  3. Friday Night Lights by Buzz (H.G.) Bissinger.

    You can't go wrong there. You'll learn what high school football is really all about. Forget the Xs and Os.
  4. OtterGrad

    OtterGrad Member

    Friday Night Lights is a great book, but I don't know if ConnSox is covering high schools. When I covered preps, I don't know that anyone I ever came in contact could tell you what a boundary corner was, or even what the difference between an even- and an odd-man front was or what the advantages were.

    ConnSox, the books mentioned above were good, but there's also nothing better than getting it straight from a horse's mouth. Talk to coaches, assistants, guys in your office, whoever. Even start something on this board. ESPN and NFL Network have some pretty good football-geek type shows that deal less with Ocho Stinko and more with how to break press coverage or a QB's progressions. You have a thirst for knowledge; there are many ways to satisfy it.

    The fact you don't know it all might make it easier to explain when it does come time to write a strategy or trend story.

    Hope it helps.

  5. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Here's a fairly comprehensive dictionary of terms you'll hear coaches and TV announcers use:

  6. Elliotte Friedman

    Elliotte Friedman Moderator Staff Member


    The smartest thing I ever did was find a retired coach who lived in my area. I went over to his place one day with a few of our broadcast DVDs. He just sat there and explained everything. Since I do Canadian football, there was even more to learn because of the extra man and wider field.

    It was an invaluable experience. Find out if there's someone similar around you.
  7. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    The Bud Wilkinson books are really good. Pretty basic, easy to follow and they cover technique really well and give some basics on formations.
  8. SockPuppet

    SockPuppet Active Member

    TiVo everything that ESPN's Mark May says. He invented the game.
  9. Mayfly

    Mayfly Active Member

    I would just watch some old game tapes of the XFL.
  10. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Electric football.

  11. Mayfly

    Mayfly Active Member

    The only problem with that is the players run like Barry Sanders. 100 yards in all directions, only to gain 20.
  12. funky_mountain

    funky_mountain Active Member

    Go to the library and see if it has Paul Zimmerman's book, A Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football. Then read Zimmerman's New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football. You can also get them on amazon.com.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page