The 4 Hour Football Coach

In addition to running Advanced Training, I also coach high school football for St.Joseph by-the-Sea in Staten Island, New York.

Me in Action

As with everything I do in life, I take a great deal of pride in being able to run a defensive practice more efficiently and effectively than anyone else in the world.

For those of you that are not smart, that means we get the most done in the shortest amount of time possible.

Is efficient the same as effective?

That is why I titled this article "The 4 Hour Football Coach", out of respect for my favorite book, "The 4 Hour Workweek" - the Holy Grail for people who want to be both efficient and effective.

Along with our school's head coach (Coach Clark) and offensive coordinator (Coach Hensch) we have proven that you don't need to be on a football field 6 hours a day in order to get results on game day.

If fact, if you did things perfectly, you would only need to be on the field 4 hours per week.

AAA Playoff Win for the Vikings

I am dedicating this article to the four newest members of our football staff, all of which were legends at Advanced Training - Rob MulliganBilly Blanco, Steve Roman, and Pete Amerosi.

They have only been with the staff a few weeks, but it is clear they are following our 3 simple rules to being a 4 Hour Football Coach.

1. Live and Die by the Pareto Principle:

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist in the 1800's who introduced the concept of the 80 / 20 principle.

To keep it simple, his work helped demonstrate that 20% of your efforts account for 80% of your results.

So how does this pertain to football?

  • 20% of the plays you practice account for 80% of your yards gained.
  • 20% of your players make 80% of the plays
  • 20% of the drills you practice make 80% of the impact on game day.
With that, why spend so much time on the other 80%?

As a defensive coach, should I really spend two hours focusing on a trick play a team ran one time in 1987 that gained 5 yards?

Or .... should I focus on the 5 plays in their playbook that totaled 300 yards last week?

Should I try to game plan against the TE who caught one pass in his junior year?

Or ... should I try to stop their slot receiver who scored 16 touchdowns this season?

Stop putting so much time into your practice on the non-value added 80%. It only distracts you from getting better at the 20% that really matters.

2. Leverage Parkinson's Law

Parkinson's Law states that the less time you have to do something, the better you will be able to limit yourself to the tasks that provide real results.

In the football world, this means creating a schedule that is so short, that you don't have time to add in non-value added drills.

If your individual period is only 10 minutes, are you really going to waste 5 of those minutes having your d-line work on man coverage?

In reality, having less time almost always leads to equal or better results.

Because it stops you from focusing on the non-value added 80%. (See point #1)

Think I am crazy?

How many times have you started and finished a term paper months before it was due?

How many times have you woke up 20 minutes late for school / work and still got there on time?

How did the NFL teams play so well after their strike in 2011 cut their preseason practice time?

How can your team take the field on a Friday night after playing its last game on a Sunday?

3. Leave Creativity for What's Important

People that are ripped generally eat the same food for breakfast and lunch everyday.

The only meal they add variety to is dinner, as that is the meal where they can spend the best quality time with family and friends.

No self respecting person catches up with a college roommate over a box of Lucky Charms.

What does this mean in the football world?

It means don't approach every practice with a new set of drills.

Teaching a drill takes time.

Having a high school kid learn and execute that drill takes even longer.

Thanks to Rule #2 (Parkinson's Law), this is time you don't have.

Go into your season with a standard set of drills.

Use the remainder of your season to dominate those drills via coaching and repetition.

What if your kids get bored?

Have a shorter practice.

What if your drills stink?

You should have followed Rule #1 (The Pareto Principle) in the off-season and focused on drills that add the most value.

Where should you spend your time with creativity?

Game Plans ...

Blocking, tackling, pursuit, and footwork do not change from week to week, but opposing teams do.

A high school kid can only remember so many things.

Why take up that space in their brain with a new tackling drill, when you have to prepare for the Single Wing or the Veer Option?


With each of these 3 points, you must remember there are two things that are not infinite.

  • Time
  • An athlete's attention span
The more time you spend on a field, the less an athlete will actually pay attention to you.

If you follow my 3 rules, you are guaranteed to have the undivided attention of fresh football players.

Even if a coach does not know the recipe for success, he should know the one for failure...

Having players that are tired and confused.

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