101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays by Keith Grabowski – A Ride and Decide Review

An iBook for Football Coaches

Why might a coach want to check out 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense plays? According to a report by the University of California, San Diego,  American’s consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information in 2008. That was about 34 gigabytes per person everyday. In 2010 it was estimated that data production doubled every 11 hours. It is now 2013 and many of us have a phone in our pocket that is more powerful than most laptops were 2 years ago. As a result, it is likely we are now consuming more information. As coaches, we try to consume as much new football information as humanly possible in the off-season. To this end, we are continually adopting new tools to make our learning more efficient and improve our ability to teach our athletes. We read blogs, use HD video on Hudl, attend webinars, buy coaching books, follow each other on Twitter, and attend thousands of clinics in the spring. It’s overwhelming at times.

Fortunately, coaches are often creative and use new tools in useful ways. Baldwin Wallace University offensive coordinator Keith Grabowski has produced a book on the Apple iBooks platform that is one of a kind and very interesting. His book, 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays, is the focus of this edition of Ride and Decide. If you are in education and you keep up with technology, you are likely aware of what iBooks is doing for the classroom. It is moving the textbook and other learning resources to a new level of interaction and scope that will probably revolutionize the way we teach our youth. So, lets take Coach Grabowski’s book for a Ride, and I will give my opinion on whether to Give or Keep.

101 Pro Style Pistol Offense Book Cover
Keith Grabowski’s new coaching book is available on the iPad only.

The Ride:

When you first download 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays on iTunes store and open it up you are greeted with the book cover, which opens up to an introduction video that gives a brief overview of what is included. This video demonstrates how to navigate through the material and shows some of interactive elements. This video plays automatically before sending you to the next section. Coach Grabowski then opens up with a Forward where he discusses the early evolution of his offense and a bit about the book itself. Right away we see another video, this time embedded in the book with the text. Once the first few paragraphs are read, the reader can play the video right on the page without leaving the document or going full screen. Of course, if the reader prefers, the video can be expanded to full-screen by reverse pinching the video as it is playing. In general, navigation is achieved by swiping across the screen to turn the page.

After the Forward, we see a very comprehensive and well-linked Table of Contents. This allows the reader to immediately find and navigate to a  specific section or play. Further navigation is possible by Pinching the screen. This action brings up a navigation experience that allows the user to access the content in a variety of ways. The first is the same as turning the page. Only this time, when swiped, the document navigates the user to the next chapter. Additionally, from this navigation view, the user can use a scrollable bar at the bottom of the screen that displays a thumbnail view of each page. The user can scroll through the pages and open any page by tapping the thumbnail. Navigation is easy and intuitive and very helpful.

(Click  on the Screenshots to get a better look.)

Picture showing what the Table of Contents looks like.
The Table of Contents has links to each section and play for easy navigation to exactly what is needed. Additionally, there are links directly to the videos and diagrams.
Showing how to navigate through the pages of the coaching book.
Pages are navigated by dragging a finger across the screen. The user can also navigate by scrolling through the thumbnails seen at the bottom of this picture. Once again, this makes navigation very simple.

Inside the 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays iBook

The document consitsts of 8 chapters, starting with the Introduction. In the intro, Coach Grabowski goes deeper into the evolution of the system he uses and discusses some of the advantages he gets from the pistol. We also see the first instances of interactive content in the document besides video. The first is a small gallery (labeled Gallery 1.1) of photos in which Coach Grabowski outlines a few of the mechanics of he teaches the run fake. Here he labels the pictures and provides a caption to further illustrate his concepts. A few paragraphs we see the second interactive element used to display content in the document. This one, labeled Interactive 1.1, provides access to a series of diagrams that can be viewed as a slide show. In this instance Coach Grabowski illustrates how he uses a few different screen concepts to protect his run game and the reader simply swipes accros the screen to move to the next slide. The third non-video interactive content used in the intro is labeled Interactive 1.2 and is similar to a Power Point presentation. It presents a main topic point and then introduces bullet points as the reader once again swipes a finger across the screen to move on to the next piece of information.

Once the Intro is complete, Coach Grabowski moves into the heart of his pro style pistol offense and discusses the Inside Zone in Chapter 2. Once again the text is complimented with a variety of interactive elements diagramming the nuances of the Inside Zone, Zone Read, and various Zone Insert concepts used at Baldwin Wallace. The way the material is presented really allows the coach to get a good understanding of the concept through a written explanation, video clips from both sideline and endzone perspectives, and in diagram form complete with positional breakdown of assignment. Coach Grabowski goes on with this process, presenting chapters on the concepts and variations of the Outside Zone, Power, Counter, Sweep, and Play Action Pass. The result is a comprehensive overview of his offensive run game and play action pass concepts.

Screen shot showing how the play pages are presented.
The plays are presented with video clips and interactive diagrams.
A diagram showing how a variation of the zone blocking scheme looks.
A diagram of one of the variations of the Inside Zone Scheme.
Interactive slide showing the player assignments.
Along with the diagrams, Coach Grabowski includes player assignments in an interactive slideshow.


The Decision:


Coach Grabowski’s product, as I said above, is certainly unique. It uses the iBook platform and is based on and produced with interactivity as a central focus. As a result, it more efficiently presents the information, and does so in a variety of ways to make sure that the concepts are understood. It completely redefines what a “coaching book” should be and allows the author to really provide a thorough explanation of his topic. The exciting part is that Apple is likely continue adding to the interactivity functions of the iBooks platform, which will lead to even more interesting ways to help us assimilate more information quickly and efficiently. If you are a Pro-Style Pistol coach, enjoy learning new concepts, or just want to see the progress being made in interactive media, check out Coach Grabowski’s book. You will not be disappointed. It can be purchased through iTunes and you can see the book in action in the video below.

NOTE: If you are not familiar with iBooks, you need to be aware that it is only accessible on the iPad. You can not view it on an iPod, iPhone, or Macintosh computer. Obviously Windows and Android devices are out as well.


Another 5 Myths about Option Offenses

Bad Weather Option Offense by Kiyotaka Okami Crop
Option offenses are often associated with a number of myths that have become conventional wisdom. Most of them, however, are easily busted.

In my last post I started a top 10 myths about option offenses list and have finally found the time to wrap it up. In the last post, I argued against commonly held beliefs that option offenses are risky, gimmicky, and vulnerable against defensive speed. Today I will talk about option football in bad weather, long yardage situations, and efficacy in the NFL. So once again, lets wade through the B.S. and get on with some mythbusting.

Myth #6 – Option Offenses Don’t Work in Bad Weather

Option offenses have been used in all types of weather and are no more susceptible to the elements than any other offense. A wet ball is hard to handle whether you are engaging in a mesh and pitching it, or if you are trying to throw the ball down field. In bad weather, just getting the snap to the quarterback can be a challenge. Once again, this is just a function of being prepared and working on the fundamentals. Incorporating wet ball drills, and practicing in inclement weather will help prepare any team to handle poor playing conditions when necessary.

This myth is a function of relativity. Obviously an offense that just takes a snap and hands the ball off to a running back will probably have fewer problems with ball security than other offenses, but they will also be predictable and will have to face a stacked box without the advantage of a horizontal space. As usual, execution is more relevant than scheme.

Myth #7 – Option Offenses Struggle with 3rd and Long

All offenses struggle with 3rd and long. It doesn’t matter if you are throwing the ball, running a power scheme, or optioning the defensive end. The numbers don’t lie. If you need to gain a larger number of yards in one attempt, your odds of converting go down. The problem here is perception. People believe that throwing the ball on 3rd and long is more effective than running the ball. This comes from average yards per play. People see that a pass, on average, will gain more yards than a run. What is rarely considered is that the chance for a completion is also reduced and you also run the risk of throwing an interception. Another overlooked aspect of this myth is that option teams tend to average more yards per carry than more conventional offenses. Football is a complicated game with many variables. As such, one-off statements about effectiveness are problematic and not easily verified. Conventional wisdom isn’t always true.

Myth #8 – Option offenses can’t play from behind

This myth is similar to the idea that option offenses struggle on 3rd and long, and are run-only offenses. The truth is nobody wants to play from behind and all offenses face certain challenges when trying to overcome a large lead. Again, the problem is one of perception. Conventional wisdom states that running teams are less likely to mount a comeback and that passing the football is more likely to result in quick scores. In reality option offenses often lead statistical categories such as points scored, total yardage, and explosive plays. When playing from behind, the game changes in many ways. I assert that defensive stops and turnovers are far more relevant to staging a comeback than the style of offensive play involved.

I will concede, however, that clock management are a bit tricky when running an option bases system. Additionally, when throwing the ball, a team can attack the defense nearer the sideline and an incomplete pass kills the clock. I again assert (a theme perhaps?) that option teams can be efficient as a 2-minute offense if they drill tempo and fundamentals like getting out-of-bounds and ball security.

Myth #9 – Option Offenses are Easy to Defend if a Long Prep Period is Involved

This is another idea that has firmly rooted itself in the conventional wisdom of commentators. I could spend some time laying this one out, but TBuzz over at SB Nation has done an excellent job of it in his excellent article on dispelling the extra time to prepare myth. In this article he breaks down the statistics for Georgia Tech games and finds that length of prep time has a “weak to negligible” correlation to winning and losing games. The article also offers further anecdotal evidence from when Tom Osborne used an option offense to dominate college football and win several national titles. The article pretty much sums up the idea that, in general, good rushing defenses slow down option football, not the amount of time for preparation.

Myth #10 – Option offenses won’t work in the NFL

RG3 by Keith Allison
Until recently, conventional wisdom held that option offenses wouldn’t work in the NFL. Over the last two seasons we have seen evidence to the contrary. Photo by Keith Allison.

Finally we come to Myth #10. We’ve all heard this one. Option football will never work in the NFL. The defenses are just too fast and the scheme is too gimmicky to really be viable in the League. The past couple of seasons have seen some very successful implementation of option football with athletic quarterbacks like RG3, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, and Russel Wilson. The reality is option football can work in the NFL. Just like any offense, with proper execution, can work in the NFL.

Finally there is a lot of talk about whether the read option is just a fad, or if it is the “offense of the future.” Additionally, many are saying defenses will be more effective after studying the offense in the off-season. So once again, it comes down to execution. Is option football here to stay in the NFL? The answer is easy. If teams can execute the offense better than opponents can execute a defense for it, it will continue to thrive. In other words, some teams will run it and run it well, while other teams will be shut down by good run defenses.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Agree, disagree, or have something to share? Please join in the conversation and thanks for reading.

Option Football Mini Round Up…Motivation…GT to Big 10?

Three of the most notable option football teams in college football posted W’s yesterday while #2 Oregon lost, bringing its nation leading 13 game winning streak to an end.

Navy defeated Texas St. 21-10, GT was all over Duke 42-24, and Air Force knocked off Hawaii 21-7. Not a bad weekend for some of college football’s most popular option football teams.

Weekly Navy Motivational

And if you haven’t seen it yet, here is last weeks edition of the Navy Friday Night Motivational Video. I think I might start producing something like this for my teams using Hudl. I will look into doing a few practice runs in the off-season and post them.

2012 Friday Night Motivational vs Troy from Navy Football Video on Vimeo.

Georgia Tech Rumor

I read an article today indicating a rumor that the Big 10 is eyeing GT. I’m still not sure what my opinion is on all the moving around lately within conferences, however, I can see why the Big 10 is interested in new teams.

So what are your thoughts on the Oregon loss and a world with Georgia Tech in the Big 10? Should I produce a Thursday Night Motivational video in prep for a weekly run next year?

Let me know what you think in the comments and as always, feel free to sign up for updates in the form on the right or by clicking here.