Free Football Coaching Tips 
By Dan Haege 

What is "football coaching"? Football coaching is much more than drawing football plays. To be a good football coach, as Art Haege would say, you must above all be a good teacher of the game of football. Coach Haege never screamed at his players just for the sake of screaming. Coach Haege didn't vulgarly swear at his players, Coach Haege didn't make excuses when his teams lost. Those are all a part of being a "good coach."

Here is some more of what Coach Haege did to be a "good coach."  

1.) Don't make excuses! When I was a little kid, about 7 years old, one of Coach Haege's team's got beat by a team they would easily beat every year. I asked Coach Haege, why did they beat us? Coach Haege told me "Because I didn't do a good job coaching." 

.2.) Put your football players at the right positions depending on their athletic talent: You must have the good judgement to put the athletic talent at their right positions on the football field. You might have two good running backs, of equal speed. But one might be a better blocker, for example. So you put the better blocker at fullback and not halfback. A good coach knows what positions to play his football players at. It sounds like a simple concept, but sometimes it is not that simple. 
 3.) Good clock management: Coach Haege was a master of clock management. If there was 1 minute left in the first half, and Coach Haege's team was on defense, Coach Haege would usually call time out to get the football back one more time on offense. When Coach Haege's team was ahead 9 to 8 late in the fourth quarter on the other teams 10 yard line, chewing up first downs with time running out, he was in no hurry to score. Coach Haege was always good in the close games and with clock management. 

4.) Don't play favorites because you are friends with the player's family: Coach Haege never played favorites. He didn't care how much money his player's parents made, or their status in life. Coach Haege always played the best football players no matter what! That is a big reason why Coach Haege was so well liked and respected by his players. When Coach Haege was the new head football coach at Two River's Wisconsin High School in the summer of 1967, he had a Dentist appointment. The Dentist was sure his son would be Coach Haege's starting quarterback. After the Dentist got done working on Coach Haege's teeth, and after he was done talking about how he couldn't wait for his son to start at quarterback while working on Coach Haege's teeth, Coach Haege got off of the Dentist's chair and told him "Your son is not going to be our starting quarterback."  
    5.)  Many of Coach Haege's former players have told me that Coach Haege was the best motivator that they ever had. Coach Haege didn't motivate his players by swearing at them and calling them vulger names. Coach Haege motivated his players by reaching into their souls and into their psychological sentiments, and by teaching them that motivation is intrinsic. Real motivation comes from within the player's own belief in themselves. It doesn't come from an outside source (extrinsic) such as a coach screaming. Coach Haege hated what he called "screaming coaches." 

Here is an example of a pre-game speech from Coach Haege: " Wrap up on tackles on defense." Gang tackle!  I want someone to hit someone out there! Play fundamentally sound, disciplined football. No turnovers. Give 110% on every play. Focus on your assignments on offense and defense. Win for your parents. Win for your school. Win for your teammates. And win for yourself." 
Here is Coach Haege's old 4-3 Defense. When I was a kid, some people use to tell me "you can't play that old 4-3 Defense at the high school level." They were afraid to tell Coach Haege that, so they told me instead. Funny! This Defense was played by most NFL and college teams in the 1960's untll the early 1980's. When Coach Haege was a head high school coach from 1964 until 1985, in three different States, the most points Coach Haege's Defenses ever gave up with this old 4-3 Defense was 34 points twice. Only two times!  How many coaches can say that? Coach Haege played this old 4-3 Defense at every high school he coached at; 8 different high schools total. 
The Old 4-3 Defense
                              E  N     T  T LB           
            C      LB              M               SS               C

This is cover 3 zone defense vs.a pro set formation. The two inside tackles on the strong side are on the inside shade of the offensive tackle and guard. The noseguard is on the inside shade of the offensive guard. The weak side defensive-end is on the inside shade of the offensive tackle. The strong side Linebacker is lined head up with the tight-end. The weakside Linebacker is in walk away, 4 by 4 yards off of the line of scrimmage. The strong safety is lined up 4 by 4 yards off of the line of scrimmage. The cornerbacks are lined up 5 to 7 yards off of the line of scrmmage. Coach Haege liked 5 yards, his son Frank says 7 yards. I will go with 5 yards! The free safety is lined up 5 to 8 yards off of the line of scrimmage. The middle linebacker is the key to this defense. Always choose your toughest and most athletic player to play middle linebacker. This Defense is like a 6 -1 Defense until the ball is snapped when playing against a two tight-end formation. When playing against a two tight-end formation move the walkaway Linebacker up to the line of scrimmage and just to the outside shade of the tight-end. The strong side tackle is called a tackle and not a defensive end because the strong side Linebacker is the last player on the line of scrimmage. 

To take pressure off of your middle linebacker, angle your noseguard to the wide-side of the field once in a while. This confuses the offensive center and the offensive line's blocking schemes. The strong side Linebacker must jam the tight-end off of the line of scrimmage every play so the tight-end can't get into his blocking assignments or passing routes easily.
                T G   C  G  T Y                  
          HB         FB
Football terminology: X is the wide receiver on the line of scrimmage. Z is the wide receiver off of the line of scrimmage. Y is the TE (the tight-end). 
Stopping the one back or no back passing formation
In 1983 Coach Haege's Wisconsin Rapids Assumption High School football team played against one of the first 1 back passing offenses (that I know of) in the nation, Chippewa Falls McDonald High School. They played the same passing offense that many of the teams nowadays play. Coach Haege's team won 14 to 6 and shut down their passing game that was averaging over 300 yards per game. How did Coach Haege stop their passing offense? 
Coach Haege had his middle linebacker follow their QB every place their QB went on the football field. Coach Haege played his old 4-3 defense, cover 1 pass coverage and he blitzed the house every down. Coach Haege disguised his blitz. Below is a how you would play the same defense with today's walk up 3-4 defense. If you can't get a good pass rush on the QB, you are better off playing with 6 defensive backs! 
C           WLB          DE             NT          DE           SLB                  C
                                      LB             LB   
OT   OG    C    OG    OT   

As with any Defense, make sure your Defensive Ends have force to the outside of the OT's (offensive tackles) outside shoulder to contain the QB so the QB cannot roll to the outside where he has all day to pass. Hide your blitz by hiding your inside Linebackers (the Sam or Will LB, or both) behind the NT (nose tackle). Assign one inside LB to follow the QB where ever he goes on the football field. When playing cover 1 pass coverage, make sure you have a WLB who can cover the Y WR. If you are going to blitz the weak side LB (WLB) roll your FS (free safety) up to cover the Y wide receiver where you would be in cover 0 pass coverage. The SS (strong safety) would have the W WR. That would also leave both your inside LB's and the SLB free to blitz. You can also play cover 3 pass coverage and blitz both inside LB's and the SLB. When playing cover 3 pass coverage the strong safety has the strong side flat area of the football field, and the WLB has the weakside flat area of the football field. Your cornerbacks each have one third of the football field, and your free safety has the deep middle third of the football field. You can still blitz your strong side LB (the SLB) and both inside LB's when playing cover 3 zone pass coverage. I also like the corner blitz, where you would roll your SS over to the Z side of the formation to cover the Z wide receiver while the cornerback blitzes. You could also play cover 4 zone pass coverage and blitz. To stop the one back or no back set formation and passing game you must get a good pass rush on the QB! 
Stopping the read-option offense
Coach Haege's specialty was stopping the option offense. So I have applied those same principles to stopping the QB read-option offense. 
With the read option the QB is going to read the defensive-end when deciding to give the football to the running back, or to run. The same as the QB would read the defensive-end when deciding to run or pitch the football to the running back when using the traditional option offense. How did Coach Haege stop the option? 
    DE                                     DE  
     LB          LB
Instead of having the QB read the DE (defensive-end) every play, force the QB to read the WLB, inside LB, or cornerback on the weak side, and the SLB, inside LB, and the cornerback on the strong side. Change up who has the QB, and who has the RB after every play. To make this more simple, change it up after every series on defense. This requires good communication among your defensive players. 
When Coach Haege's 1983 Wisconsin Rapids Assumption team played Eau Claire Regis High School in 1983, Eau Claire Regis ran the option offense almost every play. Coach Haege worked all week in practice on changing up who has the QB, and who has the pitch man. During their game Coach Haege's linebacker picked off a pitch in mid-air and ran it back 80 yards for a TD, and helped to chalk up another win for Coach Haege's team. When the QB does not know which player he is reading when running the option, or today's read option offense, he will become very confused. For example, one series have the SLB be responsible for the QB, and the cornerback the RB. The next series have the SLB be responsible for the RB, and the inside LB the QB. This will also leave your DE free to bust up the play.