View Full Version : Football Taking Risks in Practice: Pushing the Envelope

08-15-2012, 01:34 PM
I thought you guys might find this interesting, particularly in light of the many complaints about the ultra-cautious Mark Castle.

From today's BB presser.


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Not sure if this item will draw the same interest as it did at this address, but thought Bill Belichick’s insight might be of particular value to those in the coaching community.

In his Wednesday news conference, Belichick was asked (by Tom E. Curran of Comcast SportsNet) about quarterback Ryan Mallett and a specific play in practice in which he was intercepted in the two-minute drill.

This ultimately got Belichick talking about overall context and taking risks in practice, which seemed like educational-type of stuff for those who work a sideline.

“I think what you look for is the overall execution by whatever player it is – his assignment, his technique, and what happens on the play. As some people like to do, every touchdown pass is a great play and every interception was the quarterback’s fault. Unfortunately, that’s not really the way it works,” Belichick began.

“Sometimes we score in spite of ourselves. Sometimes quarterbacks do the right thing and there are breakdowns somewhere else. Sometimes the quarterbacks throw interceptions, like all of our quarterbacks have, like all of our receivers have dropped balls, like all of our coaches have made mistakes in some play-calling or substitution or something we’ve done. The fewer the better, and the less costly the better, but as I tell our players, that’s part of what practice is for.

“It’s to take risks, to push it, to see how far it can go, to see how much you can do. Sometimes it’s going to come up a little bit short, but if it’s done in the right context, you learn from that and realize ‘this is how far I can go and I can’t gamble beyond this. But I can push it to this point.’ But if you never push it to that point, then I don’t think you ever really know how far it can go.

“Again, that’s what practice is for. Every interception in practice, every play that doesn’t get made in practice, isn’t necessarily a bad play. I think we can all learn from those plays, provided we do learn from them and apply it in a similar situation the next time it comes up – but particularly at the quarterback position. There are some balls that you try to stick in there, and you learn that you just can’t do that. Then there are other times you learn, ‘Yeah, I can. There are times when this play is OK and it will work.’

“That’s true of all quarterbacks, not singling anyone out. I’d say everyone I coached, particularly one that I’ve coached here for a long time [Tom Brady], we talk about that all the time. If you always make the safe throw, take the easy throw, that’s OK, but at some point you’re going to have to do more than that. You better know what you can do and what you can’t do.

“Better to find out in practice than in the middle of the fourth quarter.”

Rain Man
08-15-2012, 01:37 PM
That makes a lot of sense.

I wonder too if it helps a QB calculate the odds on the fly of making the riskier throw, and lead to more bold decisions on the field. It seems like overreaching one's limits in practice helps one understand where those limits are, and how to move up to the edge of them.