Football Emojis, Snakes & Whatever It Takes…

By FirstDown PlayBook on Aug 2, 2022
USA Football & FirstDown PlayBook

I called a buddy of mine this spring to ask him about something. He is the offensive coordinator for one of the 32 NFL teams. I won’t say which one to protect the innocent. We talked for about 20 minutes and then he said, “You will never guess what I am doing right now.” “I am putting football emojis on my install tomorrow to get my point across”.

We both laughed and agreed that whatever it takes to hold your players’ attention, that’s what you do. In fact, that’s what all good teachers do. This is regardless of if you are teaching 6 year olds or NFL players.

Break it down and analyze it anyway you want. Most of the old adages about visual cues are still true when you coach. You know, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” “Seeing is believing” and all of the other principles that reinforce the importance of making your point with visual aids. That is even if it’s football emojis.

Football Emoji

I know a lot of you will not believe this, but the NFL can be pure drudgery at times. Sure it is exciting and a privilege to be a part of, but try telling that to a six year veteran on day fifteen of training camp or on a 7:30 am Wednesday meeting in November. As a coach, if you are not careful, your players will turn you off and tune you out. It won’t be intentional, but after a while as they listen to you over and over, it will happen. It is your job to do some things to grab and keep their attention.

This is where the pictures come into play. As you are installing the plays in your group or individual meetings it can help your players if you don’t just constantly put up the same black and white play drawings and expect them to stay focused and pick up on every little detail that you teach. So let’s say you were installing your pass plays and one of them happened to be:

Cobra Example

If this was a critical play that you knew your guys had better understand from a point of “we might only get one shot at this play” then this little visual aid would more than likely jump out in your meeting and also stick out in their mind when “Cobra” was called in the game! Sometimes the visual aids can be dramatic, sometimes funny, just as long as they grab your players attention during the teaching phase.

Football Emojis Are Probably Better Than Snakes for Youth Football Players!

Now, we are not advocating scaring the pants off of your youth football team. Football emojis are probably the better route. When we coached the little ones who were playing flag football we would also use visual aids right before practice. Some of them were football related and some were life lesson related. We would always show them pictures before practice as we talked to them about the practice schedule. The coaches explained to the team and the parents what we were going to work on that day.

Youth Football Visual Aids

This is an example of a day when we were going to work on taking a snap. If you have ever tried to convince a six year old to put his or her hands anywhere near another six year old’s butt then you will totally get why this visual is important. It helps if they see that Tom Brady does it and that it’s all part of each and every football play, particularly when your Centers are not old enough to shotgun snap yet!

Over the next several weeks as you make your practice plans for the youth football season, consider this. It might serve you well to use visual aids to help your team see it before they do it. This might be football emojis or it might be something else. You will be excited to find that there can be a visual message with your words. This will help your words and your game plan stay where you want it come game time. In your players minds!