How To Run A Football Scout Team (Part 1)

By FirstDown PlayBook on Jul 27, 2023
FirstDown PlayBook Player App Helps Defensive & Offensive Coordinators Install.

Here’s a bet I will make you. Ask any successful NFL coach or Power 5 football coach if they can run a good scout team and you will hear something like this. “Dude, I ran great scout teams when I was a GA. My scout teams gave great looks!” Odds are they are not lying. I personally have never met a good football coach who could not organize a good look team. I personally ran one helluva scout team…but I digress. It mostly goes back to this. Good football coaches are great teachers, communicators and motivators.

One of the first opportunities a young coach gets to demonstrate these qualities is when they run a football scout team. It is literally their job to give the best look possible of the opponent’s offense, defense or special teams. Any coordinator will tell you that this will win games for you or get you beat depending on how well your scout teams perform.

So for the next several days I am going to cover some of the important aspects of running a good scout team. Our hope is it will help some of you who are in charge of a scout team for the first time in your young coaching career.

Definition Of A Football Scout Team or Look Team

Most scout teams that are run poorly is due to lack of organization before you ever get to the field. We will get to that in a moment. Before you can address that, you have to actually define what a scout team’s job is. The scout team is also called the “look team” for a reason.

The scout team must understand that their number one job is to look like the team you are about to play. It’s not about them, regardless of how talented or untalented they may be. When I coached for the Chicago Bears, Brian Urlacher would often play on our scout team. Odds were that Brian was a better player than whoever we were going to play that week, however he understood that his job was to look like the middle linebacker we were playing.

It’s almost 100% that you will not have the problem of coaching a hall of famer. Your challenge will probably be to help that talented sophomore linebacker give the best look he can give. This can only be achieved if you coach him. Much of your work will be with organizing your scout team and this group or team period.

Know Who Is On Your Look Team

Before you can even begin to teach what the scout team is supposed to do, you have to decide who is going to be on it. After you decide this, you have to make sure your players understand who is on it. This can normally best be done by posting your scout team depth chart on your bulletin board prior to that practice. This way they not only know who is on it, they know what position they are playing. It never hurts to call it out in meetings too.

Bad Scout Team Cards…Bad Scout Team

Look. If you are in that group of coaches who does not draw scout team cards then stop reading now. You and I will never see eye to eye on this. In my opinion you are cheating your players, your team and ultimately yourself.

Scout Team Cards

If you work at having an organized period, scout team cards will be a part of it. It will include cards and a practice script. Remember. You are a teacher and the scout team card is what you will use to teach. If done properly, football scout team cards will be done neatly and with great detail. The cards will be done in color with either jersey numbers or your players initials on all players.

If you coach an offensive scout team, the scout team cards are pretty straightforward. Your look team will try to run the play as best they can like the team you are playing. Executing the proper assignment at full speed is essential. If there are nuances about how the quarterback plays etc, then they should be coached.

When you coach a look team on defense, the job is slightly more complicated. If you just get your scout team lined up, trust me when I say that is not good enough. Your scout team cards should show the offensive play being run and the reaction of the scout team player.

Why? Well, let’s face it. If your scout team players could react well enough just on what they see, they would not be scout team players. They would be starters. Once again, you are coaching a “look” team. This team must look like your opponent. Special teams coaches have to contend with this too.

Come back tomorrow and join us for part 2 on how to run a good football scout team.

Chad Johnson