Run Fu: Running Backs And The Four Minute Drill

The four-minute drill in football is different from the two-minute drill. While the two-minute drill is a pass happy with a purpose to preserve the time left on the clock, the four-minute drill’s objective is to quickly use up the time left on the clock. The latter has a great need for a consistent yard gaining running back while the former has no need for that position at all.

When I was a kid, fullbacks and running backs were staple positions on any football team. Now fullbacks are almost extinct dinosaurs and running backs are being diminished because of more teams’ reliance on the intricacies of the passing game. I think that depreciation of the running back has occurred for three reasons. Firstly, the offensive run blocking is not at the level it was in the past. Offensive lineman are not able to open holes or are just routinely missing their blocking assignments. Secondly, most running backs are being picked on the basis of straight line, 40 yard dash, speed. The coaches are forgetting that a back has to be strong and shifty enough to get to where that straight line speed can be utilized. Most of the straight line speed backs are stopped in the backfield if there is no hole opened up for them or they run east and west for 20 yards with maybe a one or two yard gain to show for their effort. Lastly, the preponderance of ankle biting or ankle tackling has limited backs to very short yardage. About 75% of the short yardage, gains of 2 yards or less, seem to be due to the mastery of ankle-biters at or around the line of scrimmage.

Coaches are getting reluctant to use running backs in short yardage situations on 3rd down. Short yardage plays on 3rd down of distances 2 to 3 yards are almost routinely passing plays, roughly about seventy-five percent. Although, historical data in the NFL shows that runs on this down and distance are more successful than passes, the coaches go against the historical evidence and rely on the pass. The coaches, across the board, distrust their running backs in these situations.

In order for running backs to return to a position of prominence on the football field, they must be trained differently. The backs must acquire some training in the martial arts. Martial arts training teaches the student how to overcome an opponent quickly and decisively. It would teach running backs how to win against a bigger defensive lineman if an offensive linemen missed his assignment, it would teach running backs to rely more on shiftiness and elusiveness instead of straight line speed, and it would teach running backs to develop extreme leg explosiveness that would minimize their chances of being brought down by ankle-biters.

If the running backs could once more gain their coaches trust in short yard situations, their usefulness in the NFL and all levels of football would be enhanced. Having to use a pass in the four-minute drill has lost quite few games over recent years. A coach’s desperation to get a game sealing first down in a short yardage situation by passing the ball has opened many doors for two- minute drill magicians like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Russell Wilson to move the ball down the field and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Well trained running backs will send a message to coaches that the Chicken, the passing game, came second and will remain second on third down and short or in the four-minute drill if running backs are trained to perform more efficiently.

Watching Australian Football Live

Australian football is so different to any other type of football. It is best seen “live” to be able to get an appreciation of its differences and the multiple skills involved in playing the game. (Seeing the game on television certainly gives you close ups of the individual skills of the players, the physical clashes, and the umpire’s decisions while the replays give you the opportunity to see the highlights immediately. As well you are able to see the time clock run down to zero especially in the last quarter).

It is important to note that Australian Football is played on the largest oval of any football code. It is the longest game containing the most players on the field at any one time (thirty six in total). There are nine officials on the field managing the game in a National League competition game.

At a live game, you appreciate the size of the oval; the speed at which the game is played; the amount of running involved in the game by most players as well as observing the game strategies used by each team. Sitting in a good position, you can observe players who read the game so well that they anticipate where the ball will go and move to that position to intercept or receive the ball to attack. You see and hear the reaction of the crowd. You feel the emotion of the crowd and those of the players in the context of the game.

Different spectators like to watch the game from different position. As a child, I loved to sit behind the goals to watch the high marking of the full forwards. Others like to see near the fence to be close to the physical clashes. For me, now an adult, I like to sit high in the stand around the middle of the oval. This allows me to see the whole game unfold from one end of the oval to the other. (The coach’s boxes are also high in the stand for the same reason).

As a person who has umpired the game both as a field and a goal umpire, it gives me the opportunity to watch the umpires doing their job, agreeing or disagreeing with their decisions as well as watching their positioning to see if it helps them make correct decisions.

When the game is in the last quarter and the result is in the balance you can look at the time clock to see how long the quarter has lasted and hope when your team hits the “front”, the final siren goes.

Of course, the great thing about being at a live game is to sing the club song if your team wins. When the game is over, the club song of the winning team is played several times over the public address system. If our team wins, it’s always a thrill-a great way to finish the day at the “footy”.

Goal Umpiring in Australian Football for the Newcomer

In junior Australian Football, parents are often asked to be Goal Umpires. Many have no experience of the game and are reluctant to take on this responsibility. Often, boys, not much older than those playing, end up “doing the goals”. This is not the best way to see the game organised. It is really a job for more mature people.

This article will offer several hints for parents on how to become a competent goal umpire for junior games.

Let me begin with the basic rules related to scoring.

1. A goal is scored if the ball is kicked by the attacking player through the two central post (called the goal posts), providing it is not touched by any player of either team.
2. If it is touched or it hits either of the two central posts, it is a behind worth one point only.
3. If the ball goes between the outside posts (called the behind posts) and the goal posts, it is a behind.
4. If the ball hits the outside posts (the behind post), it is out of bounds and no score is recorded.
5. A kick is defined as the ball hitting the leg below the knee.
6. To score, the ball must be totally over the goal or behind line.

Now let me talk about the positioning of the goal umpire. These are the things to remember.

1. Always keep your eyes on the ball wherever it is.
2. When it comes into the forward line near you, stand 2 to 3 metres behind the goal line.
3. Using the centre of the goal line as a pivot point, line up with the ball through that point and move with the ball keeping your line of sight with the ball through the pivot point.
4. When the play is getting close, watch the ball off the boot. This will best indicate in which direction the ball will go.
5. Try always to get under the flight of the ball.

Next, let me talk about what happens when there is a score.

1. Once a score is made, stand erect at the centre of the goals and look to the field umpire for the “all clear”.
2. Once the all clear is given, indicate to the field umpire the score and then get your flag/s and signal the score from the centre of the goals to your fellow goal umpire at the other end.
3. Now record the score on your card.
4. If you are not sure of the score, simply run to the field umpire to discuss the issue. On the other hand, if the umpire sees a problem, he will come to use to advise you on what to do.
5. At the end of each quarter, you should compare scores with the other goal umpire. At the end of the game, check again and when you have agreed on the score, sign your score card and give it to the field umpire.

Some parent acting as goal umpire try to catch the ball as it goes through. This is not your job. Your job is to determine the score. After that has been recorded, maybe you might need to get the ball. The players and spectators appreciate parents who act in a professional way when goal umpiring. It shows the boys particularly that you want to do a great job for them.