How to Minimize Football Plays & Maximize Production – R4 & the Pareto Principle
Last season I took my first head coaching job at Victory Christian High School in Tulsa, OK. Victory Christian is a 2a school of 400 students 9th-12th grade. I had previously been the offensive coordiantor at Jenks High School in Jenks, OK. Jenks is a 6a D-1 school of 3400 students 9th-12th grade. My first obstacle as a head coach was figuring out how to run a football program within the reduced resource parameters of a significantly smaller school.
I had 40 players 9th-12th grade out for football at Victory in my first year. This is compared to about 140 players 9th-12th grade out for football on average at Jenks. Furthermore, I had 4 assistant coaches on staff at Victory in my first year. This is compared to 12 assistants on staff at Jenks. Overall Victory (2a school) had about 3 ½ times fewer resources than Jenks (6a D-1 school). Even though the reduced number of resources were relative compared to enrollment size, the workload and expected outcomes was the same at both levels. In fact, the workload was probably more because the varsity staff also had to coach junior varsity and the junior high programs.
This was a struggle that was not entirely solved during my first season. I also had to wrestle with the reduced amount of time to practice. Fewer coaches and players required more work on both sides of the ball. This factor diminished the time needed to rep fundamentals and install concepts for a game plan like I had previously been accustom to. Additionally, the varsity staff had to coach both offense and defense. This required an increase in bandwidth of base football knowledge. Coaches now had to become an expert in more than one position and develop an ability to coach primary movements within an offensive and defensive scheme.
Each week of practice became an experiment to hit a moving target as injuries and unforeseen obstacles kept presenting themselves. I spent some time researching for solutions during the off-season. One of the concepts that I spent a deep dive learning was the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principal, also known as the 80/20 rule, was developed in Italy by economist Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923). Through his research he discovered a numerical pattern emerge between cause and effect. The proportion was that 80% of the results (effect) are generated from 20% of the cause (effort).
For example, 80% of Italy’s wealth belonged to 20% of the population. He also discovered that 80% of peas in his garden were produced by 20% of the pea pods. Some other real-world situations that demonstrate the Pareto Principle are:
80% of your phone calls are made to 20% of the names stored on your phone
80% of phone time occurs in 20% of applications
80% of traffic in a region occurs on 20% of the streets
80% of the meals in a restaurant come from 20% of the menu
80% of the news comes in the first 20% of an article
The number of examples of these proportional patterns is over whelming. However, the exact values of 80 and 20 are not absolute. Chaotic factors can shift the numbers in either direction. They could be in a 75/25, 85/15, or even a 99/1 ratio. The pattern in nature that you will rarely find is a 50 / 50 or 1 to 1 ratio between cause and effect. The main take away is that most of the effects in a domain are generated from a minority of efforts. The challenge is possessing the tools to see and extract what minority inputs generate the biggest return on investment.
R4 is designed to accomplish this task. R4 a football operating system that stands for Rhythm, Read, Rush and Release. These four platforms link together to create a sequential feedback loop that informs and accelerates in-game decision making. Play call decisions are made based on anticipated Coverage, Alignment and post-snap Personnel actions by defenders. These defensive alignments and actions are the most critical coaching cues used in game planning. This is known as the C.A.P. in the R4 system.
The challenge in coaching is networking concepts and adjustments in a manner that quickly answers the C.A.P. reactions of the defense. Another obstacle is prioritizing the “best” plays against a weekly opponent to fit into a practice schedule. This is where the Pareto principle becomes important to understand. If coaches have a tool that can help determine the “best” 20% of plays that generate 80% of yardage efficiency, then they can do more with less. This is a gamebreaker for coaches that are in an environment with time and talent constraints.
In the newest R4 book “What is Open?”, coaches will discover tools that answer these issues.
The H.A.L.O. establishes key frames of reference to build accurate mental models within offensive personnel and formations. This allows a coaching staff to read the reality of the defensive C.A.P. and predict what to anticipate against an opponent. Next, the book covers three scheme strategies that are found in the “best” run and pass plays in football. This provides coaches with a process to identify the small scheme effects that generate the biggest conflicts for the defense. Finally, coaches will learn how to use the R4 grid platforms to prioritize and network plays together. These Rhythm, Read, Rush and Release platforms communicate the “best” course of action for play insertion into a game plan.
The Rhythm platform of the sequence is for rhythm plays.
Rhythm plays are the “best” schematic play that attack the anticipated C.A.P. of the defense. Another property of a rhythm play is that it can remain viable against a variety of defensive C.A.P. adjustments. The Read, Rush and Release plays are built off the Rhythm play. These ancillary plays are used to protect the Rhythm play as well as set up explosive plays against known and unknown adjustments that can occur in the game. Additionally, these accessory plays get the defense back into an optimal look to reestablish the Rhythm play.
Rhythm plays reveal the Pareto Principle proportions. If game planning and grading of personnel is done correctly through the R4 process, then these 20% of plays should generate 80% of the play calls that are made in a game. The R4 tools accelerate Rhythm play identification. This generates the minimum amount of plays that maximize play call efficiency. Practice time is now amplified to accommodate the time and talent limits that hinder many teams that have players that play both ways. Finally, there is a streamlined solution that can assure coaches they have put their players in the best situation to win.
If you would like to find out more about R4 and the game planning and play calling process buy it here. If you want a deeper dive into the R4 system sign up and become an R4 member for the online coaching curriculum platform here.