This time of year, I get lots of calls and emails from my football coaching book readers. Often it’s because they lost a game and want advice.

In virtually every case it’s because they took something I said in the books as a suggestion they were free to ignore. Or they simply did not see something that was in the book.

For example, I tell readers that they can’t have their first string offense or defense go against a scout team made up entirely of second stringers. Rather, they must put, say, their first string D on the left side and their first string O on the right side of the scout offense then switch to the other side for the second half of the practice. They should run the enemy plays that go to the first string side in each phase. And if the opponent has counters, they have to put the first string guys on both sides of the ball at the key positions which will be partly on each side of the center.

If you fail to do that and run second-string scouts against first string, you will easily “win” the practice and fail to see the problems that you will have in the game against the opponent’s first string.

My books say that you must scout. They also say that failure to scout is coaching malpractice. I would have thought that was pretty emphatic and hard to miss. Yet I get coaches call me who lost a game and I ask, “Why didn’t you see this problem in practice against your scout team?”

“Oh, we didn’t have a chance to scout. The opponent games are the same time and day as ours.”


Another problem is no matter how many times I rant and rave in my GAM defense book that you must make the D line bear crawl the first two steps, coaches cave in to parent and player resistance and let them stand up. It was NOT a suggestion. You have to do it or you will get killed in the games.

One reader of my Succeeding and other books made an unexpected comment that is pertinent:

Mr. Reed,

I own several of your books and I've read through most of these.

When I first started reading them a few years ago, I found them somewhat difficult to follow. At that time, I appreciated the information in the books, but it wasn't until recently when I started re-reading them that I became truly impressed.

That's because I figured out how to read your writing. One must pay attention to every sentence. Each one has something important to say. Your writing can't be read like a novel, it needs to be absorbed and reflected. If there is something that I don't understand, instead of glossing over it, I need to take a break, think about it or do some extra research.

With that approach in mind, I'm amazed as to the depth and scope of your material. It seems that almost every paragraph contains an important message, something that a person would not be able to ignore in the pursuit of their goals (real estate or otherwise.) It certainly appears that you have done an incredible amount of research. I can only imagine what your study looks like, the bookshelves must be overflowing.

Anyway, just some belated fan mail.

Michael Martinez in New Mexico

Reed comment: I have over 3,000 books, almost all thoroughly underlined like a textbook.

When I went looking for that comment, I searched for the word “every.” I had not realized it before, but a lot of other readers also said that every sentence or every paragraph had to be read carefully and followed.

My reaction is, “Uh, well, of course. Why the hell would I put a sentence in there that was not important? I have enough trouble fitting stuff in.” Apparently, other writers don’t have enough good stuff and have to put in filler and readers are so used to filler that they assume my books must have it, too. The hell they do! If you read my football coaching books and do what they say, you have a very good chance to go undefeated. Read my testimonials at

Another comment I frequently get is that coaches read my books again and again and each time learn all sorts of great new stuff they did not see the previous times. I don’t quite get how that could happen, but I can give an example of that. I frequently have a reader tell me they’re having trouble stopping the off-tackle play with my GAM defense. “Yeah, that’s why the off-tackle play is the only one with three pages of the book devoted to it. There are a number of adjustments you can make and which one you choose depends on what other plays the opponent can run well. It’s explained in detail on pages 35-37.” “Oh, I missed that,” is the typical response!!!

For Chrissake! You paid me $30 books for the damned book. So READ it! It took me years to figure all that stuff out. I saved you from reinventing the wheel, yet YOU ARE STILL REINVENTING THE WHEEL EVEN WHILE HOLDING THE BLUEPRINT FOR IT IN YOUR HAND!!!!

The books tell you how to win and—generally, not 100% of the time—if you did not win it is because you did NOT do something I told you do in the book, including “little” stuff like making sure your scout team has first-string guys on it.

Football is maybe the most complex and difficult sport to teach. It is infinitely more coachable, but also more complex than the other youth sports. That’s the bad news. The good news is my books exist and the sport is highly coachable. The other bad news is you have to read them and do what they say to win because of them. I would have thought that’s obvious but apparently not.

I do not guarantee a win if you follow the book exactly. Some teams have a tremendous recruiting disadvantage. For example, one year, I coached a team of 12-14-year olds in youth football, but at my location, virtually all 14-year-olds played freshman high school football. Most of our opponents were in locations where the 14-year-olds either were in middle school or chose not to play for the high school team because the youth league had more games for that age than the high school team did (a 10th regular season game plus possible playoffs). Maybe 20% of my 12 and 13-year old players were afraid to go on the field and claimed to have sudden heretofore unknown injuries and/or illnesses during pre-game warm-ups! My books don’t tell how to deal with that.

But they do tell how to deal with virtually every other handicap. Roughly speaking if your players are average or better than average in size, you ought to be able to win with my books. If your entire team is small, it starts to became hard to win on defense, although on offense my books can probably still get you a win. But we beat bigger more talented teams many time and the smallest guy I ever coached was a defense star in his second season.

You say your team is not as fast as your opponents? Hell! We had to deal with that every week. My books are about dealing with that. That’s an excuse for losing in the 100 meter dash, but not in a football game.

Best wishes,
John T. Reed