The Players Write the Practice Plan – Vince DiGaetano, Assistant Coach, Fordham University

The Players Write the Practice Plan – Vince DiGaetano, Assistant Coach, Fordham University

In this episode from our archives, Vince DiGaetano shares what he implemented as the head coach of SUNY Maritime when he took over the program just five days before fall camp opened. His work, his staff, and his players resulted in Maritime having a successful season in spite of the extreme circumstances of a last-minute coaching change.

“There are basic reasons why somebody is not able to perform. It’s because they are in a bad position, or because they haven’t been in that position, and they’re not familiar with it.”
– Vince DiGaetano

Vince DiGaetano is an assistant coach at Fordham University. Previously, he served on staffs at the high school and small college levels, including at Wagner College and SUNY-Maritime, where he was head coach in 2018.

We also want to point out that Coach DiGaetano serves Fordham football while also concurrently holding down his day job of being a principal of multiple schools in the Bronx.

Coach DiGaetano has been a repeat guest on the podcast (see links below) over the years. He has an intense passion for tackling and studies it better than anyone we know. So much so that we are comfortable calling him the foremost expert on tackling.

He also possesses tremendous perspective on the game in general as well as how to lead a program, and he shares those insights in this episode.

Follow Vince DiGaetano on Twitter @CoachDiG.

“We spent more time teaching and less time with contact early. And once we got that rhythm going, we felt much better with contact and were in a much safer place.”
– Vince DiGaetano

Show Notes:

>Players Writing the Practice Plan
>What Are Their Core Fundamentals? What Needs Teaching?
>Working Fundamentals in Conditioning
>Working with Strength and Conditioning Staff
>Strength Coaches Must Have Input
>4th Quarter Drill
>Player Surveys in Season
>Three Team Goals
>Accountability for the Coaches
>Using the Feedback
>Assistant Coach of the Week Building Morale
>Balancing Teaching, Installing, Correcting, and Preparation
>Reversing the Contact Model
>Working Body Movement
>Working It into Scheme
>Evaluation and Development of Younger Players
>Getting the Players Involved in Scheme
>It’s About Working Together to Get the Right Answer
>Continue to Recruit the Players You Have on the Roster
>Grouping Kids By Ability to Service Them
>Working with the Coaches Too
>Look at the Opponent
>Tackling Drill Adjustment
>Team Tackling Drill
>Learning from the Unpredictable

Additional Vince DiGaetano Episodes:

Trends in Tackling
Deep Dive on Defense – Team Tackling
Defining Practice Tempos and Finishes for Better Performance

Vince DiGaetano Course:

Effective Team Tackling with the 3 C’s: Contact, Chase, and Converge
(over 3.5 hours of instruction, drills, and game film)

The Winning Edge – Takeaways and Ideas for Implementation:
1) Be in Tune with Players’ Strengths and Weaknesses

The ideas of the players writing the practice plan is about being in tune with the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of your players. Coach DiGaetano did a great job in utilizing that idea as he explained throughout the podcast on how his focus was on his own players and their development. From paying attention to main goals that the players agreed on before he took over to being able to bring developmental players and freshmen up to speed with a different approach to conditioning, Coach DiGaetano understood his players.

2) Survey Players

Most coaching staffs will have a postseason evaluation process in which the players go through different aspects of the program and provide feedback so that the staff works on improving their coaching. It’s productive because the insights gained from those evaluations are useful, and players usually are honest about what they share.

Coach Dig shared numerous benefits. From players feeling ownership in the process to the morale of the staff, this approach helped them improve over the course of the season and improved the chemistry of the team and staff. This approach immediately showed the players that the staff was willing to hear them. It was a huge step in building trust.

3) Name a Staff Member of the Week

What really stuck out to me is when Coach Dig talked about every human having a need for recognition. We name all kinds of players of the week from scout team, to lifter, to offense, defense, and special teams. Why not let the players recognize the work of a coach. It raises the standard just like our POW programs do with our players.