Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Football Scouting Methods

Football Scouting Methods Review

This book caused quite a stir back in 2004 or 2005 when it was mentioned in the media. The author is Steve Belichick the father of Bill Belichick the head coach of the New England Patriots. Steve was a noted scout and coach in his own right back several decades ago. This book was one of the first that I know of that attempted to codify some of the thinking and thought processes that go into scouting football.

Originally teams were allowed a certain number of visits in order to scout the opposition. Steve Belichick was a master at this skill and always found small ways to give his teams an advantage. His skills were passed onto his son Bill who developed an even keener eye for scouting opponents tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses.

Today teams of course exchange game film, input data into a computer database and study that content instead of exchanging visits. The basic things they watch for however are still the same although the exact formations and play types change every decade of course. None the less the original questions and points of study that are outlined in this book were influential in their hey day and still of relevance today in concept.

Since the media mentioned this book it has become a hard to find commodity and has become something of a collectors item. I have an old copy that I keep in my football library. The schemes and diagrams are somewhat outdated (e.g. defense examples include a wide tackle six, split six, stacked 6-2, 5-3, and an eagle 5-4 type of alignment. Offense examples include T formations and Winged T alignments) but the basic thought process is still relevant even today.

Reading this book will give you a good sense of the details that coaches zeroed in on back then and what Steve probably taught Bill as a young man many years ago.

EDIT NOTE Nov. 2008

Since I wrote this review I see the book has fortunately been re-published and is now available for a reasonable price. I see I also accidentally referred to Steve's son Bill as "Brian" in one location but correctly as Bill in two other locations. A senior moment to which some of you can probably relate...I corrected it above.

Here is the table of contents for those interested:

1. A case for specialization in scouting
2. Preparations for scouting
3. What is expected of the scout
4. Worksheet forms and terminology
5. How to recognize the defense
6. Scouting the defense
7. Defensive analysis
8. Scouting the offense
9. Offensive analysis
10. The final report
11. Self-scouting and post game analysis
12. Tip offs

Two other older books I am aware of on scouting are George Allen's work "How to Scout Football" published in 1953 when he was still with Whittier College and Robert MacKenzie's book "Football Scouting" from 1955.

Keep in mind the terminology and examples in all these books are dated now by four or five decades.

Football Scouting Methods Overview

"Considered the bible of scouting techniques" according to the Los Angeles Times, Football Scouting Methods explains the basic scouting strategies and insights of author Steve Belichick. He was widely viewed as the ablest football scout of his time and coached at the U.S. Naval Academy for 33 years; his son is New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a three-time Super Bowl winner.

When Steve Belichick died in November 2005, the New York Times headline cited him as "Coach Who Wrote the Book on Scouting," and quoted Houston Texans General Manager Charley Casserly calling Football Scouting Methods "the best book on scouting he had ever read." Joe Bellino, Navy's Heisman Trophy winner in 1960, told the Times that Steve Belichick "was a genius. On Monday nights, he would give us his scouting reports, and even though we were playing powerhouses, I always felt we were prepared because he found a way for us to win."

In recent years Football Scouting Methods has been one of the top ten most sought out-of-print books; used copies have been quite scarce. This reissue edition makes the original 1962 text available once again in exact facsimile.

The book covers how to scout opponents, recognize defenses, analyze offenses, discover "tip-offs" that reveal the opponent's plays, compose a useful report, self-scout, and conduct postgame analysis.

"Steve Belichick taught many younger men how to scout and how to watch film and how to prepare their teams for the next week's game," David Halberstam noted in the Washington Post, and his best student was his own son Bill Belichick, "one of whose greatest skills as a coach to this day remains his ability to analyze other teams, figuring out both their strengths and their vulnerabilities, and shrewdly deciding how to take away from them that which they most want to do."

When CBS asked Bill Belichick to name his favorite book, he replied "Well, I've got to go with my dad's. Football Scouting Methods. I'd have to go with that."

Available at Amazon Check Price Now!

*** Product Information and Prices Stored: Aug 10, 2010 13:54:05

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