Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Practice - Coach Narlen Baker

"One of these players is not like the others, one of these players doesn't belong...
  Can you tell which one doesn't belong?"

Coach Narlen Baker
Of course you can.  The one dressed in black.  The one wearing shoulder pads without a jersey.  The one with a goatee. 

Outlaws aren't paid.  So they have jobs. Sometimes their jobs interfere with practice schedules.  Awhile back there weren't enough players at practice to do a proper scrimmage so coach Narlen Baker volunteered.  You can see in the photo it has been awhile since he dressed for football - he's wearing is shoulder pads on the outside! 

Coach is a big guy, not big like a lineman but big like a linebacker or fullback.  He is solidly built.  The kind of guy I wouldn't want to fight. 

Men tend to be bigger than women.  Narlen is bigger than most of the women on the team. 

Blocking the old fashioned way with hands
close to body, using forearms. Large
forearms.  Notice he's wearing a jersey now. 
And the shoulder pads are inside.
His size gave him a decided advantage as a blocker.  During this practice I didn't see a single tackle by a player Narlen was assigned to block. 

One important role for running backs, one often neglected, is blocking.  Runners naturally avoid contact.  For them blocking is unnatural, deliberately seeking to hit an oncoming defender.  Today coach lined up in the offense backfield.  It was an opportunity for him to demonstrate how backs should block.

The fact that he is bigger than most running backs had nothing to it.  Even if he were half the size, he still would have blocked. But his size gave him a competitive edge against would-be tacklers.  That's okay.  Sometimes in a game players will run up against a blocker too big to move and they'll have to figure out a way around.  This was a chance for the defense to get some practice dealing with immovable objects.

You'll notice in these photos someone reminded coach he should wear a jersey and got him dressed in a nice red one.

If coach was impressive as a blocker, he was even more impressive as a running back.  Not the fastest back on the field.  Shadana would run circles around him.  But definitely the toughest to bring down. 

You're not going to bring him down with just your arms.

Does he look worried, confronting a gang of tacklers?

The straight arm pushes tacklers away.  Even out-numbered coach
refused to be brought down.

In the time I watched, I didn't see him on the ground, not even once.  He used the ever effective straight arm to push tacklers aside.  And if it looked like they were going to finally bring him down, he'd play coach and blow the whistle.

If coach was an impressive ball carrier, he was a dynamite pass receiver.  In this play the quarterback is hit as she releases the ball. 

I'm open.  Throw it.

Coach is expecting her to lead him to his right and his body is positioned accordingly.  But the pass takes a different route -  

One handed catch.  I think the women play with a slightly smaller
ball than the NFL men use so it fit his hand -
but this is still a remarkable catch.
A one-handed grab!  And then he secures the ball as a tackler rushes to bring him down.  Notice his red jersey is somewhat the worse for wear.  I don't know if that happened in this practice.  Maybe it was a jersey borrowed from one of the players and was just too small, got ripped when he put it on.  

Need to work on tackling.  Get low.  Drive that shoulder into his middle, grab the legs.  Keep driving, don't slow down and allow him to wrestlehimself away.

I said earlier I didn't see coach on the ground once during the practice.  This play was no exception.  One good tackler against one over-sized over-strong coach - no contest.  The tackler didn't get him down. 

Which brings me to offer a suggestion. 

Tackling powerful runners is obviously a problem for women who are still relatively new to the game, who have been trained up to be nice, who have never considered slamming into someone else to knock him/her down.  In practice is where they need to cultivate this kill skill.  So someday in practice coach should spend an hour or so letting the defense practice tackling.  Him.  Show them the technique - shoulder low into the belt buckle, arms wrapped around runner legs, driving through to the ground.

Earlier in this blog I did a couple postings about tackling. 

Clearly this is a skill that demands some work. 

Coach should suit up a little more often.

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