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Comes with experience. It's probably the most complex team sport there is, with games being more chess matches than anything.
You can accelerate your learning by reading books like Take Your Eye off the Ball if you're really invested in learning more, but even something like getting into the Madden games can help a lot. Plenty of online resources as well for concepts and formations and whatnot.
While you'll learn plenty just by watching, without a bit of background on the fundamentals, a lot of stuff is gonna be lost on the average viewer.
In addition to the previously-mentioned Youtube and Madden, I'll recommend a book, Take Your Eye Off the Ball. It's excellent at explaining the general responsibilities of every player on the field, and what teams look for when drafting them.
If you're new to football then I couldn't recommend this book more. Once you get a basics for the rules and general flow of the game, this will take your knowledge of schemes and ability to see the on-field strategic battle in real-time to an entirely new level. Even longtime NFL fans should read it if they haven't as everyone can still learn more.
Take Your Eye Off The Ball is pretty much the go to literature on this.
YouTube is a good resource. Lots of people breaking down gameplay there, but a lot of it is usually about specific players and good individual techniques.
I thought this book was good for learning scheme. I read it after it was recommended on here a few years back. Good stuff imo.
> "Take your eye off the ball" is a great book for learning about the game, positions, systems, the draft, training and everything else.
I've heard this said as well but haven't bought it ever -- amazon us link is here...
Good one here
This may not be any help, but there's a football book by Pat Kirwan called Take your eye off the ball. It's a guide to understanding football as a viewer that's useful for both new fans and old fans alike. I started to enjoy football a lot more after reading the book. There may be something like this for hockey, which goes over some of the nuances of the game lost by just watching. In football for example, you really only see behind the offensive line once the ball is hiked, at least from a TV point of view, so you don't get an appreciation for what the QB is seeing downfield until you see the replay. Hockey I've found has a similar issue, where the camera is so focused on the immediate action, at least in breakaways, you don't really get to see how plays/offenses can develop.
The go to book for this is Take your Eye off the Ball. It's outdated by a few years now, so won't cover all the latest and greatest but is useful to orient yourself with the nitty gritty.
Welcome to the Nation!
One of the things I like about football is there always seems like there is more to learn. The game has been evolving for decades. My first recommendation is to check out Take Your Eye Off the Ball 2.0: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look by Pat Kirwan. Great base of knowledge to learn about the game.
You can also join our team sub at r/raiders where we mostly talk a lot crap about other teams (as well as our own team). ;-)
I'd start buying this book
Guessing plays is only possible by a limited basis, cause thats what football is all about.
If you wanna guess you must
a) know formations
b) know tendencies teams use in regards to personnel on the field, down & distance and also vs the clock
c) know strengths & weaknesses of the opponent, also in conjunction with b)
football is all about matchups, who blocks whom and who can win his matchup against whom
where are weak areas of the defense, can the offense read them and can they attack them
so it all starts with personnel on the field and what formation it is
the linked book helped me tremendously understanding these basics and how to read them on the fly (as good as it gets)
Take Your Eye Off The Ball by former NFL coach and front office exec Path Kirwan is a one of a kind resource. It's a very good start if you want to know about strategy, player assignments, the draft, as well as X's and O's.
My apologies that is the link to the old version, here is the more updated one.
If you really want to see the game from a coaches perspective read this book: Take Your Eye Off The Ball ~ Pat Kirwan. I've read it through twice and it's a great recourse for everything you ever wanted to know about football. It also has templates for learning how to chart your own plays.
Has anyone read any football strategy books? I'm interested in this one but I want to know if it's even interesting
If you can, buy and read a book called "Take You Eye off the Ball 2.0" by Pat Kirwin. I've watched football my whole life, but never really "got" all of it until I read his book. It's really great, and I think a must-read.
This is a pretty good book, doesn't go over the head of people who don't know about football and still teaches those who do without seeming dumbed down.
I'm making plenty of changes to how I'm living my life; some small, some larger. One thing is I've wanted to get back into reading; I'm slowly working through it, but I have so much I want to go through. Should I stick to one book at a time, or can I juggle back and forth between multiple?
For those who are curious, this is what I'm working on right now, and I'm about 1/5 of my way through the first read (because I know I'll come back to reference it all the time).
Read all the breakdowns that get posted here. They have a lot of information that can help you get a deeper understanding of the game. I'd also recommend this book by Pat Kirwin.
If I were hiring for this position and you had a strong resume, I would be nervous about your lack of domain knowledge -- but that's something that software engineers are expected to pick up! So I would go in with:
Now, you can also cram. Read this Wikipedia article to learn the names of the positions and formations. Make flash cards! Study hard! Then dive into any of the following books:
A reasonable bar for a non-casual fan would be to be able to answer questions like:
Also... if the team you're applying to is the Ravens, I'll be happy to help you get up to speed.
Read Keep Your Eye off the Ball. Read The Essential Smart Football. Pay for NFL GamePass. Watch the Coach's Film (All-22). They've archives going back to 2011. It's especially helpful if you watch a game (or series of plays) you're already familiar with. Get pen and paper out and take notes. Watch what each player is doing, both before and after the snap, and be ready to rewind over and over and over and over.
There's a lot of good analysis on YouTube too, if you are a learn-by-watching type.
>Start here, on Brett Kollman's channel. He's a former NFL Network production assistant. Most of his videos are story heavy and analysis light, but that video is about how to watch film.
>Sam's Film Room, with Samuel Gold, a writer for the Athletic. Good for beginners. I think he started out at r/nfl.
>The QB School, with former Patriots QB, JT O'Sullivan. Focuses on quarterback play, both good and bad.
>Dan Orlovski's Twitter has a bunch of quick analysis videos, usually focusing on QB play.
>Peyton Manning's Detail is wonderful show, but is stuck behind a paywall at ESPN.com. There are two short videos free on YouTube. Resourceful people can find it elsewhere as well.
>Strong Opinion Sports, with Division III NCAA QB Zac Shomler. He has a lot of football video podcasts, but also a QB film analysis playlist.
>Baldy Breakdowns, with former Cowboys OLineman and current NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. No true focus, but has great insight into offensive line play.
>Gamepass Film Sessions. NFL Players and coaches analyze their own plays. The full version is on NFL Gamepass. I'm a particular fan of the one with Joe Thomas.
>Voch Lombardi. Focuses on talent evaluation and line play. Funny as fuck.
>The New England Patriots YouTube channel has Belichick Breakdown and Coffee with the Coach. Breakdown is the more analysis focused of the two.
If you're REALLY interested, the resources are out there. Good hunting.
Keep your eye off the ball NFL edition is good
Take Your Eye Off the Ball 2.0: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look https://www.amazon.com/dp/1629371696/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i.vWAbRA5EMJN
Also the art of smart football
The Art of Smart Football https://www.amazon.com/dp/069244825X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_qawWAb8X0RP9W
As a fan, take your eye off the ball! Book Link
Here's how I do it as a casual viewer:
See the perimeter: Where are the safeties and CB's along with WR's before the camera zooms in.
See the defensive front and offensive line stances/splits.
BALL SNAPPED: Watch the lines! Do NOT look at the QB or backs or ball!
Once you see what's happening in the trenches "zoom out" and catch the receivers and DB's running off screen
Piece the puzzle together on a pass play by seeing where receivers are once they appear on screen again.
This is all happening in a matter of 1-3 seconds, so this takes a long time to get good at! I've been privileged by having years of coaching to make it easier.
As a coach/team, it's a really huge pool of variables to choose from. Different staffs have their own way of doing things, so there's no one basic way to go about it. Some basic things you want to know though:
Offensively, watching defense, you want to know:
Situation: Down and distance, ball location on field in terms of yard line and hash mark.
Personnel: Who is on the field? Who subbed off and who came on? How many subbed?
Front: Formation in the box
Shell: Formation of the secondary (how many safeties, and where are they and the CB's)?
Post-snap: Stunt: Gaps D-line go to, and how they are defending them, and how the LB's fill
Post-snap: Blitz or no blitz (more than who is on the line blitzing)
Post-snap: Read steps of LB's and 2nd level defenders, and secondary (who are they reading/keying)?
Post-snap: Initial drop/rotation of secondary (coverage)
Backfield formation (how many behind the tackles)
Receiver formation to each side
What side of the field is each receiver formation to (boundary/narrow, or field/wide side)?
Stances of offensive players, looking for tells (weight on O-line hands and hip/helmet level, crispness of WR stances and which foot is forward, leans of RB's, etc).
Shift/no shift, and motion/no motion along with who the player is and where they are going
Post-snap: First, second, and third steps of offensive linemen (downfield, back, left, right, down, out, pull, etc). Those first three steps can tell most people about 90% of what the offensive play is with exception to the specific routes receivers run.
Post-snap: Flow: Direction of the backfield
Post-snap: WR releases: Inside, outside
Post-snap: Where are the QB's eyes?
If you are looking for a book, "Take your eyes off the ball" was a nice read ! lots of details on each side of the ball, but very accessible also.
The strong safety doesn’t always have primary pass coverage responsibilities depending on scheme.
The Real Football Network, Pat Kirwan's site, is offering the updated version on his site
They're running a sale on the bundle packs as well.
Amazon lists it for $13.
This book really helped me.
EDIT: Here's the UK link
Take Your Eye Off the Ball. Covers basic and intermediate football knowledge. For more than that, you'll just have to dig into some All-22 footage.
I highly recommend this book if you want to level up your football IQ: https://www.amazon.com/Take-Your-Eye-Off-Ball/dp/1629371696
Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look
- David Seigerman and Pat Kirwan
Great book that taught me much more about the game and how to analyze it.
Based /u/guitarpatch already covered most of the games I'd watch, so I suggest you take a look at this video by Brett Kollmann and this book by Pat Kirwan if you haven't. They're good primers for a deeper understanding of not just what is happening, but why.
The Patriots have the benefit of being, from the top down, one of the most cerebral organizations in NFL history and the only team to have an unbroken 22-year stretch of continuity at key decision-making positions. Throughout your romp through Patriots history, you'll see recurring play concepts, recurring roles, and recurring strategies and they're truly amazing to watch once you have an idea of the complex mechanisms that exist behind the game.
Unrelated, but since you are just getting into watching the game, this book will really help you understand how the game is played. This is an updated version.
I do think that playing Madden can help learn football. While I have plenty of problems with that series, it does a great job of showing football to people. One great resource (though not free, but you may be able to find it at a local library) is Take Your Eye Off the Ball by Pat Kirwan. It's a book that's written to help people understand what's going on when watching football as a fan.
And I do agree 100% that the camera angle for football is very, very often too tight to see what I want to see. Secondary play is basically unwatchable as it's either off camera, or you can't see the angles that led to plays. Running lanes are mostly hidden. There's so much that could be better. However, there's also nothing that we can do about it. While NBC used to have multiple angles that you can choose from on their web app for Sunday Night, a few years ago, they stopped that, and now there are no alternate angles to watch the game from live.
That said, here's a game from 4 years ago where they tried a broadcast from behind the QB. However, enough people objected, so they did this once and stopped. And even this is still too close, IMO. The broadcasters think that the average fan needs it tight to stay interested, and I don't understand why.
So yesterday I misunderstood the phrase "outside the hash marks." I took that to mean using the width of the field, but that isn't what OP meant.
I am a fan of football, but I've never played. I've officiated, but that requires you to look for different things than the players look for, and the terminology isn't an exact match. So I'm not starting from zero, but I'm far from an expert.
If I wanted to learn more about the language of football, the schemes, what to look for, what would you recommend? Take Your Eye Off the Ball by Pat Kirwan? Chris Brown's Smart Football series?
I tend to prefer books over videos, but I'm open to any suggestions that you have found useful.
<strong>Take Your Eye Off the Ball 2.0</strong>: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look Paperback by Pat Kirwan is widely considered the best introductory book for a casual football fan to start seeing the game at a deeper level.
<strong>New Thinking Man's Guide to Professional Football</strong> by Paul Zimmerman and <strong>Blood, Sweat & Chalk:</strong> The Ultimate Football Playbook: How the Great Coaches Built Today's Game by Tim Layden are the typical follow-up books for better understanding schemes and strategies.
<strong>The Art of Smart Football</strong> by Chris B. Brown is a lighter but still interesting read.
I'd recommend starting with those general overviews before jumping into Cody Alexander's or similar books.
Take Your Eye Off the Ball 2.0 - Pat Kirwan
That’s a great one.
By reading books like this...
Take Your Eye Off the Ball 2.0: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look https://www.amazon.de/dp/1629371696/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_bC7kBbDF262EP
Read this book! Great Introduction Info Football imo
Take Your Eye Off the Ball
Not a film, but this is a great place to start.
This book is so great, and apparently just came out with an updated version last year.
> take your eye off the ball
u/AbortedWalrusFetus (un)intentionally(?) ended their comment with the title of an excellent book on the subject by Pat Kirwan.
You should check out this book:
Take Your Eye Off The Ball 2.0
I guess you watched the game? Because nothing whatsoever gets explained in this video. If you really want to know why things happen, read Take Your Eye off the Ball.
You will probably like this.