When Patriots coach Bill Belichick got his start in coaching, he learned a system of coding plays which involved index cards, hole punches and ice picks.
So naturally, the idea he can look to a tablet computer on the sidelines on have immediate access to so much information kind of blows his mind.
The latest in Belichick’s semi-regular series of expansive Friday press conferences touched on the rapid pace of technology and how it impacts his job.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Belichick said, via Phil Perry of CSNNE.com. “I’m totally overwhelmed by it. There’s no way I could, without somebody holding my hand and helping me through it, there’s no way I’d get a fraction of what I would get. When we were with the Colts, . . .What I did with the Colts, I wrote every play on a card. I drew the card, drew the play, and then every category that the play fit into, I checked off on the outside edge of the card. So if it was first-and-10, plus-territory, gain of over four yards, screen pass, half back was the receiver, the defense ran a blitz, whatever categories that those fit into, then I would check those off. I’d take the hole puncher. There was like 200 holes around the edge of the card and I would punch out the holes that I’d checked off. Then you’d have a whole stack of cards here, slide the ice pick in there for third down and boom, all the third down cards drop out. Then you take all those cards, look at them and then you put them all back and put the whole deck of cards back together, stick the ice pick in there and all the screens fall out. Here’s 15 screens. You look at them, how many were strong, how many were weak, how many were to the half back, how many were play action, how many were third down, how many were second down? Figure all that out. OK stuck ‘em back in there again. I would do like, you know, 200 of those. Screens, third down, red area, goal line, short yardage, what they ran against blitzes, what they ran from slot, what they ran from motion. All of that.
“That’s, I mean, about as archaic as you can get: the ice-pick method. But it worked.”
As someone known for his ability to process information, Belichick can only benefit from more efficient methods of delivery. And he was quick to praise Patriots IT specialist Dan Famosi for helping him learn how all the fancy gadgets work.
As Belichick explained, the key to coaching is teaching, and the key to teaching is realizing that every student learns differently.
So being able to show the visual learners replays on a tablet computer helps as much as running them through plays on the chalk board on practice field.
The whole conversation is fascinating, and the kind of insight Belichick doesn’t always share.