Last night we saw the University of Alabama Crimson Tide capture their fourth national title in the past seven years. However, it boiled down to one play based on planning and communication; both what was said, and what body language tried to hide. It went a little something like this (via SB Nation):
A routine kickoff became a trick play that turned the game’s tide solely in Alabama’s favor. Read this breakdown of how many things had to go right to pull it off, including the player catching the pass actually dropping it half the time in practice.
Special teams may sometimes be considered the stepchild to the offense and defense in American football, but more often than not, it plays the biggest role in shifting momentum within the game.
The Alabama coaches had a plan if they saw Clemson in a certain formation on kickoffs. Sure enough, with the game tied in the fourth quarter and just over 10 minutes to play, it was time to try it. In summation:
- The kicker began his approach just like any other kickoff; then suddenly altered the direction of the kick at the last second.
- The receiver – who is actually a defensive back on the team (don’t worry, this stuff happens on special teams) – started running his route like a normal kickoff. He suddenly altered his route to the outside just after the ball was kicked.
- The ‘receiver’ caught the kick in midair and then bolted out of bounds to secure the ball for Alabama.
Simply, they saw a different formation that matched their trick pay, so they executed their plan. Some may call it genius, but at its core it is about having a plan for different scenarios. When the opportunity presents itself, implement the plan that gives you the advantage.
This is true for any communications plan. In this instance, they not only verbally communicated on the sideline, but the players also had to master their non-verbal skills until the right time to help pull the play off.
While many things have to go right in those scenarios, ultimately the better plan, and the core practice it has been given, prevails. Even if it only works half the time in ‘practice,’ from Alabama’s football team to your communications team, anyone can follow the same game plan:
- The stakes are high
- You trust your players and have instilled confidence in your team
- You communicate the plan and the players understand their important roles
- It catches your opponent by surprise
- Take the shot
Hockey player Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Alabama took their shot and once again, the ‘Tide is Rollin.’