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Self Scouting
September 14 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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A key to success in the NFL is the study of game film. Coaches, players and teams in general spend countless hours each week watching game footage of their opposition. Teams look for trends in offenses and defenses. Coaches look for weaknesses in the oppositionís teams, and players analyze every step and hand movement of the players they will be facing in the coming week. Itís an extremely large undertaking, but the payoff can make the difference between a win and loss.

While teams spend infinite hours watching their opponents, they donít spend nearly enough time watching footage of their own team, and scouting their own team. Itís an art called Ďself scoutingí and when implemented properly it allows coaches to prevent their team from falling into the same trends that other teams are looking for when they analyze their opponents.

When a team adds self scouting to its game preparation, it becomes much harder for opposing teams to predict what the team will do. This because, the coaches are looking specifically to avoid calling certain plays in certain situations on both sides of the ball. It also insures that the coaching staff use the entire playbook, instead of just a small portion of it.

Through self scouting, a team for example, may notice that on third and three it runs a draw to their running back seven out of ten times. If this trend, or any other for that matter is detected by the coaching staff, when a third and three situation arises in their next game, the team will specifically avoid calling the draw all game - hence the opposing team will be guessing wrong on every third and three situation.

Self scouting is an often over looked, yet integral part of game preparations on a week to week basis. Itís as important to try and keep other teams guessing as it is to know what plays other teams are going to run. Those coaches, that are regarded as being guruís or responsible for constant unpredictability, often achieve that status because they dedicate the time to self scouting. Self scouting is becoming a lost art in the NFL, and it should be. Teams need to dedicate more time to insuring that they donít fall into the predictable trends that prevent them from winning in the NFL - to do that, they need to spend the time self scouting.

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