Printer Friendly

Ghost games: the real thing in game preparation!

Aberdeen Eagle football teams have been attracting a lot of attention with a short, make-believe practice device called "Ghost Game" that is played the day before the actual game.

It derives its name from the fact that it is "played" against no opposition. The offense, defense, and special teams come on the field with one or two coaches, who work from a special script.

They move the ball around the field simulating snaps, passes, or punts, or they may act as specific reads relevant to the next day's game. The rest of the staff works the sideline as they will in the actual game.

"Ghost Game" takes about 40 minutes to play and is well worth the time. It enables us to teach and emphasize the importance of the rules, sudden changes, substitutions, transitions, special teams, and personnel combinations. Though we know how critical it is to get our personnel on the field quickly and smoothly, we want to do more than just remind our players that they have to be on the field at certain times.

"Ghost Game" helps us accomplish this. It also helps our players develop an understanding of the rhythm of a game. All games have a rhythm, though no one knows what that rhythm is going to be. Just calling out "Substitutions!" or "Special teams!" hardly serves to generate a rhythm. That's when "Ghost Game" steps in. It not only enables us to get personnel onto the field, but it teaches our players to play the game mentally and to understand the sudden changes and various transitions that are constantly occurring in a real game.

After using "Ghost Game" for several seasons, we discovered that it creates many teachable moments while playing it. The players are constantly moving from situation to situation and are learning to recognize and adapt. The absence of opposition seems to make the situations easier to understand and more meaningful.

"Ghost Game" can be as elaborate as the staff chooses to make it. Down markers, the clock, anything a coaching staff feels is important, can be used to help emphasize the game situations.

Situation cards may also be used. We use three sets of cards made up by a coach. Each card deals with a specific phase of the game {offense, defense, special teams). Drawn at random, it explains a specific situation such as a certain player being injured, a penalty, or anything else that could cause a substitution or transition problem.


We believe that the script we use is the most important part of "Ghost Game." We spend time every week creating it. We write it down and follow it closely, checking off each special team or situation as it is covered.

When new situations arise, we will stop and talk about the specific rule(s) involved. The script prevents us from overlooking certain situations or various things we thought about during the week.

Any staff can adapt the script to situations that might effect the team's performance. The accompanying script, though very general, will give you an idea of how we put a script together.

Our script is unique to our team. Since we believe very strongly in defense, we emphasize that mind set. Our opponents are going to do very little scoring in the script.

In our first "Ghost Game" of the season, we do not try to cover every situation that might occur. (We will have covered them in practice or with film.) As the season progresses, we gradually start adding situations.

As a staff, we are always seeking to improve upon our use of "Ghost Game." Last season, we discovered two books that had a tremendous impact upon us: George Allen's Guide to Special Teams and a new book, Football Clock Management, by John T. Reed. Since both address some of the things we emphasize, they proved enormously helpful in the preparation of our scripts.

In conclusion, "Ghost Game" has greatly improved our players' understanding of substitutions, rules, transition, and the complete game of football. It has also enhanced our teaching of the three phases of football - defense, offense, and special teams, as they blend together in an actual game.

The Script

* Coin Toss (Defer)

* Score (Go for 2)

* Kickoff

* Kickoff (Squib)

* Defense

* Defense (End of Half)

* Punt Return

* Halftime

* Offense

* Kick Return

* Punt

* Offense

* Defense

* Punt

* Punt Return

* Opponent's Score

* Offense

* PAT Defense

* Scored (PAT kick)

* Kick Return (Hands Team)

* Kickoff

* Slow Down Game

* Defense

* Pressure Punt

* Turnover

* End of Game Defense

* Offense

* End of Game Turnover

* Score (PAT Fake)

* Taking a Safety

* Kickoff (Onside)

* Kickoff or Punt After a Safety

* Offense

* Clock Plays

* Time Outs
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scholastic, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:football
Author:Reilly, Kevin
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Sep 1, 1998
Previous Article:A 1-2-2 continuity vs. man defense; it's all Greek, but it works!
Next Article:Stack your out-of-bounds troubles away!

Related Articles
10 Football Coaches.
Formulating a defensive game plan.
Coaching with conviction: Vince Lombardi's extraordinary success as the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers demonstrates the dramatic difference...
On the war (eagle) path: Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville has every right to be mad after his program was denied a shot at its first national title....
An "old coach" & his protege (fifty years of bonding).

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters