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by Alejandro Anguiano

Alex is a chemistry teacher at Montgomery High School. He enjoys spending time with his son when he's not at work or at school. After completing his degree, he plans on using all the wonderful things that he has learned in his classroom.

Instructional Objective The junior varsity defensive linemen and linebackers will be able to tell their coach the responsibilities of their positions and the others in this group.


Learners/Context The learner group consists of junior varsity football players who play the positions of defensive linemen and linebackers. These athletes are males between the ages of 14 and 16 playing the game as an organized, team contact sport for the first time. As a group, they tend to have the lowest grade point averages on football teams.

The card game will be used by players off the playing field during their free time. For example, the game can easily be played at lunch time, before practice, or after practice. The cards will reinforce (and in some cases teach) what the players should know about the defensive line and linebacker positions. As the season continues, cards can be added for additional plays.


Rationale Since practice time is limited, it is in the best interest of the team for athletes to know their assignments prior to practice; then practice time can be spent on conditioning and on refining what the athletes already know. Athletes tend to forget their assignments at the start of a season under the stress of practice and games. Furthermore, athletes often try to cover the assignment of their teammates and leave their own assignments unattended. This can result in the total breakdown of a defense. A card game is one of the teaching techniques that could be used to correct this situation.

If fast paced, a card game could also simulate the excitement that players encounter, which often distracts them from their assignments. Most importantly, the trick in teaching these athletes is understanding that they are kids and need to be exposed to different teaching styles. A card game would fit nicely into the learning process.

Although as a whole the subject matter is rather complicated, it can be divided into categories or families. In fact, this is an area in which cards have an advantage over play sheets: they can force a player's attention to focus on a specific part of the overall play.

Rules There may be 3-4 players. The dealer, called "coach," controls the play cards and gap cards. (A gap is an area of the interior line for which a defensive lineman or linebacker is responsible.) The coach deals seven of the position cards to each of the players. The coach exposes the play card, waits five seconds, then exposes the gap card. If a player holds the card of the position that is responsible for that gap, he may put that card face down on the table. The players have five seconds to put their cards down after the gap card is exposed. On the command of the coach, any player who puts down a card must turn it over. If the player is correct, he gets a point. If wrong, he loses a point. If a player has no points and is wrong, his score becomes a negative number. Players who put cards down may get a new card from the position deck. The cards that are put down will be collected by the coach. If necessary, the coach will check the results against the play sheets.

The first player to get ten points wins the round and gets to be coach for the next round. The previous coach then becomes a player; however, he will need 12 points to win the round after being the coach. Rounds may continue as time permits.


Card and Deck Design There are three decks. The first contains 64 cards that have the letters of one of the eight defensive positions discussed on one side, such as STUD or ST, and nothing on the other. There are an equal number of position cards in this deck. The next deck has the gap responsibilities such as SA or WB on one side and is blank on the other. There are 49 of these cards equally divided among the seven gaps. The last deck has the defensive play written on one side and nothing on the other. One card might read, as in our example, "50 -- Strong -- STACK -- STUD."

There are fifty of these cards representing different possible plays or combinations of plays.

The following base defense will serve as an example for the deck designs:

The play: 50 -- Strong -- STACK -- STUD

Offense

SD SC SB SA WA WB WC

X X X O X X

SAM DE ST WT WOODY

STUD WILD

Defense

The letters WA, WB and WC represent the gaps between the offensive linemen on the weak side of the line. The letters SA, SB, SC and SD represent the gaps between the offensive linemen on the strong side of the line. The "O" is the center and the "X 's" are the rest of the offensive linemen. The defensive linemen are represented by DE, ST, and WT. The linebackers are represented by SAM, STUD, WILD and WOODY.

The play can be broken down into parts. The "50" describes the pattern in which the players must line up. There are other patterns such as the "43," the "Okie," and the "Tight" that are typical for J.V. football teams. The word "Strong" tells the defense that defensive linemen will be moving towards the strong side. There are other up-front movements that are also possible such as "Weak, "Gap," and "Pinch." These plays can also change the responsibilities of the linebackers. "Stack" describes the position of the linebackers in relation to the defensive linemen and can change their gap responsibilities. There are also other positions available. In our example, the last word is "STUD." This means that the STUD linebacker will blitz through the gap for which he is responsible. After announcing a blitz, a stunt may be called. ( A stunt is a deviation from the norm used to keep the offense on their toes.)


Design Process From experience, I know that there is a need for alternative teaching methods in sports education. In fact, I believe there is a large market in this area waiting to be tapped by instructional designers. I chose the defensive line and linebackers of a football team as my learners because I have experience coaching this group and I wanted to make this task meaningful.

I knew that the problem existed and that I should take a good look at the subject matter first. I found that the subject matter divided into categories that would fit nicely into a card game. Once I had the categories, the rules and the card design came out quickly. I experienced "flow." As I was making the rules, I kept telling myself the kids need a fast pace and they need motivation. The result was a simple deck design with simple rules. Making them more complicated would probably have defeated the purpose. I have a gut feeling that this game could be highly effective.