Work the Board like Tua

Get 'Em on the Board

It’s an approach that spans generations, how coaches teach their playbook to their players. Put them in front of a whiteboard, hand them a marker (or a blackboard with chalk for you old-timers), and watch the fear run through their eyes.

“Where are you lining up in Bunch Right formation?”

“Who’s your key on the counter against a 4-3 front?”

“What do you do when the ‘Sam’ steps up into the B gap?”

“Now, draw it up and talk me through it.”

This can create a heap of anxiety for a lot of players and hinder confidence. But the players who spend time in their playbook enjoy these mental tests.

Take Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s most recent QB phenom. In a recent interview on The Dan Patrick Show during Super Bowl week, Tua was asked if he's ready to prove himself at the upcoming NFL Combine.

Tua goes on to explain how his coaches kept him smart in the playbook by 'getting on the board' after film sessions. Each player draws out a play from every position and talks through the job assignments of each player, reading the defense along the way. "Those guys there at the University, they've prepared us."

Today’s players have access to a number of training tools that allow them to work in their playbook, on their own time and in their own way. Let’s take a look at how you can use Smash Routes to get your players strong in their playbook as they 'Chalk It, Talk It, and Walk It', while competing with their teammates.


Coaches spend hours drawing up plays, racking their brain as they look for that gem to attack the weak spots of their opponents. When the plays are set, it moves to the classroom where they’ll spend time whiteboarding them for their team. From there, it's in the hands of the players.

One by one, players are brought to the board and asked to recreate the play just as Coach did before them. Sometimes this happens in front of the entire team, but typically in position groups or individually. Coaches want confirmation that their players understand the entirety of the play and what their job is.

'Chalking plays,' as it’s often referred to, helps ingrain all elements of a play into the mind of the player. Preparing for where the moving parts will go will prepare the player to anticipate their actions on the field. The ability to anticipate quicker, making a player more instinctive, can mean the difference between a good player and a great one - as well as a healthy one.

Working the whiteboard has proved invaluable, so imagine if your players could do it anytime of the day from anywhere. Smash Routes provides just this as our playbook coaching app takes players through all of their plays from any position, as they chalk their plays in a simulation against various opposing plays.

To create extra motivation, we've built a mobile game around the curriculum where players earn points and rank up as they compete against their teammates.

As your players play, their comprehension is analyzed and reported to you through the Coach interface in the app. This 24x7 whiteboard test provides you real-time access to their playbook knowledge, as well as how many playbook reps they've put in.

Coaches can 'chalk it' too in Smash Routes by using our Whiteboard tool. Every play from your playbook loaded into Smash Routes is available in the Whiteboard along with all the opposing plays you choose. By utilizing your blocking scheme rules, the plays will adjust on screen automatically based on the defensive formation you load against it. From there, you can remove routes from view, flip the offense and defense, and draw with your finger on top of it with multiple-colored 'markers.'


Drawing up a play is a good starting point and leads to the next step.

“Now talk me through it.”

Reading an opponent is similar to chess as you move your players into position to create a path to the goal, or defend the one behind you. Drawing out the play creates these assignments, based on the rules of your scheme. As the player talks through these rules, they improve their comprehension as the job of each player now has more meaning when put into context of the scheme.

In addition to explaining scheme rules, a player must also understand how to communicate on the field. Terminology used for calls at the line, who’s making them and in what situations are key to being a prepared player.