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 Are you winning the mental game? 
 Up your game with the Ska'moog Playbook 

How do you win in Ska'moog?

Let's face it, playing football is fun, but if we are going to play, you probably want to win (similar to your job - if you are going to do, you probably want to do it well).  With that in mind, we put this playbook together to help teams understand the game better and hopefully win some more games.  Some of concepts are a little more advanced for the higher skill level players so don't think you need to know all of this to play.  But, we would like to think it is helpful especially for teams looking to make the 2018 Tournament of Champions!

Winning is not EASY which is a really good thing, since no achievement is really meaningful if it was easy

Most teams and players play Ska'moog as part of their lifestyle and enjoy working together to try and outcompete the other team.  As such, if you are new to Ska'moog winning is not easy.   Most teams struggle a little more in their first event but if they continue to play, they quickly start to see the rewards of building a winning team.  

This Playbook is to help teams improve their game

It goes through basic strategy and then dives into deeper concepts for the more competitive divisions.


Basic Strategy


GAMECHANGER STAT - Every team to win the Tournament of Champions has been ranked in the Top 5 in total defense.

Start with focusing on your Defense
Great defense travels and means you will be in every GAME
- Offenses have 5 downs to go 45-50 yards which means they have to average close to 10 yards per play to score - that is not easy to do
- All punts are returned to the 5 yd line
- The endzones are are generally 6 yds so it is very difficult to score in the red zone
- Ska'moog rules allow blitzes from any position and any zone or man coverage you can think of.  You can rush 3 people or drop all 5 into coverage
Key focus areas on defense
- GRAB flags and swarm to the ball (everyone is important)
- Pressure the QB - this is pretty obvious but in all of our formats we like the game to be fast and fun so rushing the QB an forcing them into quick decisions is important (remember what Tom Brady looked like in the Giants epic super bowl win)
- Play smart and try to take away the #1 option on the opposing team (if the offense loves to throw deep take that away with a safety and make them uncomfortable throwing short). 
-Play together - again simple but its really important everyone knows the gameplan

Defensive strategies

-Play together and know your team - if you have rushers rush, if you have great flag grabber funnel everything to him or her.  But make sure everyone is on the same page

Soft Zone Coverage - no rush

- Defense plays a 3-2 zone coverage


- Tough to throw deep against

- Works really well against impatient offenses

- Works better near closer to the goal line


- QB has all day to throw so tough to cover against patient QBs

- Susceptible to the run

- Does not work as well with longer fields

Ska'moog View

- This defense may be effective as a change of pace defense to catch the offense off guard when you are near closer to your endzone since there are less windows to throw into.  But, most teams quickly figure out that the QB has all day to throw and it is very tough to cover for 5+ seconds

Base Defense

Our Pro A regular season champs the Petersons dominate this defensive style.

1 Controlled Rusher, High Safety, Zone Coverage Underneath

- Note - important the rusher is controlled on his rush not giving the QB the edge


- Tough to throw into especially with all of the underneath coverage

- Do not need as much depth (less rushers and secondary is in zone)

- Works well against impatient offenses


- QB usually has a lot of time to throw and often gets the edge is the rusher commits to a side

- High Safety has to cover sideline to sideline (strong QBs can win on sideline deep balls)

Ska'moog View

- This is a great base defense to start with if you have not played Ska'moog.  The rusher up front and the deep safety are critical.  This defense is not near as tiring but it gives the better offenses a lot of time to throw.  You will inevitably see this defense even if you do not play it

Landon Collins "Dream Defense"

FREE Defender

This is not an easy defense to play since everyone needs to be on the same page, but some of the best teams in all of Ska'moog play it really well including our Pro A Champion the Blazers.  Check them out if you want to see how it is done.

2 Rushers, Man Coverage, with a FREE Player

- Corners play man coverage

- 2 Edge Rushers

- 1 FREE Defender


- QB is contained by the two rushers and often does not have long to throw

- Free defender can be an absolute gamechanger - they can blitz, drop into deep coverage or play up to take away screens and dump offs


- Corners are in man coverage and one missed flag could mean a TD

- Can be susceptible to the lineman and screens if the rushers overrush

Ska'moog View

- Simply put we believe this is the best defense in Ska'moog if executed effectively.  You need 3 good rushers to rotate in and out relentlessly pressuring the QB.  The FREE defender needs to change it up rushing and dropping into coverage (this player needs to be smart and a great flag grabber).  The corners are on islands but the rushers should not make them cover long (they just cant miss flags.  Bottom line if you have a personnel, this is the most fun and fast defense to play in Ska'moog.

"Line up and ball"


- All-five defenders play man including on the QB


- You put a lot of pressure on the QB with the free rusher who is guarding the quarterback


- You need to be incredibly disciplined - the rushers need to be careful the lineman blocking them does not slip out for a pass

- You cannot miss

Ska'moog View

- This is a tough defense to play unless you have a really disciplined set of defenders.  The good news is you do not have to cover long since the QB will be under heavy pressure.  We view this as a great change of pace defense to pressure the QB from time to time.

Final Notes on Defense

Julio Huertes - is a gamechanger on defense relentlessly pursuing the QB recording a record 26 sacks in a season (Pro A record).

1) Have fun with it!
- the rules as you can see are designed to let you do all different types of schemes.  So make sure to have fun scheming and create a defense we have never seen before

2) Do you!
- You know your teammates and skills sets the best.  Put a defense together that sets all of your up for success

3) Don't be afraid to change it up
- sometimes a timeout and a change in defense makes the difference in winning and losing since most offenses are one dimensional

4) Defense wins championships
- If you want to win at Ska'moog, it starts with defense.  All of the champions have been top 5 in defense but many of them have been outside the top 10 in offense.

Step 2 - Same winning football rules apply to Ska'moog

Play field position and PUNT the ball on 5th down

- Above we shared how hard it is to go 45-50 yards on 5 downs.  It is a great advantage to the offense when you dont punt on 5th and goal from the 15 and turn it over rather then pinning them at the 5 yd line.  

Win the turnover battle

- Be smart with the football - turnovers are a killer in any format but especially Ska'moog since games are not 3 hours long

Win the line of scrimmage

- Teams that protect the passer and extend the play often find wide open receivers and lineman releasing.  Teams that put pressure on the QB often force turnovers

Start Strong

- It's important to get off to a good start to apply pressure to the other team who often become impatient if things are not working well.

Step 3 - Building a winning offense


General Rules


Protect the passer

- We cannot stress this enough, no QB likes pressure.  Winning teams block, use the snap count, and often utilize screens to slow down the rush.  Also, the more you extend the play the greater chance players are running wide open

Great offenses use everyone

- The lineman/tight ends are so important to the passing game.  Mike Reimel played center and caught 8 TDs and won the tournament MVP in the Pocono Done in 2017.  

Take what the defense gives you

- We discussed defenses above but from an offensive side you need to quickly figure out what the defense is doing and then adjust to it.  If they are playing a soft zone do not force it deep.  This is so critical since teams are often impatient and force the ball into coverage.

Offensive Strategies

A) Identify what defense they are playing

- This is so important. You cannot just run anything into any defense.  So step 1 is really quickly identifying what defense they are in.  We suggest getting to line early and running some quick come back routes or putting a player in motion to see if they are playing man or zone.

B) Once we determine what defense they are in - we can use certain offensive concepts to beat that defense.

Below we walkthrough plays/concepts to beat the defenses discussed above.

Beating a Soft Zone

 Be patient and do not be afraid to run the ball to Beat Zone 
- Your QB should have all day to throw.  So be patient and let the defense stretch as the play develops and your receivers try to find a soft spot
- Utilize the ability to open hand block as the QB run and WR screens are available
- Do not force the ball deep unless the opportunity is there
- We drew up a quick QB run play that should be very effective against a zone coverage
No Rush = NO PROBLEM for your offense

Beating a Base Defense

The KEY to beating the base defense is patience again and finding soft spots in the zone

- With one rusher, you should block which will give you all day to throw especially if the rusher picks a side (make sure the blocker stays in though and continues to block to give the receivers more time to uncover)
- Overload the zones such as the flood play we are showing where the defense cannot cover the 3 wideouts at different levels
- The deep ball is also a possibility (streak both WR down the side lines and look the safety off then deliver a strike if you have the arm)
- Screens and well blocked runs can also work when you outnumber the defenders

Beating 2 Rushers and Free Defender

The KEY to winning here is you have to block, beat man coverage, and take what the defense gives you (watch the free defender - they will dictate the play)
;- First, you have to slow the rush by using the snap count and snapping the ball quickly back to your QB.  You can also CHIP block change your blocking scheme to slow them down as well (see example play)
- Next, read the free defender
- If the free defender sags deep, send the receivers deep, have the lineman block for two seconds and then flare to the sidelines since there will be nothing but open field since the corners and free defender are deep.
- If the free defender rushes - use the snap count, take a hard drop, and deliver quick strikes the WRs who are one on one (slants, come backs, digs, and fly routes work well)
- If the defender comes down to a linebacker position, the deep ball and digs should be there.  You can also let the rushers through and run a screen

Check out the run pass option we put together to break this defense down

This is NEXT Level thinking and not applicable for most of Ska'moog 

Beating Man Coverage

  The Key to winning here is to find matchups you can win, utilize all players, and use crossing routes and spacing to open up players
- You will definitely not have much time to throw so use the snap count and get the snap back to the QB quickly.  
- Then your receivers will need to win their matchups which they should be able to do given the space and no safety over the top
- Make sure to take advantage of matchups especially if a rusher can't cover one of the lineman.  Use great spacing to isolate your best matchup.  
Check out this play where we use a go route and drag route combination which is an easy read for the QB.  Look deep first and then come to the drag crossing if the go route is not there.

Hope this was helpful!  And you are excited about using these concepts and many of your own to win the mental game!

Football is a true team game and our engaging 5v5 format allows great teams to separate themselves from the others

Most of the concepts may seem new now, but if you play a times you will see all of this come to life at a Ska'moog event and shortly after that you will start winning the mental battles and developing your own winning style!

So keep playing and the winning will come!!!

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