The Manny Matsakis Show #5

Almost Heaven, West Virginia & Insights to Creating a Winning Culture with Darrin Hicks

Coach Darrin Hicks has been a journeyman football coach that has worked at Division III, Division II & FCS levels. He’s been building a program in Weirton, West Virginia in a very creative manner at Weirton Madonna High School. Darrin’s experience is vast and he’s been a coordinator on both sides of the ball at the collegiate level. A devout Christian, he’s successfully applied his methodology to his players at a small Catholic high school in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I believe you will also gain insight from his “out of the box” strategies in how he’s made progress in creating a balance in his life on and off the gridiron.

Enjoy this episode!


2:53 What inspired Coach Hicks to get into coaching football?

7:00 Darrin shares insights regarding switching from offensive coordinator to defensive coordinator at the collegiate level.

11:52 Darrin’s experience working with Dave Aranda at California Lutheran.

16:22 Dealing with staff dynamics and personalities of other coaches.

20:30 Darrin’s non-negotiables in taking a job.

26:30 The process of creating a turnaround.

32:45 Building a competitive environment within a football program.

41:00 Balancing life on and off the field.

42:40 Rituals and routines that Darrin uses to start his workday.

52:02 Dealing with negativity and the “monkey mind”.

56:25 Darrin’s influences outside the world of football.


The Manny Matsakis Show #4

The Art of the Turnaround & No Huddle No Mercy with Shawn Liotta

At only 38 years old, Shawn Liotta is heading into his 19th season of coaching football and this year he’s finally home as the head coach of Burrell High School. Coach Liotta has had tremendous success at every stop along the way utilizing his brand of offense, No Huddle No Mercy. In this episode we delve into his career and insights from coaching at the high school, college and professional levels. Shawn was also the architect of one of the greatest upsets in WPIAL history when Albert Gallatin defeated West Mifflin in 2017. After viewing some of that historic game video, I am sure you’ll gain some insights into the mind of this creative football coach.

Enjoy this episode!


5:45 A funny story about coaching with your brother.

9:00 What compelled Shawn to become a football coach.

12:30 Coach Liotta’s process of taking over a football program & his 90 Day Action Plan.

16:00 The “playing fast” philosophy.

18:30 The definition and application of “playing fast.”

23:50 A reference to Tiger Ellison and lessons learned from the inventor of the Run & Shoot offense.

28:40 Some 1st half video analysis of one of the greatest upsets in WPIAL history.

41:30 2nd half video analysis of the West Mifflin game to seal this great upset.

54:15 Keys to optimizing your life as a coach.

1:02:45 How to figure out when you should hire someone to do a job; instead of doing it yourself.

Follow Coach Liotta on Twitter.

Hope you have enjoyed this episode & please feel free to comment below.


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The Manny Matsakis Show #3

A Football Coach with a World Record Power Lifting background that turns around football programs.

Here’s the latest episode of the show that features an interview with Coach Donnie Kiefer of Green Sea Floyds High School near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Coach Kiefer has one of the most unique backgrounds I have ever seen in a football coach, as he is a former world record holding power-lifter! His insights in building a football program are insightful for any coach and he has a proven track record of over 240 victories and counting…

Enjoy this episode, I sure did.




5:40      What an opposing coach said about facing a Donnie Kiefer led team.

15:00    Coach Kiefer’s process of taking over a new football program.

23:00    The lessons learned when he dismissed key players for misconduct.

35:20    The methodology behind Coach Kiefer’s Strength & Conditioning program.

40:25    His opinion on preseason conditioning tests.

45:00    The difference between “programmed” and “reactionary” agility. How and when to use each type of training.

52:20    The Speed model of weight training and how it can benefit your athletes.

56:40    More insight in how he uses “Speed Sets” in the weight room.

58:33    Power-lifting application to the sport of football.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD an outline of Coach Kiefer’s Strength & Conditioning program.

Hope you have enjoyed this episode & please feel free to comment below.


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The Manny Matsakis Show #2

Win on the Field & Optimize your Life

In our second episode, I introduce you to the foremost authority on training specialists in football, The Kick Doctor – Paul Assad. Paul is a highly regarded football coach who has the uncanny ability to make the complex task simple for punters, kickers and long snappers. His insights in this episode will help you to avoid some big mistakes before you get into your season.

Enjoy this episode and take a look at the special gift (Below this Episode) that Coach Assad has for you in the form of an instructional video to teach your long snappers.


4:29        Sports trivia question for the day!

5:50        Paul’s journey in coaching specialists.

14:00     What goes into Coach Assad’s mind when he’s fixing the mechanics of a specialist?

18:25     Where Paul gets his best ideas from and how he gets players to respond to him?

21:40     A recommendation of a great book to help your mental coaching process called, Winning the Battle Within by Glen Albaugh and Michael Bowker.

25:20     How to work with young specialists, Paul’s recipe.

28:45     A video of Paul working with a young long snapper followed by more in-depth analysis.

35:15     Video Analysis of a workout with All-Pro long snapper, Matt Overton.

42:00     How Paul works with more accomplished players that are struggling.

45:00     Coach Assad’s contact information and just how he can help you!


Coach Assad may be reached in the following ways…

Email him at

Feel free to text him to set up a call at 1-209-595-4277

Follow him on Twitter at

Hope you have enjoyed this episode & please feel free to comment below.


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The Manny Matsakis Show #1

Win on the Field & Optimize your Life

Today my special guest is the Head Football Coach at Arlington Seguin High School in Texas, Joe Gordon. I have known Joe for quite a while and have always been impressed with his people skills as well as his ability to get the most out of his players. His coaching pedigree comes from the likes of Bob Stoops and Bill Snyder. I hope you will gain some insight from Coach Gordon, as I have in the following interview.



4:40        Joe’s unique entry into the coaching profession.

7:30        Taking a leap of faith to leave a full-time job at K-State to learn lessons as a GA at Division III Mississippi College.

13:30     Staying the course with the family while moving 7 times in a five year period.

17:40     “Word Association” with Joe Gordon!

19:30     The thought process in preparing a defense during game week.

24:00     The secret to Joe’s success lies in this one saying…

26:00     Joe’s thoughts on the application of the Parthenon Approach in his program.

28:52     The importance of connecting the present to the past when taking over a football program.

32:19     Applying the concept of Discipline = Freedom.

Please feel free to comment below.


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Power Up Your Workday

Using a Start-Up Routine

Tim Ferriss’ book, Tribe of Mentors, got me to thinking about how successful people get their day going with morning rituals. In his book, he interviews all types of successful people and asks each of them questions regarding their life. One of these questions is, How do you start your morning?

A few years ago I created a morning ritual for myself that has increased my productivity dramatically. When I make it a habit to follow-through on my morning ritual, the results at the end of the day are radically different than if I do not; regardless if it’s a workday or I’m on vacation.

As powerful as a morning ritual can be; another key to a productive day lies in what I call, my workday start-up routine. I believe the power of a consistent start to my workday handles so many issues that would eventually come back and haunt me had I not utilized this automation process.

Why is self-automation the key to success?

Like all rituals I utilize in my day, the Workday Start-up is an excellent way to take advantage of self-automation. Self-automation involves implementing routines, rituals, and habits to make it easier and more efficient to follow through on top priorities.

There are 3 benefits of my Workday Start-up


The Parthenon Approach

Your Guide to Building a Football Program

A traveler said to Socrates, “Which way to the Parthenon?” Socrates answered, “Just make sure every step you take is in the direction of the Acropolis.”

The Manhattan Project

As a head coach, it’s vital to have a plan and to work toward your ultimate destination. When I was a young assistant coach at Kansas State University, I was fortunate to sit in staff meetings with Bill Snyder as he created the greatest turnaround in the history of college football. Coach Snyder had a vision for his program, and undeniably he was able to get that vision across to each member of his team.

It worked like this…


Optimizing Your Office Space

Set yourself up for high productivity

As the season approaches, you’ll want to have an optimal environment to get work done in a high-quality fashion. Over the years I have worked in cubicles, open work environments, and individual offices. If you are fortunate to have your own office, I would like to share with you a process that I have gone through to create an optimal workspace. Either way, regardless of how you are set up, you can take any of these ideas and make them your own. Some of this information comes from my e-course, Propel Yourself Blueprint.

Optimizing Your Office Space: The Problem

What I am about to share with you is a bit “out of the box”. I am not an interior designer by any means – I had to get some professional help from my daughter, Meredith, who actually is an interior designer in her own right.

She walked into my office & work has never been the same…


The Coaching Carousel

A Football Coaches Guide To Job Opportunities

In the Spring, the coaching carousel slows down and you can reflect upon the lessons learned from this turbulent time of the year when coaches are hired, fired and moving from place to place at an unprecedented pace.

In speaking with an Athletic Director friend of mine, he made mention that he wondered if football coaches are ever really happy where they are…

How much time is wasted in search of the next job?

In our profession, we have websites and social media that directly relate to the football coaching market. The most utilized website is In many ways, this type of media is brilliantly disguised as a coaching information source but one can see that the most viewed pages are related to searching for the next job.

I did a simple study of this a few months ago. I signed up for Twitter alerts to see how often and what type of information would come my way for 30 days. I told myself that I would open the Twitter notification when it showed up on my phone and read whatever came my way and spend time researching any and every job that came which I could tie myself in some capacity to (more on that later) …. It became addictive and time-wasting at the same time. (more…)

Stop Hoping for Completion

Tomorrow May Never Come

Some football coaches make the error of thinking that one day it will be done. They think, “If I can work enough, then one day I can take a break.” Or, “One day my program will be entirely organized and life will be on auto-pilot.” The common error is to think that eventually things will be different in some way. They won’t. It never ends – that’s just part of the grind. As long as you are a football coach, there will be a creative tussle with the present moment as you give your unique gift to the world. (more…)

A Football Coach’s Guide to Self Assessment

Annual Personal Inventory: Analyze Your Past

Today I went through my morning ritual and I was inspired to create some information to get the New Year rolling with a self assessment. Realize that the New Year can start at any time. For most of us, it’s on January 1st. However, you can start the New Year when you are compelled to make a change and move forward.

Making a change shouldn’t be tied to the Gregorian calendar; it’s one of the most common causes of failure.

Self Assessment: Do Not Wait

The time will never be perfect. Start where you are and work with your current situation to take command of your future. New Year’s resolutions are useless.

In my estimation, It’s because most people check in on these commitments…. (more…)

A Football Coach’s Blueprint to Win the Day

The Morning Ritual: Kick-start Your Day

How do you “Win the Day”? Football coaches are notorious for being early risers, in fact, Jon Gruden is known as “Jon 3:11,” because that’s what time he wakes up in the morning. As I have researched early morning risers in football, I’ve noticed that not all coaches have a routine to start the day that actually sets them up for success. It’s interesting to note that many coaches will head to the office early just to get started before their opponent because they feel the pressure and grind of the profession or to show their players that they are up before them. They get to work early to start grinding away at the demands of the day. But what if there was a better way? (more…)

A Football Coach’s Guide to Using Your Calendar

The Coach's Calendar: Your Secret Weapon

In 1995, taking over the reigns of the football program at Emporia State I had the opportunity to create the first of four turnarounds in my head coaching career. These processes all had one thing in common…

Discovering Bill Snyder’s Calendar

Strategic planning was paramount for success at every stop along the way. I had been exposed to a process that Bill Snyder utilized in my years as an assistant coach at K-State. Bill conducted daily staff meetings year round (sometimes twice a day) to impart his vision of the program.

Coach Snyder would “course-correct” each area of his program in those staff meetings. He did this by creating notes of what he wanted done by the assistant coaches. In fact, he would fill out various steno-pads with “to-do” lists and always had one of our initials next to the task.

Coming into a staff meeting, everyone (Bob Stoops, Del Miller, Sheahon Zenger, Mike Stoops, Nick Quartaro, John Latina, Dana Dimel, Myself, and others) would look for our initials on these notes. We understood that these actions must be completed to stay the course (Of course, he wrote with a purple pen!). It was sort of an inside joke as to who had the most to get done on a particular day.

Yes, Bill was a micro-manager extraordinaire!

One day I walked into Coach Snyder’s office and noticed a stack of those steno-pads about a foot high and it dawned on me that they were categorized into the areas of focus in his program. More importantly, his calendar was laid out for the whole year with an overview of where we were heading in this monumental endeavor at Kansas State.

As I’ve moved along in my career, I am often reminded of a quote I read back in those days… (more…)

Is Life Balance Possible Coaching Football?

Creating a Balanced Life In a High Pressure World.

In 2003, I took over the reigns of the football program at Southwest Texas State University and what happened in that year changed the course of my coaching career. In that one year, a balance was non-existent as I was obsessed with turning around the fortunes of this I-AA program in San Marcos, Texas. I used an approach that we had implemented at Texas Tech, and I had learned from my mentor Bill Snyder at Kansas State. I hired an excellent coaching staff (Below clockwise: Myself, Frank Hernandez – WR’s, Ron Roberts – DC, D.J. Eliot – LB’s, Chris Stacey – FBO, Louie Matsakis – STC, Darrin Hicks – RB’s, Clancy Barone – OL/OC, Not in Picture: E.K. Franks – DL)   and we embarked on a 5-year plan which I had documented in a 240-page manual. I was sure that this method would put us at the top of the Southland Conference. That year was a blur.

Balance, A Failed Attempt …

This master plan was very aggressive in part because I believed that the University was considering a move up to the I-A level. The underlying drive of the scheme was laid out in the concept of “Fill the Stadium,” and everything we did was aligned with the mission to fill our stadium.

We felt that to accomplish this we would work internally and externally to fulfill our mission.

Inside the program, our staff created an approach to improve our players with peak performance mental state training. We also hired a top strength coach Nick Kyros (Nick had worked at Alabama in Track & Field and Football for the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant) to develop our player’s physical bodies and athleticism on the field. Then our entire coaching and support staff was trained in the Egoscue Method, which is a physical therapy designed to align player’s bodies for the rigors of football.

We made progress as our team gained confidence, ran faster and became better football players. The Egoscue Method reduced our injury rate with a proactive approach to the game.

Externally, we started with a re-branding of the football program. I was enlisted to help in changing the name of the University to Texas State University, and this before the season. We also aided in the creation the new Bobcat logo with a Texas State student, which is still used today.

Our public relations strategy involved promoting the program statewide and in our community. Our coaches would regularly go out on campus and support the vision of Texas State Football. Student participation was paramount, so we created a unique weekly television show that was a football version of the Tonight Show.

This was fun, but it was also labor intensive for our coaching staff.

Season Tickets were vital to filling the stadium, and I created a marketing group of 100 students that would help to promote the upcoming season. Together, we had put together a strategy to put fans in the stadium as we went into that summer.

We placed an assistant athletic director in charge of following through with that plan. I regret that to this day…

A month into the summer, I met with the assistant athletic director to check on the progress of the season ticket program. Much to my surprise, I realized that there had been no progress toward season tickets, and we were approaching the season. What I did next, I am not proud of …. (more…)

The Grind of Coaching Football

Dealing with the Demands of the Profession.

Everybody talks about “the grind” like it’s some sort of good thing. But, it’s not… It’s exhausting. And there are better ways to coach football than subjugating yourself to “the grind”.

The Grind

Picture this…
You have two professional lumberjacks both chopping down trees.

The first is drenched in sweat. He’s exhausted and tired beyond imagination…
He started before the sun rose and worked past sunset to hit his quota for the day.

“What a hard worker,” you say.

The other lumberjack is sitting on a bench… sipping lemonade and sharpening his axe. The first lumberjack is using a dull axe, chopping faster and harder and longer…

But the second, his axe is razor sharp. He gets the same cutting power with one swing that the other gets from 3 swings…
At the end of the day, the second lumberjack (the one who seemingly worked less but smarter) wins… every single time.

Who would you rather be?

I spent the initial part of my career embracing this grind with a workaholic mentality believing it would serve me and the program. I can remember what triggered it all. In 1989, I was in a staff meeting at Kansas State and our head coach made this statement… (more…)

Accelerator Technique Introduction

How you can install the Accelerator Technique to get results on game day!

At Widener, we have been working on a concept that has drawn attention coast to coast and internationally, The Accelerator Technique.

The In-box is Full…

Recently, I loaded a video of a couple plays we used in a game and my in-box has been flooded with requests from high school to major college coaches.

Accelerator Technique Game Day Video!

At Widener, we run the Triple Shoot Offense and in our first year executing this system we ranked at the top of our conference in total offense, passing offense as well as plays per game. Even if you don’t run our system you can benefit from the Accelerator Technique.



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Accelerator Technique Unveiled!

Here is our latest experimentation with the Jet Sweep concept. In these two plays, notice our inside receiver coming from 15 yards deep so he can accelerate faster to the edge. Our research shows a full second or more faster (From the Tackle to the hand-off) than without the Accelerator Technique.

When we hit it this fast, it draws considerable attention from the defense and sets up our counter play… Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: Do not try this without knowledge of installation or your results may be disastrous. (It has taken us 2 months to work out the details of this concept … there is more to this than what the naked eye sees.)

If you are interested in the details of installation, please sign up for e-mail alerts below …


Jet Sweep Approach Yields Results in New Jersey!

Case Study: Butler Bulldogs, NJ

The Butler Bulldogs have been running the Triple Shoot Offense since 1992. The program is one of the most storied in New Jersey football history. Butler is a small town where football is a passion. The coaches and players have been diligent in preparing for success on a regular basis. Recently, there had been a departure from Butler’s winning ways on the gridiron. Head Coach, Jason Luciani has led a renewed enthusiasm for getting back to their Triple Shoot roots and executing the offense with precision. This process was spearheaded with the hiring of new offensive coordinator Mark Mickens.

Getting Back To Their Roots

Coach Mickens had been involved with the Triple Shoot Offense since those early years when hall of fame Head Coach Bob Jones switched from the I-formation and garnered multiple state championships as a result. Mark Mickens was now entrusted to get the Bulldogs back to their winning ways on the offensive side of the ball. A few weeks ago, Coach Mickens saw my blog posts on optimizing your offense with a Jet Sweep approach. That day, he printed copies of the articles and showed them to his staff. After reviewing the materials, they knew that this was a solution to turning around their fortunes. (more…)

Would you like to know what Bill Walsh taught me about Installing Jet Sweep Play Passes?

In 1997, I learned how to develop expert play passes from Bill Walsh, the Hall of Fame coach of the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, I give him credit for the key insights to installing jet sweep play passes in my offense. We were having dinner at Del Frisco’s steakhouse in Dallas, Texas and I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions. One question I asked him was, “What is the single best tool to take advantage of a disciplined defense?” His answer was the play pass.

Meeting the Genius

Coach Walsh had just retired from the 49ers and he was a big fan of American Football Quarterly (Today it’s called, American Football Monthly).  Through dialogue with my publisher, Barry Terranova (pictured above with Bill Walsh) we were able to hire him as Senior Editor and technical adviser. What then ensued for me was access to one of the brightest minds in American football history. He was gracious in answering so many questions about the game. From running an organization to creating an offensive system and the insight, what he shared completely changed the way I thought about being a football coach.

To say that Coach Walsh was a student of the game, is to put it mildly – he was a consummate professor. Coach Walsh was an encyclopedia of football knowledge. He had studied and developed systems of organization that were second to none. He was notorious for being very inquisitive and asking great questions. If you haven’t read his seminal book, Finding the Winning Edge, I highly recommend it as must-read material.

Our conversation at Del Frisco’s led me to make a trip to the west coast to gain insights on developing a tool to take advantage of disciplined defenses.

What follows is an organized compilation of my notes from a weekend with Bill Walsh. (more…)

How Did Blending the Jet Sweep and Georgia Southern’s Hambone Result in College Football’s All-time Leading Rusher?

I know this, no Offense in American football history has rushed for more yards up the middle while featuring a single back and utilizing a jet sweep approach with influences from Georgia Southern’s Hambone. In fact, at Emporia State (1995-1998) Brian Shay rushed for 6,958 yards in his career benefiting from this approach of attacking the defense. He finished as the all-time leading rusher in college football history.

Here’re a few clips featuring Brian Shay…

As you might notice, many of Shay’s runs were between the Tackles, set up by the Pop Out motion. Now, let’s get to the details of how we were able to take advantage of this approach. (more…)

How an American Football Coach Who Died in 1982 Showed Me the Way to Use the Jet Sweep in My Offense to Break Records and Fill My Stadium?

Believe it or not. Nobody uses motion in executing their offense as much as I have in American football. In most games, our offense uses some movement 75 percent of the time. I’ve always appreciated the way that motion puts indecision on the defense while maximizing our team speed. It’s the equalizer when we play a more talented opponent, and it’s an unfair advantage when you play a team of similar caliber. I want to show you how I came to this realization on the way to creating my offense, the Triple Shoot Offense.

Jet Sweep

My odyssey began in 1989 when I was a graduate assistant at Kansas State University for Bill Snyder. I was working on my doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction, and the title of my dissertation was, “The History & Evolution of the Run and Shoot Offense in American Football.”


Let him who would move the world first, move himself. – Socrates

Luis E. Navia
Socrates (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2007)