Coaching Canadian Football book, a “labour of love” for Ryan Hall

Coaching. It involves passion, endless hours of dedication, and the ability to connect with and help develop players and future coaches. Coaching Canadian Football has been a “labour of love” for Coach Ryan Hall who wrote and complied a book that encompassed the Canadian game with contributions from Canadian coaches across Canada.

Coach Hall was not the initial person to get the ball rolling. Rick Sowieta and Aaron Geisler from Football Canada believed that there was a need for a Canadian resource that was specific to the Canadian game. Coach Hall was asked by Geisler initially to contribute a chapter to the book.

“For the book, thank you to Rick Sowieta and Aaron Geisler of Football Canada for believing in the importance of a uniquely Canadian book for our uniquely Canadian game, and for making it happen,” Hall said.

From start to finish, the process has been a long one. Coach Hall was initially asked several years ago to contribute to one of the last outstanding chapters several years ago.

“In early 2016 I was asked to act as project coordinator for the book, and that included securing writers for the outstanding chapters, working with all of the writers to revise and edit their contributions, and then to continue working with the publisher and editing company to finalize the finished product,” he explained. “Our final chapter was submitted in the summer of 2017.”

One can only imagine the undertaking nailing down 23 contributors. Coaches are busy people and trying to meet deadlines could not have been easy. “The timeline was a challenge, because for several of the chapters, the writers were with different programs, so some of their anecdotes were dated,” said Hall.

We asked who and how they determined would be asked to contribute to this project.

“The contributors are highly respected coaches from across Canada. A couple have CFL experience, but most have focused their coaching on university, junior, CEGEP, provincial team and high school football. From the initial list of contributors, it was obvious that effort was made to have representation from all parts of the country,” explained Hall.

“When I took over, I tried to maintain that type of balance, but because it was difficult to find writers for some of the chapters, you may find a few more Saskatchewan contributors that I was able to convince because they were my friends.”

That being said, the overall goal for this resource was to allow a coach at any level to improve their craft. From beginner coaches to the experienced, there is something for everyone in Coaching Canadian Football that will allow further development.

“Brand new coaches will find some good basic information, but probably wouldn’t be ready for some of the more in-depth content. Experienced coaches would notice that they already do some of the things described in the book, but would find lots of ideas to go deeper in their competence,” mentioned Coach Hall. “Expert coaches will find a few nuggets from other outstanding coaches that they can implement into their practice. I think a coach could read the book every year or two, and would continue to find different ways to apply the various levels of content in the book.”

In some ways, this resource will provide a bit of standardization for the game across the country according to Coach Hall.

“Over the years of working with and against coaches from different communities and provinces, I have noticed that there are many different ways of coaching the game in Canada,” he said. “In coordinating this project, I have tried to bring all of those different methods together to make it as cohesive as possible.”

“Canadian football is a unique sport in the world; we are the only ones who play it. The fact that Football Canada now has a book specifically dedicated to our game is very important to our national sporting identity, especially as it was finalized in our 150th year as a country.”

Evolution of the game is inevitable. Providing subsequent editions as this evolution occurs is important. This could be in the form of e-book Chapters to supplement the original chapters and/or updated versions of this initial book altogether. Coach Hall says for example;

“The chapter on Safe Contact was done using Football Canada’s current program. Tackling techniques and philosophies continue to develop in the quest to make the game safer, and I think it will be important for us to keep up with current best practice like implementing shoulder (rugby style) tackling.”

The Rugby style tackling is already being implemented at various programs in British Columbia and elsewhere. It was originally introduced by the Seattle Seahawks and the Atavus Rugby Tackling system.

Coach Hall goes on to say that in order to continue to promote the game, there has to be a better job of targeting two demographics that are highly under-represented in tackle football; females and Indigenous peoples. He adds, “Relating to our LTAD, I think it is important to include content on 6 and 9-a-side versions of tackle football.  Other aspects of our game that are growing and should be included are touch and flag football.”

Overall, Coaching Canadian Football has been long overdue. This resource would be a welcome edition to any Canadian football coach at any stage in their coaching career.

Quoting from the acknowledgments of Coach Hall;

“Football has been a blessing in my life in so many ways. I hope this book is a small part of your football life that makes you a better person, and helps you more effectively lead and mentor young people to be a blessing in their life. Go Canada!”

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