European Coaches Convention in Berlin winds up with final word from Wade Phillips

The second day of the European Coaches Convention came to an end Sunday in Berlin, marking the only the second pan-European event of its type in recent history. 

The convention had participants from all corners of Europe, from the GFL (German Football League) to ELF (European Football League) to PLF (Polish Football League), but more importantly it had female attendees. Indicating a diversification and step in the right direction for European football. Convection organizer Jesus E. Sanchez rounded up the event with these closing remarks:

“We love that we have two women here. They can do more for your organisations than you realize. In the future, bring more women to your organisations because they can make you better. Teams around the world are starting to see that.”

The second day began similarly to the first, with another engaging lecture from Marc Mattioli who spoke on the fundamentals of tackling. The recent Italian Bowl (Parma Panthers) winning head coach drew on his time not only at Stanford and Vanderbilt but also with the Parma Panthers, arguing that it doesn’t matter if you’re in the NFL or the German fourth league, the fundamentals remain the same.

Coach Jag Bal

The next two speakers however moved the theme over slightly. Speaker Dr. Frederico Yanez broke down injury patterns by position and what preventative measures can be taken emphasizing neuro-muscular control. His comparative analysis of injury by sport gave a slightly chilling reminder of the stresses that players put their bodies through on a daily basis, but also reminded onlookers that we should not stop playing the sport, but instead create an environment where it can be played with minimal risk to players.

Next on the cards was Jag Bal, recently of the Berlin Thunder, who focused more on athletic production and training the individual. The Canadian delivered a scientific breakdown of what a muscle fiber was and production of true strength. For the layman, Bal’s talk felt like preparation for a final-year medical student, but for those who were experienced in this field, it was a clinic. Bal’s enthusiasm to help his athletes shone through and producing the right sequence to maximize and realize their full potential was appears to be a life consuming goal of his.

The last speaker was Wade Phillips and as was the case on the first day, he stole the show. The NFL’s prized defensive coordinator oozed gravitas, the pauses between each segment of his lecture were filled with the anticipation of those in the room, waiting for whatever gem Phillips had to offer. And the almost amusing part of the explanation of his defense was the simplicity of it all. The coaches in the room were all waiting for the inside secret that had made him one of the best to ply his trade but that was the point. While those look for that perfect mix-coverage or the next stunt, Phillips focuses on the fundamentals. He doesn’t allow his players to make mistakes, and this is done by limiting the possibility of them through simplified schemes. And this is not the first time Phillips has received this reaction:

“People often say to me ‘boy, that’s simple. Is that it?’ I always reply [with the most expressionless of faces], ‘well, we’re simple in your face…’”

It was moments like this that you could feel the magic of Phillips. 

Listen as Coach Phillips winds up the European Coaches Convention on a high note.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.