VIDEO – On Tour With The AFCTA: Learning the Value of Coaching In China

For the past couple of weeks, Jim Criner and his American Football Coaching & Teaching Academy have been holding coaching clinics in China with the support of the Chinese government.

This is the first time American football coaching clinics have been held in China.  And this historic initiative has been highly successful with 30 or so coaches in both Beijing and Shanghai learning the fundamentals of American football from an impressive roster of coaches involved in Criner’s AFCTA which has toured Europe extensively.

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However, it is not often that the work involved in a coaching clinic can have an immediate impact. This time it did.

During the clinics, sponsored by the NAFL – National Anerican Football League – Criner and his crew were approached by one of the attendees, Aobo Zhu, the coach of the Shanghai Jiaotong University Lions. He had video to show Criner of a game his team had played against Shanghai Institute of Technology.  They had been beaten by SIT by 30 points and were now about to face them again in the championship final.

According to Criner, the film showed that coach Zhu‘s team were poor tacklers, their secondary kept getting beat deep, and their linemen (offensive and defensive) had trouble getting out of their stances properly.

When Criner told him this, Zhu asked for help and since the AFCTA was going to be in Shanghai just before the game, Criner said he and his team would oblige.

They spent four hours on the Saturday before the game coaching the players basic fundamentals and techniques until they got it right.

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The next day at the game the other team was bigger, faster, and early on looked like they would win big again until the AFCTA coaches settled the players down and reminded them of what they had worked on.

“The Lions tied the game up just before half and went on to win 30-15. They started slow and started to gain confidence, then proceeded to dominate SIT. They were completely a different team and SJTU’s skinny little players started tackling like mad men, sacked the quarterback five times, only gave up one (!!) completed pass (10 yards) and one run over 20 yards. The SJTU quarterback hit 5 passes, and the running backs ran like mad men, breaking a lot of tackles.

The defensive line harassed the quarterback and bottled up the running back and the offensive line took charge of the game.”

According to Criner this was one of the most enjoyable games he has been involved with in a long time.

First half highlights

So if anyone doubts the power of good coaching, just drop a line to Aobo Zhu, the coach of the Shanghai Jico Tong University team. He has first-hand knowledge.

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The AFCTA coaches in China

Philippe Gardent – weight, conditioning, and speed development expert. He is the conditioning expert for France‘s national rugby team, and played in NFL Europe (twice MVP on defense), played linebacker for the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers. He now coaches at the U19 level in France. Member of AFCTA.

Rick Streiff – High school coach in Indianapolis who has won 11 state championships, last five in a row. Outstanding coach – Wide receivers/Running backs/leadership.

Lance Zeno – played for Criner in NFLE and the World League – each year he played for Criner (2) the team won the World Bowl. Offensive Center. Played for Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns in the NFL.

Matt Burgess – outstanding high school coach in Portland, Maine. Head coach at Bridgton Academy.

Wojciech Andrzejczak from Poland – defensive coordinator for Kozły Poznan in the Polish Topliga and an active leader in Poland who is helping that country develop the American football programs.

According to Criner, the Chinese coaching clinic program has gone very well and the coaches that have attended the clinics are asking for more. So the AFCTA has decided to return to China with a couple of combined clinics and camps in October of this year.

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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