The Art of War is divided into 13 chapters, each devoted to a different aspect of warfare. For the purpose of this analysis, I have used the translation that was edited by author James Clavell. For each relevant chapter, I have included a sample of the writing, followed by notes connecting the strategy to
the game of football.
Chapter 1 Laying Plans
The art of war is governed by five constant factors, all of which need to be taken into account. They are: The Moral Law, Heaven, Earth, The Commander, and Method & Discipline.
The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.
- The Head Coach is in charge and the players and assistant coaches believe in him.
- Weather variables on gameday
- Down and Distance, Time factors
- The players play hard and are mentally ready.
- Every player and coach knows his role and his job.
- Which coaching staff does a better job of gameplanning before the actual game?
Cleverness has never been associated with long delays. The value of time - that is, being a little ahead of your opponent - has counted for more than numerical superiority.
- The team that is more sure of itself, more sure of its assignments, can play faster that a team with more stopwatch speed.
The highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans...
- The most difficult coaching to accomplish is to completely surprise the opponent.
- Coaches should try to take away the opponent's best plays.
- This is when the coach leaves it up to his players to out-athlete the opponent. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
- This is when the coach attacks the opponent's strength. For example, playing a single, static front against an opponent with a superior offensive line.
- A good coach must be able to put his players in a position to be successful. He must be able to determine "How can a player help us?" by focusing on what the player can do, not what he cannot.
He will win who knows how to fight and when not to fight.
- The coaching staff must have a good sense of play-calling strategy on both sides of the ball.
- The coaching staff must have a plan for games when they have better athletes than the opponent, as well as for games where they do not match up athletically.
- The coaching staff must have the entire team mentally prepared and ready to play hard.
- The coaching staff must prepare and have plans for whatever strategy the opponent may employ. They must go into the game anticipating possible strategies and they must have already thought of possible counters that the opponent would not anticipate.
- The coaching staff must have the support it needs from administration without being handcuffed or limited.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.
- If you know your team's strengths and weaknesses and your opponent's strengths and weaknesses and you can take advantage of that knowledge, then you will win most of the time.
- If you know your team's strengths and weaknesses, but cannot determine your opponent's strengths and weaknesses, then you will lose as much as you win.
- If you, as a coach, cannot figure out your own team's strengths and weaknessess, you will lose many games.
What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. He wins his battles by making no mistakes
- A cliche, but true: The team that makes the fewest mistakes wins.
Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all.......Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline.
- Be effective at disguising, stemming, and moving on defense. Use misdirection and play-action on offense.
- A good coach evaluates his player's abilities and put his them in a position to be successful.
Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy will be fresh for the fight.
- Try to be the first team out of the huddle and lining up.
- No-huddle, hurry-up offense can put a great deal of pressure on the opponent.
- A good football team can use tempo, both fast & slow, to dictate the pace of the football game and what their opponent is allowed to do.
- A good team is multiple on offense and can attack in several different ways.
- By being multiple, a good coach forces the opponent to prepare for several things, limiting the number of quality reps practiced against any one aspect of the offense.
- A good coach forces the opponent to waste valuable preparation time on several different things.