As the NFL prepares to kick off its regular season in September, fans are mulling over their favorite teams’ playoff chances, how well recently drafted rookies might perform, or perhaps whether the Philadelphia Eagles can repeat as Super Bowl Champions this season.
Coaches, however, may be wondering if their newest players will grasp the nuances of their complex playbook.
To most, an NFL playbook can be nearly as indecipherable as ancient runes. Some playbooks run as much as 800 pages long.
Rookies have a steep learning curve when they arrive at training camp – they have to rapidly move from learning core schemes to memorizing multifaceted variations based on team-specific alignments and on-field changes. A single play can have dozens of options.
Once the season begins, the playbook changes and grows, requiring players to rapidly recall even more complex schemes – all while huge and quick players on the opposing team attempt to counter every move. This process is so complex that Sports Illustrated once asked a neuroscientist to analyze it.