Often times I have been asked how to best rate players performance during practice and the game. After two decades of coaches every level from high school to the professional ranks, I have noticed that there are so many ways to check performance. I believe that the simplest method that gives the player and coach appropriate feedback is often the best. I spent years researching different ways to do this from performance charts to plus/minus systems and as they say there are many ways to “skin a cat”.

The system I have used with great success is one that I found via Tom Osborne at the University of Nebraska, albeit he might not be the inventor of this system. This system is based on giving the player one of four grades and each of these has a specific meaning:

Zero – Busted assignment.

One – Assignment is correct, but the technique used is incorrect.

Two – Correct assignment and technique is correct.

Three – Sellout or Special Play whereby the player got the job done and made something special happen. ie. Explosive Play, Touchdown, Sack, Tackle for a Loss etcetera.

Once each play is graded within these limits the coach can then accumulate the total positive to negative plays to come up with a percentage grade. A Zero or One is considered a minus and a Two or Three is considered a plus. The ratio of minus to plus will yield a percentage grade for the player.

For example: Johnny played in 100 plays and his results were as follows: 4 Zero’s, 26 One’s, 60 Two’s and 10 Three’s. Johnny has 30 negative grades to 70 positive grades. Therefore he comes out with a 70 percent grade.

The next step in evaluation is to cut the mental errors (Zero’s) and produce more Special Plays. A player that is highly explosive but produces mental errors can really hurt the Unit’s production and as a coach you can “fall in love with all that potential” but this evaluation system is a great tool to work with the player to improve his performance.

All in all, I have noticed that when you play the guys that grade out the best with this system, some pretty amazing things happen to unit production. Speaking of unit production, I have also used this system to see just how well my whole unit was working on each particular play. By grading out all 11 players on a specific play and getting a Unit Grade that is broken down in a scheme-specific way I have been able to improve my teaching method on each play.

As a test, go back and see how many plays in a game existed where all 11 players graded out a positive, you would be shocked at how few of these plays existed. By improving the Unit Performance Grade your production will be amazing.

As a resource, John T. Reed does make a brief mention of how to grade players take a look and let me know what you think. John T. Reed’s Grading a Teams Performance

Here is another video worth looking at that gives you some insight on how a college staff works on weekends to grade and evaluate players: