To Coach With Bill Belichick, You Must Complete This Grueling Task

Assistants to New England Patriots coaches must “pad” for Belichick.

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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To coaches who have worked under Bill Belichick, “pad” is a four-letter word.

In almost all cases, coaches who work under the head of the New England Patriots are tasked with undertaking a difficult task called padding in order to earn their stripes.

Armed with pencils and papers, coaches are asked to watch the game film of an opponent and draw the offense and defense for every single play on a sheet of paper. Those drawings also need to include the movement and assignment of each player on the field.

And, to do a good job that’s up to Belichick’s standards, coaches are asked to note tendencies and protections as well as offer their observations about what individual players are trying to accomplish on the play.

Games typically have at least 100 plays and assistant coaches are usually asked to pad four or five of them when preparing for an opponent.

If it sounds difficult, tedious, and time-consuming, that’s because it is. But it’s not a punishment. Belichick sees padding as a way to get young coaches to see the game from all the angles he now does after decades upon decades of experience.

His son Steve Belichick – who coaches the defensive backs for the Pats and estimates he has padded “hundreds” of games in his life – said padding needs to be looked at as a learning experience.

“You get to learn about football, different schemes, different styles of play,” the younger Belichick said. “You understand how different and creative you can be to win … I used to get excited to pad the good teams and I learned what not to do from the bad teams.”

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