Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Dbl Coverage Interviews: Mark Moss Head Coach of the London Blitz

Mark Moss has been the Head Coach of the London Blitz since 2006, overseeing the most successful period in the teams history. He has won the Britbowl four times and added the EFAF cup this year. We sat down with Coach Moss for an interview to get his thoughts on the season ahead, the season before and his views on coaching and philosophy. Read on after the page break for the full interview!

Dbl Coverage: First off Coach Congratulations on a fantastic season. Not many UK teams can say they have won the UK Championship and a European competition (the EFAF cup) in one season! What are your thoughts on the season past?
MM: Thanks for that Jon. We knew going into the season that it would be very tough competing on 2 fronts (domestic and EFAF cup). We believed that we had the talent and ability to win them both and so set about in January 2011 working extremely hard to bring that to fruition

Dbl Coverage: With the BAFANL re alignment now confirmed and the announcement that you are going to be playing in the EFL (the “Champions League” of European American Football competition), what are your thoughts on the season ahead?

MM: If we thought the 2011 season was going to be tough then we need to think again ha ha! All joking aside, playing in the EFL (Eurobowl) this season is a massive step up for the club. We will be playing against Europe’s elite teams and our curtain raiser away at the flash is going to be the biggest game in the clubs history. Teams like the flash receive huge funding from their governments and are run by full time people. 

We are up for the challenge though! Domestically we see a very different premiership this coming season, with the introduction of 2 conferences (north & south).Each conference looks very competitive and with the south now having 3 London teams in in is going to be a real battle for supremacy.

Dbl Coverage: What does a normal post season for the Blitz staff and players consist of? Are there any special additions made this year due to the higher level of competition?

MM: A normal preseason is very busy for the committee and coaches. Normally starts the week after the end of the season with a look at the finances. This will determine the type of competitions we will enter.

We will look to fill any coaching positions that have become vacant and add assistant coaches where needed. One of the biggest things we need to plan for is our rookie sessions. These are sessions for players who have never played before and want to join the club. We need to make sure that there are enough coaches cover the amount of players there so that they can be coached correctly.

For players there is a lot of sweat and toil to be done in the gym and on the track. Our strength & conditioning coach Cameron Harris issues programmes to the players for them to get stuck into. 
We also start our "1000lb club" sessions! These are a series of lifting sessions in the gym where the players perform 1 rep maximums on squat, bench and deadlift. Cameron can then track the progress of the players.

We have some special additions to the team this year and they are home grown! We have alarge number of guys graduating from the 2011 junior national championship winning side, and let me tell you now there is some real talent there.

Dbl Coverage:  How do you keep motivated after winning three straight Britbowls undefeated and now won your first European competition? How do you keep your players motivated and focused?

MM:  for me staying motivated is easy! I look back at the London Olympians back in the day coached by the great Coach (Rick) Ayub. They set the standard for every club in this club to aspire to. Six consecutive national championships and eleven in total, to me that is inspiring.

For the players I think playing against Europe’s elite raises there game. To play against European teams who invest in imports and to beat them drives them onwards. I think this year particularly with 3 London teams battling for bragging rights of the nation’s capital will stir something in all of us!
Dbl Coverage:  What are your thought on the BAFANL re alignment? Do you think it enhances the competition in the Premier league, or does it dilute the quality?

MM: I think the realignment can only be good. A 6 team premiership has turned stale and with lots 
of new teams involved it will certainly spice things up. Both conferences look very competitive. 
If teams want to improve then they need to compete at the highest level they can.

People seem to forget that the Blitz had many seasons of 1 and plenty and chose to continue to play 
at the highest level to aid there development and growth.

Dbl Coverage: Two of your coaching staff were recently appointed as the GB Senior and Junior Head Coaches (Coaches Mike Callan and Damien Anderson respectively). What do you think of these appointments and how does it affect your staff at the Blitz?

MM: I think the appointments of both Mike and Damian are great for British football. I think they are exactly the right men for their respective jobs and will move the national teams forward to the level they need to be. I don’t think there appointments will have an impact on the Blitz this season and beyond.

Dbl Coverage:  On a more personal note, how did you get into American Football? What position did you play, who did you play for and how did you get into coaching?

MM: I got into football in 1985.a friend of mine Paul Mitchell from the gym where I used to lift startedplaying for Luton flyers and said I should come down and have a go. I decided to give it a go and from the first practice I was hooked. I played on the D line.

When the flyers folded in 1989 I stopped playing. In 1991 I started coaching at the Luton Huskers junior team and stayed with them till 1994. In 1996 I became defensive coordinator at the newly formed Herts stags adult team. 

I became head coach there in 1997 until they folded in 2000. I then had a year at Chiltern Cheetahs under Coach Len Scott as Dline coach before joining the blitz in 2001. In 2006 I became Blitz HC and you know the rest.

Dbl Coverage: What would you say is your philosophy as Head Coach of a National Powerhouse? What role do you carry out as a Head Coach?

MM: My philosophy is that it all starts with fundamentals. If players can’t tackle, block, catch or run then it doesn’t matter what your playbook is like you won’t win and you won’t develop. You have to start at the bottom and work me it’s about technique. You can have any playbook you like but if you don’t have the technique to execute it then it’s pointless.

You also have to fit schemes to the players you have. Look at your strengths and work to them. In the end it all comes down to executing the simple things and doing them very well. 

A lot of the way I coach and the coach that I am come from my first ever HC as a player his name is 
Coach Mark 1986 he taught me that to succeed in football  it’s all about the team. He taught me that although you may have talented individuals in your team they will not win games on their own. 

You have to be a team, the team is everything, and the team is the only thing!

Dbl Coverage: Thank you for your time Coach Moss and all the best for a forthcoming season.

MM: thanks Jon

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