The Football Manuals

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Bobby Dodd and William A. Alexander wrote a collection of manuals called "The Football Manuals." They taught the coaches and players how to play, the strategy, and the ethics involved in the game of football.



Georgia Tech Football was influenced by the manuals written by the former coaches.

Throughout history the coaching staff of the Georgia Tech football team has written different type of manuals in which they teach coaches and players how to play the sport. The manuals teach the players football strategy but most importantly they include ethical issues. The authors of this collection of manuals are Bobby Dodd and William A. Alexander. Bobby Dodd was part of the football team coaching staff for 21 years, from 1945 until 1966; he also served as assistant coach for over 10 years.[1] The second author, William Anderson Alexander, was a coach for Georgia Tech for 24 years and won a national championship in 1928.[2] Bobby Dodd’s manual is called the Football Principles and contains 5 chapters each one with detailed instructions. This guidebook discusses the Donts, the Always, the Cants, the Uses and the Nevers. William Alexander’s manual is called “To All Interested in the Development of Fair Play, Good Sportsmanship and Fine Ethics in Playing and Coaching football. This manual contains 4 chapters: Fair Play, Good Sportsmanship and Coaching Ethics. Every chapter contains a list of instructions that must be followed in order to be successful in the football field, according to Alexander. This last manual was written in a committee of which John Heisman was the Vice-President, but William A. Alexander was the major contributor.

The Manuals

Football Priciples

Football Principles[1]


In this chapter Bobby Dodd describes what players should not do in the football field in order to win the football game. This section contains 20 statements that fall under the following categories: psychological, physical, and strategical statements. “Don’t lose your head” is the first statement in the manual, the instruction lets the player know that football is not only a physical game, but that a very big part of the game is in the head. The next statement’s target is different but it keeps the main goal of succeeding in the football field. The next physical and strategical statement explains the player that once a blocker has a runner does not matter what happens do not let him escape. The last instruction in this chapter says “Don’t loose the game”, which is a very obvious statement, nevertheless critical in order to achieve success.[citation needed]


This chapter describes what players must always do in the football field in order to succeed. It contains 19 of instructions which fall under the same categories as the first section. The first statement is very similar to the first one in the first section, but modified to fit the chapter. “Always play with your head”, is the first statement and it has the same target, letting the players know that playing with their head is a vital factor in order to succeed. An example of a strategical statement is the following: “ Always tackle with your head down”. This instruction is very important because of safety reasons, it reminds players how to safely tackle an opponent. The last statement in this section is also very similar to the one of the prior chapter with the only difference that it has been edited in order to fit the chapter. The last statement is “Always win the game”, which is very obvious but at the same time very important in order to succeed.[citation needed]


This section includes a list of instructions that players cannot do in the football field if they want to thrive. It contains 20 statements that teach and or remind players what not to do when playing the sport. Bobby Dodd reiterates the importance of the head in the sport. “You cant play without brains”, as explained before the coach is telling the players that playing smart will lead the team to success. Another statement in this chapter is “You cant go too hard”, it tells the players that no matter how hard they are trying they can always do better. The last statement in this chapter makes the manual go in a complete circle. “You [can’t] win without using [these] principles”, this statement reiterates the importance of the manual and its application in order to flourish.[citation needed]


This chapter includes 20 statements. Bobby Dodd reiterates once again the importance of using ones head in order to succeed. “Use your brain on both offense and defense”, firstly the statement gives equal importance to both sections of the team and it reminds the players that football is both physical and mental. “Use your opponent up and yourself too [until] the game is won”, this is the last statement and it lies under the psychological category. The instruction tells the players to always give all they have until the game is won and also be very physical in order to use their opponent up.[citation needed]


In this section the author lists certain situations that can never be performed if the team wants to be successful. “Never give up” and “Never get excited” are two psychological statements, the second one informs the players that no matter what is going on on the field do not get too excited until the game is won. Even after the game is won players should not get excited since there is always another game coming up. The last statement says “Never break training or coaching rules” which falls under the strategic and psychological categories. Discipline and commitment are vital for a team in order to succeed therefore the author includes it in the manual.[citation needed]

Playing The Game

To All Interested in the Development of Fair Play, Good Sportsmanship and Fine Ethics in Playing and Coaching Football [2]

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Fair Play

This chapter explains the importance of fair play and gives rules to both players and coached in order to increase this aspect of the game. An example of one of these rules is the following; “The selection of good officials by mutual agreement or by appointment of some governing body several days before the game shall take place.” Choosing the officials for a game needs to be completely unbiased in order to make the game as fair as possible, which is directly related to fair play the topic of the chapter. Another of the examples in this chapter is the following “Using only genuine students eligible under amateur rules and the other rules of eligibility governing the institution.” The players who compose the team must meet the requirements in order to play, that way both teams will have players with very similar characteristics making the game as fair as possible.[citation needed]

Good Sportsmanship

The second section of the book gives certain recommendations in order to inspire good sportsmanship in teams in general. One of the suggestions stated in this chapter is the following, “Treating the visiting team and supporters as guests and not as enemies”. This suggestion is applicable to both good sportsmanship and fair play. Treating the opposing team as guests will mean that good accommodations, good treatment, and other positive aspects will be provided. This will result in a team that was not affected by the host’s bad sportsmanship making the game as fair as possible. Once the game is over and the winner has been proclaimed, the loosing team coach and captain should go to the winner’s leaders and congratulate them as a symbol of good sportsmanship is another example that directly and solely related to good sportsmanship.[citation needed]

Coaching Ethics

The last chapter of the manual discusses and advises the readers regarding coaching ethics. One of the suggestions made by the author is to encourage the players and the team to accept and respect the decisions made by any official during the game and to refrain from being aggressive or offensive towards the referees or the opposing team. During the game players will not agree with some of the calls made by the referee, but it is up to the coach and his staff to spread good sportsmanship through the team and encourage the members to be respectful during the game. Another aspect described in this section is to always maintain the “ideals and good meaning of athletics”, rather than what many coaches have as their goal which is “[winning] at any price”. Winning is important but maintaining ones’ ethics and the ideals of the game clear are more important, therefore coaches have to have this mentality and spread it throughout their team.[citation needed]


The two manuals written by two different football coaches at Georgia Tech have three main similarities. Firstly one of their main goals is to improve the team football wise. Both manuals give advice on what to do in order to improve the team’s skills and safety when playing the game. The second similarity is that both authors focus a lot on improving the ethic of the team and keeping it throughout the competition. Finally both manuals apply not only to football but also to any other sport played, the ethic suggestions made on them will be useful to any coaching staff or sports team.[citation needed]


  1. Dodd, Bobby. Football Principles.
  2. Alexander, William. To All Interested in the Development of Fair Play, Good Sportsmanship and Fine Ethics in Playing and Coaching Football.

Source Summaries

Pablo Ramirez A2

Source Summary: Bobby Dodd's manual on how to play football

Source Summary: William A Alexander's Manual

Source Summary: Ray Ellis Play Book

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