As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.Harrington Emerson
There are principles and there are shared beliefs. Principles are objective truths. Shared beliefs are subjective opinions. Principles can’t be disputed. Shared beliefs can’t be proven. Which one makes more sense to base your football knowledge with?
If you understand the principles of something, and you work to increase your creativity and decision making, you can solve problems and recognize opportunities. The ability to do these things is a major ingredient to success.
Whether you want to build an offense, or build a program, you should use the principles of the game, versus shared beliefs, as your foundation.
We must pull out the things that are true in all circumstances. The best place to start is the rule book.
For example, the offense must start with at least seven players on the line of scrimmage. As simple and as basic as this sounds, it is a principle. We can’t argue this and we must remember this in creating our formations.
But principles extend beyond the rule book. Another major area to consider would be human nature. What things within our natural inclinations should be understood in the game of football? This area is a little harder to select things that are objective truths.
An example would be social pressure. When we make a decision to do anything within our program we should consider what the social pressures will be in relation to the decision. You may decide to ignore the pressure, but you should at least be aware of it.
What are you currently basing your ideas on? Principles or shared beliefs?
Below are quotes from this article on first principles:
Sometimes called “reasoning from first principles,” the idea is to break down complicated problems into basic elements and then reassemble them from the ground up. It’s one of the best ways to learn to think for yourself, unlock your creative potential, and move from linear to non-linear results.
The rules of football are the first principles: they govern what you can and can’t do. Everything is possible as long as it’s not against the rules.
When you can’t change your mind you die.
When it comes down to it, everything that is not a law of nature is just a shared belief.
Socratic questioning can be used to establish first principles through stringent analysis. This a disciplined questioning process, used to establish truths, reveal underlying assumptions, and separate knowledge from ignorance.
Confronted with our own ignorance, we resort to self-defense.
Most of us have no problem thinking about what we want to achieve in life, at least when we’re young. We’re full of big dreams, big ideas, and boundless energy. The problem is that we let others tell us what’s possible, not only when it comes to our dreams but also when it comes to how we go after them. And when we let other people tell us what’s possible or what the best way to do something is, we outsource our thinking to someone else.
It’s only when we step back, ask ourselves what’s possible, and cut through the flawed analogies that we see what is possible.
First-principles thinking clears the clutter of what we’ve told ourselves and allows us to rebuild from the ground up. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but that’s why so few people are willing to do it. It’s also why the rewards for filling the chasm between possible and incremental improvement tend to be non-linear.
Make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e., the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.