Alone in the backfield: 3 ways to prepare for “GameSpeed.”


We were winning by several touchdowns when I got the nod.

“Just hand the ball off, stay in bounds & keep the clock running….” 


Those were my instructions as I entered my first college football game. My coach’s hand continued to grip my facemask as the rest of my body began towards the huddle.


He just stared at me, lips pursed.

Yeth thir.” I said through my mouthguard.


Coach then barked the play.

It was basic.

34 Dive.


As the quarterback, the steps were simple.

Pat the center’s backside letting him know I was there…

Few meaningless phrases (Black 88…. Black 88!).


Take the snap & open to my left…

Secure handoff to the Running Back…

A few more steps punctuated by a tall pose…

And then watch.



These are the types of plays you can run with 8 year-olds.

The 34 Dive is a play that is virtually unscrewupable.


It almost cannot be screwed up.




With a crowd of over 10,000 watching, I approached the line of scrimmage and did my yelling thing.


The ball was snapped.

I turned.

I extended my left arm.


And then… Nothing.

And no one.


No one was there.


I was alone in the backfield.


Large angry men – the ones losing by 30 points – smelled blood.

I spied an opening and bolted. Problem is for slow guys like me, there is often no opening when you get there.


I ran parallel to the line of scrimmage for 35 yards… and gained one.

I was tackled hard and landed out… of… bounds.

On our sideline.


The clock stopped.


Coach immediately seized my facemask, lifted me clean off my back.

He didn’t say anything, but the veins in his forehead indicated he was dissatisfied with my version 34 dive.


What happened?




GameSpeed is much faster than practice speed.

It’s tough to simulate GameSpeed in practice.

When I snapped that ball, the running back took off like the sprinter he was.

He wanted to hit the hole at maximum speed.




I did my normal speed.

I had handed the ball off thousands of times in my career. I was a Malcolm Gladwellian expert in handoffs – over 10,000 handoffs and counting.


But never at Division I-AA GameSpeed.


GameSpeed applies when speaking Spanish on the job too. It’s one thing to memorize a bunch of Safety Spanish terms. It’s something else entirely to yell them at Chava while he’s driving a bobcat, slinging CA6.


Here are 3 easy ways to prepare for GameSpeed Spanish:


UNO :: Listen to Spanish Radio for 2 Minutes everyday.

Yep. Just 2 minutes. I recommend doing this in the car on the way to work.

Find a Spanish radio station that isn’t playing music. (Yes – it probably sounds like polka. We’ll discuss that luego.) Commercials are great. Morning talk shows are ever better.

Set your clock for 2 minutes and just listen. Don’t try to keep up with every word, just listen.

Sense the tempo, the ups and downs of the language.


If you get a morning talk show, be prepared for the annoying laugh track.

Fight through that.

It’s only 2 minutes.


After a few weeks of this, the commercials will slow down and you’ll be able to pick out key phrases.



Dos: Buy ¿Dónde están los ladrones? by Shakira.

Yes – buy the actual CD so you can read the lyrics. Regardless of your thoughts on Shakira, you’ll like this CD.

It’s really good.




Listen to one song a day while reading the lyrics.

Start with Track 5 Inevitable.

Inevitable is a Spanish Twin meaning… Inevitable.



Tres: Watch a morning show en Español.

These shows are built just like Good Morning America or Today, but there’s more laughing and a lot more cleavage.



In the morning, I turn on ¡Despierta América! (Wake up America) and then I switch to ESPN’s SportsCenter. When ESPN goes to commercial, I hit “last” on my remote control and watch a few minutes of ¡Despierta América! 


Screen shot 2013-08-07 at 10.18.20 PM


If it gets annoying or pains your brain… switch back.

Repeated exposure will help prepare you mentally for the quickened pace of the Spanish language.



Try these out this week.

Start with small amounts of time – as little as 60 seconds – and make this a habit during your drive (radio) to work or during commercials in your favorite TV shows.


These are simple ways to prepare for GameSpeed. No matter what happens, feel confident knowing GameSpeed you won’t make you look like a rookie in front of 10,000 people.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry. He had an unremarkable 2-year collegiate football career at Eastern Illinois University that paved the way for Tony Romo’s success.   

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