Coaching the No-Huddle Offense: By the Experts Rob Blount via Coaches Choice Football Coaching Library
The difference between a spread offense that huddles and a spread offense that does not huddle is how you communicate the plays. How do you get the play into the game? You must have a system that allows you to do what you need to do in 25 seconds. In high school, when you consider when the play ends and when the official marks it ready for play, we have about 32 seconds to run the next play. It takes most teams 17 seconds to get the play into the game, call it, and get out of the huddle. That leaves somewhere between 7 or 8 seconds to adjust that play. You can adjust all those variables with the play of the officials. Some officials are slow and deliberate with their style, while others take care of business and get the ball spotted quickly.
Teams that play at a faster-pace tempo are teams that run the no-huddle spread offense. You do not have to be a spread team to have a no-huddle
offense. I had a power-I, no-huddle team. However, when people think about the no-huddle offense, they think about spread teams. You can play any
offensive scheme with the no-huddle system. The thing that speeds up the tempo is how the plays come into the game.
When it comes to winning and losing, there is no right tempo! Just because you run a play in 10 seconds does not mean you will win the game. Tempo
does not win games; players do. When people talk about tempo, they talk about going fast. That is not all tempo does. You can go fast, but you can slow down.
If you plan to play tempo football, you should understand why you are doing it. If your defense is not very good, playing fast does not necessarily help you win. When you play fast and have no success offensively, you give the ball back to the other offense while not allowing your defense to rest. Whatever your reason for going to a tempo offense, make sure you understand why you want to play at a speed.
Benefits of Tempo
• Can drastically gain control of the game
• Smaller package of plays
• Good vs. unconditioned or inexperienced teams
• Good vs. better athletes (usually don’t like to think)
• Can change other teams’ tempo
• Can make a drastic rhythm change in the game
• Always a home run loaded in the pistol
• Can make other coaches do “uncharacteristic” things
When you consider the package of plays you have in your playbook or on your call sheet, you need to see what you actually run. If you have a big call
sheet but you do not run all the plays on that sheet, you need to reduce it. Playing with tempo allows you to play with a smaller package of plays. As a
younger coach, I wanted to have something for every situation. When I was an offensive coordinator, I had a play sheet that made it almost impossible to practice all the plays. As you get older and more mature, you run what you are good at running.
The receiver on your team may want to run 50 different pass plays. Or the running back wants to run 20 different running plays. When you play tempo football, that converts to maybe four running plays and six pass plays. Having that limited offense makes the players and coaches feel more comfortable.
If you are going to play with a fast tempo, you must practice the same way. You do not walk out to practice. Everything you do in the practice is at a fast pace. When your players go from drill to drill, we tell them this is Ferrari pace to get to the next drill. The players must get used to those situations. You have to train your players as to what goes on within the game as far as the referees are concerned. It is like muscle memory when you train your players about the tempo of the game. When the official marks the ball ready to play, the players know what to do because they did it in practice.
When we play teams early in the season, we try to push the heck out of them. We want to push the envelope in relationship to the speed of the game.
Early in the season, teams are not in the type of shape it takes to play a high tempo team. We want to jump on them and push hard with the tempo. It really tells on a team in the second and fourth quarters. An inexperienced team has trouble dealing with up tempo because of the confidence factor in inexperienced players. They are uncomfortable in what they are doing and tend to play too cautious.
We play teams that have many more and better athletes than we do. However, when we speed up the tempo, it slows down those athletes. When a player is athletic, he depends on natural instincts and natural talent. If he has to think about what he has to do, it neutralizes his natural ability and slows him down. The better athletes do not want to think; they only want to play.
By playing at a high tempo, we can change the other team’s tempo. It does not matter whether they are a slow- or fast-tempo team; they have to decide if they are going to try to match our tempo. If we score in 25 seconds, the opponent’s coach has to think what he wants to do. Is he going to try to control the ball when that is not part of his game or is he going to try to score quickly to match our tempo? It puts pressure on the opposing coach to do something.
The biggest thing I like is there is always a home run loaded in the pistol. Our players know that any play can go all the way. It could be a simple hitch or a zone play. We keep changing personnel and formations. That gives the secondary something to think about every play. Playing at the speed we play means the defense cannot fall asleep at any time or it is the home run. They have to continue to think about the defense but have no time to think clearly. Our players know it will happen, and it could be the next play.
You can find out more about and purchase the eBook that this article is from at: Coaching the No-Huddle Offense: By the Experts.