Up Tempo Offense


Today I want to talk about something I really enjoy and that is up tempo football.  I fell in love with this style of offense about 8 years ago and it has been pretty good to me the entire time.  I am going to discuss what I think are the major advantages of up tempo football, and then I will go through on video an explanation of an up tempo drill we use with our offense.  It is very important to understand that if this is going to be your standard mode of operation you better try and do everything in your program this way.  Its a lifestyle not a hobby, and you only get good at it by doing it.

The one thing I really like about up tempo football is the amount of flexibility it has.  Your pace of play has no regard for talent or schemes.  How many times do you sit around in the off season and think about your schemes?  What are your thoughts? Do I have good enough lineman for that? Is my tailback my feature player? Can my QB make all those throws? Do I have receivers that can stretch the field? Will I be able to find 2 or 3 tight ends? Or if you are like me, the off season gives you 9 million ideas on new plays you can run that you got from clinics, college bowl games, or NFL playoff games.  The great thing about tempo is it does not matter what your scheme or talent level is.  Any team, at any level, can play up tempo football.  What it really boils down to is a process of streamlining your communication skills.  Think about it.  Football is the only major team sport that actually huddles during live game time.  You never see a basketball team, or baseball team, or soccer team, or volleyball team, or hockey team actually huddle while the game clock is moving or the ball is in play.  So what is the purpose of the huddle?  Now I was not around during the early developmental days of football, but my guess is the huddle was used as a way to communicate assignments to your offensive players without the defense hearing what you are saying.  Another interesting thing to look at is football conditioning was usually based around this principle.  Football players are generally trained to make short explosive bursts while allowing for some rest in between.  That is because the average football play is 6 seconds long with approximately 25-35 seconds between plays.  So whether you are a Pro I team, Wing T team, Spread team, Air Raid team, or Flexbone team up tempo is a definite possibility if you are willing to change everything you learned about offensive communication. You must also be willing to train your players in a whole new fashion.

So let us take a look at some of the advantages of being up tempo.
1)For me it fits my personality
2)More practice reps
3)Makes more players accountable
4)Make conditioning a factor early
5)Eliminate multiple defensive fronts
6)Eliminate multiple defensive stunts
7)Attempt to negate defensive substitutions
8)Put pressure on defensive play caller
9)Make defenses prepare for schemes and pace
10)Help prepare your defense for up tempo offenses

Now in order to accomplish these things we have to PRACTICE THIS WAY!!!!!  Again we are attempting to streamline our communication process to make things quicker. The only way to practice communication is to practice communication.  Your entire practice periods that are team sessions must be ran from no huddle operating procedures.  Your weight room should be up tempo.  Your meetings should be up tempo.  Your walk through should be up tempo.  You need to establish a mindset within your program that says "THIS IS HOW WE OPERATE."

The biggest thing you need to incorporate is video taping every practice.  We will never stop team periods so an individual coach can instruct his players. The coaches will have to learn how to coach players on the fly.  We are constantly working on instructing players while we are moving to the next formation and getting the next play call.  I love it this way because it keeps assistant coaches on their toes. I have seen way to many practices where assistant coaches stand around 85% of the time while 1 or 2 coaches run the whole period.  Even the guys running the scout group have to learn tempo so they can get the scout group in the right look for each play on the practice script.  With that said, you must now be able to incorporate film time into your practice schedule so your coaches and players can see the mistakes that were made and be given ample time off the field to correct them before the next practice.

The last part of this discussion and the part I will talk about on the video is how we practice changing pace on offense.  I see a lot of great up tempo drills from college practices and even some great 2 minute drills from NFL offenses.  The only problem I have with that is in most of those videos that is the only pace practiced.  If you are truly going to be an up tempo team, then changing the pace will be as important as keeping the pace.  Defensive coaches are very smart, and when they know you are up tempo they are going to study your manner of operating.  How fast do you snap the ball?  What is the trigger?  Is it the center's head?  Is it the QB'S leg kick?  In disguising and adapting their defense to up tempo teams they will try to gain every advantage possible.  That is why an up tempo offense learns how to work at different paces to alter the speed of the game. We always want the defense on their heels, and we want to dictate scenarios to the defense.  The same can be said about tempo.  We control the tempo and we want to dictate the tempo to the defense.  We have what we call tempo drills on air everyday.  These drills are simply 11 offensive players lining up in formations and running plays on air.  We are going to jump in and out of different tempo's and snap counts to drill our kids on the change of pace of games and individual series.  This is where we double check our communication process.  It is a chance to work on changing pace but also to work on our method of communication.  It is a chance for the signal caller and play caller to work together.  This is a chance for players to learn the importance of quick and efficient personnel changes.  

I will briefly describe in a video how we run the drill, and then when spring football starts I will video tape the drill and show you how we actually do this.  I hope this helps your program.


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