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How To Draw Up Football Plays

Drawing Up Football Plays

In this age of computer programs and online sites that help football coaches draw up their own football plays, you’ll find plenty of tools to help you with the technical side of drawing up football plays. Youth football coaches also will find lots of football plays posted online youth football websites.

But what if you’re a youth football coach who wants to draw up your own football plays, but you don’t know the basics of drawing a football play? What do football coaches do when they draw up a football play? What all is being accounted for?

Here’s a list of things to consider when thinking up football plays and advice for how to draw up football plays when you have your play in mind.

1. Consider Your Players’ Talents

When drawing up football plays, you want to write plays that put your players in the best position to succeed. That means playing to your strengths. If you have a fast running back, run sweeps. If you have a big, bruising running back, run it between the tackles. If your quarterback can throw the ball a little, draw up plays that let him throw to the spots on the field he’s most comfortable throwing.

Also consider the talents of your offensive linemen, tight ends and fullbacks, too. What kind of play do they block the best on? What plays do they like to block for?

You might ask your kids that second question some day in practice, then draw up a few plays that cater to their preferences.

I personally prefer to take my two best blockers and make them my left tackle and left guard, then run to the left side a majority of the time. (Switch to the right side, if you have a lefty at quarterback.) If you split the two of them up, you’ll be likelier to have a missed assignment or a mismatch no matter which side you run the ball towards.

With your two best guys on the left side, when your quarterback goes back to pass, he’s less likely to get blindsided. The other team might give you trouble from the right side of the line, but your quarterback will see the danger coming, and you can also help out with a tight end and your running backs blocking.

2. Decide What You’re Trying To Do On This Play – Football Strategy

Now that you know what your players’ strengths are, figure out what you want to do on this play.

Do you want 3 yards and to maul the defense a little? Do you want to go for a big play? Are you trying to get some yards back from a negative yardage play?

Do you want to test the edge of your opponent’s defense? Do you want to set the defense up for a trick play later?

Consider drawing up plays for each of these contingencies.

3. Figure Out How To Block the Defense – Football Tactics

When drawing up a play, remember to decide how you are going to block the play. You’ll need to account for every player along the line. Once those players are taken care of, you’ll have some unblocked defenders somewhere on the field.

That’s always going to happen, since you have a ball carrier and a quarterback (unless you run the single-wing offense). Your ball carrier will have to run over a tackler or make a tackler miss for your play to turn into something besides a short gain, but that’s what football is about.

Blocking assignments is a big part of play calling, though. Youth football blocking assignments are usually pretty simple, without a whole lot of traps and pulling guards. But to be effective, you need your guys putting their bodies on someone else on the other side of the ball.

Even when you get in the game, you’re likely to have some stud defender on the other side of the ball overloading one side of the line, shooting gaps or coming off the corner. You might have to make adjustments off the play your drew up, usually in the form of taking a tight end or fullback and assigning them to block that defender.

I’ve told my fullback before to find #__ and block him on every play, after that kid has sacked the quarterback a couple of times and gotten a couple of run stuffs for losses on running plays. So even when you draw up plays, sometimes you have to adjust those plays to the game conditions.

4. Consider Ways To Maneuver Defensive Players Where You Want Them – Football Tactics

I was watching a game recently involving the Indianapolis Colts and was marvelling at how they continued to get Dallas Clark open. Of course, Dallas Clark is a talented tight end and he has a pretty talented player throwing his the ball. But those NFL defensive players get paid, too, so it’s never easy to get open in an NFL contest.

The Colts continued to run Dallas Clark on delays across the middle, meanwhile running a second receiver through the same zone they wanted Dallas Clark to get open in. That receiver would run through that zone underneath, taking with him one or two defenders. Then Dallas Clark would run through the same area of the field almost immediately after and beat his man to that spot. Over and over, Dallas Clark found hismelf open.

I point all this out to highlight the fact that pass routes are not always about getting that receiver open. Sometimes, a receiver is meant to run a route to act as a decoy, to block downfield or to clear out a zone for another receiver to get open.

With good timing, your teamwork can create a gap in the defense. With bad timing, both receivers end up in the same spot at the same time and the defense easily covers two of your receivers (and interceptions happen). But an offensive playcaller doesn’t have to rely on his players to always beat their man individually: you can help them by putting them in the right place, or moving certain defenders into the wrong place.

That’s something to consider when drawing up a football play, not only what you’re asking your players to do, but what kind of reaction this play is going to get from each and every defensive player on the field.

Play Action Passes

That’s what happens with play-action passes. A “play action pass” is a pass which occurs after a fake running play. You fake a run to the halfback or fullback, drawing in the safeties and linebackers, then throw the ball to a receiver streaking past them due to their hesistation.

Pick Plays on Crossing Patterns

When you line up two receivers to one side, you can have the slot receiver break towards the sideline, while having the wide receiver run a slant towards the middle of the field. Eventually, the two will cross paths and the defenders will be forced into a traffic jam, like a pick-and-roll in basketball. If they aren’t careful, the defenders will run into each other or one of your receivers, getting the other receiver open.

Keep in mind that a true pick play is illegal. If you cross and have one of your receivers purposefully run into a defender, that’s a penalty. So you have to make this a nightmare for the defenders by impeding their movement without actually running into them.

Sweeps and Reverses

If you have reverses in your playbook, then you’re going to want to know what the opposing defense does on a sweep play.

Run a sweep play in either direction, perhaps multiple times. When you call the sweep, see what the defensive end on the backside of the play does. Does he run upfield and maintain his position, what coaches call “holding containment”? Or does he run down the line, trying to catch the ball carrier from behind?

If he does the latter, then a reverse is likely to catch the defensive end by surprise. When the defensive end doesn’t keep containment, the reverse can get around his end of the line and go for a big play.

Warning About Maneuvering Defenders

There’s a problem with all these plays, though.

One thing running a receiver on a delay, letting patterns cross, running play action passes and running reverses all have in common is they take a lot of time. If your blocking isn’t good, your plays are going to get stuffed in the backfield and you’re going to lose yardage. So consider the kind of protection your blockers are giving you and the time needed to make these plays happen.

Get a stopwatch and time the plays in practice. Take that stopwatch and time how long it’s taking the defense to get into your backfield. You’ll be able to figure out if the plays you’ve drawn up are going to work.



This entry was posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2009 at 10:59 amand is filed under Football. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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