Installing an offense at the start of the season is one of the most difficult parts of coaching at any level. To effectively install an offense there are multiple variables that must be considered and evaluated. The early practices are critical to teaching the offense but at the same time it is equally, if not more important, to work on the specific skills that players will need to develop. As a result the coordinator must find a delicate balance between adding new plays and concepts and developing skills and technique.
Developing an Install Plan for your Youth Football Team
One of the most interesting takes on installing an offense came from the Air Raid. The Air Raid offense, which has swept the country at all levels, is based around limiting the number of plays so that players can become experts at their specific job within the scheme. The Air Raid is paired down so much that Dana Holgorsen famously installs his offense in four days. Once he completes these installation, he goes back through and re-installs it two to three more times before the season starts.
The general outline of the practice follows the whole-part-whole framework that many academic learning experts back up as an effective teaching pathway. In this model the practice starts with the offense getting together and running plays on air as a whole unit. This is a teaching segment where players can begin to visualize their role within the scheme. When the practice moves to individual periods the position coaches can take the time to work on the specific elements that are important to the play. This allows the players to learn the how and why behind what they are doing. As the practice continues more variables begin to get added. It starts with sub groups getting together through Inside Run and 7 on 7. Finally at the end of the practice the whole team gets together and will run through the same script they ran through at the start of practice, only this time they are going against a defense.
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Part of why this method has proven to be so effective is that it limits the teaching time in any one practice session. In the Four Day Install method each day will be focused on a specific set of plays. These plays need to be matched up so that the player is being asked to complete very similar actions. This allows the coach to work on these skills during individual periods so that when the team period comes, the players are working the same skills they spent the whole practice working on. This allows them more reps to master the skill within the practice.
The initial round of installation is focused on being very simple with limited formations and no tags. Once the first round of install is done and the basics of the play are mastered, the offense will begin to add more complexity. In each round tags and formations will be added to the offense. Each one of these tags and formations will build on the previous base of knowledge. The effect is that the offense has begun to add complexity from a base of clear understanding. This allows players to feel confident in their assignment and play fast, which is the goal of any coach.