Calling plays is one of the most stressful and rewarding experiences in football. There is no other sport such a large amount of pressure is put on the coach. From an outside perspective any call could result in a huge gain or a huge loss which might change the course of the game. In the end though, I am not a believer in the fact that play calls really change games, the majority of times it is players simply executing better than their opponent that changes the game.
3 Play Calling Tips for Offensive Coordinators
Tip # 1
The first thing to keep in mind when calling plays is to have a system. It’s critical that you have an offensive system that has the ability to attack all parts of the field. The majority of offensive systems are based around a dominant play. This play’s the thing that your team has the ability to run against almost any defense and experience success. Once you have established your dominant play you can begin to develop the plays that can exploit the adjustments that defensive coaches will make to stop your play. When you understand your system and can see the adjustments that defensive coaches are using to stop it, it becomes easy to make the correct call to exploit how the defense is trying to stop you.
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Tip # 2
The second major consideration is to think ahead in the downs. One of the best pieces of advice I heard was to always assume that the play will gain two to four yards and prepare your next play call in you head. This allows you to start the communication process quickly and have your play loaded up. If something strange happens and you either gain a large amount of yards, or lose a large amount of yards you can come up with a different call.
Tip # 3
The last tip is to run what your players are confident in. There is no perfect play call. In a sport like football where there are 22 players involved in any one play, it’s easy for something to go wrong. There are very few times where they are lined up exactly like you thought they would be and the play goes like you drew it up on the board. The reality of the game is that there are a huge amount of variables and sometimes kids just do silly stuff. To combat this you can call plays that your players feel comfortable and confident about and know how to run against a variety of different looks.
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While calling plays is a significant part of establishing success on the field, it is not nearly as important as developing confidence in the players. The play that works the best is the play that the players believe they will work the best. As a result it’s critical that as offensive coordinator you develop those core plays that allow your offense to gain confidence in themselves.