No Huddle Offense in Youth Football
The no huddle offense is the best way to effectively and strategically call plays. 90 % of coaches will just call a play that they think will work. That is pretty much just guessing. Say you call a sweep play, and the defense comes out and is aligned perfectly to stop it, what do you do? You are stuck running a play that goes right into the teeth of the defense. There are occurrences where your athletes will bail you out of a bad play call. When you do not have a dominate team the no huddle offense becomes even more vital. If you are facing a superior team, calling the right play at the right time is absolutely vital. The majority of coaches believe that when you go “no huddle” that indicates a hurry up offense. Yes, the no huddle offense is used to control the pace, but more importantly it is used to call the right play vs the defense alignment you are seeing.
The Benefits of the no huddle offense in youth football:
- Run a lot of plays while controlling the clock. Go fast or you can even slow it down.
- Allows you to call the right play vs. the defense you are seeing. Strategy with tactics!
- Gives you the option to change the play if the defense is in a position to stop the called play.
- Allows the offense to call the right play most of the time based on the defensive alignment.
- Makes subbing players in difficult for the defense. It will be harder for them to get kids in when they need plays.
- Does not let the defense breathe.
- Allows for the better-conditioned team to take over the game.
- Lets the defense pick which way the offense will beat them.
- Allows you to take advantage of a defense that isn’t ready.
- If you have a mobile QB the no huddle offense can be a complete nightmare for the defense.
- Optimizes practice time. Practicing the no huddle offense at practice will save practice time, get kids additional reps, and will condition you athletes.
The no huddle offense is not limited to only spread teams. We are a Wing T team and we run the no huddle out of the Wing T. If we ran the Wishbone formation, we’d still use the no huddle. We utilize wrist coaches that have colors and numbers on them. We also have 4 verbal commands that we utilize. We will give the kids a color & number and they will read the play off of the wrist coach. We basically have a coach watch the defensive ends, linebackers, and secondary. I will also count the defenders in the box and rely either “soft or loaded” to my offensive coordinator. If we like our match up inside or the defense has 6 or less in the box we will most likely run inside. If they are loading the box with 8 or more defenders, we will get outside.
There are occurrences where teams will show one look, then change into another look before the snap. That really doesn’t matter as long as we stick to our blocking rules. The defense can shift and adjust on the fly, it doesn’t matter. If we get a soft box we are hitting inside. If we get a loaded box, we are hitting outside. We attack where we have the numbers &/or blocking angle advantage.
Another tactic that works very well for us is something we call ‘pace control’. We will always have our kids line right back up on the line as soon as the ref spots the ball. The kids will get their splits and get right down. We will call 2 or 3 plays really quickly. After a couple of plays on fast counts, we will then hit them with an extended snap count or our “no play”. Many times the defense will jump off-sides. This also works very well against teams that just blitz everyone, every play. Again, you can go fast, or you can slow it down. Mix up the counts and make the defense watch the ball, rather than just timing your snap count.
Practicing the No Huddle Offense
The no huddle offense can be installed fairly quickly. We will usually install our no huddle strategy once we have our base plays installed. We utilize wrist coaches with all plays given a number and highlighted a color. We usually have 6-7 plays on our wrist coach. We keep it to a minimum. Only our base plays will be on the wrist coach. Every single coach and player has a wrist coach. When we want the kids to go to our no huddle offense, we will yell “tempo”. Tempo, tells the kids they have to get right on the line of scrimmage. Once the kids are on the LOS, our OC will give them a color and number. The kids will read the play under the given color/number. For example- OC yells “green 1”, the kids will then look at their wrist coach and run split right 38 jet.
It is always a good idea to have multiple ways you can call your plays. If you spend the entire game yelling just a color and a single number the defense will eventually catch on. I’ve seen opposing coaches write down each color and number we would call out. For example, on our wrist coach the play that is labeled “green 1” is our jet sweep to the right. So when opposing players and coaches hear “green 1”, they will know jet sweep is coming.
Our wrist coach has two columns of plays. We have a green column and a blue column. To throw teams off we will give a color and then three numbers. The third number is the live play call. The first two numbers are dummy numbers (you can use any random numbers). For example:
On our wrist coach “green 1” is our 38 Jet Sweep. So if the kids hear “GREEN 231” from our OC the kids will read and execute play GREEN 1 off of the wrist coach.
On our Wrist coach “blue 5” is our Trap Play. So if the kids hear “BLUE 125” from our OC the kids will read and execute play BLUE 5 off of the wrist coach.
This is very easy for the kids and the opposing coaches won’t be able to figure out what play you are running. If you want you can change the live play number at anytime. You can have the first number the play, or even the second number (middle number) the live play call.
If we don’t like the play we called, we can get out of it by yelling “CHECK” “CHECK”. Check means the kids will get out of their set stance and look & listen for a new play. If we call a sweep and the defense adjusts late and shift defenders to stop a sweep we can check out of the sweep and call a play that will work in our favor. You will see that teams will eventually start writing down your color and number codes as you scream them. Once opposing teams do that we will go to our visual play calling. Our wrist coach plays are highlighted green & blue. So when we want to call say, “GREEN 3” the OC will point to the ground and then hold up 3 fingers. You can take it one step further and have a coach stand next to the OC and have him give dummy calls.
Related Content: Utilizing the Sugar Huddle to Create Defense Misalignment
- Every player needs to have a wrist coach.
- Have the kids read off plays randomly throughout the practice. Coach- randomly yell a color and number off of the wrist and have all the kids yell the play name back. This helps them learn how to read the plays and helps them memorize the wrist coach.
- Do play sprints. Play sprints are running plays then sprinting down the field. We do our sprints out of our no huddle. This practices making the kids get to the line, read the play, get set, execute the play, and it conditions the kids.
- Stress getting to the line of scrimmage (LOS) quickly.
- Practice checking out of plays.
- Also, have some verbal commands. For example, if we say “RIP NASA” that will be our split right 38 rocket play. RIP means split right, NASA means rocket sweep.
Defending the No Huddle Offense
- Make sure your defense stays ready. The no huddle offense does not have to wait for the defense. After each play the defenders need to realign and prepare for the next play.
- Watch the ball. Defense attacks on ball movement. Practice attacking on ball movement every day in practice.
- Alignment. Alignment. Alignment. Proper alignment is absolutely vital. Every gap and every player on the offense must be accounted for. If the offense has 7 players to the left, you better have 7 defenders. The key is to not let the offense outnumber you, or out flank you on any side. Align properly, destruct blocks, make tackles, and play football!
- You can shift and adjust your defense to throw off the offense. This is a bit tricky and sometimes it gets your defense caught out of position, but giving a pre-snap look, then doing something different will confuse the offense at times. Especially teams that do not have blocking rules.
- Alignment. Alignment. Alignment. I said it before, and I will say it again. Alignment. Practice your defense alignment vs. the formations you are facing. If your defense aligns properly that is half the battle. The second half of the battle is block destruction (beating blocks), pursuit, effort, & TACKLING! If your defense is aligned properly, it’s time to just play football.
- Scouting is absolutely vital. Having an idea of what your defense is going to face will help tremendously.
I have been running the no huddle offense for several seasons with great success. The no huddle offense can be utilized on almost every youth football level. It is probably the most under utilized tactic/scheme in youth football.
(See Also) Shotgun Wing T Playbook
(See Also) Developing Consistency on Offense