Speeding Up the Game When Coaching Youth Football
Many of us have looked in amazement at the production the Oregon Ducks have had on offense in the last few years. Chip Kelly’s Ducks have averaged nearly 50 points per game in the last two years on their way to a National Championship game in 2010 against Auburn in the Fiesta Bowl. One of the noticeable components of the Ducks high scoring offense is their no-huddle offense and the fact they don’t take much time in-between snaps. The average college football team takes about 34 seconds in-between snaps, from the time the play is called dead until the next play is run, the Ducks average just 23 seconds between plays. In a blowout win over UCLA in 2010, Oregon averaged just 14 seconds between snaps and on one series they averaged less than 9 seconds between snaps.
How does this apply to youth football? I’m not a fan of trying to catch the other team off guard by trying to catch them napping in-between snaps. However there is merit in speeding the game up a bit. The more possessions you have, the less chance an odd occurrence is going to determine the winner. The faster the game goes, the more plays each of your kids is going to get and if you have minimum play rules, more snaps make it easier to get those kids their required snaps. A faster game also helps keep the attention of your players, you see fewer problems with kids sitting on the bench or getting distracted when the game moves quickly rather than slowly.
Of course Oregon uses a no-huddle system and they have a lot more practice time than the average youth team, but there are a few simple things you can do if you want to employ some of the Duck’s methods. A very simple one is to simply repeat the play you just ran, but in hurry up no-huddle mode. You can either signal something in with hand signals or just yell out a code word like “Mayday” as soon as the play finishes. John Ward uses this with his High School teams, Mayday just means get up on the line of scrimmage immediately and run the very same play you just ran. When John calls Mayday that also means that this play will be run on first sound, so there is no need to send in or signal in a cadence.
While my personal teams have run no-huddle in each of the last 15 seasons using a wristband system, the Mayday approach doesn’t require you to even buy wristbands. Of course you would need to practice it and your signal caller would have to make darn sure everyone was set before he called out the first sound. Coach Ward said that even at the High School level, this not only speeded up the game and improved his teams focus, it also often times forced his opponent to burn a time out. This may be a little tweak you may want to consider as you look for ways to improve your coaching and team for the 2011 youth football season.
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