Offensive Pace as a Weapon in Youth Football
In today’s topsy-turvey world of college football, we see teams like Oregon and Oklahoma State running plays at breakneck speed to effectively wear down a defense, but can it work in youth football? With less practice time and less mature players is the risk reward equation leaning towards a yes or no? Is it a “bridge too far”? My experience definitely sways to the yes you should run it side of the balance beam.
Gus Malzahn said in an interview last week that the only way to effectively attack and defeat the vaunted Alabama defense is with a rapid pace. Rapid pace often times puts Bama in a situation where they aren’t aligned correctly. Bama also uses fewer stunts and blitzes when they are playing against rapid pace teams. So if a Nick Saban coached team struggles against rapid pace teams, how do you think the average youth football team is going to respond? The only question is can you pull it off without a bunch of penalties and bad snaps?
The answer to that question is a resounding yes you can IF you use your practice time wisely and use some tips and tricks in implementing the no-huddle and rapid pace tempo. In the Pop Warner National Championships this year in Orlando, I saw a Junior Pee Wee team age 9-11 from Port St Lucie, Florida go rapid pace to break open several games. While it wasn’t anything fancy, 4-8 yards a pop all of a sudden you look up and it’s 26-0 in the second quarter. Head Coach Jeff Miret is pictured here in the blue and gold. As soon as a play was whistled dead, they were lining up and running another play. They were running a play every 12 seconds on average. Head coach and friend Jeff Miret uses our approach along with some of our offense. Even the well coached top teams in the country really struggled to defend against such a breakneck pace, and these teams had scouted PSL and had been working on defending rapid pace.
This season my age 10-11 team went rapid pace in a few games. We have been no-huddle for the last 15 seasons and the pace is determined by the opponent and how we match up along with the momentum of the game. In the opening drive of one game against an evenly matched team we ran 11 plays in 2:05 to score in the opening drive in another game against a 7-1 team we scored on the opening drive in 9 plays and 1:55. Rapid pace helps you get more snaps, which really helps you if your league has minimum play requirements. If you do a lot of formationing, rapid pace can be a huge benefit to your offense. Invariably rapid pace also forces your opponent to burn up most if not all of their timeouts on defense. Fast pace will help you to keep your kids on the sidelines engaged and alert. There is little bench sitting and shenanigans going on when your team is running a play every 11-12 seconds. More information on how to implement no-huddle and rapid pace in the book “Winning Youth Football a Step-by-Step Plan.”
Rapid pace no-huddle also can be a life saver when you are tight on time. If you are always no-huddle and are rapid pace most of the time, making the transition into a “two minute” style offense is very easy. Many youth football teams simply rely on “Hail Mary” type desperation or trick plays when trying to score with little time left in a game or the half. No-huddle rapd pace teams can drive the field and they don’t panic. Port St Lucie went 85 yards in the final 2 minutes of their National Championship game this year to snatch yet another National Title. They did it in 9 plays and without throwing a single pass. My 5-6 grade team won an out state tournament in 2010 by going 80 yards in 9 plays in Championship Game in the last 2:10 with no timeouts. Could we have done it had we not been a no-huddle rapid pace team? Doubtful.
No-huddle rapid pace, think about adding it this off-season for your youth football team.
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