By Sam Nichols
Installing a no-huddle offense isn’t an easy process. Most of it is learned through trial and error. Here are some problems we encountered along the way—hopefully this will help you avoid making the same mistakes we did:
Mistake #1: Changing Just to Change
Too many coaches add or re-tool offenses without understanding why they are doing it. Make sure you know exactly what you are hoping to get out of the no-huddle and be prepared to make sacrifices to reach those goals. If you cannot explain why and how the no-huddle is going to take your offense to the next level, you may want to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate your goals.
Mistake #2: Adding No-Huddle to an Already Bloated Playbook
There are a few people who will insist on moving over every formation, motion, and play into their new system. Remember to keep it simple, and use this as an opportunity to focus your offense on what you do best. You can always add these plans back in once the system is up and running.
Mistake #3: Putting the Cart Ahead of the Horse
I understand that coaches want to put their new toy to work as soon as possible, but that rush can leave you lacking the organization needed to sustain the concept for the long term. Make sure that you have organized your plays, coaches, and players before rolling out the no-huddle plan. Troubleshooting should also be done to prevent some of the issues that will arise once you get started. You will not regret the extra week it takes to get things properly organized.
Mistake #4: Not Changing the Way You Coach
Changing to no-huddle must fundamentally change the way you coach every single day. Coaches that aren’t willing to adapt their coaching styles to fit the no-huddle framework will never feel comfortable during the game. Make sure that you change the pace of your coaching in practices to match the pace you want in the game. All coaches must understand how to “coach on the run.”
Mistake #5: Playing Unprepared Players
As simple as it sounds, coaches always have excuses for putting Johnny on the field because they are sure they cannot win without him. Johnny may be a great athlete, but sending him out on the field unprepared will not only decrease his effectiveness, but it will teach the rest of the team that he is more important. Make a statement. Sit Johnny until he knows the signals and the system. This will show the team how important communication is and that you hold all the athletes to the same standard.
Mistake #6: Overthinking
Coaches are much more focused on their own schemes and plans than they are on ours. Do what you do and make the opponent prepare to play your game. If they crack your code, just speed up the game on them and they will be back to square one.
Mistake #7: Keeping the Same Cards from Year to Year
Each year make a few changes within the card to maintain the integrity of your system. This also helps the players become involved in the process. As long as you keep the base principles, you will find that the players can adapt easily.
Coach Nichols has coached football at nearly every level from middle school to college. He currently is the wide receivers coach at Hope College in Holland, MI. Over his career, he has developed a reputation as a innovator and teacher of the game. He also runs the football blog on his company’s website, Full Throttle Online, to share the best free coaching resources with coaches around the world.