7 No-Huddle Do’s and Don’ts
By Sam Nichols
Wide Receivers Coach
Hope College (MI)
Like many things in life, much of what I have learned about the no-huddle I learned from trial and error. But the older I get the more I don’t feel I have the patience or time to deal with failures on my path to success.
This fall thousands of teams across the country will be installing No Huddle concepts as part of their offense, so I thought this would be a perfect time to share what I have learned through years of using and consulting on the no huddle to help you avoid the common mistakes and encourage important concepts.
#1: Don’t Change Just to Change
Too many coaches add or re-tool offenses without understanding why they are doing it. Make sure that you know exactly what you are hoping to get out of the no huddle and be prepared to make sacrifices to reach those goals. Obviously, I believe that it can help your offense, but it will not fix an offense that is poorly run in the first place. If you are to this point and you cannot convincingly explain why and how the no huddle is going to take your offense to the next level, it might not be worth your time!
#2: Do Use a Preset Formation
Another way to take precious seconds off your time between plays is to set a default formation. Even better at the HS level where most of the game is played from the hashes, you can set defaults from the left middle and right to help eliminate the movement between plays. This coming year, will be having our players pre-align in a trips formation to the field when we are on the hash and a 2×2 formation in the middle of the field. The default formation will be determined weakly based on the defense we plan on seeing that week. This eliminates the extra movements and speeds up our rate of play.
#3: Don’t Add No-Huddle to an Already Bloated Playbook
Chapter two discussed how to trim your offense to fit within the Full Throttle system. While most people will take that advice, there are a few people who will insist on keeping every single formation, motion and play into their new system. This may work, but you will likely not get the most out of the system. Remember the K.I.S.S. principle and use this as an opportunity to focus your offense on what you do best. You can always add once the system is up and running.
#4: Do Use Your Personnel Wisely
Here are a few things we know:
- We all know that receivers in a pass centered offense can get tired and not run great routes.
- We also know that defenses usually only scout 1 deep and know little about the subs you bring in.
- We know that DB’s are always told to not let anyone behind them.
So what does this mean in the No Huddle? Well, teams will usually be playing their studs against your studs and they likely will not change when you send in a sub. Therefore, you will have their starting TB, for instance, against your 5th, 6th, or 7th best receiver. No contest right? Wrong. If you shift your mentality from beating that defender to wearing him out, you will make real hay with the 7th receiver of yours. Here is what you do. Tell him to run to the end zone every play. Gas that TB and force them to sub. If they don’t, you just killed their running game in the 4th quarter. If they do then not you put your stud back in and throw right over their backup.
#5: Don’t Get the Cart Ahead of the Horse
It is understandable that coaches want to put their new toy to work as soon as possible, but that rush can also cause coaches to not have the organization 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 preempt 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.
#6: Do Avoid “Drawing Dead”
While speaking to a championship No Huddle coach recently, I got a great tip that dealt with the coaches last second communication with his quarterback.
Once the play is in, many coaches turn their attention to the next play. Not this coach, he positions himself behind the defense (whenever possible) to give the QB last second instructions / audibles. Basically the signals come in to the team like any other team and the approach the LOS. Just before the snap, the QB checks with the OC to make sure that they are not “drawing dead” and running a play that will not work vs. this defensive alignment. He said that he only changes the play 3-4 times a game, which may not seam like much. At the same time, when you think about the fact that you just took 4 plays from no gain or possible losses to potentially positive yardage. This is an opportunity to gain an additional 20-30 yds per game and give your playmakers the best chance to make plays.
#7: Don’t Rush the Installation Process
The first year we installed the no-huddle we waited until the first week of the season to put it in. This put us in a real bind trying to install the offense and the no huddle at the same time. Because of the lack of preparation, we were unable to have it running the way we wanted by game one and we never reached our goals for the season. Remember to start early and break down the install by position groups. They are learning a new language and fluency will take time.
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I’d like to hear some of the Do’s and Don’ts from your no-huddle. Post your Do’s and Don’ts in the comments section below. And if you have any questions, post them as well and I will respond shortly.