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3rd Down Conversions

The Most Effective, Proven Methods to Convert Your 3rd Downs

By Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs

“Whether you are an offensive or defensive coach, Coach Axman’s [pictured above] 3rd down offense special report is a must read, especially when you consider how important 3rd down offense and defense is.”

- Bobby Hauck, Head Football Coach, UNLV




X&O Labs has just released its latest Special Report, 3rd Down Conversions.

Converting third down is arguably the single most important aspect of offensive football. Without consistent conversions on 3rd down, you will struggle with your red zone offense, your 2-minute offense and all other areas of your offense.

Knowing the importance of “moving the chains” to the overall success of an offense – and winning games – our research staff set out to discover the most efficient and effective means of converting 3rd down.  Throughout our entire search, we kept coming back to one source.

And that source was Steve Axman.

Coach Axman has an impressive coaching bio.  He served as Offensive Coordinator at some of the top schools in the country.  As OC, he developed Troy Aikman at UCLA and Marques Tuiasosopo at Washington.  He is also a best-selling author of many football coaching books.

But these notable accomplishments are not what drew us to Coach Axman.

No.  It was something completely different.

Throughout his decades of coordinating offenses in the Pac-1O, ACC and Big-10, Coach Axman had quietly developed a simple format for increasing 3rd down conversions – and it works with any offense.

So, we reached out to Coach Axman and asked him to share with our readers his format for converting 3rd down. We’re very excited that Coach Axman accepted our invitation.  And we think you’ll be equally excited when you read his Special Report, 3rd Down Conversions.

This is no small Special Report either.  It’s broken down into 6 reports totaling 8,418 words; 30 videos featuring game film from Coach Axman’s personal video library; and 22 diagrams.

Let’s look closer at what you’ll find in the Special Report, 3rd Down Conversions:

Report #1: Developing a Play-Call Attack

This report may be the most important report in this entire Special Report because it shows you how to build your foundation for converting 3rddowns.  In other words, it tells you how to identify your baseline of data for what you’re already doing and how to use that information to develop you new play-call attack.

  • Step-by-step instructions on how to develop your own mini-3rd Down Game Plans
  • The correct way to breakdown your 3rd down game film
  • Developing 3rd Down Play Call Menus for 3rd and short; 3rd and medium; and, 3rd and long situations.
  • Coach Axman also gives you a sample Play Call Menu for 3rd and Medium (so you know exactly how to set up your menus)

Makes You Think:

“Coach Axman’s special report on 3rd down conversions makes you think about X’s and O’s from a different perspective.  He helps you understand what must be done to successfully convert your critical 3rd down offensive situations.”

Steve Kragthorpe, Quarterback Coach, LSU


Report #2: 3rd and Short

Third and Short (1 to 2 yards) is, without a doubt, crunch time. Coaches talk all the time about the goals of getting to a 3rd and manageable down and distance situation. Having to get a yard or two to convert to a new set of downs is, certainly, a manageable 3rd down situation. Yet, 3rdand Short can often seem to be about as tough as it gets in an offense’s efforts to succeed and move the chains. And in this report, you’ll see exactly how to use your very best base run and pass concepts to increase your conversions in short yardage situations.

  • The exact way to divide your practice time to maximize short yardage gains
  • One scheme you must consider for 3rd and short. Why some coaches don’t use it is beyond us.
  • Effective ways to create space by isolating specific defenders
  • QB run and pass spring out actions – including rules
  • 10 videos featuring game film examples of what Coach Axman presented – you’ll first read about it, see the concept diagramed – then you’ll see the game film showing you how it should look in game situations

“We’re enjoying what you’ve [X&O Labs] been doing for the coaching community. Keep up the good work.”
Dirk Koetter, Offensive Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons

Report #3: 3rd and Medium

The goal for 1st and 2nd down “on par” offense is to get your offense into a manageable 3rd down distance situation.  Third and short (1 to 2 yards) is certainly a manageable situation. However, it can be an extremely tough down and distance situation to succeed in converting. Even though 3rd and Medium (3 to 6 yards) necessitates deeper yardage needs than 3rd and short distance situations, it allows the offense its best opportunity to use its base offense in its efforts to convert this vital, down and distance situation with both its run and pass games. In this report, Coach Axman will show you how to use your offense’s base offensive attack to increase your 3rdand medium conversion efforts.

  • How to find true balance in 3rd and medium distances with running and passing the ball
  • Preparing for pressure – Coach Axman shows you one “change up” you can use to stop blitzing defenses
  • Details on man blocking schemes; the quick game; play-action; timing patterns; and screen game
  • 10 videos featuring Coach Axman’s game film.  First you’ll read about it, then you’ll see the play diagram, and then you’ll watch it on game film.

Report #4: 3rd and Medium to Long

The third and medium play call is usually a difficult one.  It is not as advantageous as a third and short mentioned previously, yet it is not completely desperation mode, either.  There are several variables that you need to address – all of which Coach Axman covers in this in-depth report.  Plus, you’ll see the most effective and efficient ways of getting the ball to your playmaker in space.

  • Coach Axman gives you the exact guidelines he uses for selecting plays
  • How to design your plays to go to the right, left, field or boundary side
  • Field Position – no, not that field position.  You must know how to manage your east-to-west field position (hash marks)
  • Details on snap counts; QB draws; slant routes; inside receiver’s option routes; and, zone and man beaters.
  • 5 Videos: You’ll first read about the concepts; then you’ll see the play diagrams; and then you’ll watch the game film and see exactly how the concept should be ran in game situations

It Tells You:

“This special report tells you how to manage and game plan one of the most critical game situations in all of football.”

Dave Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator, Colorado State University


Report #5: 3rd and Long

This report is the most thought provoking in this entire special report.  In this report, Coach Axman covers all the strategies of 3rdand long situations including runs, passes and, why you may not even try to convert in long distance situations (and what you should really be doing instead).

  • Separating your 3rd and long play menu
  • Understanding risk/reward for down field throws – how not to take chances
  • Details on max protections; deep routes; stick routes; and trick plays.
  • 5 Videos: You’ll first read about the concept; then you’ll see the diagrams; and then you’ll watch the video of that concept in game situations

Report #6: Practice Planning 3rd Down

If you believe that 3rd down offense is one of the most critical game situations your offense will face during the course of a game, then your offense must be fully made to understand the importance of this thinking. The thinking strongly goes along with the belief that you get what you emphasize.  And there is only one place that you can put emphasis on converting 3rddowns – and that is during practice.

  • The exact day you should practice your 3rd down conversions
  • What you should do during walk-through periods
  • How to get as many reps in for both your 1st and 2nd teams
  • Details on using down and distance markers in practice; coaching emphasis; how to focus on 3rd down conversions all week; and much more!

So, I want to take this time to invite you to get instant access to this entire special report because its full of all the information, drills and strategies you need to significantly improve your 3rd down conversions

Get Instant Access to 3rd Down Conversions Special Report!

We’ve released the entire 3rd Down Conversions special report on our exclusive membership website – Insiders. You can join the Insiders right now and get instant access to this study. And when you join today, in addition to the 3rd Down Conversions special report, you’ll also get instant access to these other great features only available in the Insiders:

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