Tag Archives: football terminology

Designing your offensive terminology

I’ve encountered four different offenses during my playing and coaching days. I played in the Wing-T, I coached a youth double wing team, I’ve coached a traditional Pro I formation offense at the non-varsity high school levels, and I’ve called a off-set I/singleback offense as a JV Head Coach and helped run it as a varsity assistant.

While this really is not that much experience, I feel it is a lot for someone who is as young a coach as I am. From this limited experience, I can tell you there are definitely organizational practices you can use to BEST teach and design your offense to your athletes. Now there may be quicker ways to do design offensive formation and adjustment terminology, but this system builds on itself and allows you to be as multiple or simple as you like.

When I have the opportunity to design an offense, I will adhere to the following principles.

1) Directional Calls – Determines the tight end, or Y, which sets our strength.
2) Formation Calls – Determines our base set that we are in, and comes before the directional call
3) Adjustment Calls – Determines how we will adjust the base formation call, but comes after the directional call.

For instance, the illustrations below show how our formation adjustments build upon one another.

Directional call – Right

…………………………………
..X……..T..G..C..G..T..Y…………
……………..Q……………..Z…
……………..J…………………
……………..T…………………

Formation Call – King Rt

…………………………………
..X…….T..G..C..G..T..Y………….
…………….Q……………..Z….
………………..J………………
…………….S………………….

Adjustment Call – King Rt Twinz

…………………………………
..X…………T..G..C..G..T..Y……..
…….Z………….Q……………..
…………………….J………….
…………………S……………..

Now, this may be simple, but that’s the point. This system is simple for kids to learn and me to adjust on the fly in the middle of a game. I can be complex for myself, but simple for the kids.

Lets say my “Z” is an incredible athlete who I know the defense has to game plan for. I know that an outside linebacker will have to move almost onto the “Z” to keep the ball out of his hands. At the same time, I want to keep the lowest possible number in the box because I plan on going into the shotgun and reading the backside end on my inside zone play. So I call, Flanker Right Twinz Gun. For almost all my formations, the formation only adjusts the “J” back. The Adjustment call often moves the receivers (X,Z) or the tight end (Y). Flanker tells my J back that I want him to move out past the Z to replace him as the traditional flanker. If I was to call Split Right, he would move past the X on the left side of the formation, to move outside the split end (though the J would remain off the line). This way, I can move my receivers around at ease. For Flanker Right Twinz Gun, I am moving the J to the flanker spot, and with a twinz call, I’m pulling the Z receiver to the slot on the split end’s (X) side. Right gives me the formation strength. This formation is illustrated below.

Flanker Right Twinz Gun
…………………………………..
…X………T..G..C..G..T..Y…………
…….Z……………………….J….
……………S…Q…………………

And for those who are curious, my traditional 2×2 TE slot formation would like this…

Slot Right Gun
…………………………………..
..X………T..G..C..G..T..Y………….
…..J…………………………Z….
…………..S…Q………………….

So, as a coach, I can call the offense to put my players in the best position to be successful and give our offense the best opportunity to move the ball.

But how do you teach a play to a kid when he moves around so much? It obviously takes work. However, I am a big believer in teaching concepts to players.

What do I mean by concepts? Defensive coaches often label receivers to one side as #1, #2, #3, ect… Well, I like this same idea. This involves more mental work with the receivers, but teaching them the concept in this way is a big step forward rather than teaching them by position (X runs a curl, J runs an arrow, ect…). For instance, lets say I’m teaching a smash concept for those two formations above (Flanker Right Twins and Slot Rt). I would teach the pass concept to the relevant players in the following way, #1 runs a stop/hitch at 4 yds, #2 runs a corner at 10-12, and #3, if involved in the routes, runs a seam roue.