Installing a No Huddle Offense

This Post is in response to my viewers choice post.  I will probably pick another topic to write on from the comments as well but I know a decent amount about No Huddle so I decided (since I have some down time ) to do a write about on some things to consider for coaches who want to apply no huddle to their offensive attacks.

No Huddle is basically broken down to the following

  • Wristbands
  • Hand/Body Signals
  • Verbal

We use wristbands at my current school.  I like it because the players have to remember almost nothing.  It tells them exactly what to do. This method isn’t as fast paced, but it is a very effective way of relaying the play into the entire team (all 11 players wear wristbands).  One down side of this is you got what you got, there is no adding a wrinkle, or changing something on a play mid game, whatever you have on the wristband is what you have, so as a coach you have to be very solid in your preparation when you are creating your wristbands.

Hand/body/verbal signals I will talk about together because they are essentially the same thing, a physical way of displaying all relevant play information to all players on the offense.

Every snap you need to be able to relay:

  • Formation
  • Any Motions
  • Play name
  • Play Direction (if it’s a run)

I think that when using a No Huddle Offense (with signals) simplicity is key.  The more things you want to try to run the more the kids have to remember, therefore don’t expect your kids to line up and run plays as fast as Oregon if you give them 100,000 things they need to remember.  There is an inverse relationship between how quickly one can make decisions ( choose what they have to do on a play) and the number of possible choices they have to choose from… i.e. The more more you put on their plate the longer it will take them to react to the signal and understand their responsibility on the given play.
That being said I think you can definitely get your Base offense installed with no huddle signals without a problem.

Let us consider formations.  You must either stay in the same formation every time so the players can get reset right away, or when you call/signal in a new formation you begin doing it as soon as the previous play whistle blows.

If you want to align in Trips Left, you better be screaming, or signaling it right away as soon as the previous play is blown dead, that way the kids will pop up and can immediately get set in the new formation for the next down.

In terms of the actual motion and play calls I have 2 things that I firmly believe in

  • Let the kids come up with their own words/signals
  • Use a multi coach system to communicate directly with the position for hand signals

This first point is fairly simple, and I used it with my players this year.  If they are the ones who make up the names/signals they have more of a sense of ownership and I feel they will be more likely to remember the names/signals.  It is OK to give them some constraints, and try to group your plays together.
i.e. All runs are Cars, All quick game is Cities, all 5 step pass game are states, all screens are colleges…
It honestly doesn’t matter what system you use, just pick something for each so the kids can associate it with the type of play, this will aid them in being able  to recall what it means.

Now the second point, I feel is very important, for the Offensive Line.
As an OL coach I do not want my guys ever having to think of formations, motions, what routes any WRs are running.  They know blocking schemes, and protections that is it.  That is all I want them to have to remember.
Similarly the WRs do not care what my Ol is doing they want to know what route concept they have.

With all verbal calls you really do not need a multi coach system, because the words can tell multiple groups what they need to know.  If you use the same protection on all cities, and you are yelling out Cincy Cincy, then it is relaying the route concept to your skills, and the protection to your OL.

However if you want to hand signal plays in, it is best to do so in a multi coach system.
Your OL stares at the OL – getting a hand signal for protection, or run blocking scheme and direction
You signal into QB entire play because he needs to know it all.
RB coach signals to RB(s) what they are doing
WR coach signals to them what concept they have or if it is a run

You can have some dummy coaches on the sideline to throw opponents off.

You as the OC are the orchestrator, you have to get the play call and relay it to your assistants so that they can relate the important info to their individual position.  I like this because the players need only look to their position coach and they get their job on the next snap.  The players spend the most time with their position coach so they have a lot of time to be together and come up with signals/calls that they can all remember.

Another key to running No huddle, is as the OC you have to always have the next play ready.  If you are standing there mid game, with no idea what you want to do, then all 11 of your kids, and your assistants if they are signaling, are standing around too, doing nothing.
If speed isn’t important for you then this isn’t bad, but if your goal is to go HYPER DRIVE then you have to always be 1 play ahead.

Benefits of No Huddle
Everyone talks about wearing out the Defense, and limiting substitutions when using No Huddle, but I think the best benefit is not what it does for you in games, it is what it does for you at practice.  Not huddling up between plays at practice allows us to get at the VERY LEAST twice as many plays when we go team as we would be able to do if we huddled up.  Therefore you are getting that many more reps every single practice.  Imagine doubling or even tripling your reps per day, from spring ball in May, all through the Summer, and through the season.

Final Thought

No huddle really comes down to creating another language… A Language used to describe necessary info to your kids.  It is just a matter of coming up what you and your kids can remember.


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