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How to Call Plays as an Offensive Coordinator

By Sean McCormick

Calling plays as an offensive coordinator requires the ability to best utilize player talent levels within the team's offensive scheme. Devising plays that give your players a distinct advantage over their defensive counterparts is important to offensive success, as is your ability to develop a consistent rhythmic flow of play calling during a game.

The Play Call Sheet

You have developed a detailed game plan to beat your opponent. This has been condensed onto the play sheet and separated into specific segments, allowing you to quickly review and choose the next play. These segments consist of the offensive formations, the plays from those formations, the game situations best fitting those plays and any gadget plays you intend to use. Scripting the first 15 plays on your sheet, to be called in order, will provide a fast start for your offense.

Setting Up Plays

Use your first offensive series to get a sense of defensive reactions to certain plays. Assign your staff to make notes of those reactions. Later in the game, you will exploit those defensive tendencies by running a different play from the same formation. When you notice the defense adjusting again, go back to the original play to cause more confusion. With the defense on its heels, it is a perfect time to call your favorite gadget play.

Looking for Mismatches

Look for any advantages created by player matchups. During the game you may notice your wide receiver is much taller than the defender covering him, or there may be an injury to a defensive player that results in a less talented player taking the field. Look for signs of fatigue on the defense. Are the linemen bending over and breathing harder after plays? If so, put your offense in "hurry up" mode to further weaken the defense. Always be on the lookout for an offensive advantage.

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Halftime Adjustments

You will meet with the other offensive coaches to discuss any changes to be made to the original game plan. You will mark off the plays that did not work well, review statistics of plays that were successful, and discuss what your opponent may do to stop those plays. You will decide if any player substitutions should be made due to poor performance. Once the coaching staff has agreed to the second half adjustments, you will inform your players of these changes.

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