When I first became an offensive coordinator I was reluctant to use scripts. I felt like it would lock me into being rigid and inflexible. The head coach I worked for suggested I read Bill Walsh's book, Finding the Winning Edge. The book opened my eyes to the value of preparation and scripting.
When I speak at clinics I get asked about how we script our openers each game. Many coaches already script their openers, but there are a large contingent of coaches who do not. Many of these coaches do a great job. It took me a few years to come around to the value of scripting our opening plays. A few of the reasons were:
1. What do we do if have a run scripted and it's 3rd and 8?
2. What if we get off script?
3. Will the script keep me from making calls based on the flow of the game?
4. Why would I build a script if I am going to be off script before getting through it?
Finally I decided I was going to go all-in on scripting. We decided on a 10 play script. The first play we called was going to be toss sweep from I Right. The 2nd play would be Iso weak in an I Right set. The third play would be play action off our power play, this time in I left. The fourth play would be iso from a 20 personnel look, and the 5th play would be a reverse off toss from I left. We continued our script for 10 plays. We stayed on script and scored 2 touchdowns in the first 6 plays, and our 3rd touchdown on play 10. I was sold. We could use more plays if we wanted as well.
The question is, why did we have success? How did scripting help us?
1. We were thinking clearly on Sunday afternoon when we built our script
It is a lot easier to call plays when your head is clear and you aren't distracted by emotions. By Sunday afternoon we have watched enough of our opponent to have a good idea what we like and don't like. This allows us to build an opening script for the game, as well as develop a call sheet that will help us be more efficient on game day.
2. We were able to have a specific system for setting up plays
We scripted plays that helped to set up explosive opportunities. We might script 3 downhill runs in our first 5 plays, and then on play 6 we would script play action off downhill pass and take a shot downfield. We might run toss sweep a couple of times and then script in a reverse. We were able to set our opponent up for big plays.
3. We made sure we ran a reverse or trick play before our opponent
This is something that is very important. Running your reverse or trick play first doubles your chance that it will be an explosive play. We wanted to make sure we had at least one trick play in our first 12 calls. We also wanted to make sure we actually ran a trick play. How many times have you practiced a trick play and then never ran it in a game? I got tired of having a 5 minute period designed to work our trick plays, only to not run them in the game. Scripting them helped us actually call them during the game.
4. Our kids knew what we were running because we practiced our script each day
We opened our team period running our script on air. This helped our players to know what was coming and in what order. This helped us to play with confidence and develop a rhythm to open the game.
5. We planned what we wanted to see from our opponents
We would script with some variety to see how our opponents would line up to certain formations and personnel groups. This helped us to be more efficient calling plays later in the game. We scripted 3 or 4 different formations in our first 12 plays.
What we found was that the longer we stayed on script, the better we were in the game. The earlier we left the script, the less effective we were. This isn't to say that we wouldn't take advantage of a misalignment or something unexpected from the defense. But the script was well thought out and made sense, giving us a high percentage opportunity to be effective early in the game.
Here are a couple of thoughts on scripting that can help you be more effective:
1. Script inside runs into the boundary and wide runs to the field.
For the most part you know where each play will end. You have an idea what hash you will be on. We wanted to make sure we used the field in the most efficient manner possible. This was a rule of thumb that helped us to be more effective early in the game.
2. Get your playmakers early touches
We scripted our best players go get touches early. We wanted to make sure we got them involved in the first two series. One season we had a great tight end. We made sure we threw at least one ball at him in our first 8 plays.
3. Don't worry if it's 3rd and 2 and you have a pass scripted
Some of our biggest plays came when we threw on run downs and ran on pass downs. It also helps you break tendencies.
4. Script your tempo
This is something we love to do. We will script in a couple of early nascar concepts. We also would script our freeze tempo to get our opponent to jump offsides early in the game. By scripting tempo we were able to use it in advantageous situations.
5. Call the Touchdown Play
If there was a money play, we called it early. If we had a huge matchup advantage somewhere, we exploited it early and often. We built that into our script.
Our script was located at the top of the front of our call sheet. We also had scripts for end of half and end of game situations. We worked these through the week which helped us to be much better prepared on game day.
Our scripts helped us to be more targeted in our practices, and we improved our explosiveness on offense. It was tough to stay on script at times. When things don't go well and you punt twice in your first six plays, it is easy to abandon the plan. We had to remember that sometimes we were not going to have things go our way early. But if you built your script well, you were setting up a big play.
A lot of coaches ask me about my call sheet and how we prepared. We have a very systematic approach that we have developed over a 20 year period. Last summer I made our offensive game planning documents available for coaches to purchase for a nominal fee. The response was outstanding. Coaches from all levels of football in the US and internationally began using this resource. The head coach from one of the top 5A programs in Texas said these documents helped them to be much more prepared.
If you are interested in this resource, click here: Offensive Game and Practice Planning Resource. Every document in this resource is completely editable and customizable to your program. Everything you need is in this resource. You order it today and you will be able to immediately begin downloading the documents and using them to be better prepared. This even includes our 2-sided color calls sheet! It prints on to 11x14 paper. I also include our weekly and daily practice plans, wrist bands, scouting forms, and much, much more! For just a few dollars you will score more points and win more games with this resource! It is on sale right now, so don't delay!
I also have a defensive game and practice planning resource that can be ordered here: Defensive Game and Practice Planning Resource. It has everything you defensive staff would need to dominate!
I also have a special teams resource available here: Special Teams Resource It is awesome because it includes teaching presentations and video for every phase of special teams!
And of course, I have written a couple of books on RPO's and Tempo. The iBooks version of these includes over an hour of video!