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Sprinting the Ball TO THE PERIMETER!

THE COON RAPIDS "Sprint Phase" is neither a play nor a series, but an innovative concept that can be adapted to any running play or play-action pass simply and effectively.

It hits very quickly and, thanks to the quarterback's pre-snap reads, outnumbers the defense at the point of attack.

The Sprint aspect is designed to get the ball to the perimeter as fast as possible. There are a lot of ways to do this -- toss sweep, bubble screen, stop/hitch route, etc. We believe we can do it faster.

By the time our motion man (Sprinter) gets to the perimeter, we expect him to be running at top speed. If he can do a 4.8 40, that's what he should be running from the time he touches the ball until he reaches his landmark.

That kind of speed should nullify the interior of the defense and their pursuit -- make them non-existent! We never want a down lineman or a linebacker to make a tackle during the Sprint Phase.

Let us say the ball is on the left hash, as shown in Diag. 1. We will place a cone on the right sideline six yards down from the line of scrimmage. This becomes the Sprinter's landmark. He must get to that cone (with the ball) as fast as possible.

The Sprint Phase can be added to virtually any running series such as the belly, counter, and ISO. It will add a whole new dimension to even the most basic running plays.

Timing is critical. The QB and Sprinter have to work on their exchanges. The QB puts the Sprinter in motion toward the ball, and the Sprinter must achieve top speed by the time he reaches the near tackle. The ball must be snapped at that exact moment.

The QB steps at six o'clock, opens toward the Sprinter, and hands off the ball while the Sprinter is going at top speed.

The Sprinter never decelerates during the exchange. The mesh point is a full yard behind the QB. The Sprinter then takes a slightly arched path to avoid being tripped up by a lunging defensive lineman, especially a box/rush end, on the way to his six-yard landmark.

In practice, we have the Sprinter dash at his landmark, go through it, and then head up the sideline. What he does, in essence, is run full speed at the snap while the defense is standing still. Basically, it is a foot race, with our man getting a running start. (Get the ball and run fast.)

The Sprint action can get our ballcarrier to the perimeter quicker and easier than the toss sweep, bubble screen, or the stop/hitch route.

The toss sweep or snap-out usually involves pulling linemen. This has to delay the running back because he has to read blocks on the LOS.

The bubble screen is quick, but the QB first has to throw the ball and the receiver has to run laterally, catch the ball, and finally, accelerate to top speed.

The hitch is even slower because the QB has to take a drop and the receiver has to run a route, then catch the ball and generate speed.

The Sprint Phase is the quickest way to get the ball through the six-yard landmark. Our running back simply has to run full tilt at a specific landmark without having to read blocks on the LOS.

A lot of teams run this kind of series and call it a wide receiver sweep, jet sweep, or an end-around. We ignore these terms because in order to run a sweep or end-around you have to either pull linemen or read blocks and (as we have said) reading blocks delays speed. We simply tell our sprinter to run through his landmark as fast as he can.

There is a stalk block on the perimeter, but we do not tell our "Sprinter" to read it, only to adjust his path to the inside if the first path to his landmark is occupied by a blocker.

Notice: We do pull linemen and require the reading of blocks, but just for the running back, not for the Sprinter. This is the core reason why the Sprint Phase is unique. We are actually running two plays at once -- the called play and the Sprint Phase.

It is up to the QB to best distribute the ball based on his pre-snap read. If the Sprinter has a 1:1 blocking ratio at his landmark (Diag. 1), the QB will give the Sprinter the ball and then fake to the running back on the called run play.

If an extra defender is at the landmark (this usually indicates a numbers advantage in the box), the QB will fake the sprint and execute the called running play (Diag. 2).

Only the QB knows who is going to get the ball! And if the other 10 players on offense do not know where the ball is going, neither can the defense.

Defensive Adjustments

Obviously, defenses are going to try to run their safeties in the alley, dart corners, widen linebackers or defensive ends, or roll coverage based on the side from which the motion is coming.

From an offensive standpoint, we hope the defense adjusts in these ways, or any other way for that matter. We want defenses to guess rather than dictate.

If you can get the defense to be more concerned with motion and backfield action, your aggressiveness will make you more successful. That is why we run two plays at the same time.

The QB has a pre-snap read and he will rarely err. The ball can go to different players, depending on defensive alignments, and the backfield action can attack three areas at the same time (with the Sprinter, the called running play, and the QB play action).

Philosophically, the Sprint Phase is similar to the triple option in decision-making and to the Wing T in deception, but it hits a whole lot faster than either.


The tags in the Sprint Phase are Xavier, Zip, and Jet. The X designates the split end, the Z designates the Flanker, and the J designates the J back (fullback).

Just as a reminder, the Sprinter has to be off the LOS since he will be going in motion.

For an example of a play call, check Diag. 1. (Right Hog 33 Xavier):

Right Hog is the formation.

33 is the called play to be run. The 30s are our belly series and 3 is the hole we are attacking. (We number holes 1-9 from right to left.)

Xavier designates the Sprinter (man in motion).

We run the 33 (a belly play) and Xavier at the same time. The ball will go to the split end or running back, depending on secondary coverage at the Sprinter's landmark.

Note: The word "sprint" is not in the play call. Our players know we are running the phase based on the tags being used. This eliminates the need to use an extra word in the huddle or an extra hand signal to send in the play. It also makes our no-huddlle and audible package more difficult to decipher.

How It Works

Returning to the Right Hog 33 Xavier (Diag. 1): The QB reads the secondary at the Sprinter's landmark. In this scenario, as you can see, a 1:1 blocking ratio is present at this landmark. So the QB hands off to X, executes a fake to the running back, then executes play action.

Diag. 2 is the same play, but with an extra defender present (OLB) at the landmark. Since a 1:1 blocking ratio is not available, the QB fakes to the X, hands off to the running back, then executes the play action.

An important aspect of all plays in the Sprint Phase is to have the tackle and tight end (if there is one) away from the call reach-block. This is in case our landmark is away from the call.

The tackle and tight end reach-block to make sure the Sprinter gets to the edge. Reach-blocking occurs only on plays with the Xavier, Zip, or Jet tags. If no tag is called (Right Hog 33), the backside tackle and the tight end will block normally because there will be no Sprinter.

Diag. 3 illustrates the same formation and play, but the Sprinter has changed from the X to the Z. The QB reads two blockers and two defenders (1:1 ratio) at the Sprinter's landmark and so he gives to the Z, fakes to the running back, then executes play action. This is a good example of why the tackle and tight end (if there is one) away from the call reach-block. They now ensure the Sprinter of getting to the perimeter.

If defenses start to slide linebackers or angle linemen off our motion, we will run our guard counter series.

As shown in Diag. 4, we are running our counter play with a Xavier tag. The tackle and tight end away from the call reach-block. Since the QB reads an extra defender (FS) at the Sprinter's landmark, the QB hands off to the running back.

The QB is never wrong in his landmark reads. If he feels that the Sprinter can outrun the extra defender, he can give him the ball.

Diag. 5 shows a Cover 2 shell in the secondary but the FS's alignment makes it difficult to get to the landmark. In this scenario, the QB can give to the J or to the running back. The QB has the best view of the field and we go with what he reads.

ISO, our base running play, is our favorite series to go along with the Sprint Phase (Diag. 6). The ISO play hits quicker than the belly or counter plays, and we now have a lead back.

Whenever the lead back is aligned as a wing or slot, he will expedite the QB and Sprinter meshes. The lead back accounts for the playside "wham" block.

Our fullbacks (J) love this play, especially if the LB blitzes. The LB will rarely see the fullback coming and can be defeated by the block.

Diag. 7 shows the same ISO play, but with a different formation and Sprinter. (The QB's read always remains the same.)

The Sprinter Phase can be just as potent in your passing game. Diag. 8 shows our favorite pass play (a curl) off our 33 Xavier action. The linemen slide-protect away from the call, with the running back filling strong side after faking.

The QB fakes to the Sprinter and running back, then executes his play action and sets up seven yards behind the landmark side tackle. He peeks at J for a home run over the safety, then comes down to curl/wheel combination with the Z and X.

If the secondary rotates on motion, we emphasize looking for the home run. If no rotation occurs, we go right to the curl/wheel combination.

Whenever the defense bumps or slides its LBs with our motion, we will go to our Quick Smash route (Diag. 9), which is a hitch/corner combination. This is our three-step play action with slide protection.

The X goes in motion to near tackle, as in the Sprint Phase, but breaks down on the snap, reverses direction, and attempts to outrun the flat defender on an arrow route. The QB fakes to the running back and peeks at J for a home run or corner route.

If J is covered, the QB will come down to the double-flat combination between X on his arrow route and Z on his drag route. The QB looks outside first to see if X has beaten the flat defender. If the defender has taken the arrow away, Z will be open.


1. Looks complex, but is incredibly easy to learn, install, and execute.

2. Is extremely flexible and adaptable. It can be added to almost any running or passing play.

3. QB can always get the ball to the player who has a numbers advantage.

4. Defensive linemen and LBs are rendered virtually nil.

5. Pursuit will not stop the Sprinter when he gets the ball.

6. Offers the fastest way to get the ball to the perimeter.

7. The ball is snapped before the Sprinter crosses it, making it difficult for the defense to rotate coverage or flip a LB, as we have not changed our strength before the snap.

8. It is extremely difficult to defense every aspect of the Phase.


1. Needs a player(s) with speed.

2. QB must be able to distribute the ball correctly.

3. Needs good eyes in the press box to notice how defense are reacting and how to adjust.

4. Must have the practice time to work on meshes and recognize defensive adjustments.
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Title Annotation:football coahing techniques
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Previous Article:For the Love of the Game.
Next Article:Giving your Age-Group Swimmer a STROKE, PART 2.

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