How Many Plays In Your Offensive Playbook? | FBCP S09E15

You don’t want too many plays in your offensive playbook. But you need enough plays to beat the defense. So how many plays do you need to have ready?

How many plays you need in the playbook is the 15th episode in our 20 Questions series for Season 9 of The Football Coaching Podcast. It is one of the 20 most-asked questions I have seen from our podcast listeners and JDFB Coaching Systems clients.

Every offensive playbook is different. And every coach is different. But this episode will give you a solid guide for how many plays to have in your offensive playbook.

Photo by Keith Johnston on Unsplash

Is Your Offensive Playbook Too Big?

  • Start with the beginning. The absolute most important consideration is if your offensive playbook is too big.
  • If your players are confused (after the initial install period) then you have too many plays. There is nothing more dangerous to your offense than having players paralyzed by confusion.
  • Before you worry about anything else, you must strip your playbook down to the bare minimum. This is a good exercise because even if your current athletes grasp everything, you need a plan. Or an offensive playbook for your lower levels.

Do You Have Enough Plays In Your Offensive Playbook?

  • Once you’ve stripped everything down, you might be worried about having enough plays in the playbook. This is a slippery slope so be careful.
  • You want to have as many playcalls available as possible if your players can learn them. That means the better you and your coaching staff do at teaching plays, the better your players will be.
  • It should not be the responsibility of High School or Youth athletes to study the playbook at home. You need to be able to teach your offensive playbook during practice. They have enough to study.
  • You need to have enough play calls to answer the weaknesses in the defense.

How Many Plays Do You Need?

  • To have enough play calls to attack any weakness the defense shows you, you need to know what those weaknesses are. This many not be every weakness, but you’ll have a good start.
  • There are 3 areas to attack with the run. Have play calls for inside runs, off-tackle runs and perimeter runs. You also need tendency breakers so that each run is not predictable (misdirection and counters usually handle this).
  • Be able to attack every coverage. You’ll want more than one play call available for each coverage, but you can use many concepts for multiple coverages.
  • Your offensive playbook should have screens and draws for aggressive pass rush and fast-dropping underneath defenders. You also need Play Action passes for teams that are aggressive trying to stop the run.
  • There are plenty more plays you can consider. But unless they are at the foundation of your offensive playbook (like a Triple Option call), you need to wait until the basics are mastered.

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