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Founder and Owner of the Flexbone Association. Since 2007 we have provided the tools necessary for teams to succeed running the Flexbone Association System. Over the last ten years over 200 teams have been instructed by the Flexbone Association. I've consulted with teams and or run camps everywhere from Belfair, WA to Key West, FL. The Flexbone Association strives daily to help coaches succeed with this time tested offense, I have been a football coach for 16 seasons, currently at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, GA I played at St. Mary's Springs High School in Fond du Lac, WI under legendary head coach Bob Hyland. I've been fortunate to be part of five state championship teams (1997,1998,2002,2011,2012). In 2011-2012 St. Mary's Springs led the state of Wisconsin in scoring and set consecutive school records for points scored, Psalm 27

Why You Must Commit to the Flexbone Offense Part Four – It Focuses and Simplifies Practice


In an ongoing series of articles, I will cover the poigniant reasons that coaches should adpat the Flexbone Offense through the assistance of the Flexbone Association either through the Flexbone Association Academy and/or a Flexbone Association Football Camp. Here is just a smattering of testimonials I have left over after losing much of the website content last year. The first part of this series discussed why the Flexbone Offense is system based, why that system should appeal to you and what the benefits of running the system are. The second ncf_ap_kniumatalolo1_400part of this series discussed how the Flexbone Offense neutralizes your opponents defensive line, and how that in turn helps your offensive line significantly. The third part of this series discussed at length how the Flexbone Offense is personnel flexible, and why you don’t need highly specialized personnel to run the offensive effectively.  

The fourth part of this series will cover practice scenarios that coaches encounter throughout the season. I constantly get calls from coaches coast to coast who say, “We are playing a 5-3, 3-3, 4-4, or Bear Front this week, what works against that front?” What do you do if your next opponent aligns in  4-4 front on film against the three teams they’ve played before you; now on the first series of the game they play you in a 3-3? Are your scrambling, trying to come up with something that will work?

If you continually try to practice against only the specific front you think you will see on Friday, you are setting your team up for failure. The only small caveat to this point is if your opponent already played a Flexbone team earlier in the season. In that case you have to examine the success of their scheme against that team. If your opponent won handily, they may play the same scheme again. If they got beat decidedly, you are likely to see a different defense altogether. Most of you are not likely in that situation however.

Here is advice directly from Coach Paul Johnson:

When running your team sessions in practice, Run triple option against the following front groups:

1. Seven Man Fronts

2. Double Eagle Fronts

3. Eight Man Fronts

You better prepare for the conceivable fronts you will see throughout the season each week. Depending on the level of competition you face, you may see multiple fronts in the course of a game. If the level of your competition is not very good, chances are if you see multiple navyfilekennyfronts, they are just grasping at straws trying to come up with something to stop you. if you play a quality opponent, they may have spend considerable time preparing for your offense. These teams may conceivably be able to line up and compete with you out of multiple fronts. We convince our players that if the defense has to use a multitude of offensive fronts to try to stop us; we already have the advantage. There is no way to adequately practice against this offense in one week’s time utilizing more than one defense. If you lose to a team who does this it’s likely due to the talent differential simply being that great, or a lack of execution or ball security on your part.

As an example in the last four weeks we played a team that alternated between a 5-3 and 6-1, a team that alternated between a 3-4 and a 5-2, a team that switched play to play from a 3-3 to a 4-4 to a 3-3 with two safeties (boundary side an overhang at safety level), and a team that based out of a 3-4 defense but had no rhyme or reason to how they would line up. If we would have focused on one defense during each week our team would have been woefully unprepared to face our upcoming opponent. 

Your goal at practice is to prepare your team to execute at a high level against any defensive front you face. The only conceivable way to do so is for your offense to have a firm understanding of the blocking rules. If you’ve prepared your team properly, this will cut down the amount of time you need to spend on the field going over the rules with your team; especially the linemen. If your linemen have a firm understanding of their rules, your offense has a chance at success. You cannot grab bag from week to week. As many fine option coaches Ken Niumatalolohave reiterated over the years. “You cannot date the Flexbone Offense, you have to marry it.” This is not a scheme that you can run part of the time. It has to be an all the time thing. if you make it a part time thing, your offense will struggle, assignments will be missed, opportunities and games will be lost.

How can you simplify and focus practice? The first thing you should do is run what is called “bullets”. This will give your top two offensive units multiple reps in a short period of time against whatever front you would like to see. Script your team sessions to emphasize what you will see for the week, but prepare for the other front groups as well. You never know when a team will unleash a “defense” of the week against you. Be vigilant in running your base plays (Triple Option, Midlline, Rocket Toss, Counter Option, Play Action Pass) against each front every single week in practice. If you practice in this manner your players will gain confidence with each scheme, against different looks. They will gain a comfort level with their rules, which will lead to increased performance on Friday nights, specifically if the defense is changing their alignments frequently.

There are specific drills that should be run each week with each position group; and in mixed group settings. By executing these drills each week, your players will perform the adequate number of repetitions to achieve mastery of their assignment and technique. I will not list every drill in sequence here, but know that these drills will be shared at length and in detail with the Flexbone Association Academy clients this spring.

If you practice consistently with the considerations listed above you won’t put yourself in  situation where you are trying to practice against a “new look” on every Monday. This offense is difficult to prepare for. Teams that are on Navy or Georgia Tech’s schedule often start their preparation over the summer to stop this offense. Don’t put the ball back in the defense’s court by not preparing against each front group every week. There is no other way for your opponent to close the preparation gap unless you’ve inadequately prepared before game week. 

At practice today, we asked ourselves, “is there any conceivable alignment the defense could realistically line up in that we haven’t prepared for? The answer is an emphatic NO. If your offense can say that they are fully prepared to play against any conceivable alignment, your team is ready for optimal performance. Your role as a coach has been fulfilled. There is nothing more your team can ask from you. Are you fully prepared?

Ken Niumatalolo Photo: AP Photo/Rob Carr

Ken Niumatalolo Photo: Doug Kapustin/THE WASHINGTON POST

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Playing Against the Flexbone Triple Option Is No Fun | Flexbone Association - December 9, 2014

    […] Part Four – It Focuses and Simplifies Practice […]

  2. Flexbone Association December Mailbag | Flexbone Association - February 4, 2014

    […] is an article I wrote previously about practice, and another about game planning. We also make sure we run the 3 on 3 […]

  3. Why You Must Commit to the Flexbone Offense Part Five – It Makes Game Planning/Film Study Easier | Flexbone Association - November 13, 2013

    […] and why you don’t need highly specialized personnel to run the offensive effectively.  The fourth part of this series covered practice scenarios you will face during the season, and how the […]

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