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Forming Families For Football

When I went to naming concepts, I tried to picture myself as a high school kid trying to learn a new way of doing something. Often times, we lean heavily on previous learning, and are reluctant to try something new. We don’t want to move out of our “comfort zone”. If we don’t have to, we won’t. However, to do something that we’ve never done before, we have to be willing to change. With that in mind, I tried to tie “previous learning with a new way of communication”. Simply put, word association!


Whatever the play is called (inside zone, outside zone, counter, trap, etc.),  the word that we use has to start with that same letter. The reason is: kids can relate to that one letter.

The calls have to fit into what I call “families”. A family can be (cars, foods, cities, football teams, basketball teams, baseball teams, whatever works for your kids).

All plays are taught going to the right (reason being, most kids and coaches are right handed). When we wanted a play to be run to the left, we added an “indicator.”

Our first year doing this, our indicator was a number. We didn’t care what the number was (it could be any number from 1 to 1000; if our kids heard a number, the play was being run to the left).

We had to be able to have both a word and a signal for each play (sometimes you slip back into the mode of doing it the “old” way when the ball is on the hash to your sideline), and we thought about it long and hard.

For our first indicator, our signal was “flicking water off of our hands” (like when you go to dry your hands, and there is no paper towels available). It was easy to remember, and it made sense to our kids.

Our first “family” came from our kids at Lower Richland (the school that I was the head coach at).

We put up a list of our run plays, and asked the kids to give them a name, and a signal for each one.


If we want the QB to be the ball carrier, we would just put both palms on our head (our indicator to the QB and the rest of the skill position players)

You can make your family anything you want to (Power can be Pittsburgh; with Power Left can be Steelers; Cincinnati can be counter right, and Bengals can be counter left; etc)

Make NBA teams your pass concepts: ex- San Antonio can be snag right; and Spurs can be snag left

Hope it helps. Don’t use it if you can’t signal it!

This article was written by Darryl Page. Check out his CoachTube page here.