How Offensive Coaches Win with Pre-Snap Movements


Using motion and shifts can be an effective tool for offensive coordinators to

confuse opposing defenses. Motion and shifts on offense can be simple and easy to

implement. The types of motions and shifts an offense utilizes will be greatly affected by

their tempo and offensive style but almost every offensive scheme can utilize motion

and shifts in one way or another. Many defensive coaches despise playing against

offenses that motion and shift every play or very often. Here are the Top Four reasons

why offensive coordinators should implement pre-snap movement into their gameplans.

Motion and Shifts Can Provide Number Advantages

No matter the level of football, motion and shifts will be used from pee-wee all the

way up to the pros in the NFL. There is a reason that this is consistently used, because

it helps offenses gain an advantage by confusing opposing defenses. A motion and/or

shift can change the strength of the offensive’s formation and in many ways can change

how a defense will need to align. Defenses can react a few different ways to these pre-

snap movements and offensive coaches have to be locked into how defenses are

adjusting and take advantage of any opportunities that may be presented by confused

defensive players. If a defensive player is supposed to adjust to a strength change and

they fail to do so, the offense automatically creates an advantage for themselves out of

a sheer number standpoint.

Motion and Shifts Provide Better Blocking and Route Angles

Another advantage of using motion and shifts in an offense is the ability to give

your players a better angle on blocks. A lot of offensives today utilize either an H-Back

or J-Back that motions and shifts very regularly. This player generally is a flexible player

that can play a multitude of different positions with different responsibilities. When an H-

Back motions or shifts, the offensive play-caller is generally using this to try and give

their player an advantage through an angle whether for a block or to leak out on a pass.

Motion and shifts provide a great tool for offensive coaches to put their players in an

advantageous position to block their assignment or create an easier route on a play-

action or pass play.

Motion and Shifts Encourage Defensive Players to Have “Bad Eyes”

Defensive coaches are always telling their players to have “good eyes” whether it

be on their man or a high-safety reading a quarterback’s throwing direction. There are

many aspects of a football game where trained eyes are essential. Motion and shifts

from an opposing offense can confuse defensive players by creating pre-snap action

that calls for attention from the defenders. Many times a motion and/or shift is really just

a decoy to trick defenders into thinking the action is important to their own individual

assignment. If offensive coaches can “trick” defenders into overcompensating for a

motion or shift, they can gain an advantage and potentially take advantage of a big play

opportunity. This is especially relevant in the secondary as defensive back’s that have

bad eyes generally will give up big plays.

Motion and Shifts Can “Slow Down” A Defense

Lastly, one huge advantage that offensives can gain by utilizing motion and shifts

is the idea of slowing down opposing defenses. Offenses that utilize motion and shifts

consistently can provide a headache for opposing defensive coaches by causing them

to be less aggressive with play calls and more focused on simply getting lined up

correctly. When defensive coaches have to worry about just simply getting their

defenses lined up it can slow down a game plan and ultimately cause defenses to

remain stale. When offensive coaches play against an aggressive defense, it can be

advantageous to implement motion and shifts in order to slow them down. Not only will

this potentially slow down coaches but motion and shifts can cause players to second-

guess things and ultimately slow down their pursuit and play because of over-thinking.

Motion and shifts can provide many advantages for offensive coaches. No matter

what type of offense a team is running, they can implement motion and shifts to help

give them an advantage that might not otherwise be there for them. If you want to learn

more about using motion and shifts, check out Mike Rowe’s Using Motion and Shifts.