Find Your Tempo

By Matt Drinkall | Posted 7/26/2019


Tempo doesn’t always mean “go fast.” Tempo means finding your rhythm. Finding and changing rhythms in a series is an important aspect of offensive football in today’s game. Today, tempos are utilized as a resource the same way as personnel and formations. 

Why Changing Tempos is Important

Tempo needs to fit your system as holistically as possible. Your tempo package should fit personnel, formations and plays. When coordinating your offense, you need to make sure that each of those can be applied to all game situations and field zones. Changing tempo is an amazing resource for offenses right now. 


Changing the Beat

Selecting the tempos to carry within the offense has a great deal of flexibility to it. On top of that, there isn’t a single formula or analytic that can be applied to everyone. Each staff and set of players is unique. Finding the tempos that fit your staff and players and affect your opponent are the tempos you want to focus on. 

I believe the best pitchers in the MLB possess the best tempos. The best pitchers have a few pitches they can easily change between and are all equally effective. They are simply applied to the batter and the situation. Coaches that best utilize tempo follow this same train of thought. A pitcher with a single pitch will eventually get figured out. Same thing with tempo. Doing one thing all the time makes you much easier to defend. Varying tempo is extremely difficult to prepare for defensively. 

Types of Tempo

Every style of offense can incorporate tempo change. Listed below are several different types of tempo or rhythms that can be incorporated into any and every offense:
∙ Huddle – Standard
∙ Huddle – Sugar
∙ Huddle – Quick
∙ No Huddle – Signal
∙ No Huddle – Wristband
∙ No Huddle – Verbal Communication
∙ Look/Glance
∙ Motion + Look/Glance
∙ One-Word Calls

When to Change Tempo

There are multiple factors that are key triggers to change tempo. A system where you can organically go back and forth between tempos is the best practice. This allows you to apply these tempos at any time, in any situation, to any play series. Listed below are some game situations where a change in tempo could be beneficial:

∙ Specific variables determine when to use tempo
∙ Complex defenses
∙ Pressure packages
∙ Best player(s) are out of the game
∙ After big plays
∙ Sudden change
∙ No adjustment to numeric unbalanced or tackle-over unbalanced

RELATED CONTENT: The Spacing Pass Concept


The rules in today’s game and the evolution of offenses have made using and changing tempo an outstanding resource for offenses. The access to information, video and digital learning tools has led to better coaching in the profession. Additionally, the players are much smarter and comfortable with the game than ever before. It is a simple process to acclimate your offense, or major pieces of it, to different tempos. Additionally, it is a great resource to manipulate defenses and force their hand in several areas, whether that be personnel they have in the game, play calls they want to send in or skewing their game planning tendency. Tempo is another great way for an offense to broaden the way they attack defenses. 


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