Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Five reasons to implement the Air Raid offense

This is the first in a series of posts about the Air Raid offense, made famous at the University of Kentucky and Texas Tech University. If you are not familiar with the Air Raid, you should check out Chris Brown's post on Smart Football to learn more.

Five reasons to implement the Air Raid Offense:

1. Practice smarter

The Air Raid offense isn't just about the X's and O's, it is also about how you practice every day.

It is important to practice the way you play, and the Air Raid has drills built for that purpose. It is a scaffolding approach where one drill builds on the other throughout practice. From the Settle and Noose Drill, Pat & Go, Routes on Air, 7-on-7 and Team period, the drills add complexity as you progress through practice, and they all directly translate to how you will play in a game. I will detail these drills in another post.

2. Game planning made easy

Game planning in the Air Raid is very minimal. The focus is not dissecting game film and worrying about what defenses do or COULD do. Instead, Air Raid teams focus on getting better at what they do every day. Each play has built-in answers for every defense. I have found that defenses like to play a junk "Defense of the Week" against this offense. Good! That means they are having to do something out of their comfort zone, while we keep doing what we do.

3. Simplicity

We are coaching football, not advanced physics. It should not take a rocket scientist to understand the offense.

In the Air Raid, what looks very complex for the defense, is actually very simple for the offense. There are only a few plays and you practice them over and over until you are bored. Then you practice them some more.

You can dress up the plays with motions or by running different formations, but it is very simple for the players.

For example, the rule for our receivers is: It isn't WHERE you are, but WHO you are. We used to have all kinds of rules for the receivers, like: "If you are the #2 receiver in this formation you run a post, but if you are #3 in trips you run a flat." There were no clearly defined rules for the players to memorize. They had to know where they were lined up, if they were on the back side, etc...

In the Air Raid, if you are the Y-receiver, you run the same route no matter what formation you are in. You could line up in any formation and the rule still applies. There are not a ton of "if-then" rules, which cuts down on the learning curve for everyone.

4. Basketball on grass

I don't know about you, but we always have these fantastic basketball players in our school who don't play football. One of the major selling points of this offensive system is to tell them we are just playing basketball on grass.

For example, teach the 6'5 post player that when he is running fades, it is no different than blocking out on rebounds. Coach your Y-Receiver that he is posting up on a linebacker when he runs Y-Stick.

We also talk about zone vs. man coverages and correlate that to basketball. Versus a zone defense, you find the open areas and settle down. Against a man-to-man defense, you keep moving until you are open. There are many other parallels that you can draw, and I have found that basketball terms help explain many of the concepts in terms that the athletes understand.

5. It is fun for the players AND coaches

Think back to when you were a growing up. When you took a football with your friends to the park, what did you do?

Did you run the Nebraska option until dark? Uh, no.

Did you get in the I-formation and work on running Iso and Trap until your mom called you home for dinner? I doubt it.

I can make a guess that you probably threw the football. Athletes love throwing and catching the football. The Air Raid is based around the Back Yard Football League principle, "Go run to that tree and turn around. I will throw you the ball."

Once you implement the Air Raid, you will get more kids excited about playing football and get more of those athletes out who aren't playing now because they "don't like to hit." It is what kids love to do, and I guarantee that you will have a blast coaching it.

Those are just a few of the reasons to implement the Air Raid offense at your school. What are other advantages of the offense that you have discovered?


  1. In your opinion, what makes Air Raid, Air Raid? Is it certain routes like mesh or shallow? Or just the commitment to be pass first?

  2. @spreadthefield - Thank you for the comment.

    I think the routes are part of it - Mesh, Shallow, 4-Verts, Y-Stick are the cornerstone of the Air Raid. From a play calling point of view, the Air Raid is dictated on throwing the ball short to playmakers in space. There are a very few concepts, and they don't change.

    The entire philosophy is built on "Less is more". We are going to get really good at just a few things, and practice it over and over again.

    I believe it is also a practice philosophy. At practice, the ball should be in the air - constantly. Drills like Routes on Air, Settle & Noose, Pat & Go, emphasize multiple QBs and WRs throwing and catching the ball at all times. It isn't four receivers running routes, but only one catching a ball.

    I hope that helps answer your question.