Tony DeMeo

Always Have a Second Half Surprise

The question of how to game plan or how to prepare your call sheet always comes up. Everyone has their own method and there no right or wrong way to do it.

Bill Walsh & his West Coast disciples always script the first 20 to 25 plays. That certainly worked for Coach Walsh.

Paul Johnson, on the other hand, doesn’t even use any play sheet. He knows his Spread Option Attack so well he doesn’t need one.
I had the privilege of working for a genius, Tubby Raymond, who knew the Delaware Wing T so well he never used a play sheet either.

The Triple Gun is based on “Strategic Flexibility” so the plays change after the snap based on defensive reaction so having an intricate multi-colored play sheet is a necessity. (I also never covered my mouth when I called a play).What I did carry was a card with unusual formations (ie: Bunch Empty) so I would remember to use them. The basic plays never changed from game to game just the wrapping paper.

So what is the correct way? Whatever way works for you. But here are some ideas that fit any play calling system:
1. Attack with a lot of formations early so you know how they are going to line up.
2. Only do what you can execute.
3. Play to your strengths – “If you have a cannon shoot it” Never let a defense take your canon away.
4. Be prepared for everything – how a team played vs one team doesn’t guarantee that’s how they’ll play you.

The Second Half Surprise
A simple stratagem that I’ve always had in my bag tricks is “the second half surprise” In other words, I always saved something a little different for the start of the second half. This was effective because our opponents had to figure out a solution and communicate an adjustment amid the heat of the game on the sideline rather during the calm of the halftime locker room.

Examples of Halftime Surprises:
1. A unique formation or formations on offense.
2. A defense blitz that they haven’t seen in the first half.
3. A change in Tempo either speeding up or slowing down.
4. A change in style going to more power or more option. On defense coming out with a heavy blitz game.

Now because you have this surprise available doesn’t mean you have to use it. If you have the game under control, you can keep the surprise for another day but one of the keys is to always control the first 6 minutes of the second half regardless of the score. The Second Half Surprise can help you ignite your team in the second half & finish the game strong.