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Higher QB pitch-count: designing curriculum

Our transition from extreme ground & pound to extreme no-huddle air-attack took a decade, from 1984-1994. The first step was transitioning to no-huddle while maintaining our ground & pound 2-1 run-pass ratio. The second step was flooring it, increasing the speed of the no-huddle to reach the Over 80 goal – a minimum of over 80 plays per game. The third step was reversing the ratio to space-age mode, 2-1 pass-run ratio. Minimum. We usually pass it.

Our radical strategic change required radical academic change in what we taught and how we taught it. The change in ‘what’ we taught went far deeper than pass plays. We had to re-design our entire curriculum to match every objective of a supersonic-speed no-huddle. The most important and most challenging element of the transition was the mind-body-soul adjustment to the pressure of increased workload. No adjustment is more important or more challenging to teach that the physical and psychological adjustment to the dramatic increase in pass attempts – the equivalent of the ‘pitch-count.” Doubling or tripling pass attempts is a recipe for disaster if matching sets and reps are not invested during training.

Higher pitch-count doesn’t affect only quarterbacks. It affects receivers and blockers. Physical and psychological strength and stamina are affected because the reduction of recovery time intellectually and physically between plays, makes or breaks high-speed high-volume passing. Working and thinking with less recovery time doesn’t just happen. It requires curriculum that combines high-tech sets and reps during strength & conditioning and high-tech practice sets and reps.

Adding to our challenge of re-designing compatible curriculum was a reality of limitations – lack of coaches, lack of players, lack of player skill, lack of player experience. We have always lacked the infrastructure of a ‘feeder system.’ No JV team, no little league system. And there are very few qualified coaches who will work long hours for free and for long. The major challenge of our curriculum design was how to teach it with a bare-minimum of coaches, often a one-man staff. The solution was re-defining Indy Time to Passing Indy Time. Instead of one position, we combined positions during Indy Time to teach the basics of a specific progression that is the number-one determinant of high-speed, high-volume passing success – the ratio of passing reps to stationary receivers and moving receivers. Nothing is more important than nailing the exact quality and quantity of reps invested in practice passes thrown to stationary targets and those thrown to mobile receivers. Wing it won’t work out. The ratio of sets & reps has to reflect the same ratio that will happen in games. The vast majority of our pass attempts are thrown to mobile receivers. Our ratio goal is a minimum of 12-1 – twelve passes to mobile receivers for every one pass to a stationary receiver. In some games, we achieve the shut-out – no stationary receptions. The reason why we love mobile receptions is the dramatic spike in yards after the catch. A 12-1 ratio is the key for 300-600 yard passing games. Doubling yards after the catch is the equivalent of doubling your running game. We perceive yards after the catch as part of our running game. The length of the throw makes up the pass play. But the yards after the catch is the equivalent of a running play that follows the pass play. Two plays in one. Every pass play starts a running play with a different starting line. Changing the mindset changes the outcome. After your players buy-into that psychological shift, passing takes on a new perspective. The change of mindset is the strongest motivator that guarantees the entire offense will block after the catch, full-out flawlessly to the whistle. Blocking after the catch is the most neglected skill in football. It’s responsible for passing underachieving. Study film and you will see for yourself that no performance in football is worse than blocking after the catch, both in skill and effort. Change that and you change your pass production, your points scored, and you add a lot more wins to your record.

Our new curriculum that we designed in 1994 features the following basic learning outcomes in Lesson One:

#1. Passing Indy Time incorporates multiple positions to teach:
i. Throwing mechanics drills to stationary receivers
ii. Stationary passer-to-stationary target
iii. Stationary passer-to-mobile target
iv. Mobile passer to mobile target.

#2. The pass attempts increase every practice until the 2-1 pass-run Over 80 pitch-count velocity is reached. Pitch-count velocity refers to consistency of velocity from first pitch to last pitch. Fourth quarter passes must be thrown at the same speed as first quarter passes. Otherwise, high-speed high-volume passing is doomed to fail.

#3. Our practice pitch count is 3X the game pitch-count. Minimum. We throw a minimum of three times the number of game pass attempts per practice.

#4. We use a ratio-progression starting with 3-1 ratio of mobile target to stationary target from a stationary passer. The ratio progress increases to 6-1, then 9-1, until we reach the 12-1 ratio.

#5. The set and reps for lesson one applies to all quarterbacks and receivers regardless of the past experience. In our reality, we use the same quarterback curriculum whether the QB is starting from scratch or is an experienced passer. The reason is to prevent “base-stealing.” Base-stealing is our term for robbing individual players of the ‘base’ knowledge and skills by not repping out base sets and reps. We divide curriculum into levels of instruction, the equivalent of grades in school. Each grade has a new base that needs to be built through a quantifiable number of sets and reps. The number of sets and reps at the first base of knowledge and skills is the starting point every season and it’s also the academic review used to solve quarterback problems during the season.

Consistently completing a pass to a receiver in full stride is twelve times harder that consistently completing a pass to a stationary receiver because of variables. There are minimal variables in pass attempts to stationary targets. Everything is almost the same. But there are significant variables in pass attempts to moving targets. The most challenging variable is the speed of each receiver – first quarter speed and fourth quarter speed. Nothing is the same when you’re throwing to moving targets. It changes from play to play.

Every set, every rep of every practice is designed to raise the pitch count. The 2-1 Over 80 pitch-count is a double-edge sword – done right, you win big. Done wrong, you lose big. The physical demands of high-speed high-volume are only half the fight. The psychological demands are the other half. Quarterbacks and receivers love to boast about how much they ‘want the ball’ but reality hits and hits hard when you have to throw 50-plus times per game or have 10-15 passes or more rifled at you, often on consecutive plays. The pressure mounts through the greatest neutralizer of all – weakness. Fatigue. Natural talent doesn’t matter if you get tired physically and mentally before halftime. Genetics won’t bail you out if you’re running on empty before the fourth quarter starts. Our new curriculum gets the job done but not every player is willing to pay the price. There are no free passes when you decide to floor it.

#peace

Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 Nat’l Coaching Certification Program
Head coach – Niagara X-men football
head coach- Robert Bateman High School – GO WILD.
Owner – X Fitness Inc.

Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of books are at www.ginoarcaro.com His books include: 4th & hell: seasons 1-5, Soul of a Lifter, SWAT Offense, SWAT Defense, X Fitness Workout System, and a 3 business book series called Soul of an Entrepreneur . He also has written 20 editions of 6 law enforcement academic textbooks. A new 8-volume interrogation book series will be released in the fall of 2014. And just released, a new children’s book called “BE FIT – DON’T QUIT.” His latest book on human potential called “Hashtag Peace” is at the editing stage. He is currently writing “Lifter’s High.” Both will be released soon.

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