Gino's Blog

Open-mind finds open receivers.

I conducted a research project between 1984-1997, that included every QB I coached at 3 different levels during that time period. The research included film study and QB interviews. One of the main topics researched was the efficiency of our QB read progression that we used at that time, to figure out whether it worked the best or if there was a better way. The key was timing – literally and figuratively. First, 1997 was a transcendent passing season for us, one that could have led to complacency, to resigning ourselves to do the same as we had always done. Secondly, the timing of the QB’s decision was the central focus. QB read progressions are decisions but the speed and the circumstances of the decision make it the most challenging decision to teach and learn in all of football. We timed it right.

As a result of our research, we scrapped or traditional read progression and replaced it with a new Rapid Decision-Making (RDM) model that fit better within our SWAT warp-speed no-huddle offense. We developed a curriculum including new learning outcomes and new lesson plans. We raised the pedagogical bar without adding complexity. We made it simpler. The passing RDM model replicated another RDM models that I developed for teaching policing studies in college law enforcement courses. After researching our QB read progression, it hit me – A QB’s rapid-decision making process is similar to police officers’ rapid decision-making on the frontline. Two different fields but the same thought process of data-volume under extreme high-risk pressure.

Our SWAT RDM model to find open receivers became a work in progress. We never would have considered changing the original QB read progression until we conducted the research project. The key was an openness to challenge conventional thinking and to challenge our own system in the ongoing quest to find what works in our own reality. My challenge has always been constantly challenging what we do to solve our problems of coaching in our unique world of football poverty that requires constant evolution in order to survive.

Openness of mind led to a different way of teaching QBs how to define ‘Open’ receiver and how to find ‘Open’ receivers. An open-mind led to a better read progression, one that led to more explosive results in 1998 and beyond. The reason was that coaching open-mindedness led to our QB Theory of Open-Mindedness. The change in our read progression opened everything up including our QBs’ vision which, in turn, opened everything up on the field.
In my experience, there is no football position that’s more challenging to coach than quarterback because of the volume of what has to be taught and learned. I believe that no QB skill is more difficult to teach and learn than finding an open receiver because it’s an unmatched RDM skill, the toughest Rapid Decision-Making skill in football because of the pressure of the moment. No football player has to make more important decisions, more of them, and more decision under the level of threat to harm, physically and psychologically. And, no-huddle QBs have more RDMs to make in even less time than QBs in a huddle system.

Decision-making is not created equal. There’s RDM and several levels of slower decision-making that create various degrees of decision-making difficulty. There are three factors that separate the degrees of decision-making difficulty: processing speed, data volume, threat-level.

Processing speed refers to the amount of time allowed to make the decision. Data volume is the amount of information that needs processing. Threat-level refers to the level of risk involved. RDM is high-speed processing that requires extraordinary teaching-learning time to master the craft. This applies to any sport or any profession where large volumes of information have to be processed and split-second decisions have made under life-and-death pressure. Finding the open receiver qualifies as an RDM skill because no-huddle pass-oriented QBs face more threats to health, more often, than any other player on the field. QB RDM starts before the snap. It involves high-speed processing before and after the snap, including much more data than the pre-snap defensive information in front of him and the post-snap action. QBs have to process experiences from the past – past plays in the game, previous games, and during practices.

QBs are targets. They are hunted on every pass play. What happens after the snap on every pass play is a survival of the fittest contest, where only the physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually fit survive. Throwing mechanics, arm strength, wheels, height, weight, all of it is important for QB development but nothing is more important than the ability to make lightning decisions under intense pressure and threat, without blinking.

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Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 NCCP (Nat’l Coaching Certification Program)
Head coach – Niagara X-men football
Owner – X Fitness Inc.

Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of SWAT FOOTBALL Books are at:

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 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 just finished another book called “Lifter’s High.” Both will be released soon.


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