Defense SWAT Football SWAT Football Leadership

The toughest drill for a Defensive Coordinator to design

In 1991, studying film of an upcoming opponent made the biggest impact on my Defensive Coordinator career.

Our upcoming opponent used a true run-and-shoot system. I was defensive coordinator of a summer post-secondary 22-under AAU-style team in addition to my high school head coach fall position. Film study of our opponent showed them chewing up a defense for 606 passing yards in a 58-0 blowout. Over two-thirds of those passing yards were gained after the catch. Every single yard-after-the-catch was caused by wrong post-catch pursuit angles – wrong first step, wrong path, wrong open-field tackling. Only 202 yards of actual passing resulted in additional 400-plus yards-after-the-catch because of incompetent post-catch pursuit angles. This film study taught me the biggest lesson of my 40-year coaching career. It influenced the way I coordinated our defense, how we taught post-catch pursuit reps, what we added to our SWAT System, the instruction and drills we used, and the amount of rep-investment during every practice to teaching and mastering post-catch pursuit angles. Additionally, it strongly contributed to my decision to change my own extreme ground-and-pound offensive philosophy to extreme no-huddle passing.

There is no drill tougher for a Defensive Coordinator than post-catch pursuit angle drills. There is no skill tougher to teach and master than pursuit angles following a completed pass. The reason is uncertainty. Teaching pursuit angles versus the run is easier than teaching post-catch pursuit angles because the starting points for both defense and offense cannot be predicted after catches, as with running plays. The starting points post-catch are never the same. The starting points are different at the moment of every catch. Despite the challenge and complexities of post-catch pursuit angles, designing effective curriculum that including instruction and drills is the difference between winning big and getting slaughtered.

Our 40-year film study research has shown that incorrect post-catch pursuit angles will triple yards after the catch, minimally. Regardless of the distance of a pass or the location of the reception, wrong pursuit angles will devastate a defense. This is an excerpt from our SWAT curriculum:

  1. Mastering post-catch pursuit angles won’t just happen. It won’t happen by chance, through osmosis, accidentally, randomly, overnight, and without extensive quality and quantity of sets and reps.
  2. It is impossible to master post-catch pursuit angles without full-speed reps. Post-catch pursuit angles are mastered in real-time, not half-speed or walk-throughs.
  3. A system is needed that incorporates a decision-making model that applies to any post-catch situation.
  4. Every reception is made with a unique formation of players, defensively and offensively. The key element is ‘post-catch formation’ – at the moment of reception, the defense and offense positioning of players form a unique formation that is impossible to be predicted with absolute certainty during practice.
  5. Consistency is essential. The correct post-catch pursuit angle once in a while isn’t enough. The correct post-catch pursuit angle is essential on every pass play.

We designed a system, curriculum, and series of drills that can be applied to any pass reception caught anywhere on the field. Dedicated Reps are essential during every practice to teach and master post-catch pursuit angles.

This is the most challenging time for defensive coordinators in the history of football. The key for career survival is continuing education. Never stop learning. Coaching football is a Sacred Profession. It’s a calling. X Fitness is committed to help coaches and players by sponsoring Blunt Talk Podcast. Blunt Talk Podcast has included a number of football coaches and ex-football players who have shared powerful insights, guaranteed to provide optimal learning experiences. Please visit Blunt Talk Podcast. All 116 episodes of Blunt Talk Podcast are free, permanently archived, compliments of my gym, X Fitness. Every guest is guaranteed to lift.  Here is the link:

Blessings and all good things.


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 and 2, Soul of a Lifter, SWAT No-Huddle Offense, SWAT Defense, SWAT Tackling Video & e-book,  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.” The first stage of his new Blunt Talk e-books is now for sale. He is currently writing three non-fiction novels book called The Mystery of Murder: Working with the dead, Midnight Shift from Hell, and Another Bar Fight. Another book on human potential called “Hashtag Peace” is at the editing stage.


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