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John Wagner, Run Game Coordinator/RBs Coach, Monsignor Bonner/Archbishop Prendie (PA)

Find out how Coach Wagner learned from experience to make is practices more purposeful and productive. Read more here...


John Wagner
Run Game Coordinator/RBs Coach
Monsignor Bonner/Archbishop Prendie (PA)
Twitter: @JWags42


With more and more coaches moving to the no huddle, it is important to be able to simulate game tempo during practice. In my first year running a no huddle, high tempo offense, I found it difficult to run the practices at a tempo that would help us come game time. We had revisit the way we ran our practices. This started from the daily schedule to the way that we coached our players. 

We completely revamped the practice schedule and shortened each period to keep a better flow and avoid lulls in practice. Our longest period is 15 minutes and are team periods. Our normal periods are typically 5 or 10 minutes in length. By doing this, we are constantly moving preventing our players from becoming stagnant. 

What we learned was that we did not start the practice at a fast pace. We did not transition well from stretches to the next period. The 1st thing that we did to correct this was start each practice with 4 stations of 1 minute a piece. This got our players moving immediately at the start of practice. 

The next thing that we did was add a team take-off period. This is a period where we line up and march down the field on air.  Again, this is just to get the guys moving and used to the tempo that we want to have in a game. 

Team Take-off

During team take-off, the 1st and 2nd team offenses move the ball down the field on air. Both offenses will start with the ball on the plus 40. Each huddle will have their own signal caller and will march down the field. Once the ball crosses the goal line, we flip the huddle and start with ball on the ball on our 5 and move out to the 40. This is great work for the 1s and 2s.

For us, it is a great opportunity for the JV guys to get reps in a high tempo period. This period will run 5 minutes and typically we will get off between 30-40 plays. During our 1st year doing team take-off, we really increased the tempo of our practices. The players started to realize that we needed to keep this tempo throughout the whole practice in order to be successful in the game. By going against air, you will get your team to move at a tempo that will be impossible to match on game day, thus slowing things down for your team in the heat of the moment. 

This will be a period that you want to incorporate into you daily practice schedules in order to get your team accustomed to the tempo that you want to establish. Team take-off is a great way to start your practices in high paced setting. Another great feature of team take-off is that you are conditioning your players as well. We will usually add another 5 minute period at the end of practice and move the ball down the field with 1 offense at a time and start with the ball on the 10 and move the ball in 20 yard increments. We normally have them score 2 touchdowns then bring the 2nd team in to do the same.  We usually get 2-3 possessions for each offense.

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  • The four criteria Coach Wagner and his staff use to determine exactly how fast he wants his offense to run.
  • Why he uses headsets in practice and the communication process his staff follows when using them.
  • How Coach Wagner distinguishes “tempo” periods from “teaching” periods in practice.
  • How Coach Wagner implements Situational Tempo periods by delegating specific responsibilities for each coach on staff.

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The best advice I can give to new coaches looking to implement the no huddle offense is to find what works best for you and your program. Every no huddle team approaches practice and game tempo’s different, so it is important for your program to come up with your own identity. You need something to hang your hat on. The brand that I want for my program is that we are going to line up and snap the ball at a feverish rate. I want the opposing coach to concern themselves more with my tempo than my schemes. By doing this, you will have an advantage before you even snap the ball.

The best compliment I can receive from an opposing coach was to hear them tell me that they had no chance of simulating the tempo they saw from us on game day during their practices. When you hear this, you know you are on the right path for running a high tempo offense. 

Meet Coach Wagner: John Wagner started his coaching career at St Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia, PA where he coached from 2003 through 2012. In 2013, he became the assistant head coach at Prep Charter High School in Philadelphia, PA. Last season, he moved on to become the run game coordinator at Monsignor Bonner Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, PA. 



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