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IMG 13407377097385Scott Girolmo, Offensive Coordinator, Liberty High School (VA)

Can adding this motion really change the defenses entire game plan and approach? Find out here...



Scott Girolmo
Offensive Coordinator
Liberty High School (VA)
Twitter: @CoachGirolmo

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IMG 13407377097385At Liberty High School, we are a multiple offense that utilizes a number of personnel groupings, and a very wide array of formational sets. From these formations we utilize multiple man, zone and gap run schemes and 6 and 7 man pass protections. Finally, we have combined these schemes with both traditional I back / single back backfield movements, and contemporary shotgun multi-read backfield movements.

This is a lot of offense.  We understand that, but we do it for one simple purpose:  to attack the defense. We are constantly drawing, debating, and adapting our scheme to better fit our personnel. One of these adaptations, the "Orbit" motion, has been an integral component to our attack.

The Evolution

Our prior offense here at Liberty was orchestrated by then Head Coach Tommy Buzzo, and our current Head Coach Sean Finnerty. Their offensive package was tremendously dynamic, with a myriad of shifts, motions and swiftly attacking run schemes that worked like focused jabs to weaken the defense for a knockout haymaker. One of the signature plays within the offense was the classic "rocket sweep" utilized by flexbone-heavy offenses [Diagrams 1&2]. In our attempt to adapt the best concepts of the former offense to the completely new package we installed this past spring, the idea of utilizing a pre-snap movement that was abrupt and lateral to "outflank" the defense was a major priority. From my previous experience I had developed a particular affinity for both flexbone option football, and a variation of the spread I - multiple offense developed in the early 2000’s by Wake Forest O.C. Steed Lobotzke which was heavy in Orbit motion (He credits University of Minnesota coach Glenn Mason for running it first in 1999 in a game they coached against one another). Therefore, a perfect marriage was conceived.

Orbit Defined

Football is the greatest sport for so many reasons, but one of my favorites is that the simplest of concepts or fundamental skills can have innumerable names, appearances, or philosophies behind it depending on who is teaching.  For us, Orbit motion is a perimeter player (tight slot or wing) motioning across and behind the deepest back in the backfield. The two variations of Orbit are taught simultaneously.

On the first day of its installation, our players are taught to motion flat towards the interior of the formation from their alignment building speed as they go. As they enter the tackle box, they are to "spring" off of their foot closest to the LOS and attack behind the deepest back, controlling their speed to achieve the position desirable for the particular play called at the moment of the snap. We condense that rhetoric for our players by teaching them to "run the arc." If they are aligned in a tight slot, or wing position, we teach them to run the arc from that spot.

Teaching Progression:

  1. End Result
  2. Why
  3. Communication
  4. Execution

End Result

Experience has taught us that our teaching is more effective when explain our concepts from the ref’s whistle backward.  In each scenario we explain to the player that their motion should put them in position to accomplish one of three outcomes:

  • Motion player is the Pitch Man
  • Motion player is the Swing Route
  • Motion player is a decoy.


With the end result established, we can then move on to explain why they are in the position for each of the three outcomes above.  Here is a more detailed look at how we teach each outcome:

Pitch:  In the instance that they are motioning to become the pitch man, we are attempting to attack a numbers advantage in the defense’s run-support scheme. By motioning across the formation, we can both attack the defenses flank by pitching the ball, and force a distortion in their run-fits which will create a favorable match-up or running lane.

Swing Route:  When a pass is called, we utilize the orbit motion for several reasons. The first is to gain a swiftly expanding flat-route to provide a check-down, or what we call "rush" route for our QB. The next reason the player runs a swing route is to win the numbers advantage against the defenses coverage scheme. By adding one more receiver to their defenders in coverage, we may be able to free someone up. In addition, the Orbit Swing is to create conflict in the defensive secondary’s eye/read progression, and create space for a front-side or back-side deep route (what we call ‘rhythm’ throws).

Decoy:  The final why scenario to explain is the simplest. The motion player is orbiting to establish a pre-snap focal point for the defense that is moving away from the attack point of the play called. His job is to hold an unblocked edge player, or force over pursuit. This can be anything from an inside run, and outside run opposite, to a screen pass.


Next, we will take time to practice the ways that we communicate both the player motioning, and the type of motion. At Liberty, we use the symbolic letter of our players Ex: A (adjuster) and combine it with syllables that describe the motion Ex: BE (behind). The result is a series of coded words that describe a motion (ABE). Along with this we will create a hand signal that describes the code should we want to use the motion in our"2 Minute," "Blur," or "Slow No Huddle" tempo’s. For example: Right hand stroking an imaginary beard (like ABE Lincoln).


The final step is to teach the various executions of the Orbit from multiple formation alignments. We utilize formation cards in our offense to align in multiple formation, and backfield sets. Our cards tell him where to start, and the play call tells him where to finish. Once our motion man sees where he is to align, he simply aligns there and executes the motion from that spot.


We have found that once the players truly understand the concept, they are able to more powerfully employ the orbit motion into the various plays that we run in the set.  Below are videos showing how the orbit is used as part of various packages.


Use the orbit motion for whatever suits your offense and personnel. Be it a change-up, a trick, or a decisive game plan to surprise and out-scheme a key opponent who is susceptible. At Liberty High School, we utilize the orbit motion to:

  • Outnumber the run support
  • Create over pursuit
  • Create conflict in defensive responsibility
  • Outnumber the coverage
  • Create misdirection
  • Get speed and athleticism in space

It is our hope that something in this article can serve as a ‘golden nugget’ and help give you a competitive advantage. It has been an honor to share a little of what we do. I would like highlight and credit my father Steve Girolmo (H.C. Livonia H.S., NY) and other coaching heros from which much of this material originated.   We are excited to start spring practice for the 2013 season, and look forward to reading and learning from more additions of Xs and Os LABS research.

What You're Missing:

Right now, members of X&O Labs' Insiders website are reading the full-length version of Coach Girolmo’s clinic report including:

  • Teaching diagrams and specific coaching points for installing the Orbit Motion.

  • A detailed teaching progression to help you install the orbit into your offense today.

  • Multiple ways to expand your orbit motion series' with trick plays and screens.

  • Plus video of multiple orbit motion plays in action. 

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