Research: Defining and Utilizing Tendencies

Nov 6, 2015 | Offense, Game Planning

By Mike Kuchar

Senior Research Manager

X&O Labs




What makes a tendency?  It was a common query among coaches that contributed to our special report on offensive and defensive game planning this pre-season.  We wanted to find out.  So, we surveyed those coaches who won at least half of their games over the last three seasons to find out their metrics on what should be noted and what should be ignored in game planning.  And now that the season is gearing towards the playoffs, their advice on what to spend time on (and what not to) could be vital for your success.

In order to do this, we send a five-question survey on how they define and utilize opponent’s tendencies on offense, defense and special teams.  Some of the reputable programs that contributed include:

Please Note: All current records were accurate as of 10/20/14


Xavier High School (CT), currently 6-0

Ben Davis High School (IN), currently 7-2

Winnetonka High School (MO), currently 7-2

Nassau Community College (NY), currently 6-0

West Florida High School (FL), currently 6-1

Xaverian Brothers High School (MA), currently 6-0

Westfield High School (VA), currently 6-1

Choctaw High School (OK), currently 6-1

Union County High School (GA), currently 7-1



Question #1:   

What is your definition of a tendency (this could be offensive or defensive)?



Without going the Webster’s route, we wanted to find out from coaches how they defined a tendency.   We all hear that term being thrown around a lot, but we were curious to see what coaches spend their time on preparing their players and what is ignored.  Their responses are below. 



“For us, a tendency such as down and distance must be over 65 percent. We look at the formation and play we take the number play out of each.”- Andy Guyon, defensive coordinator, Xavier High School (CT).

“Tendency is anything that gives something away to the opposition based on what you are inclined to do (have shown to do in regularity).”- Ian Gardner, Quarterbacks Coach, Desert Eagle High School

“A clear pattern or tip-off based on specific formation, personnel, down/distance, etc.”- Zach Cunningham, Defensive Coordinator, Winnetonka High School

“An inclination to do something by personnel or formation that creates a recognizable and usable predictor.”- Tony Bowman, Defensive Line Coach, Kentucky Christian College

“Technically, a tendency would be anything that occurs more than 50% of the time.  However, to be useful, it should occur at least 75% of the time.”- Mark Bates,  Head Coach, Village Christian High School

“For us, the term means 3 things: statistical tendencies, the tactical tendencies of the play-caller and also the human tendencies of the kids we'll be facing.  All good teams have certain tendencies, but a tendency is noteworthy only if it provides a specific weakness you can take advantage of.  For example, if you know your opponent plays an 8 man box but you also know you can't win matchups on their corners, the information doesn't help much.”- Joe Metzka, former Offensive Coordinator, O’Fallon High School

“My definition of a tendency is something that’s easily remembered by me, our coaches and our players that is a dead give away to the play our opponents are running at that given moment. I mean really think about it.  You can make nearly anything a tendency. It’s all about making the information work for you and your kids. I’ve had teams that could remember everything from alignment of the running back dictates the play, to knowing if it’s 2nd and 4-6 and their on our 35 on the right hash their running this play. The team I currently have can’t remember crap. I mean they barely remember their assignments, so throwing a bunch of extra information on top of them doesn’t help. Matter of fact it hurts us. The less info I give them the better we play.”- John Johnson, Defensive Coordinator, East Lawrence High School.