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How to Stop the Up-Tempo Offense with the 3-4 Defense

How to Stop the Up-Tempo Offense with the 3-4 Defense

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Use a 3-4 defensive system to contain any kind of up-tempo offense
  • Learn how to organize practice in an efficient manner to help your players deal with fast paced offenses
  • Discover methods for streamlining communication to meet the demands imposed by an up-tempo offense
  • Learn drills to create a more realistic pre-snap read to ensure players line up and make calls correctly

with Steve Fex,
Coppell (TX) HS Assistant Coach;
member of 2001 University of Washington coaching staff (2001 Rose Bowl Champions)

The high tempo offense has changed the way teams prepare on defense. In a classroom setting, Steve Fex provides examples of methods for streamlining defensive communication, along with practice drills and coaching strategy for creating an up-tempo defensive system. Coach Fex's concepts serve as a blueprint on how to design and run a defensive practice schedule to combat the no huddle offense.


Defensive success starts with effective communication systems. Coach Fex will show you ways to simplify the verbiage and communication involved in calling a defense, which will allow your players to get aligned faster to the opponent's offense. Communication strategies covered include hot, base, and default calls. These can be implemented in every aspect of practice to improve game day results.

Practice Drills

Diagrams illustrate how to organize practice of pursuit, recognition, pass and run drills with the communication necessary to stop the up-tempo offense.

Using the Pursuit Drill, Coach Fex shows you how you can use two scout teams to simulate the tempo your defense will encounter during a game. Next, players are shown various offensive sets in the Formation Recognition Drill to get the defense to make alignment calls quickly.

The 2-on-2, 3-on-2 and Pass Hull Drills force the secondary to communicate and align quickly as they echo any call that applies to them. The Inside Run Drill conditions the defensive front to set up fast and communicate each defensive call. Everyone must recognize the call so the entire defense can work together to communicate and align to the up-tempo in practice.

Coach Fex gives you an example practice plan to show how to design sessions that create an up-tempo defensive culture. He goes through every phase of his plan as he describes each drill in detail. Communication strategies are performed throughout all phases of practice, and players are reminded of common elements and tendencies of the up-tempo offenses.


Coach Fex's system eliminates the advantages sought by an up-tempo offense. He describes the common element of the fast paced no-huddle offense. You will learn that it's "all about the back and his alignment." Coach Fex discusses how the backs alignment dictates what plays the offense will run, both strong side and back side. This simplifies a defensive player's keys and prepares them for the play based on one player's alignment - the running back.

Coach Fex provides a great way to streamline your communication and create a defensive culture focused on slowing down the opponent's offense through implementation of effective practice strategies. All coaches who face an up-tempo offense during the season will benefit from the strategies shared in this video.

70 minutes. 2015.