Monday, May 05, 2008

Coaches Corner: The basic passing tree:

Thanks to Scott Hallenbeck at http://www.usafootball.com/

The Passing Tree is the number system used for the passing routes.

The passing tree uses the universal system that has all EVEN number routes towards that center of the field, while the ODD number routes are towards the sidelines. (The routes are the same for the X, Y, and Z receivers.)

When designing an offense, the first number in a pass play should designate the single receiver on what route to run (on the side by himself-"weak side") and the second number tells the middle receiver what route to run, while the last number designates the last receiver what route to run.


A running back needs to have the knowledge and techniques to become part of the passing game. The running back should know the proper way to catch the ball and should always try to have both hands and the ball in his vision at the same time when he makes the catch. For the running back and quarterback to coordinate the passing game, the running back must make certain that he runs the routes at the correct depth. The running back should practice without a quarterback and run all pass routes at half speed to get the feel for each route.

The running back must understand the different depths of his various pass patterns. The distance he runs down the field will be coordinated with the number of steps the quarterback takes in his drop and the manner of the pass protection-blocking scheme. Running his pattern at the proper depth will help ensure the correct timing of the pass. The pass routes for a running back will be divided into three separate zones:

Short [up to five yards].
Medium [6 - 10 yards].
Deep [over 11 yards to the goal line].

The running back patterns also need to be coordinated with:
The drop of the quarterback [3 or 5 step].
The type of pass protection blocking [aggressive or drop-back] used by the offensive line.

The basic pass patterns, run by a running back, in each zone are:
The three short zone pass routes: flat, angle, and wide.
The three medium pass routes: in, out, and stop.
The four deep routes: flat and up, seam, post, or fan route.

When running a wide route, the running back needs to turn up the field as he nears the sideline so that the quarterback can lead him on his pattern. For the stop route, the running back should run at an angle to the outside and stop at 7 yards, turning back away from the nearest linebacker to quarterback to make the catch.

On all routes, the running back must immediately release into his pattern unless he is forced to stay in to block. Once he has released, he must get his head turned quickly to the quarterback on his break and be prepared to make the catch regardless of where the ball is when it reaches his hands.


Developing a passing attack that features the tight end can be a tremendous asset for your offense in that often the tight end is covered by a linebacker, the patterns are run closer to the actual position of the quarterback and the length of the pass is usually much shorter than a pass to a wide receiver who is positioned on the outside of the formation.

The tight end patterns also need to be coordinated with the drop of the quarterback [3 or 5-step] and the type of pass protection blocking [aggressive or drop back] used by the offensive line.

Just as we did in the passing tree for wide receivers, the pass routes run by the tight end will be divided into three areas [short - medium - deep] based on the distance the pattern is run from the line of scrimmage.

The short patterns will be run in the four to seven-yard range, the medium patterns from eight to 12 yards and the deep pass routes over 12 yards.

Each pattern is named and numbered [for coaches that call their pass plays by number] with the even-numbered patterns coming in toward the ball and the odd-numbered patterns going away from the ball.

In coaching your tight ends in the passing game, it is important to teach them how to release from the line without spending too much time shedding a defensive lineman or linebacker who may be trying to keep them from getting down field. On some patterns like the look-in, cross, or center, it is important that the tight end release inside of any defensive player lined up in front of him. On the other pass routes he can release the fastest and easiest way from the line.

Coach the tight end to turn his head back to the quarterback immediately as he makes his break, especially on the two short routes [look-in and short] because on these two patterns, the quarterback will only be taking a 3-step drop, the offensive line will be blocking aggressively to keep the defensive line down, and the ball needs to be released very quickly.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post! I crave this kind of football edification. Keep it coming, I just might learn something!

Ralph said...

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