Offense Playbook Series: Football Goals

///Offense Playbook Series: Football Goals

In our second part of the Offense Playbook Series, we will look at creating our team’s football goals. These goals will vary depending on the type of offense and team that you have, but the thought process behind each one is what is important.

Offense Playbook Series

Volume 1: Offensive Philosophy

Why Have Football Goals?

Goals should be an important part of everyone’s life, but many people never sit down to explore and develop their goals. Goals can give you a long-term plan that allows you to have a vision for the future. They also give you short term focus and motivation for what needs to be done now.

Without stated goals, getting to where you want to go becomes much harder. It is like using GPS to find your destination, but without having the address to get there. Setting goals allows you to enter the address into your GPS and then explore the routes on your way there. You can plan for the things that will happen along the way to slow you down. Even if something unforeseen sets you off course, it is easy to get back on the right track if you know what your ultimate destination is.

In football, goals can give your team pride in an achievement. If you have a team that is struggling, or rebuilding or has not had a lot of success, achieving short term goals are small victories. As a team, you have to have small victories to start to build on in order to get to the bigger victories and your long term goals. The excitement created within the team after these accomplishments are often times the momentum that you need to get through the next practice, workout or sprint.

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Long term goals for an offense will vary depending on many factors including the level of play, the coach and the offensive scheme. These goals are usually a multi-year goal that takes many accomplishments along the way.  A long term goal that many teams have is to Win a Championship. Other long term goals may include Make the Playoffs Every Year or Win Conference Every Year. These are good goals to have and I believe that the long term goal is there to help you design the process in order to get there.

Intermediate goals for football teams are usually season long goals. These goals set the focus for a particular season and will vary depending on the needs of that particular team at that time. If you are a team that has not had a lot of success, a goal might be To Win 3 Conference Games in 2016. On the other hand, if you are a successful team that is returning very good players, a goal of Win the Championship may become an Intermediate Goal. For offenses, Intermediate season long goals are typically statistic based. “We will lead the conference/state/division in passing offense” or “We will rush for 2,000 yards this season” are examples of these types of goals.

Short term goals for football teams are usually game goals. These are the mini victories throughout the year that are especially important for teams that may not have a lot of wins. Making progress and achieving these goals gives a team pride and can help you as a coach show improvement to the players despite the Win-Loss record. These goals many people are familiar with, Score 35 points a game, Rush for 150 yards, Pass for 200 yards, etc. These goals can change throughout the course of the season, do not be afraid to visit them in the middle of the year.

How to Set Goals

Now that we have laid out the importance of these goals, how do we go about setting the right goals? This is a process that begins far into the future and works its way back to the present.

First, it is important to talk about what goals should be. Many people have heard of SMART goals and I believe they are the best way to develop great goals.


  • Specific
    • The goal should be very specific, what exactly is the goal? There should be very little grey area, very black and white.
  • Measurable
    • You have to be able to track the goal. “Play Hard” is not a good goal unless you have a very specific way of tracking it.
  • Attainable
    • Make sure the goal can be reached. Too many coaches say their goal is to Win a Championship every year. Does your team have any chance of making that come true?
  • Relevant
    • This means choosing a goal that matters. If you are a Double Wing team that runs the ball 95% of the time, a goal of “Throw for 200 yards per game” is not relevant.
  • Time Based
    • Each goal should have an end date and time. Work backwards from there to establish the plan to get there.

Begin with setting your long term goals. These goals are usually developed at the Program level so they will be set by, or with, your Head Coach. This is what you want your program to accomplish over multiple years. It should be shared with your coaching staff, but depending on where you are at in your program, it might not be a good idea to share it with your kids. If you are in the first year of a re-build, you have to be careful about how you explain your goal of winning a Championship. Your kids are not stupid and if you have adversity during the season, they can jump to the conclusion that you have quit on them or moved on to the future.

After you set your long term goals, move onto setting your intermediate goals. These goals are your season long goals, or your off-season long goals. These goals should support your long term goals. Essentially, they are the road map to accomplish your long term goals.

The final set of goals are your short term goals, or game goals. These are the goals you most commonly see in playbooks. These are determined by the type of offense you run and the type of team you have. Here are the goals I have established for next season.

Offense Goals

As you can see with my goals, I did not put a specific amount of yards to run or throw for. Part of what I believe as a coach is that I will do whatever we are best at during that game against that team. I love what Bill Belichick and Tom Brady do with New England and if I need to run the ball 55 times in a game to win, that is what I will do.

Another thing you will notice is that we do not talk about NO turnovers or NO sacks. It is better to speak positively. Your kids will picture things in their heads and you want to keep a positive picture. If you say to a kid, “Don’t fumble” inside his head he subconsciously flashes on fumbling. Now, if you say, “High and Tight, Perfect Ball Security” he sees the proper way to hold the ball!

Develop the Process

This is how you tie it all together. I will show you a way to take a long term goal into an intermediate goal into a short term goal.

Long Term Goal: Win Conference

  • What does it take to win your conference?
  • How many games do you need to win in order to win your conference?
  • Are there specific teams you need to beat?

Let’s say that you need to win 6 games to win your conference. That automatically becomes an intermediate goal.

Intermediate Goal: Win 6 Games

  • What do you need to do to win these 6 games?
  • What game metrics do you believe will bring you the most victories?
    • Do you believe a certain % of 3rd Down Conversions will win you games?
    • A certain number of rushing yards?
    • The turnover battle?

I will say that you need to win the turnover battle in order to win those 6 games. Obviously this is a simplistic way to look at it. There is a good chance that it will take all of those things and more to win those 6 games, but that is what becomes your short term goals.

Short Term Goal: Win the Turnover Battle

  • How will your stress ball security?
  • How will you stress takeaways?
  • How do you make it an important part of your overall philosophy?

Let’s say that you believe ball security and no fumbles is the most important part of winning the turnover battle. Now you take that short term goal and you create a plan that will let you accomplish that goal.

  • Do you design a practice plan that has ball security drills everyday?
  • Do you reward proper ball carrying when you see it?
  • Do you talk about it in all of your meetings?


This has become a much longer article than I initially intended to write. I hope you were able to find some useful things in here and it will help you to grow as a coach and a team. I also challenge you to set goals in your personal and professional life!

By | 2020-09-24T15:35:24-06:00 November 10th, 2015|Categories: Featured, Offense Playbook Series|Tags: , |2 Comments

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  1. Leif December 14, 2016 at 8:03 AM - Reply

    Great article, lots of good points to take away. I liked the “smart” acronym for goal setting.

    One question. For a few of your game goals you listed “perfect ball security” and “perfect pass protection” I agree you should always strive for perfection but it seems to me like that goal is UNATTAINABLE breaking the Smart acronym rules for goals you should make. What is your opinion on that logic or am I digging too deep.

    Thanks for the article

  2. Coach Pap December 14, 2016 at 9:22 PM - Reply

    Thanks for the comment and I am glad you liked the article!

    To me, Perfect Ball Security and Perfect Pass Protection are not necessarily unattainable goals when you look at them on a game to game basis.

    For us, we do not speak in negatives. Many times coaches or people will say, No Fumbles, or No Sacks. I listened to some very good coaches that have said when you speak in positives, it puts the image of success into their heads. When you say “Don’t Fumble.” the last thing that they hear is fumble and that is the negative image in their heads.

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