Do you want to run RPOs in your offense?

I’m sure that you have heard people talk about the wonders of the Run Pass Option.

In fact, on YouTube, RPO videos are getting about 30,000 hits each day.

They aren’t new anymore, but few teams really run RPOs well.


Because as much as everyone talks about them schematically, hardly anyone talks about how to teach them through drills.

I want to help you do that today.

“Hold on, what is an RPO?”

We should start here in case you aren’t one of the thousands searching for RPOs on YouTube.

RPO stands for “Run Pass Option.”

In other words, it’s a type of play which can be a run or pass depending on what one player on the defense does.

We call this player the “conflict defender.”

He is in conflict because he has two responsibilities: to defend the run or to defend the pass.

The defender either has to fill his gap or drop to his zone.

The actual Run Pass Option play consists of the quarterback reading the conflict defender to see if he chooses to defend the run or the pass.

The quarterback will then choose the opposite.

“I love this idea, but how do I practice it?”

Great question. Before you ever add a new play or a new concept, you should ask yourself if you can teach every detail of the play.

And learning how to drill the play is one of the first steps to doing this.

I will teach you the drills by the level of the defense they attack.

Level 1 is any defensive lineman.

Level 2 is any linebacker or safety who has dropped into the box.

Level 3 is any defensive back (these are very popular, but not run as often because they are advanced).

Level 1

To drill this level 1 defender read, all you need are a couple cones, a quarterback, and a running back.

So, your quarterback will be reading you, the coach labeled C in the diagram, and you will either “Crash” or “Contain.”

Crash will trigger a keep by the quarterback.

Contain will trigger a give by the quarterback.

And remember, teach the quarterback that this is a C gap read. We aren’t reading a specific defender until they get into the C gap.

For some context, the run play is usually going to be inside zone or GT counter. Check out this video to see me breakdown how to drill the inside zone play.

PRO TIP: Don’t over coach the decision. Just ask your quarterback, “Do you think you can beat the defender to the outside?”

Rep this over and over until your quarterback dreams of this drill.

And if you’re confused as to why there was no “pass” involved: check out this video and wait until the end where I put it all together.

Level 2

Now we can get the WRs involved.

This drill focuses on reading a level 2 defender.

This drill is similar.

It’s the same principles, but we’re building the quarterback’s skill by now asking him to throw the ball if the coach fills.

But the read is the same thought process: go where the defender is not.

“Is there an Ultimate RPO Drill?”

You are on fire with the questions today, and yes there is an Ultimate RPO Drill.

So, if you self-describe yourself as a participant in the new “Triple Option Offense,” then you have to have this drill.

Because really that is all the RPO is, an extension of the option game that has dominated football since its beginnings.

Take a look:

Okay, I know, this looks like a lot.

But it’s not called the Ultimate RPO Drill without reason.

And I haven’t even drawn up the craziest part which I’ll explain in a second.

Take a good look at the image above.

Notice that it is the two drills above, but combined with a slight change of the route.

Whenever the quarterback get a keep read by the C gap defender he will run outside.

And his eyes will go to the level 2 defender.

And if that level 2 defender defends the pass (a bubble screen here), then he will keep the ball and turn upfield.

If the level 2 defender decides to defend the run and come downhill, the quarterback will flip the ball out to the wide receiver.

Now, what do you do when the C gap defender gives your quarterback a give read?

You don’t want to waste any valuable reps do you?

Of course not!

Have another quarterback stand by and hand the quarterback in the drill a ball so that he can run out and make the second read.

Get all the reps possible because this is how you win.


How you drill plays matters.

How you practice matters.

And I get asked all the time on how to get better at these things.

So I hoped you found this article helpful.

If you want even more help with practicing and drills, check out this site to learn more.

And then you’ll really be on your way to Master the Spread, Score Points, and Have Fun.

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