Defensive Game Planning – The Play Grid

The next step in the game planning process is completing the tool I call the Play Grid.  This is an Excel worksheet that includes every play we have broken down from our opponent’s film.  It is a single page document that gives me an at-a-glance look at what our opponent’s tendencies are by down and distance, field zone, or a combination of both.  I like to have the Play Grid completed at least one day previous to beginning work on the Call Sheet – Tuesday or Wednesday (see previous post – Defensive Game Planning – Weekly Workflow) in a collegiate prep week.

I will ultimately use the Play Grid in combination with the Ready List (see previous post – Defensive Game Planning – The Ready List) to make the Call Sheet that is used on game day.   I print the completed Play Grid on the reverse side of the final Call Sheet.

Play Grid

When you look at the Play Grid the vertical columns displays all the plays they have run by down and distance.   For example, this, the A column, shows all the plays they ran in 1st and 10 situations.

Down Distance

The horizontal rows show the plays they have run in the different field zones.  For example, this, the 1 row, shows all the plays they ran backed up, from their own goal line to the 19-yard line.

Field Zone

The box where the columns and rows intersect show all the plays they have run in a specific Down and Distance and Field Zone situation.  For example, this, the A1 box, show all the plays the opponent has run on 1st and 10 plays from their own goal line to their 19 yard line.


The data used to enter into these cells is easily retrieved using Hudl (or any other data base software) using the Down and Distance report.

Hudl D and D

The only plays that you need to run a custom report is to get the XL plays for the H column, rows 1-4.

When I enter the plays in each “Box” on the Play Grid, I enter the plays in order of frequency, with the number of times they ran it.  I enter all of the Run plays first, followed by the Pass Plays.  I put in the Pass Plays in italics to delineate them.  I usually also “tag” the Pass Plays with the Pass Zone they were trying to attack.

In addition to entering the plays in each of the boxes on the Play Grid, I also enter any significant Down and Distance tendencies for Columns A-H, and any significant Field Zone tendencies in Rows 1-6.  Generally I consider any percentage over 66% significant.  I will use this information when completing the Call Sheet and as a quick reference on game day.

You can download a blank copy of the Excel Play Grid by clicking on the following link: Sample Excel Play Grid, or just clicking on the picture below.

blank grid

The brief video that follows describes the Play Grid.

The previous posts in the Defensive Game Planning series are:

Tomorrow – The Call Sheet

Jeff Floyd –

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