Winning Youth Football

Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tight End Formation in Football

If you're an old school football coach chances are that you're sentimental about the Tight End formation. With a lot of youth football programs now implementing a spread formation as part of their passing attack the Tight End formation is not as popular as it used to be but still can be a very effective football offence especially against the popular 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.

One of the hardest things about the Tight End formation is finding the type of player that would be a good Tight End. Ideally, you would want a tall athletic player with decent speed but also tough and strong enough to play as part of the offensive line and block both linebackers and defensive ends and tackles. The biggest factor is that they have to be able to catch the football and most of the time it means catching the ball in close proximity of defensive backs and linebackers. Overall, these types of players are difficult to find at the youth and high school football levels.

One of the things a Tight End formation will do especially against a solid run stopping 4-3 defense is that it will effectively spread out the box a little bit more and create better blocking angles for your offensive linemen and with wider splits create good running lanes for your athletic tailback. The most potent thing about a Tight End is their stealth ability to hang in there with a block on short yardage and then pop out and catch a short quick pass for a first down. This is a very effective play at all levels of football, the defense becomes so wrapped up in stopping the run on short yardage or goal line situations that a lot of times they forget about the Tight End until he's celebrating in the end zone.

Monday, May 16, 2011

4-3 Defense vs. 3-4 Defense

Two of the most popular football defenses that are being implemented today in youth and high school football are the 4-3 defense and the 3-4 defense. Both defences have their advantages and disadvantages,but how do they compare, and which one is better for your program?

Like everything else in your football system your personnel will determine which the best defense for your school. The 4-3 has the extra defensive tackle in the box so ideally you would need 4 quality defensive linemen. This can be hard to do especially at the high school level. Compared to the 3-4 defenses, the 4-3 is more of a power defense that puts a lot of bodies in the box. It is a solid run stopping defense that is designed to allow your middle linebacker to flow to the football basically untouched as offensive linemen have a hard time getting to the second level of linebackers as a result of the extra linemen on the line of scrimmage. A key component of this defense is that the defensive ends on the edge have to be strong athletes as they should have good size to battle with the larger offensive tackles as well as good speed in order to maintain their contain responsibility. Again, finding two of these types of players at the high school level is tough.
In passing situations the 4-3 is vulnerable to the spread offence as one or two of the middle linebackers could be pulled out into coverage leaving one middle linebacker. Against a solid trapping team they could expose this one middle linebacker by getting their guard down on him while trapping the defensive end.
The 3-4 defense has only 3 defensive linemen in the box but has an extra linebacker. This linebacker can be used to go out into coverage or to blitz. The drawback of the 3-4 defense is that you have to have a solid nose tackle that is strong enough to withstand and hold a double team block. This is the key to this whole defense. If the nose tackle cannot handle the double team and play two gap responsibility, then this defense is done! The appealing part of this defense is its ability to be able to attack the offence multiple ways and directions. It is not a read and react defence compared to the 4-3 but an attack defense that is successful because of the pressure it brings along with having good downfield coverage. Most 3-4 schemes are gap attackers so can be hard to run on as well. Another drawback is that with this pressure,its easy to become too predictable and give a good offensive co-coordinator a chance to exploit your blitz.

When choosing which defense to run my advice would be to evaluate your team personnel and determine what type of players you have and then go from there. I find if you have an athletic bunch but lack size and strength, the gap attacking 3-4 defense may be the best fit. As well, if you find your group has good size and strength but lack an abundance of athletic players, perhaps you're more suited to play the 4-3 defense.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Decrease your 40 yard Dash Time: Developing Killer Speed

Speed is the difference between an average athlete and a great athlete. Decreasing your 40 yard dash time in football and becoming faster makes an average football player good and a good football player great. That's why speed, for any football player, or any athlete for the most part is a good investment. There is a common misconception that people are born with speed. But speed can be developed and enhanced through proper training and conditioning!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Football Keys: Open Field Tackling and Special Teams

When looking for special team players one of the main skills you are looking for from your players is their ability to make open field tackles. One thing that I have learned over the years as a specialty teams coach is that you cannot hide players on these teams that do not have the ability to make open field tackles otherwise you are setting yourself and the player up for failure.

Usually failure on a special team results in giving up a touchdown.

When you consider that the opposing punt/kick-off returner is probably their best and fastest athlete you need to counter on your special team with your very best athletes and tacklers. Not only are they solid tacklers but they are also smart football players that know how to contain and tackle the opposing returners. One of the things that good special team players do when pursuing the returner in the open field is to take away one of his running options. They will do this by breaking down on the returners inside shoulder as they meet in open field and only giving the returner one option and that is to go outside.

A lot of times you'll hear the term in special teams to" use the sideline as your friend". In other words you take away the inside cutback of the returner by shading inside and push the returner hard to the sideline where you either run him out of bounds or force him to turn North /South as he approaches the sideline, right back towards your player where he has the advantage of making the tackle. Simply by being smart and using the sideline boundary to his advantage the player is able to effectively tackle a more agile athlete by taking away the inside cutback and forcing him to the sideline where he has to turn up field and either runs out of room or is tackled.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Linebacker Keys: Footwork Drills

Effective linebacker play means that you have to be athletic, agile, and quick in order to tackle the opposition's best athletes. One of the main linebacker keys is to practice footwork drills daily as part of your football practice plan.

Linebackers not only have to be athletic aggressive tacklers they have to be able to move quickly to the football. An effective practice plan for linebackers should include agility and movement drills that emphasize quick explosion and movement out of stance as well as drills that emphasize change of direction on the fly. These types of footwork drills should be done daily for 10 -15 minutes. A linebacker that cannot move will be exposed against an athletic running back as well as a solid offensive line.

Effective linebacker footwork drills will enhance your linebacker's ability to get to the ball, avoid blocks by being quick and agile, get to the ball and be able to tackle the ball carrier. Effective linebacker footwork drills done daily will make your athletic linebacker even more agile and quick. It's a good investment of practice time!

Friday, May 6, 2011


There's a lot to consider when planning football drills for a youth football camp. As a position coach my drill plans not only have to be effective but have to consider the age of each group that rotates through as well. Consider that with all the various age groups from Mosquito football players to High School, my practice plan for each specific football groups will have adapt in order to reflect the age and maturity level of each group that rotates through my station.

There are drills that I have planned for High School players that I know are not suitable for Mosquito or Atom level players so my practice plan will have to reflect this and adjust to each level that rotates through my station. My main goal for this regardless of what drill I am running and what age group is running through is that they have good form and technique. In other words, they must do each drill with a purpose and not just for the sake of filling in time getting them to do something.

I will emphasize form and technique even in the simplest drills.

So my practice plan will involve all drills starting in their position stance followed by a lot of movement and change of direction drills all the while emphasizing good form, technique and body position. I plan on having an assistant coach run the drills while I observe each player. This will allow me to talk to players individually without stopping the drill and coach up and correct their form if necessary!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


A carefully planned defensive blitz attack by an aggressive group of football athletes can throw a wrench into the offence and make the playing field a little more even against teams that are superior in talent and strength. One of the thrills of being a football defensive co-ordinator is the excitement of blitzing your opponent, pressuring the quarterback, and forcing a well oiled offensive machine into turn-over's and mistakes.

But it can certainly be your downfall as well!

Blitzing is like rolling the dice play after play, it's a gamble that you take, it can be a lot of fun when you get on a roll, sack the quarterback and create a turn-over. But, from time to time, like any gamble, you're going to roll "snake eyes" and pay the price It won't take too long for a well coached team to take advantage of your blitz attack, expose its vulnerabilities, and move the football. The better teams know that by being patient when under attack and figuring out where and what players are blitzing that they can expose these players and take advantage of the space they vacate in order to blitz. How many times have you watched NFL teams blitz and sack the quarterback in the first quarter and then get ripped apart in the second quarter?

There are some keys to consider!

Be patient in your blitz. Don't fire the guns play after play and become predictable. Be aggressive, and then back off. Blitz different personnel. Show blitz, get them to audible to another play, then drop into coverage. Keep the offence guessing. As the game moves along, perhaps you'll expose some weakness or flaw in their schemes. Take advantage of it but be patient with it as well. If you find they are having a hard time with it turn up the heat slowly and be cautious of not being placed in a position where you can be exposed and give up a big play.

There will be times that team's will not be able to stop your blitz pressure. But at the same time the better teams will be able to expose this pressure so it's best to be patient with your blitz and be smart with it as well!