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Simplifying Football for Youth Coaches

Choosing an Offensive System for a Youth Football Team

Written By: hawkcoach - Mar• 30•11

What exciting offense should you be running with your youth football team?  A spread-option?  A wildcat?  Pistol offense?  How about a more traditional offense like a single wing offense, double wing offense or a wing-T?

Offensive Play Call

Offensive Play Call

The best starting point would to pick an offense that best fits the grade level of your players.  Trying to teach a spread option or a pistol offense to 8 year-olds may not be the best choice.  My suggestion is to choose an offense with a running game that features multiple backs and has a blocking scheme that will be easy to teach your offensive line.  I’ve coached a double wing offense for the past three years with much success.

Unless you have a phenomenal QB, really good receivers and are good at teaching pass blocking, don’t give in to the temptation to develop a passing game at the expense of a solid running game.  Take your first few weeks of practice and install 3 types of plays.  Make sure your running game can effectively run in the A gap between the two guards.  Next choose a play that will hit the C gap between your tackle and end.  Finally, make sure you’ve got a sweep play that can run wide around either end.  Now that you’ve chosen 3 plays to hit 6 different spots make sure you practice those plays until your offense can run each one perfectly. 

The next series of plays to install will be your “trick” plays.  And no I don’t mean double reverses or statue of liberty type trick plays.  In youth football your best trick plays are counters and reverses.  Counters and reverses run at the right point in a youth football game can be deadly.   The right time to run them is rarely in the first quarter.  If you’ve done your diligence and worked on your primary three plays and can run them really well, you should be able to move the ball consistently in small chunks of yards.  Once the defense thinks they know what play is coming and they start overpursuing to stop it, then run your counter or reverse.

Three or four weeks into your season is when you can start implementing simple pass plays.  Play action works really well at the youth level.  Treat your passing game like your counter game and use it to hit a big play instead of depending on it to move the ball consistently.  Now is also a good time to add a play to the B gap.  If your team is up to the task you can also start teaching your backs and ends different ways to hit the A, B and D gaps.  The smartest way to do this is to use plays that will utilize your current blocking scheme to hit those various holes.  Keep it simple for your offensive line.

Keep your offense simple.  Be good at what you do.  Build your offense so you can easily plug in your back-up players.  Don’t try to get cute – just execute well.

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