One of the first things I teach my young football players is the offensive holes, gaps, position names and formations. Once we establish our base offensive vocabulary, then it is much easier to learn running and blocking assignments. To do this I developed a t-shirt system very similar to the using a numbered fire hose, but I believe this system works better because you can add more information to the t-shirt and also use t-shirts for the backfield positions.
In the example above, the Center and Guards are shown, but I make t-shirts for all of our offensive positions and move them around accordingly to teach our gap splits and formations.
The cost to make the t-shirts is minimal, maybe $20. I use old t-shirts and have also bought cheap t-shirts from Wal-Mart. I think men’s X-large white tshirts work best. I use a large back permanent marker and write the positions in the middle of the t-shirt and my hole numbering schemes on the sleeves. For backfield positions, I write position and the back number; QB – 1, HB – 2, WB – 3, FB – 4. You can customize the t-shirts to whatever system you chose to use.
For the first two weeks of practice each season, we spend 10-15 minutes a practice learning our formations using the t-shirt system. I lay the t-shirts out and talk about each position and general responsibilities. I then turn the t-shirts over and ask the players where each positions, hole, gap etc, is located and to turn over that t-shirt. When learning our various formations, I will ask the players to move the t-shirts to the new locations.
I also use this t-shirt system to teach defense and I have a defensive set.