Youth Football Defenses

In my three years as a 7-10 year old Pee Wee football coach, I have experimented with several defenses recommended as youth football defenses.  Last year as a 4th grade team, we used variations of three popular defenses for different situations.  Our base defense was a 6-2 defense with various blitzes, stunts and line adjustments from the 6-2.  Our most effective blitzing defense is a version of the old Eagle 7 Defense which we called BK, named after the two players that made this defense successful for us.   If we knew a team was a passing team, we would move into a 5-3 Defense on passing downs.  Because successful passing at this age group is so rare, we play man to man coverage.  With my current defenses for this age group, I dare the offenses to beat me with the pass.

In my base 6-2 defense, I ran many blitzes out of this formation.  Safety blitz up the middle over the center gaps, single or double cornerback blitz, linebacker blitzes to various called gaps, and an all out blitz by everyone.  We also played zone if we wanted to read the offense.  See diagram below for 6-2 defense.

In the diagram, Diamonds are Cornerbacks & Safeties, Triangles are Lineman and Diamonds with lines are the Linebackers.

62 Wide Tackle Defense – Wide Tackle 6

The 62 Defense is a great youth football defense.

Our main Blitzing defense to stop sweeps was our Pirate BK Defense which is a version of the 70 Eagle Defense.  We moved the linebackers / blitzers around to a “Tango” outside blitz as shown below, to a “Maniac” double A gap blitz to “Double Whopper” double right / left outside blitz.  Depending on the blitz the DT or Corner would have contain responsibility.  The main play for this defense is the “Tango” blitz.   The LBs are suppose to run the sweep lanes and hunt the ball.  In practice, I have the two blitzing LBs run the sweep lanes and give each other a low five as they run past each other at the point where the QB would be standing in shotgun formation.  I tell the LBs that no one should touch them as they blitz.  Run around the blockers, juke the blockers, but DO NOT get tied up with a blocker on the Tango blitz.  This has been the most effective blitz for us.   It also works well for off-tackle plays, if you tell the LBs to take a shallow sweep lane.  Sometimes, we would move one the the safeties into a MLB position and go into a 7-1 if we needed more horsepower in the middle.

70 Youth Football Defense

70 Defense Youth Football Defense

Our base pass defense is the 5-3.  This defense works well for most situations, but for this age group it worked great for us as a passing defense, because most of the passes are within the reach of the linebackers.

5-3 Youth Football Defense

5-3 Youth Football Defense

 We did not blitz out of the 5-3 defense.  We read the defense and watch for passes.

One defense which I read about this last year and have been playing around with on paper is John T Reed’s GAM Defense, Gap Air Mirror.  I really like the GAP concept and the Mirroring concepts.  I will test this defense out this year, especially in goal line situations.  The GAM defense is a GAP 8 which most team play on goal line defenses.  It looks pretty interesting.

Gap 8 Defense – Great Pee Wee Defense for ages 5/6

The GAM / Gap 8 defense for youth football teams

This year, I am going to stick closer to my BK Defense and test out the GAM defense.  I will continue to use a 5-3 variation against successful passing offenses.  But, I doubt I will see many great 5th grade passing teams.  Maybe next year.

Here is a link to a great summary of defense;

Good luck this season.


Check out my new defense the 62 Multi 8 Youth Football Defense in this free youth football coaching video.

Stay tuned as I develop more videos on the 62 Multi 8 Youth Football Defense from my youth football defensive playbook. The 62 Multi 8 Defense is based on the popular Wide Tackle 6 and 52 Monster Defenses.

You can by the companion book to the free 62 Multi 8 Youth Football Defense videos here. 

Coach Parker
Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!




Filed under Defense

17 responses to “Youth Football Defenses

  1. Matt

    Hi coach,

    I am facing a Power I wedge team this week as a very good running back. He lines up 6 yards deep and picks the weakest point of the line following two lead blocker running backs. My question is what do you think is the best solution for this.
    6-2 Wide
    70 Pirate
    or the GAM.
    Please let me know your thoughts.
    One question I wanted to get your opinion on is the 70 Pirate looks vulnerable right up the middle. How would you defend the power I wedge. Please let me know.

  2. AJ


    I coach a football team for 10-11 yrs old and our teams are now 27-4 using the GAM exclusively. I caution the use of multiple schemes on either side of the ball – it usually leads to paralysis of analysis and prevents the kids from being great at any one of them. I was going to use the 5-2 defense when I started coaching, mainly because that is what we ran in high school and college, but I do not like a zone defense for youth – too complicated for many kids at that age. Unless you are facing a good option team or a great passing team, the GAM is more than what you need. 80% of our wins are shutouts and the pressure applied with the right personnel in this system is dynamite.

  3. How did the GAM work out for you? I tried it one year with 10 year olds and got beat pretty bad, shifting back to a 6-2, dropping the SLB over the TE. Seemed to work better. This season with 11 year olds, I have been running a 4-4 primarily playing the OLBs tight to the line with a cover 3 behind it. We have done well with that giving up just under 6 PPG, 14 in one game. Thanks for the great site.

  4. Josh

    The 6-2 defense seems pretty solid as long as the kids are quick to pick up on what the offense is running. If they can pick up the pass or a well orchestrated run play, it works. If you have a less solid bunch, you could consider the 33-stack that I employed last year. We stopped a lot of offenses, but only won 2 games. Our offense itself had its own problems that weren’t remedied. We had a coach start the offense last season but he didn’t stick around, so the next one had to pick it up where he left off. Didn’t work so well. Anyway, I use 3 linemen with 3 linebackers 2 yards directly behind them. I only used one safety, who should be fast and observant so he can figure out the play quick. Of course I use two cornerbacks, lined up a little wider than usual. Then I use two “wingbacks” who line up like a cornerback but not as wide. On the start of the play the DT hit the outside gap, NT hits gap to his right, OLB go to gap inside of the DT, MLB hits center left gap. Hard to run the middle against this. Wingbacks can cover a receiver or sweep, or blitz. Cornerbacks cover sweep and pass. Safety has to cover backfield and let other players know if they need to cover elsewhere. There are many variations you could use, depending on the kids you are coaching. Let me know what you think…

    • To be honest, fit your talent to the defense. Ive seen many defenses run well. I personally like the 6-2 for the youth level, but I have about 30 different blitz / stunt calls for my 6-2 so the 6-2 turns into a 4-4. 5-3, and Gap 8.

  5. Chuck

    We are going up against a Power I that likes to sweep. We run 4 lineman, 2 in the A gaps and 2 outside the tackles. We have 4 LB’s and two corners with a safety. This has worked for us so far. I was thinking of moving the NG’s to the B gaps to help the outside lineman get good penetration. I know the FB dive might get us but I’d rather them try up the middle versus sweeping us to death – any thoughts?

  6. Anonymous

    How about the 3-4 defense? Anyone have any luck with that defense? We played a speedy team and got murdered this week! Any suggestions?

    • I personally believe in the 6-2 Wide Tackle, 70 Eagle and 5-2 with a Rover that blitzes. If a team passes a ton you may want to move to a 5-3. Take a look at the defense survey results here see the survey link at bottom for results.

      Remember, Speed Kills. If they have a faster back than your fastest player then they probably can sweep all day unless you adjust to deal with the speed in a Spy Key, blitz or overload, etc.

      Coach Parker

    • James

      Yeah! It’s “LITTLE LEAGUE!” genius! Calm down and enjoy your kids!

  7. Lee

    Hey Coach… I was a public school coach for 12 years, and now am coaching my sons 6th grade team. QUESTION: Do you think 12 years old is too young to teach the cross block and the trap? We will more than likely be facing several 8 man fronts, and should be able to exploit them with good angles.

  8. jim

    what is the best defense to stop counters and blasts. currently using gap 8 defense, to me it appears the players are not far enough apart. they always have two leads out in front of the rb except on the counters

    • I run a 6-2 Wide defense. We use the Gap 8 for goal line / short yardage. If your players are not playing technique and responsibilities then the counters will kill you every time. You must coach counters to your defense in practice and show your players what is happening in the backfield so they understand their responsibilities. Your LBs and CBs must not over run the counters. One thing that helped us with our interior lineman is to have them spread their arms out and make sure they are not touching each other. This might help with the spacing.

  9. Richard Payne

    No mention of the 6-3-2 for youth football. i have run this defense for 35 years and it is a cover all defense. Strong off-tackle and against the sweep.

    Richard Payne

  10. Pingback: Youth Football Coaching 2014 Tips | Coaching Youth Football Tips, Talk, and Plays

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