Defense Wins Games – Coaching Youth Football

Last season, I learned the hard way that Defense wins games.  I spent most of my time installing a new offense and did not spend the same time on Defense.  We lost in the playoffs by one TD, because my defense could not stop the off-tackle play.   We had beat the team in our first game.   They went on to win our Pee Wee Super Bowl by 40 points.  Oh, the horror!

Coach Nelson, in his book Football Principles and Play quotes on old precept about defense, “The game is never lost if the opposition fails to score.”   And what’s so great about that last statement for youth football coaches is that defense is easier to teach than offense, because you do not have the ball handling & timing issues on defense.  Plus, the kids love to tackle. “Get the kid with the ball, bear hung / wrestle him to the ground or knock him out of bounds.  If the ball is on the ground, go get it before the other team.”  That’s not to hard for 8 year olds to understand.  Contain is another story. 

Another lesson I learned this year was to meet strength with strength.  The only regular season game we lost was to a North Denver team that overpowered my d-tackle and d-end with 4 blockers.  Great play for them, but we did not adjust soon enough to shut them down.  Lost by one TD and our last play ended on their 1 inch line.   Your defense must meet strength to their strength.  If they overload the line, your d-line needs to adjust, if they send a back in motion, you should adjust and if they continue to run 4 kids into the C Gap, Coach Parker you need to adjust!

So these three points work with any youth football team’s defense. 

  1. You can’t lose if they don’t score.
  2. Meet strength with strength.
  3. Defense is easier to teach young players than offense.

Good Luck this season. 

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2 Comments

Filed under Defense

2 responses to “Defense Wins Games – Coaching Youth Football

  1. Beau Diamond

    This is my first year coaching 6 and 7 year olds. I don’t really know what to excpect. do you have any advice to keep their attention? and what do you think they can learn play wise on both sides of the ball.

    • The easiest way to keep attention is to keep them moving. Make sure there is a very very small time between when a kid is in a drill and when he is off.
      This can be done by:
      Involving all kids in all drills all at once.
      Having a good drill that uses the most kids, and rotates well.

      The best advice I actually got from Larry Johnson Sr. (it is an Art of War rip off but still very good)
      “You have to watch your verbage.” Make the drill’s instructions simple, and short. In youth football kids won’t understand complex instruction or body movement. For example: a tackeling drill. You can tell a kid to move to the ball, drop his hips, do a double upper cut, grab cloth keep moving feet. OR Attack, Drop, Uppercut, Drive. Show them what you mean by those steps but keep it really simple.

      Learning plays:
      Simple 4-3 defense: cover 2, cover 2 man under, and blitz all(all lb’s blitz, CBs and SS/FS take man)

      I’m a defensive coach so I don’t know offense:).

      All the best,
      Kevin

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