Expert Defensive Game Planning Strategies For #1 Youth Football Defenses

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I received an email from a youth football coach about how I do my Defensive Game Planning For Youth Football Defenses especially for the first pee wee football game of the season. I wrote him a long winded email email and I thought this might make a good youth football blog post over at CoachParker.org so here we go. This will wind up being a good defensive coordinator checklist.

How should I prepare for that first game in terms of scouting?

Coach Chris
defensive game planning

Here are a few past blog posts on Game Prep and scouting that I have written to help with this defensive game planning question. Of course most of this will be focused on how one would run my 62 Multi 8 Youth Football Defense.

Defensive Game Planning

First in your defensive game planning, make sure your base run and pass defenses are sound and that everyone knows their position responsibilities and the back-ups are ready. Most youth football players love defense so preparing for defense is easier than offense. Make sure your Head Coach gives you the needed prep time. Sometime HC/OCs get focused on offense and defense is the step child.

Defense wins Championships so practice Defense. Many smart coaches will only put top players on Defense and skimp on the offensive line. You choose your poison. If your opponent does not score you will probably win. If your offense is not up to par then make sure your Defense is ready to go. Make good choices on where to start your best players on Defense is a good defensive game planning strategy for youth football.

Choosing the right players to start on defensive is very important but also making sure everyone knows how to play their position including with adjustments and substitutions, make sure your defensive players know how to TACKLE. And they are very good at tackling not arm tackling but laying the wood. Spend a ton of time on tackling. Remember football at base is Blocking and Tackling. Maybe your number #1 defensive game planning is making sure your defensive youth football players know how to tackle. I like the Seahawk tackle technique myself. It works great for our defenses.

youth football tackle

Position Specific defensive game planning strategies are…..

Make sure your defensive ends “contain men” do not crash. They need to be quick to their mesh point 2 to 3 yards behind the deepest back to put max amount of pressure in the backfield. The DEs do not chase down, they should wait for the counter or reverse. Key factor in the first game.

DTs must also not pinch hard down before penetration but pinch down once in the backfield. LBs must stuff the hole if power and flow if sweep. Make sure they stuff if power. Watch second step to the hole striaght is power out is sweep.

CBs must pick up hidden TEs and FS must find the other receivers. A gappers must stuff center and not allow wedge plays or QB sneaks. Make sure everyone knows the base defense responsibilities. Watch the counter and reverse. Perfect practice almost always equals a win.

Do not lose the first game to a pass or a misdirection play or an off tackle play that you cannot stop. You can always adjust. I have watched rookie coaches not adjust to a power lead play to the C gap and let us run 100+ yards through that hole. Be flexible in the first game.

Also make sure you Defense knows to watch the football just in case they will try to use a tricky snap count. You do not need any stupid off-sides penalties. Make sure to review common defensive penalties when developing your defensive game planning strategies.

First Game – Defensive Game Planning

First games are always tough. I hate them. You never really know how your team will play. It is even worse when you have a new team and they are not used to playing together yet. Be flexible and be ready to adjust.

Before the first game, try to get in 2 to 4 scrimmages. This will help you find the right players for each position and help you find your defense’s weaknesses. Film these scrimmages.

If you can try to find a team that has scrimmaged your first game opponent so you can talk to the other coaches about how they did against that team. This is a great opportunity to trade film if they filmed that scrimmage with your first game opponent.

  1. Look for old scout film on that team. Or Offensive coordinator name to determine what his base offense potentially could look like.
  2. Ask around the league with other coaches that may know about the team and coaching staff. What do they run and who is their stud?
  3. Ask your parents, sometimes a player or parent knows the team or someone on the team. Shoot they may have played for the coach.
  4. Find out where they practice or where they scrimmage and go scout them. I will scout a scrimmage but others have scouted my practices. Free country.
  5. Ask other coaches that have scrimmaged them how they looked and what to look for.
  6. You want to stop their best RB so find out who he is if you can and the number.
  7. You want to stop their 5 best plays. Do they pass or run base.
  8. Be ready for a run based offense or a pass offense, I usually run a 5-3 or 5-2 monster if passing more at 12U and go back to a 62 if they are mostly run and or can’t complete a pass. Any team under 10U I will start in a 62WT or 70 defense.
  9. During the actual game, stat the game for formation, play, yardage and ball carrier in detail 1st half so in 2nd half you can adjust.
  10. Most teams will run a base offense the first game to work out issues, be prepared for the o-tackle play, Sweep, TE pass, Wedge and a counter. Most teams will run an I variation or at 12U a spread, maybe a pistol. this will at least give you a base.

I hope you enjoyed part 1 of the youth football defensive game planning strategies. This should help any defensive coordinator preparation for the first game of the season.


Stay tuned for Part 2 Scouting – Defensive Game Planning, how to scout and prepare for an unknown opponent for the first game.

There seem to be hundred of game plan templates on the internet, but I was wondering what yours in particular looks like. Do you have multiple laminated sheets you run off of? What kind of information are you putting down, and in what way are you organizing it so it is readily available to be relayed to the players quickly?

Coach Chris

Please leave me a comment below or contact me anytime. I love talking youth football.

Remember to Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!
Coach Parker
Fort Worth, Texas

PS: Stay Safe!!

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