Choosing a Youth Football Offense – Part 1 – Important Variables

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choosing a youth football offense

Choosing a Youth Football Offense is a tough decision for a new youth football coach and an experienced one too. Recently, I went down the Rabbit Hole to try find the magic solution or hidden door to answer this difficult question. In my research, many coaches will tell me what they think is the simplest or best youth offense and it is mainly the offense they already know. In a past blog post I did write about what I think are the Best Offenses for youth football. So even I will have a bias but hoping to but that behind me for this multi part article on Choosing a Youth Football Offense.

In this multi part article on Choosing a Youth Football Offense I am trying to move past my internal bias and look at choosing a youth football offenses based on about 25 variables that keep coming up when I talk to youth football coaches. I define youth football from 5u to 12u, not really 7th and 8th grade ball.

I would also like to thank many of the coaches in my FB groups and the Wing-T, Single Wing and Double Wing Facebook Groups for some great feedback and also thank Coach Kessler and Green for their thoughtful input.

Read or Listen to the Series on Choosing a Youth Football Offense

Part 1 – Choosing a Youth Football Offense – The Variables

Choosing a youth football offense is a challenging topic to write about. A coach in my Facebook forum posed this question to me, and at first, I was excited to write about it. However, I quickly realized that there are many intricate and ego-driven details to consider when choosing the right offense for a youth football team. There are many variables that go into making this decision, such as the players’ skill level & age, the coaches’ experience & philosophy, the Offenses’ complexities, and time.

Listen to the Podcast on Apple too.

I wrote this blog article with the perspective of a rookie coach in mind, someone new to youth football with less than a year of experience coaching youth tackle football. This youth football Head Coach or Offensive Coordinator coaches an average recreational tackle football offensive team spanning ages 5u to 12u. However, it’s possible that you’re a rare Rookie coach exception, with an exceptional roster, skilled assistant coaches, supportive parents, and an innate talent for coaching youth football. In such cases, your outlook on selecting a youth football offense might differ.

Through conversations with seasoned coaches, it’s evident that they tend to favor specific offensive systems and remain steadfast in their choices. As a coach with a multifaceted approach to both offense and defense, I’m not as fixated on a single offensive system. However, it’s worth noting that I do have a bias towards the Beast Yale Single Wing within a 2 or 3 formation multi offensive system, and I want to be transparent about that preference. Like many coaches, I consider the Beast Yale Single Wing to be the easiest youth football Offense to learn. Keep reading and make your own decision on choosing a youth football offense.

Key Variables on Choosing a Youth Football Offense

Here are essential factors I’ll consider while evaluating and choosing a youth football offense for potential use:

  1. Age of Players
  2. Experience of Players
  3. Maturity & Memory of Players
  4. Size of Players
  5. Size of Roster / # of Players
  6. Minimum Play Rules
  7. Amount of Practice Time / Week
  8. Coach’s Experience / Knowledge of Offense
  9. Assistant Coaches Experience Levels
  10. Rec vs Select League
  11. Competition Skill Level
  12. Type of Defenses in League
  13. Type of Snap / Gun or UC
  14. Size of Offensive Linemen
  15. Blocking Skills / Calls
  16. Pulling Linemen
  17. Multiple Formations / Shifts / Motion
  18. QB Skills – Footwork / Hands / Passing
  19. Passing Capabilities
  20. Speed of Team / RBs
  21. Number of Top Running Backs
  22. Power / Speed / Misdirection / Pass Type Offense
  23. Versatility and Flexibility of the Offense
  24. Offensive System Easy to Learn, Install, Execute
  25. Available Offense Materials / Resources / Playbooks

Coach What You Know / Experience

A recurring piece of advice from experienced coaches is to teach what you’re familiar with. If you’re confident in the Double Wing, Power I, Beast, or Unbalanced Single Wing, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. However, ensure the chosen youth football offense aligns with your team’s age, skill level and your coaching experience.

If you are considering learning a new offense, it is important to understand the demands of learning a new system. Many offenses take about a year to fully appreciate the complexities of the schemes.

Age of Players

Younger players will need an easier Offense to learn and execute. The Offense should be focused more on the run with few moving parts, like multiple handoffs, tosses, motion and pulling linemen. Keep it Simple, KISS. And Fun.

  • Easy to Learn
  • Easy to Execute
  • More Fun

Of course, there are also some drawbacks to running a simpler offense. A simpler offense may not be as effective against more experienced teams. However, for younger players, the benefits of running a simpler offense outweigh the drawbacks.

If you are a coach of younger players, I encourage you to choose a simple offense with 8 or less plays that is focused on the run. This will allow your players to learn the game, have fun, and be successful.

Experience of Players

A youth football team primarily composed of rookie players, even within the 11 or 12u age bracket, presents greater challenges compared to assembling a 9u team of predominantly experienced players within your offensive system. I’ve observed that it typically takes about 4 to 5 games for a rookie youth football tackle player to truly become effective on the field. In some instances, this learning curve can extend to 2 to 3 seasons. As I construct our roster, I prioritize the inclusion of experienced players due to their valuable impact on installing and executing our Offensive plans.

Maturity & Memory of Players

Like Age, the maturity and Football IQ / Knowledge / Memory of your players is a big factor in choosing an Offense and how many formations and plays you can effectively execute. Older players’ football IQ increases with experience and knowledge of the game but some physically mature players at these young ages are unable to grasp some more complex concepts or remember their plays and responsibilities required to play starting skill positions like Quarterback, Running back or Center. Remember to take this into account when you are choosing a youth football offense.

Size of Players

Player size plays a pivotal role in choosing a youth football offense, particularly in older age groups and for select travel teams. Despite being on and coaching smaller teams, competitiveness remains achievable. In the 11u and 12u divisions, the decision between running Power versus a Spread, Wing-T, or Double Wing offense can often be influenced by the size of your offensive line. While smaller or medium-sized players might showcase enhanced speed and technique compared to larger, less conditioned counterparts, the presence of heavier and taller players does offer advantages when choosing a youth football offense. These attributes lead to a more diverse array of Offensive options.

Size of Roster / # of Players

The size of your roster and the number of players on your team can often shape the choice of a youth football offense. In scenarios where you possess a substantial roster and find yourself needing to make more substitutions than usual, opting for a highly intricate offense might not necessarily be the most optimal decision when choosing a youth football offense.

# of Minimum Play Rules / Players

Having a strong team is essential in youth football. However, if you have inexperienced or slower progressing players, it’s important to consider that when selecting your offensive strategy. Players who need more guidance may struggle with remembering their positions and responsibilities and this might be a factor in choosing a youth football offense. Especially if you must play all players more than about 15 plays a game and or a certain number of plays on Offense.

Amount of Practice Time / Week

The amount of practice time available is a critical factor in determining the right offense to implement. Teams with only two two-hour practices per week have a different time constraint than teams that practice three or five times per week. If your team only has two days of practice per week, it is wise to choose a simpler offensive scheme that can be more effectively learned and executed within the limited practice time. If you are a coach with a team that has limited practice time, I encourage you to choose a simple, easy-to-learn, and easy-to-execute offense. This will give your players the best chance of success.

Assistant Coaches Experience Levels

If you are lucky enough to have an offensive coordinator who understands how to install and call an offense, you may want to lean towards that offense if it fits within your philosophy and strategies for your team and fits your roster talent.

Here are some of the reasons why it is important to consider your offensive coordinator’s knowledge and experience when choosing a youth football offense:

  • Your offensive coordinator is the one who will be teaching and calling the plays. It is important to choose an offense that your coordinator is comfortable with and that they can teach effectively.
  • Your offensive coordinator will be making adjustments during the game. It is important to choose an offense that your coordinator can adapt to different situations.
  • Your offensive coordinator will be working with your players to develop their skills. It is important to choose an offense that your coordinator can help your players learn and execute.

If you have an offensive coordinator who is knowledgeable and experienced, you can be confident that they will be able to choose the right offense for your team and help your team be successful.

Rec vs Select League

When choosing a youth football offense, it’s essential to factor in whether you’re participating in a Recreational league, where players are assigned to your team, or if you’re part of a Select/Travel team where you have the liberty to handpick your players. In the latter scenario, where recruitment and player selection are possible, you might consider opting for a more intricate youth football offense. The ability to pick your team’s composition can create the opportunity to develop a sophisticated offensive strategy, leveraging the strengths of individually selected players.

Competition Skill Level

The skill level of the competition is crucial when choosing a youth football offense because your offensive strategy should align with your team’s ability to effectively compete. If you’re facing opponents with varying levels of skill and experience, your offense needs to be adaptable. Against stronger adversaries, a more versatile offense can provide options to counter their strengths. Conversely, if facing less skilled opponents, a simpler offense might yield success. Selecting an offense that matches the competition’s skill level enhances your team’s chances of executing plays effectively and achieving favorable outcomes. If you can run a simple offense to perfection and still achieve success then use the extra time on Special Teams or Defense.

Type of Defenses in League

Defensive schemes and strengths significantly impact choosing a youth football offense. A strong defense can exploit the weaknesses of certain offensive systems, influencing your selection. For example, if the opposition excels at defending the Double Wing, a DW offense might be a wrong choice. Conversely, against a defense weak against power runs, a run-heavy offense like the DW could thrive. The defensive formations, blitz packages, and coverage strategies used by opponents can limit certain offensive plays, making it essential to choose an offense that can exploit their vulnerabilities while remaining adaptable to counter their strengths. Most youth football teams will run a 62 or 53 Defense.

More to come in Part 2 of Choosing a Youth Football Offense

In the upcoming Part 2 installment of “Choosing a Youth Football Offense,” we will delve further into the important key variables that factor into making an informed decision. We will explore the remaining essential considerations that shape your offensive strategy, allowing you to craft a well-rounded approach tailored to your team’s unique characteristics. As we continue, we will transition into discussing the intricacies of Offenses, formations and plays in Part 3.

Be sure to stay tuned for more thoughtful and practical guidance as we dig deeper into this popular topic. Your journey towards selecting the ideal youth football offense is just beginning, and we are here to provide you with the knowledge and informatoin you need to make a great choice for your team.

Schedule a Virtual Clinic and let me help you choose a youth football Offense.
Virtual Clinic with Coach Parker

The Youth Football Offenses / Formations

Popular Youth Football Offenses

Results from an old youth football Offense Poll – Offenses %

  • I Formation 16%
  • Double Wing 12%
  • Single Wing 9%
  • Wing T 9%
  • Power I 9%
  • Split / Pro 9%
  • Wishbone 8%
  • Spread  6%
  • Pistol 6%
  • T Form 5%
  • Beast 4%
  • Option 4%
  • Off-Set I 4%
  • Other  2%

What is the best Offense for Youth Football? In a past blog post I did write about what I think are the Best Offenses for youth football. In Part 2 I will review the main youth football Offenses / Formations. In the mean time you can review the links below.

  1. Single Wing – UBSW
  2. Beast – Yale Single Wing
  3. Double Wing – DTDW
  4. Wing-T
  5. I Formation
  6. Split Backs
  7. Power I
  8. Off-Set I
  9. Wishbone
  10. Spread
  11. Gun T
  12. T Formation
  13. Pistol
  14. Diamond T
  15. Air Raid

Did I leave out any variables in Choosing a youth football offense? Which one or more do you think is the most important variable when picking an Offense? For the next part of the article, what Offense do you run? Let me know in the comments. 

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

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