Choosing a Youth Football Offense is a daunting task for any youth football tackle coach, experienced or not. This is Part 2 of a multi part series on how to choose a youth football offense for your football team. In these first two articles I am reviewing the important variables in choosing an offense for your team.
If you have not read Part One then do so now. Or listen to it below
Read or Listen to the Series on Choosing a Youth Football Offense
- Part 1 – Article / Podcast – Apple or Spotify or Youtube
- Part 2 – Article / Podcast – Apple or Spotify or Youtube
- Part 3 – Article / Podcast – Apple or Spotify or Youtube
- Part 4 – Coming Soon
Choosing a Youth Football Offense Part 2 Important Variables
Key Variables on Choosing a Youth Football Offense
In Part 2 I’ll discuss these remaining variables to consider while evaluating and choosing a youth football offense for potential use:
- Type of Snap / Gun or UC
- Size of Offensive Linemen
- Blocking Calls
- Blocking Skills / Pulling Linemen
- Multiple Formations / Shifts / Motion
- QB Skills – Footwork / Hands / Passing
- Passing Capabilities
- Speed of Team / RBs
- Number of Top Running Backs
- Power / Speed / Misdirection / Pass Type Offense
- Versatility and Flexibility of the Offense
- Offensive System Easy to Learn, Install, Execute
- Available Offense Materials / Resources / Playbooks
We discussed these important variables to Choosing a Youth Football Offense in Part 1.
- Age of Players
- Experience of Players
- Maturity & Memory of Players
- Size of Players
- Size of Roster / # of Players
- Minimum Play Rules
- Amount of Practice Time / Week
- Coach’s Experience / Knowledge of Offense
- Assistant Coaches Experience Levels
- Rec vs Select League
- Competition Skill Level
- Type of Defenses in League
Part 2 Key Variables on How to Choose an Offense
Type of Snap / Gun or UC
For me the snap is a huge variable in choosing a youth football offense. I played Center a few years so maybe I am a perfectionist, but if my Center cannot Shotgun snap 9.5/10 then I will probably not run an Offense that requires a Shotgun snap. I have beaten and seen too many teams lose from turning over poor Shotgun snaps. Most youth teams can snap better Under Center vs Shotgun. Make sure to choose a youth football offense that matches your snapping capabilities.
Size of Offensive Linemen
The size of offensive linemen can play a factor in choosing a youth football offense, especially at older ages when the bog o-linemen become quicker and more skilled. At younger ages size does not play as a huge advantage over medium sized linemen with fundamental & technical skills and speed. Many times, smaller OLM might be better than out of shape 200 lb. linemen. The key factor on choosing youth football offensive linemen is good feet and quickness.
How the Offense is blocked is a key factor in choosing a youth football offense. Some Offenses require reach blocking to perfect certain plays which might be tough for some younger youth football players. Some may require fancy different blocking calls for each player to execute. Make sure to understand the blocking of the Offense and how the running backs are asked to block too, not just the OLM. Blocking is the most important part of the Offense. Easy to execute blocking calls will help you win more games.
Blocking Skills / Pulling Linemen
Blocking Skills and Pulling linemen is another big factor in picking a youth football offense. Some Offenses require intense pulling by youth offensive linemen. In my opinion many recreational youth football linemen are unable to pull to my satisfaction to be effective. Now if you are a Select and or Travel team coach, I would expect my hand picked Guards and possibly Tackles to pull. Simple unbalanced angle blocking schemes seem to work more effectively at the recreational youth football level.
I do know many coaches in our youth tackle league try to pull offensive linemen with little success until 11U and 12U when players are stronger and faster. I pull linemen when I have the talent to do so but for me it has been a luxury. I will use an unbalanced line more than pulling in youth football. And yes, I know how to teach pulling since I was a pulling Guard for several years.
Multiple Formations / Shifts / Motion
Another few variables in choosing a youth football offense are pre-snap shifting and or motion, along with multiple formations. I have found that at older ages rec teams can pre-snap shift without too many issues, but younger rec teams struggle with pre-snap shifting. Motion is a hit or miss. Some teams can run motion at 8u and other teams it may take until 10u. Multiple formations are not a big issue if you keep it to 2 or 3 above maybe 7u or 8u, depending on talent and maybe you only move the RBs / skill players. Just know if an Offense has one of these variables it will increase the complexity of the Offense.
QB Skills – Footwork / Hands / Passing
When choosing a youth football Offense does it require an exceptional player at Quarterback? This is a big question, especially for many recreational youth football coaches since many of us do not get to hand pick our skill talent. If the Offense requires above average footwork, spinning, dropping, handing off, tossing, pitching, etc. then the complexity of the Offense increases. You will need to weigh these factors into your choice when choosing a youth football Offense.
Passing capabilities is another major factor in choosing a youth football Offense. Heavy run Offenses are common at the youth football level since effective passing talent is scarce. And the reason I say passing capabilities vs a great Quarterback is pass plays must do several things right to be effective, not just a great passing QB. The play must be blocked effectively, the snap must be perfect, the QB drop must be above average, QB must be able to throw more than 15 yards on target with velocity and the receivers must be able to run routes and catch poorly thrown balls too. So, if you are trying to run a Spread 2×2 Air Raid and can’t shotgun snap or catch then maybe you want to consider another Offense.
Speed of Team / RBs
Speed is a huge advantage in youth football. The youth football team with the top Speed in the age division is sure to win almost every game if poor coaching isn’t a factor. And even then, with poor coaching, it is easy for any Coach to win games with a top speed Tailback. Speed at running back makes life so much easier at all levels of football, not just youth football. If you have top speed, you want a more Sweeping type of offense than Power. Although you can do both. Slow backfields will need to focus on Power offenses and be exceptional at blocking to be more competitive.
Team speed is also great for Defense too. Your Defense can certainly play more aggressive with team speed.
Factor in the Speed of your team when choosing a youth football offense.
Number of Top Running Backs
Many times, when coaching a recreational youth football team, you might only have one really good running back and have 1 other ok running back and the rest are rookie backs or not very fast, maybe a fullback and tight end too.
So, the number of experienced and or fast running backs is a key variable on choosing a youth football offense. When we pick from our youth leagues pool of players, we put a premium on running backs over linemen. Speed is a must in youth football. We try to get at least 3 players that we know can play running back. We usually just get 2 decent RBs if we are lucky and must train the other two or three players to play in the backfield. I am sure many of you feel our pain in acquiring skill players within your youth football tackle league.
Some Offenses tend to be more effective if you have 3 to 4 running backs to make the system work. So make sure to find an Offense that will match your offensive backfield skillset. For example, the I formation works great for one top tier Tailback and can work with average running backs around the premiere TB. Split Backs work better for 2 good running backs and the Wing T works good with 2 backs and a great QB who can handle all the footwork.
Once you get to the Spread Offense, teams go to the Spread to showcase their premier skills talent and smaller offensive lines. When I run the Spread, I like to have 5 or 6 highly skilled backfield / receiving players to take full advantage of the Spread formation, not just Jet Sweeps.
Power / Speed / Misdirection / Pass Type Offense
When choosing a youth football Offense find out what the main philosophy / strategy of the Offense is at its core; Power, Speed, Misdirection, Pass and or a Combination of all or a few. Match this strategy to your team’s skills and your philosophy. I am more of a Power and Misdirection type coach. But when I do have speed then I will open up my Offense to match my talent.
Versatility and Flexibility of the Offense
Another important variable in choosing a youth football Offense is its versatility and flexibility. Can the Offense adjust to my needs and opportunities. If it takes a rocket scientist to adjust the plays for youth football or change a minor tweak to adjust each week for opponents then maybe it is to complicated for team or youth football.
Offensive System Easy to Learn, Install, Execute
Any Offense is going to be hard to learn for a new / rookie youth football Coach. There are just a ton of moving parts to any Offense. For new coaches you want to limit the number of moving parts or variables to make your life simpler until you can learn how to coach youth football. Because coaching youth football looks easy, but it is not. Make sure when choosing a youth football offense to make sure it is easy to install, learn and execute by you, your coaching staff, and your players.
Available Offense Materials / Resources / Playbooks
Part of learning and growing with an Offense is to make sure there are great playbooks, books and resources available to learn the Offense from experienced coaches that actually run the Offense.
Taking a Look at the Top Youth Football Offenses -Intro to Part 3
I am going to try to comment on each offense and the variables it might take to run for a recreational youth football team. Your team might be stacked with players so your results may vary. I’ve already written about my top 5 youth football offenses. These are my opinions and you may certainly disagree in the comments area, contact me on my contact page or in my private youth football coaching group on Facebook
Unbalanced Single Wing
The Single Wing is traditionally an unbalanced line, direct snap, power runs, deception, multiple ball carriers, unique formation from football’s past.
- What is it? 4 back Unbalanced Formation featuring misdirection, passing and power
- Strength – Unbalanced Powerful Misdirection attack
- Weakness – Need 2 to 4 good RBs / Squat or Shotgun Snap
Below is the main Unbalanced Single Wing Formation and its main Offensive play.
The Single Wing formation has been around since the early 1900’s. It was the invention of Pop Warner. He also developed the Double Wing. At the time, the T Formation was very popular. The SW or A/Z formation is a great formation for power running and misdirection. The SW allowed teams to use more misdirection, better edge rushing, the Wing’s alignment helped the passing attack and took advantage of the unbalanced line and extra QB blocker for blocking with more people at the point of attack. There are a ton of flavors of the UBSW and most know the Sainted 6 so that’s what I am going to review too.
UBSW Offensive Variables to Consider
- Snap – Shotgun Snap or Short Squat Snap
- Blocking – Fairly Simple Angle Blocking
- Pulling – Yes some pulling
- Power or Speed – Power with Misdirection
- Forms, Motion or Shifts – Unbalanced Double Tight Ends
- Passing – Minimal
- Formations – Unbalanced Double Tight Ends
- OLM Size – Average to Big – Big Helpful since Power
- QB Skills – No Traditional QB, More Direct Snaps to Backs
- Running Backs – Need 2 good and 2 average RBs needed
- Team Speed – Average
- Ball Skills Handoffs Tosses – Average – Direct Snaps
- Easy to Install – Base 6 to 8 plays easy to install
- Team Age / Experience – Easy to Install for Rookies and Younger ages
- Available Playbooks / Materials – Huge Community of SW Coaches
I ran the DC-UBSW for one season and enjoyed coaching the Offense. Since I was also running the Beast and a DW / WT hybrid I call Speed. We might not have given the UBSW Offense our full attention. At the time we had 6 outstanding experienced skilled running backs and ran more Sweeps than Power that year. We were already happy with the Beast SW, an ND Box variation, and the DW/WT Hybrid at 9U. The UBSW is an exceptional youth football Offense for 8U and higher in my opinion. I know there are a ton of Single Wing resources and playbooks out there for any coach looking for great SW resources. My SW eBook is above.
More Offense Coming in Part 3
Stay tuned for part 3 and I will review more top youth football offense like:
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%
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!
Fort Worth, Texas