Tag Archives: youth football defense

Thoughts on Choosing Youth Football Defensive Players

choosing youth football defensive playersI wrote an article a few weeks ago about choosing offensive lineman and thought I would address choosing youth football defensive players in this article.  I define youth football by players in 2nd to 6th grade, so 6 to 13 years old give or take a year.  Tackle football really changes from 6th to 8th grade so adjust your tactics from youth football for Junior High players in 7th / 8th grade and higher when passing becomes a larger percentage of the game.  For a large majority of tackle youth football coaches, the offensive running game should greatly influence your defensive strategy.

Since 2002 I’ve been running a multiple defensive system, which I call the BK Defense named after my two defensive ends from that year.  The defense is mainly a 7-4 defense or 70 defense with 7 down lineman and 4 defensive backs playing more like linebackers than corners and safeties.  I can easily adjust into a 6-1 or 6-2 and a Gap 8 for goal line.  If we face a good passing team we will adjust into a 5-3 or 5-2.  I have also run a 5-5-1 with a 6th grade team against a complete air attack offense and had great success.  And by the way, I’ve been in the playoffs just about every season and won 2 of our last 3 Super Bowls, so shifting isn’t an issue of the defense.  Since I run a wide variety of defenses I think I have a good idea about choosing defensive players.

My rule of thumb for choosing tackle youth football players is choose players that look and play like fullbacks; good speed, quick feet & hands, strong, and love to hit.  This is especially true on defense.  Maybe I am partial to fullbacks since I played fullback but these versatile utility players are almost interchangeable at every position on youth defenses especially at the recreation youth football level.  For Select youth football teams, one must certainly look for more skill specific players, so here are my thoughts on that selection process…

Defensive Ends / Outside Linebackers

My defensive ends are usually my best tacklers / defensive players.  They are usually above average weight and height.  I like tall DE’s, especially for pass rushing if you are in a passing league.  They will have top 10 speed on your team and top 5 quickest in a 10 yard dash.  DE’s have a nose for the football, smart and know how to play contain and rarely get caught crashing underneath.  They must be coachable, obedient, and consistent.  Your DE’s cannot be wildcards, they must be smart and understand the ramifications if they crash and break contain.  DE’s are usually FBs and blocking WBs / TEs.

Inside Linebackers / Middle Linebacker

If the DE’s are your top two tacklers / defenders then the Inside Linebackers are a close second or tie.  The ILB will be bulkier than your DE’s but just as quick.  They have a nose for the football and have the “mean gene” because the love to hit anything and anyone.  They are football smart.  I usually have a Mike/Sam and Will inside LB.  Mike is heavier than Will.  The Will LB will be faster and have great pursuit abilities.  These two defensive players must be hitting someone on every play.  You do not want a ILB that watches the action.  If you are playing a 6-1 with just a Mike, I like my Mike to be very aggressive and flow to the ball well.  Mike must be able to fill and attack the inside lead blocks.  Mike cannot be timid.  The Mike LB is the player in practice that you worry about hurting your starting RBs in the Oklahoma drill.  If you have that players and they are quick, then you might have found your Mike linebacker.  Linebackers are usually FBs and blocking WBs / TEs.

Cornerbacks

There are many opinions about choosing cornerbacks.  In youth football under 7th grade I like CBs that are light weight fast outside linebackers.  Unless I have scouted our opponent and they pass more than 25% of the offensive plays, my CBs play more like OLBs. They play run first then pass, so these two cornerbacks are great open field tacklers and have great pursuit speed.  They must also be able to handle man to man pass coverage.  So, basically I am looking for small DE’s with top 10 speed, open field tacklers, understands passing downs, and can cover receivers up to 20 yards down field.  My CBs are usually in our top 8 to 10 players on the team.  CBs are usually offensive TBs or WBs.

Free Safety / Strong Safety

Since I usually only use a Free Safety, they might be the fastest player on the team that tackles well in the open field.  One of my tailbacks usually plays free safety. Sometimes if you know the team is not a passing team you can play a minimum play player at FS and blitz your safety.  If you play a passing team then your free safety must be fast, play good zone coverage, man to man coverage, and understand passing downs vs short yardage.  Most importantly they must be fast with good pursuit speed to catch their fastest back on a break-away sweep.  If I move into a 5-2, I play a Free Safety and a Strong Safety.  I will move my fastest OLB to SS.

Noseguard

If you play a noseguard with weak DTs you will need a strong noseguard with hefty weight and quickness or a medium sized player that is a ferret type player with a great nose for the ball.  Sometimes your best NG is a player that is always in the backfield around the ball, even with the biggest O-line they are quick enough to penetrate the o-line.  This is a ferret player and they make great NG.  In the past I’ve had two CBs that I used at NG because they could tear it up in the middle with a slow Center.  If an offense is a power running team, then you might want some heft at your noseguard and contain two or three holes with his mass and rush. Either one of these type players make great NG’s in youth football.  Many times this will depend on your roster.

Defensive Tackles

I like defensive tackles that are just slow DE’s.  Maybe a little heavier than your DE’s but very quick off the ball.  I play my DT’s in the C gaps so I like them to penetrate quickly to hit the hand off mesh point instead of waiting for the RB to hit the hole.  If we can hit the mesh it causes a ton of confusion in the backfield.  DT’s will usually be double teamed so they must be coached on how to defeat the double team and not get blown off the line of scrimmage.

Defensive Guards

If you play two defensive guards with our without a noseguard you can play a minimum play player at DG’s.  You can have them submarine or crab crawl in the A or B gaps depending on your philosophy.  I usually have my DG’s crab crawl the A to B gap to try and keep blockers off my LBs.  This crab crawl move also defeats the wedge.  Usually the DG are big and slow to take up space or very quick ferret players to penetrate the LOS.  Whoever you put at DG they cannot be blown out into the LBs, they must be taught to drop and roll if they are losing the LOS battle.

Summary

My DE’s, ILB’s and CB’s are my best defensive players.  I like to protect the outside perimeters because the sweep is the best play in youth football.  You also need to protect the off-tackle C gap lead or double lead run, so make sure your DT’s can handle attacking lead blockers and causing a huge pile of blockers. If you are lucky to have a quick defense then your season should be a good one.  A slow defense is a weak defense.   Attack, Attack, Attack.  Remember, if the offense doesn’t score you never lose.

What are your thoughts on choosing tackle youth football defensive players?  I would love to hear your comments, leave me a comment below.

Thanks
Coach Parker
Keller, Texas / DFW / Ft Worth TX

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Coaching Team Defense in Youth Football

Coaching Team Defense Fritz ShurmurI just finished reading Coach Fritz Shurmur’s outstanding book Coaching Team Defense .  This is a must read for any defensive coach.  It’s a 100 pages of pure defensive gold.  I read it one afternoon and cannot stop thinking about the book.  Here are some top points out of the book.

  1. #1 Objective for Defense is to keep Opponent from Scoring
  2. Must  coach players to be physical, speed and simple schemes so minimum thinking.
  3. Practice drills should be like game situations
  4. Must play hard every play and play as a team
  5. Defense must make tackles in offensive backfield, play on their side of the ball
  6. The use of Hands on defense is the most important skill
  7. Most important part of tackling is to grab and hang on to ball carrier
  8. You become in games what you practice
  9. Every practice should have individual position time to teach position technique
  10. If the receiver beats the DB, the DB should cover and focus on receivers hands

The book is full of these great defensive football points.  Try the library or Amazon and read Coach Shurmur’s Coaching Team Defense

Thanks
Coach Parker
Ft. Worth Texas / Keller

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Contain Pod Defensive Football Drill

I use the Contain Pod drill to teach our defensive ends not to crash.  This football drills simulates game situations.

The Contain Pod Defensive Youth Football Drill is a great pee wee football drill to train your defensive ends and outside linebackers how to play contain responsibilities.  I also incorporate the inside linebackers and other defensive backs in this drill to simulate more game type situations.

If your little league defensive ends or outside linebackers need some help learning their contain responsibilities the Contain Pod youth football drill will introduce them to outside running defensive concepts, keys and reads.

Contain Pod Defensive Drill

Youth Football Drills.  Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!

Here is an updated video from my YouTube Channel.

If you enjoyed the video please like, comment, share and subscribe.

Thanks
Coach Parker
Keller, Texas

 

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Linebacker and D-back Keys – youth football defense

Linebackers and Defensive Backs can read the keys of offensive linemen to learn the direction of the play.

1. Offensive linemen blocking down field means the play is a run.

2. Offensive linemen pulling in one direction generally means play is in direction of pull.

3. Offensive linemen drop stepping and setting up to block for pass protection means pass but also could be a draw or screen.

When reading your keys don’t get too excited and in a hurry and move to quickly. Be patient. A move in the wrong direction takes time to recover from.

LBs and DBs should take a small drop step with either foot while reading their keys. You first move should not be towards the line of scrimmage.

From Bud Wilkinson’s Football Winning Defense

Play for Fun and Winning is Funner.

Coach Parker
Keller, Texas

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