Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Youth Football Defenses

Many youth football coaches come into a team with a preconcieved notion of the type of defensive scheme they are going to run.
They do so without even knowing the type of talent they are going to have or the rules of the youth football league they will coach in.
Some things to consider first:

What type of talent do you have: Do you have 4 good linebackers and 2 good rush ends to run the 4-4?

What type of Youth Football offenses will you have to defend against in this league ? Is it a heavy option or spread league?

What are the special rules of this youth football league? Are there minimum play rules that require you to play weaker players on defense? If so, will your defense be able to accomodate weaker players, where do you put them in your chosen scheme?

Are there special league rules that do not allow you to play players in certain gaps etc ?

The answer for most is you have an ideal youth football defense, then you have a defense that can accomodate the players you have, the offenses you have to stop, while living within the constraints of the special rules or minimum play requirements of your particular league.

We don’t have the luxury of running our favorite defense, but we run one that does the best job with the contraints listed above. Thats something that those that have been coaching youth football for a few years understand and where some very sharp hot shots fail.

This has been another post into Dave Cisar’s Winning Youth Football Site
Copyright 2007 Cisar Mangement Services

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  1. neal Wenglikowski

    Amen brother.

    I have taken my last three pee wee teams to the super bowl. So many coaches try to get an advantage by asking me what are you going to run next year. I tell them the same thing every year. “I have no idea until I evaluate my talent after a week of combines.”
    Your comments are so true.

  2. admin


    I think it’s a combination of what you have for kids and what plays/systems you have to defend. Some defenses by design require that you have studs at postions like a 5-3 requires a stud nose tackle and a stud middle backer and a 4-4 usually needs 2 real strong defensive tackles, 2 good rush ends and 4 good linebackers. Other defenses by design require fewer “studs” and are strong against certain types of attacks and weaker against others.

    While every youth football season when evaluating talent is like opening up a new box of choclates, if you are in a specific geographic area and have been coaching there over a period of time you can make some educated guesses as to what kinds of kids you will typically get. There are trends that are relatively consistent as to the types of kids you get and the typical types of attacks your opposition runs.

    I like to choose schemes that take advantage of the kinds of kids I usually get that match up well with attacks I usually see, but also give me the flexibility to feature a “stud” player if I am lucky enough to get one that year. I’m talking about schemes that don’t REQUIRE stud players in order to work, but can feature them if I get lucky enough to get one or two that year.

  3. Deron Fontenot


    I completely argree with the both of you. I am a part-time pee wee coach I play football for a Division-1 school at the time and knowing what talent you have is key. You can’t have a spread offence if you have a QB who can’t throw. It is very important to know what you have then start thinking about what will work best for them.


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