Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Play Naming Conventions for Youth Football

Coach Dave, The local High School uses the left to right 1-9 numbering system, rather than yours. Should I stick with yours or bow down to the pressure of the High School guys and use theirs? 

I’ve never been a stickler for naming conventions, use what works. If you do not report to the High School coaches but want to keep a friendly relationship with them, there isn’t a lot of harm in using their numbering system.


Just make sure your kids understand it and if they don’t just add a tag word to the play. As you know we use the backs number, hole number, play series, blocking tag and then any special “adjustment” tag. If we aren’t running out of the base formation we use a formation tag as well. Just make sure whatever system you use that it can accommodate those requirements.


Part of being a youth football coach requires you to be a bit of a politician .The situation described is a battle not worth fighting over, it really isn’t that important. On the other hand, if the High School doesn’t run your program and they are pressuring you to run their offense or defense, that is another case altogether. That is important and you should resist it if at all possible. Please use the search function here on this blog to hear what we have to say about that.

 Most High Schools will not be running the same offense or even have the same coaching staff in place when your 9 year olds are 18 year old Seniors in High School 9 years from now. So the idea that running the same offense as the High School to “develop kids for the next level” can be thrown right out the window.  Most High School offenses are designed for High School or College age kids, with year round development and with no requirement or interest in playing all the kids. This isn’t the same equation for those of us coaching non-select youth football teams with pre-pubescent kids. Much different set of constraints and goals one would hope.

For youth football we want to use a fundamentally sound system that helps develop kids fundamental skills that also allows even average players and teams to have success and gets everyone involved on both sides of the ball.

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