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Coaching Youth Football Defense, Picking Up Offensive "Tells"


          Offensive “Tells”, A Simple Scouting Tip When Coaching Youth Football

Most of us would be surprised to find out how many simple “tells” many opposing offenses will give you during the course of a youth football game. I’m always amazed at how often I see these kinds of tells even from the best teams and even from teams playing and winning national tournaments. When teams use these tactics, they count on you not being a very good youth football coach.  They must be right about many of us, because I see the same teams using the same tactics for years on end. 

Flipping Offensive Linemen

One of the most common tactic is for offenses to put their 2 best offensive linemen at the point of attack. They will rotate these players to the side of the ball they are running to. We play a Wishbone team that does this in every game, every year we have played them.

Since we all know consistent offensive linemen are hard to come by, this seems like a reasonable tactic IF the defense doesn’t catch on. Quite often a team will try and mask this tactic by subbing in a lot of players on the offensive line. Youth football teams that do this count on you following the offensive  backfield action on every football play and you only paying attention to the “skill” positions, not the line. Unfortunately, many coaches do concentrate their focus and efforts there, rather than where the games are really won and lost, the line of scrimmage.

There are two simple ways to see if a team is using this tactic against your defense, First, see how the team breaks their huddle, if you see a lot of crisscrossing by the linemen as they break the huddle and jog towards the line of scrimmage, most likely they are flipping their offensive linemen.  Another way is to simply write down the jersey numbers of the linemen as they come to the line of scrimmage. So you would have something like this written down:


You then note where the ball went with a mark, lets say between #62 and #71

On the next play you note the following lineup:


#62 and #71 have switched from the right side to the left side.

You then note the ball went between #62 and #71. Obviously this team wants to run between #62 and #71 and are flipping them to the point of attack on nearly every play.

Double Wing Teams 

Many Double Wing teams flip their offensive linemen. Since the Double Wing team pulls 2 players to the point of attack on almost every play, they often will flip their offensive linemen. We all know how hard it is to get  kids that consistently pull well, think of having to have 4 kids that can consistently pull well, That’s what you need with the Double Wing if you aren’t going to flip your linemen. I love this offense, it is series based and is great if you have a select team or where you are chocked full of consistent linemen that can move. That’s why so many of these teams flip their linemen, they cant find 4 real good pullers, but they can find 2 good ones. Now since they will pull these two players on their base toss off-tackle plays, traps and counters, the point of attack will in most cases be opposite of where they lined these two offensive linemen up. On rare occasions the Double Wing team will have 2 pullers they will use on off tackle toss plays and a different 2 for their counters. Using the huddle spy method or the count method mentioned above and you can figure that one out after just a handful of offensive football plays.

Next season use this tactic when you are on defense to see if the other teams offensive alignment will lead you to the play. You may be shocked to see how often they do. When it does happen, you should be able to shut them down cold and the reason will be in large part because you outcoached the coach on the opposing sidelines. As a defensive coordinator it’s always great to know ahead of time which football plays the offense is going to run and when you see teams doing this it is just like “telegraphing” a punch, your counterpunch should result in a knockout.

Copyright 2009 Cisar Management, all rights reserved. Republishing allowed if links are kept intact. For 400 Free Youth Football Coaching Tips or to Subscribe to Dave’s free Youth Football Coaching Tips Newsletter go to : //winningyouthfootball.com

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  1. Jeff Stewart

    Thanks for all these great tips. Our team got kicked around last year and it has cost us some good players who won’t be back ( other youth team options here & soccer ) to join us this year. I know it is up to us as coaches to prepare thes kids to win and your site and materials should be a big help.

  2. Jeff Gardner

    A good d wing coach would be looking for a defense to key the flip and then run an influence play for a big gain. Sadly, I have the play but whether or not they realized the flip is unclear. If they were keying the flip they weren’t successful at it. I guess my opinion on the subject is we are prepared to run power against 12,13,14,15 guys during power hour that know for sure where the ball is going and they can’t stop it either so we don’t worry too much about it.


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