Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

The "Hideout" Play in Youth Football

                     The Hideout Play in Youth Football


The Hideout Play is an old standard “trick” play that seems to get dusted off the back shelf and recycled every few years. Sometimes called the “2 out and 1 in” or “sleeper” play, the common name is “hideout”. The goal of the play is to get the defense to think a player heading off the field is not part of the play. Often this player will jog off like he is going to the sidelines and ease up just before he crosses the boundary line. He then stays on the field just inside the sideline boundary.  In some cases to add effect he may even turn his back to the field and converse with a group of players on the sidelines or even his coach. The offense then snaps the ball and throws to this wide open receiver for an apparent touchdown.


Is This Play Legal?


Some coaches may argue that as long as the hideout player is in the huddle, he is eligible as long as he aligns inside the sideline boundary. One nuance to this play is many teams will bring another player off the bench just as the offense breaks huddle. This gives the illusion that the incoming player is coming in for the “hideout” player. I’ve even seen the hideout and incoming player slap hands like they are doing a substitution. For added effect sometimes the QB will even act like he is giving the incoming player the play with a short whisper etc


This is no doubt a very clever play, but it is always illegal no matter the league you are playing in. All youth football leagues use either NFHS or NCAA rules as their base, and both say this play is illegal and will flag you for a 15 yard penalty.


 What the Rules Say


ART. 4 It is illegal participation:
d. To use a player, replaced player, substitute, coach, trainer or other attendant in a substitution or pretended substitution to deceive opponents at or immediately before the snap or free kick.


Case Book:

9.6.4 SITUATION B: Following a kickoff return, A1 and A2 enter the field while A3, A4 and A5 move toward the sideline. A5 stops within the 9-yard marks while A3 and A4 continue to the team box. The ball is snapped without a huddle and the quarterback throws a forward pass to A5, who has gone downfield as a wide receiver. RULING: This play is illegal because a pretended substitution is used to deceive the opponents. The penalty of 15 yards for the illegal participation foul will be administered from the previous spot since the foul occurred at the snap. (9-6-4c)

While I have no problem with trick plays like hook and ladders, backwards bounce passes, fake punts and the like, I’m not so sure about this play. Like the “wrong ball” play, it should have no place in youth football.


Thanks to Coach Knight and the other referees that helped me with this ruling.


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. Chad

    We all have that one player! Although he is not the fastest, definitely not the largest nor the strongest, yet he is our best player. Why? Because he “understands” the game, you can see the light on when others haven’t a clue what you are talking about. When an opposing qb rolls to the right and throws, he’s always there to make the interception. When they run a reverse he knew it was coming and made the tackle for a loss. Even though I rep these plays and situations only a few truly understand and apply it. How do we get others on the team to “understand” the game? Even though my players know their responsibilities and even know why they are required to perform the task…they still don’t truly understand the game. How do we get the entire team to “understand” the game? Please tell me I’m not the only one searching for an answer to this!!!

  2. davecisar

    You can’t early on but as the season progresses, you can teach the “logic” behind your schemes. It’s best phrased as a question rather than instruction. Example: When we see a defense that likes to use timing blitzes off the edge, what would be a good play to run to take them out of this tactic? A “no play” so they quit timing our snap count and get a 5 yard penalty for offsides.
    Or when we are repping a “no play” on offesne, stop and ask “When would it be a good idea to run this play?”

    If you can apply it as you are running the play or scheme on defense and involve the kids into the logic, you can train more kids to “get it”. If you have a bashful kid, ask him, “Tommy if we see the other team using timing blitzes, if you were calling the plays, what do you think might be a good play to call?

    Not all youth football players can grasp the entire game, but you can get more of them to understand a bigger picture, if you involve them.


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