Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Marrying Offenses In Youth Football-Good Idea or Not?

Many first or second year youth football coaches make a big
mistake with their teams by trying to marry offenses together that are like oil
and water. These well meaning guys see something on television or get excited
about what someone says on a football forum post and all of a sudden they have fallen in love with a play. They see something else on youtube of a High School team running X and now they have to put X in their offense. Then someone convinces them they need play Y to make sure they keep Linebackers “honest” and they feel compelled to add in Y. Then they go to a clinic and they drink the koolaid of a high scoring College Coach and they feel like they need to have the Z play in
their offense.

Before you know it, they have an “offense” that isn’t an offense at all, but just a combination of non related plays with little in common. There is not what my friend Ted Seay refers to as “Unity of Apparent Intent” in the offense. When you have a bunch of unrelated one-trick ponies welded together there is no unity of apparent intent and defenses eat those type of “offenses” alive.

What makes series based offenses like the Single Wing, Wing T, Double Wing, Dead T, Flexbone or Veer Offenses so effective is each play in
a series starts to look like one play, but it can be many. They take advantages
of what the defense gives them, put the defense in true conflict and they have an answer for when a team is stopping or overplaying one facet of the play series. These offenses share an overall philosophy and consistent blocking rules, schemes and techniques that allow the players to have a reasonable chance at succeeding.

Just recently I had a conversation with a first year Head
Coach, who wanted to run the Single Wing and marry it with some Midline
concepts. Mind you this coach had never run the Single Wing or the Midline. I
have a good friend that is very successful with the Single Wing at the High
School level in the largest class in Florida. He is also a former Flexbone guy who did very well with that offense as well. When I asked him about Midline and Single Wing, he laughed. He felt while he LOVED the Midline, there was no way he could get good at the Midline AND the Single Wing in the same season. He simply didn’t have the practice time.

Now if a High School coach in Florida who KNOWS the Midline and the Single Wing who also has Spring Football and is a two platoon team feels he doesn’t have enough time to do both, does a youth coach that hasn’t run either and has far less practice time, with a lot of kids playing both ways (less offensive practice time) and with younger kids have the time? No, but all the logic in the world probably isn’t going to stop this determined youth coach and most likely he’s going to fail. So many guys try and marry incompatible partners like Zone Read and a block down and kick out system. Like the Midline, the Zone Read takes time and line the
Midline it is a completely different approach to blocking. Each take a tremendous
amount of time to run consistently well. Of course anyone can run an awful
play, what does that prove? What is important it what can you consistently run

We have to look no further than the University of Nebraska’s
offense the last two years. They tried to marry a power and zone running game
and the Zone Read Option to their existing West Coast style offense. The
experiment failed miserably, the offense rated in the 15th-20th percentile
by most measures, while failing to score at all in important games, while a top
10 rated defense is carrying the water. Needless to say the Offensive
Coordinator at NU was let go this year and a new Coordinator declared his team
would no longer be “running a bunch of plays, but an offense.” Hmm, sounds
My guess is this youth coach trying so hard to mix his oil and water with the Single Wing and Midline is going to have the very same result.He is going to be very average or poor with each and I fully expect his team to suffer through a season where they don’t score very often. Like many, he will just chalk it up to poor talent, when the real reason was arrogance in decision making.  Don’t mix incompatible offenses and plays if they don’t fit into your existing philosophy, blocking schemes and blocking techniques, it is a recipe for a disaster season. If there is no unity of
apparent intent in what you are bolting on, seriously consider dumping the
play. One of the goals in coachng youth football is to put the kids in a position to score as many points as they can, not to see who the smartest person in the room is.

Copyright 2011 Cisar Management, all rights reserved. This article may be republished but only if this paragraph and link are included. //winningyouthfootball.com

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  1. Joe Cianflone


    This is exactly my gripe with most youth coaches. It drives me insane to think that coaches with limited experiance think they can do better then men who have been paid to coach. Series football works because it has an answer to all adjustments.

    It’s one thing to adapt a play to fit your team, it’s another to add full scheme. It just never works. When we play these teams they can never understand why they can’t score. It has nothing to do with talent all to do with coaching.

    I freely admit in 33 years I have never “invented” a play, “designed” an offense, “created” a defense. Everything has been “stolen” from coaches better then I. Why is it that youth coaches feel they are smarter then the experts? Why does ego have to get in the way of what is best for the players?


  2. Greg Y

    I was over at my son’s head coach’s house just a couple of weeks ago offering my help this year, and trying to explain the benefits of the double wing system to him. The offense has several features I know him to like, such as (1) power, (2) misdirection, and (3) simplicity in play calling. His big claim against the double wing was that he didn’t like the “tight” formation, which in itself offers several advantages including no line gaps, and mechanical advantage at the point of attack.

    He then proceeds to show me a play he saw during a clinic run out of the pistol, which would likely be added to a couple of I-formation plays, as well as qb shotgun snap handoff to the motion guy or fb, or a reverse/reverse fake out of the same formation.

    Here is an example of running plays instead of an offense.

  3. David

    I coach at brazil in an adults league that widely reminds me of youth football. Players have no idea of what they are doing, coaches are completely unprepared and have very few practice time. Execution is just poor at all aspects, but especially at blocking and tackling.
    Its really helping me to research about youth football coaching, even though I always have to adapt enough to be able to teach our O-Line our blocking schemes with my limited practicing time.
    Gonna marry my I-formation Offense (We are top tier at athleticism at the league, so I figured I-form would be easier and still effective), with a couple of plays at a beast formation (kind of a single-wing..) for our first game this saturday, hope its going to work.

    1. davecisar

      Best of luck coach
      We have had teams in Argentina, Germany, Panama, Mexico and Japan have a lot of success using our system. We hope to make it to Brazil next year to do a coaches clinic.


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