Why You Need a Trap Play When Coaching Youth Football
A lot of youth football coaches don’t have a trap play in their playbook. It is a play that has fallen out of favor for a variety of reasons. Lots of guys watch College or NFL games on TV and get enamored with the latest fad. You don’t see a lot of teams on TV running trap anymore. But you will find some of the very best youth teams running trap. Every year when I go to the big tournaments including the Pop Warner and AYF National Championships, I see the top youth teams running successful trap plays.
What is a trap play? Most of you know this, but for this discussion a trap play is a football play where an interior defense lineman is purposely allowed to penetrate and be blocked by a pulling lineman from the other side of the formation. The lineman allowing the interior defensive lineman to penetrate are usually going to the second level to block linebackers. The Running Back or Quarterback then runs to the inside of the pulling players trap block.
When run well, the interior defensive player will penetrate quickly and be hit from the side by the pulling linemen. This allows the blocker to block from the side with momentum, while not having to take the defender on face to face. Often times the block will catch the defender off-guard, especially if the offensive play has backfield action to the perimeter of the side the defender is on. We run trap off of split flow/belly, power, sweep, jet, spinner and half spin backfield action. Heck even a simple wing counter can easily be blocked using a trap approach.
Why am I a HUGE fan of the trap play? Because it puts defenders in conflict. You try and block those defenders forward on nearly every play, sometimes even with double teams. So the defender will often times get into a mindset of putting his foot back and putting everything he has into getting into the backfield as quickly as he possibly can. When you let that defender through and trap him, it will often times slow him down. He will play more hesitantly, making him much easier to power, wedge or iso block.
Note that trap plays WON’T work well against passive teams, so don’t fret if you run a trap play and it doesn’t work against a weaker team. However I’ve always found trap works extremely well against aggressive teams. When you are coaching youth football, you have to know the difference.
Add in a trap play to every series you run to keep the defense honest and so they can’t tee off on your team. When your trap play initially looks just like other plays in the series where you are base, power, wedge or iso blocking, it can be a killer play in youth football.