Channeling Inner Brian Flores (coaching youth football defense)

  • lindyrig79
    Participant
    Forest Lake / Lake Mille Lacs
    Posts: 5043
    #2217112

    So I’m assistant coach this year for my sons 6th grade football team. And I’ve been tasked with Defensive Coordinator.

    All I know is we are planning to run a 4-3 formation. I’m just looking for suggestions and maybe some solid online resources (that people have used) for help. I’d like to keep things as simple as possible for the kids as our program has been in flux and we are trying to dumb things down.

    Any input appreciated

    buckybadger
    Participant
    Upper Midwest
    Posts: 6762
    #2217246

    At that age:

    1. Make most everything you do fun. Even the conditioning type stuff do relay races, tag/tackle games, and so on. The best programs at any level are the ones that keep everyone out.

    2. If you are on the fence about something being too complex or confusing, dumb it down further. The young athletes who learn to play fast without thinking are the biggest difference makers. 100mph mistakes are not always an issue. Hesitation is.

    3. Scheme wise I’d focus on teaching kids to call out a strength in the opponents formation and maybe sliding guys a shade based on that. At the very least wrong or right it gets kids looking at their opponents alignment and gives them a sense for what the opponent may be trying to do in a given situation. For some kids, it takes time for them to realize that opponents scheme. This is the very start of recognizing that…even if you don’t change a thing when identifying the strength of alignment. Minimize blitzing. At that age all it does is teaches bad habits and then when someone at the HS level has to retrain kids what to key, it’s a nightmare.

    Let them play. Play everyone who shows up to practice. Make sure they are all out in 7th grade and you have done your job.

    Brad Dimond
    Participant
    Posts: 1252
    #2217251

    Agree with Bucky on everything. Would add to keep drills short – no more than 15 minutes before moving to another drill. Kids at that age have limited attention spans and you lose them if you go to long on any one thing.

    Dan
    Participant
    Southeast MN
    Posts: 3404
    #2217260

    Being on the defensive side at that age just understanding and hitting their gaps, zones, and forcing ball carriers inside where help us at would go a long way.

    I’m sure some may say it’s too early for this but if someone is filming the games, watching game tape can accelerate learning in a big way, and that’s with almost any discipline in life. I use it with firearms instruction and when people see what they did with their own eyes it has an impact. Such a big part of football is watching film, which I’m sure they’ll be doing in high school anyway. I’m not saying sacrifice physical practice time; when I was in school the coaches had game tapes in the library and we could watch during study hall if the rest of our work was done. You learn a ton about your performance and your opponent watching film.

    Good luck and have fun lindy, that sounds like a blast!

    Ripjiggen
    Participant
    Posts: 9943
    #2217266

    1. Blitz…every play every player…
    2. Cobra Kai….strike first strike hard no mercy…
    3. Sweep the leg..

    In all seriousness…

    Have fun yadayadayada…but

    Tackle Tackle Tackle…Technique.

    Man on man defense. Don’t let your guy beat you. When you win help the guy next to you.

    Play your position and do your role.

    Don’t pigeon hole a kid into a position because of weight or height.

    slough
    Participant
    Posts: 405
    #2217277

    I’ve coached 7th grade football for 5 years or so now, I’d say what bucky listed is about all you need for advice. Our main thing is to keep kids interested at that age; keep them out until puberty takes over at least. It is interesting to see how many kids that were weak players at that age end up being solid varsity players – and how many that were studs at age 13 fizzle out because they just had grown early or because they just never develop. Hate to hear stories of some of my friends’ kids who play the youth football stuff and never see the field because the daddy coaches are obsessed with winning 11 year old football games. It’s not easy because some of the kids will be completely clueless and have no interest in hitting anything but swallow the ego and teach them what you can.

    A couple things to add to Bucky’s list:
    1. You will be amazed how long it takes them to get their equipment on correctly. We’ve had kids who I swear couldn’t buckle their own helmet all season.
    2. Focus on technique, footwork, positive energy. Beating the tar out of them with hitting drills is just going to scare many away (not saying there should be zero hitting though).
    3. Try to find some things that your kids can do well. A little success buoys spirits greatly. Last year, I had a QB who could throw the ball fairly well and a pretty athletic TE. I think we scored on the same play early in the game 5 games in a row (fake RB run left, bootleg, drag TE across, dump into flat, run 60 yards :)).
    4. Don’t let the (overly) confident kids dominate the attitude of the team. Keep the timid ones interested. I see this often with youth coaches where drills are the aggressive kids participating and the timid ones hiding in the back. Use drills where everyone is involved and active – as little waiting around as possible.

    Our league doesn’t allow blitzing and also mandates a 5 man Dline, which I think is good at that age. No need for coaches to go crazy with scheme at that age.

    Also – don’t be the dbag that onside kicks every time even though it’ll probably work more often than not )

    lindyrig79
    Participant
    Forest Lake / Lake Mille Lacs
    Posts: 5043
    #2217370

    Thanks guys! Good input.

    This is the first year we can blitz. And we can only send one guy. I’m thinking to go lightly on that and stay with gaps and zones. Probably have the CBs pick up man to man if they line up with receivers.

    I dunno. I really don’t know what I am doing but it will be fun to try.

    tswoboda
    Participant
    Posts: 7055
    #2217376

    By that age the Varsity coach should have some input and you should be setting the foundation for the base defense and play-calling the high school team is running.

    lindyrig79
    Participant
    Forest Lake / Lake Mille Lacs
    Posts: 5043
    #2217386

    By that age the Varsity coach should have some input and you should be setting the foundation for the base defense and play-calling the high school team is running.

    They don’t. In fact, they would not even give us the 7th/8th grade playbook.

    tswoboda
    Participant
    Posts: 7055
    #2217397

    The 7th/8th grade playbook should just be the basics of the varsity playbook. But yeah that’s completely on the high school coach if they want to build a successful program. Good on you for trying!

    Dan
    Participant
    Southeast MN
    Posts: 3404
    #2217400

    Probably have the CBs pick up man to man if they line up with receivers.

    I think that’s probably best. At this age if they spend time working on man coverage they can pickup zone coverage later as they progress. That man coverage is the foundation for any other package.

    TheFamousGrouse
    Participant
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 10714
    #2217677

    I can’t believe all this advice and nobody included the most important thing for a coach. This literally makes or breaks a team.

    You need a catchy motivational slogan.

    Since you’re a newbie coach and obviously not nearly as experienced as I am, I’ll do you a solid. Brace yourself for genius, cause I’m going to lay it on you:

    Pedal the bike.

    When the shock and awe of the sheer brilliance wears off, you can thank me.

    You’re welcome.

    Grouse

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