Once again we became overzealous with the amount of plays we put in at the youth level. We had some that we ran a lot more than others but the amount of plays and formations we had were a ridiculous amount. The problem became that we were not able to practice all of them in any given offensive practice. So we couldn't give any of our plays a decent amount of reps before game day. Now, we did well this year with the amount of talent we had, but I can't help but wonder if we could have done better with fewer plays.
How do you keep from getting caught up in putting too many plays in on offense at the youth level? Is it possible to have 10 or fewer plays and really be effective? Especially if you are in a league that allows video taping the games and scouting?? How can you attack the whole field effectively with a small amount of plays?
If any of you are successful with very small playbooks at the youth level, I would like to know how you did it, the amount of plays you used, and what they were.
Vince Lombardi won the NFL with 7 base plays! His philosophy was built around the fact that his men were going to run those few plays to perfection and would practice every conceivable scenario that they would see to stop them. The most famous of these, of course, was the Green Bay Sweep(student body rip/liz). My suggestion would be to pick a few of your best plays and apply the same philosophy, always coaching toward perfection.
J.C. EASTON<BR>HEAD COACH<BR>GA TIGERS FOOTBALL<BR>PROFESSIONAL MINOR LEAGUE
Oneback has some posts (in Installing the Running Game, I think) on this. Basically Joe Bugel says the 'Skins ran five plays when they won the Superbowl. Go to gilmangear.com, check their videos, and get the Bugel video, it's a steal at $15. It's about 2 hours long, and he runs down what they did and why and talks on this subject a fair bit. There's also a great little book written on this (forget the title, anybody remember?) by a former high school coach that talks about 5 plays that you can build a whole season around. I've been told this by HS coaches in the area and I'm now a believer. It ain't the number of plays, it's the execution.
I sympathize with your plight. It's hard to predict sometimes what will and won't work. I just finished my second year and have tried just about everything from the I except for the option game. I've found it takes working on a play for about two weeks of reps in practice to have any chance of the kids executing it. I started the season this year to base off of the inside and outside zone plays, and they were reliable all year. Tried the Counters, they worked except against teams that got penetration. Tackle trap was a good play, and toss sweep out of a Bunch Snug was a great play along with a halfback pass from the toss look and a Cross, Post, Stick combo (from outside in). Tried some other things, but those seemed to work best and probably would have been enough.
I've got a kid with the potential to be a terrific passer coming back next year, so right now I'm planning to spread 'em out and put it up. We'll base out of the gun with passes from the spread, trips, and bunch, complimented with Gun option and zone blocking up front with a pull from the backside tackle for traps and isos. Anything else will be a bonus. The challenge is not so much the pitchin' and catchin', it's the protectin' when they start sending backers and stunting up front.
Pick 5 plays your talent can execute and use formations to give the D a different look and I'll bet you see better results. If you'd like to talk about this further give me a ring @ 804.512.8457 sometime, I'd be happy to discuss.
"The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his pursuit of excellence." - Vince Lombardi
We ran a lot of option this year. We didn't have a lot of speed, so option was the best way for us to get outside. We had a good qb, and he was able to throw the ball well. Our biggest play of the year was a simple fly route out of an I pro set. Our QB would simply take the snap, take one step and throw. We scored at least 10 touchdowns this year on this play. The Flanker would simply take off and run to the ball. Most times he was covered by the safety and CB, but he would run right past them and catch the ball. Great Play. We also ran a nice play action pass off of our triple option look, and it scored almost every time inside the 20.
Like I said though, we had too many plays. We would run out of the spread a lot. We would run a lot out of trips, and utilize a wheel pass....no one was ever able to stop it....Even when they knew it was coming. We would run with trips, four wide, and 5 wide. I found out two problems with this offense. First of all, if the other team has faster players on defense than your receivers...you're screwed. Second, we went to play in a tournament in NC, and the second game we played was in the pouring down rain on a muddy field...it didn't work out very well.
One thing I know for sure, especially at the youth level. You have to have a power running game. If you can run option, and throw the ball on top of that, you will be unstoppable. We could run option, and throw the ball, but we didn't have a power running game, and that was our downfall.
Problem is though, I've heard of several people that only have 5 plays. How in the world can you win football games with only 5 different plays? I would love to know the answer to that question. Mainly because I think that a lot of times our execution isn't very good because we can't rep the plays very much. I hear of people doing it all the time, but what are those 5 plays??
Well in an interview a few weeks ago Shaun Alexander said whiel in H.S. his coach said we are going to run 3 plays an dif we can run those 3 plays we can win a state championship. Now whiel you may not have a back like Alexander you are not facing Alexander talent either. I play against that team and I can tell you what those 3 base plays were.
A blast through the A gap, B gap and C gap. I was power I and with a doubel team and the two lead backs slammed up in there. At the youth level one of the hardest things to do on defense is to get the LB to step up and plug holes. He slam up in there and you'll make contact witht he LB at about 3-5 yards depth. The off tackle some times will bounce to the outside.
We went 3-3 (0-3 to start, 3-0 to finish) against some veyr good teams. In our 3 wins I ran the blast almost non stop with the counter trey and the QB boot mixed in. Looking back at my practice time (it was a B team so they did not get a lot of work live past being a scout O) we reped blast play and counter almost non stop. 2 plays reped as many times in 20 minutes as I could.
On a side note I have bene reading Lombardi on Football and if anyoen is looking for an offense it covers it. I would like to run it myself next year but we'll see. The offense is run out of 2 sets (split back and what is refered to at times as a far set).
The Plays Sweep Sucker (inside dive off sweep action) Long trap (adjustment to the sweep to take advatage of the DE jumping out fast) Weak Sweep (same as sweep except HB lead to weak side) Veer (run out of both sets) Off tackle Strong side Pitch (quick pitch) Fullback toss (toss sweep to the weak side) Quick trap Inside Belly Fullback Slant
Now that is more than 7 runs so I am not sure which of the 7 are the ones refered to as his "base offense"
Some are very similar and only a slight adjustment in backfield and carrier. He ran the veer out of both set (it is an inside zone "do-dad blocking") the Weak Sweep is the same as the the normal Sweep and the Pitches are the same basicly past backfield alignment.
What I always try to do is age = the amount of base plays they will know like the back of their hand by mid season. This past season we accomplished a lot with 10 plays on a 9 year old team. We had 7 runs and 3 passes. As the season progressed we created the same plays out of different formations. Simple things like running the FB wedge out of trips. We were a one back offense so this worked and was a very easy teach. If you change formation and only 4 positions have to think I believe that is a good formula.
But its easy to get carried away sometimes..I'm guilty.
Coach, I understand your question. I coach a 11/12 year old team in a league that has 9 teams and we all watch each other every weekend. We scrimage against each other and know each others personal very well.
That being said, what I decided to do this year was to limit my formations, which limited my plays as well.
What I decided to do was to go with one formation (two if you count left and right).
I choses the unbalanced SingleWing as my formation. When I switched from right to left, I also switched personel from one side to the other as well as switched the hole numbering.
So, Redgun right 28 and a Redgun left 28 is the same play just to differnet sides. The blocking assignements for each kid was the same, just the opposite direction.
I ran in order of effectivness,
a) power offtackle b) wedge c) fake reverse d) TB draw e) sweep f) reverse
and two pass plays.
The kids new who to block for these few plays against all defenses we faced.
My offtackle play was very tough for teams to stop, the fake counter was a big play all year long. The TB draw also worked well, even though we only passed a couple of times a game.
We went to the Superbowl, but lost to team with a lot of talent.
Later in the year, I added the fullback spin series to the singlewing, but designed the plays where the blocking assignments for the line was the same as our baseplays, just the backfield motion was a little different.
Since we only ran one formation, we never tipped our plays.
Coach, think in terms of limiting your formation and then put a play that attacks each area of the LOS. This will keep the number of plays to a minimum
first there is nothing wrong with a coach having a huge playbook...there is something wrong with a kid having a huge playbook....
1. choose 2 "series"...for example, a muscle or power series, and a second series that involves some sort of "split flow"...ie buck sweep series or jet sweep.
2. choose one way to open each of 8 holes and two backfield actions to get the ball to each of those 8 holes....
3. master them. when your kids can execute the backfield actions and oline schemes versus a variety of fronts then and only then are you ready for a third series...dont add to the oline schemes...instead, develop the fundamentals and improve your backups.
***when i design my playbook each year, i take into consideration the amount of actual plays we get to run in a game...we typically get about 50 snaps...so, i know we dont need 50 plays. we run about 26 plays at the jr high level...and only half that many blocking schemes. and i think sometimes that is too many. anyhow, i also take into consideration who i have....and finally, what kind of defenses we face.
heres where id start...
hit the middle with the mighty wedge run a great power off tackle run a great counter off tackle run a great power sweep get outside with misdirection run a great lead or blast play have one play action with power flow, one with split flow and one with misdirection.
have one "spread formation" but run your base plays from it. have one "goal line formation" but run your base plays from it. have your base formation....believe in it.
This list represents about 95% of what we put in on offense this season. These plays were run from a number of different formations primarily out of the I, Offset-I and Gun. I use two wristcoaches with 16 plays on each of them that I call by number from the sideline or send in with a set of receivers on each play. Although we ran some option game this year I'm not expecting to be able to run much of it next year because of our change at QB.
ISO (TB or QB in Gun) INSIDE ZONE (FB and TB) TOSS or SWEEP (TB) KEEP (QB) POWER (TB) COUNTER (FB or occasionally to the TB) BOOT (off of INSIDE ZONE) INSIDE VEER (FB/QB/TB) MIDLINE (FB/QB) LOAD (QB/TB) (2) ROLLOUT PASS PLAYS (2) 3-STEP DROP PASS PLAYS (3-4) GUN PASS PLAYS
Thanks for your input into this forum coach throughout the season.
Dave Hartman CYFL Coach
"It's not the will to win that matters - everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters."
The name of the book I mentioned is "Football's Simple Six" by Don Schnake. For $15 it's worth getting. We also had success with the one step, put it up on a quick fade route.
Great wisdom in these posts, thanks guys. Mahonz, I love the rule of thumb relating age. Tomahawg, I saw someone do what you described in the Midget (9-12 year olds) league win the championship. It was very hard to pick up on what they were doing from the defensive perspective, particularly when the made there throws look just like the runs until the TB pulls up and throws.
A common theme in all of this is power runs. In my league 4 of the playoff teams ran Power-I, we're coming off tackle, sweep and an occasional FB dive or Crossbuck, bone-crunching, we don't think you can stop us offense 3-4 yards at a time. I think that's probably the smartest thing to do at the youth level, it's simple for the kids, you can rep the heck out of it and own the clock.
As for me, I just can't bring myself to do it. My philosophy is to teach offensive football on the HS level (not saying hanging your out on a bone-crunching running game can't win in HS, but most HS teams are more diversified these days). The next stop for my guys is HS (there a little older, 12-15), some will play at that level, most will not. For those who will, hopefully they'll have a leg up on the competition when they get there. For those who won't they will have experienced what it is like. We've had success, playoff teams but no championships yet, but I believe they will come when I am a good enough teacher of the system. I do have the advantage of patience in that my livelihood does not depend on winning those championships. Besides, we're gonna win it next year anyway. :-)
"The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his pursuit of excellence." - Vince Lombardi
nice question and being an offensive minded coach I have tried both and have come to one conclusion - it all depends on the kids and how well YOU AND YOUR STAFF coach them.
I am used to going into a game of having atleast 20+ plays available, and have practiced, but only using what they give me. Last year, the head coach was using a split back veer and the defense wasnt committing to stopping the FB die so I kept running it ( out of multiple formations) until they proved to me that they could finally stop him (took them 9 plays to figure that out). We controlled the clock for over 10 minutes on that drive keeping the opposing defense tired and beat up.
This year I became the head coach, reluctantly, and we only had 17 players and very little talent. In fact, we had 4 6th graders on the 7th grade team and of the 17, 5 had never played football before. We kept everything simple and had about 8 plays (5 runs, 1 play action, and 2 passes) and we were hammered early and often. We were lucky enough to have 8 linemen, 5 of which were "experienced", but we were shallow on all skill positions. Made life rough.
So, it all depends on what your kids can handle and how well you can coach them up to perform. good luck.
Keith Wheeler<BR><BR>www.herofund.com - give to those that are giving their lives everyday.<BR><BR>"It's not about plays; it's about personnel, execution, getting people to believe and doing it right." - Norv Turner<BR>