Common To Have Football Game With Score Less Than 20 The Secret to Beating Teams That Are More Athletic Than Your Team in Youth Football

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The Secret to Beating Teams That Are More Athletic Than Your Team in Youth Football

Playing in space is the key term.

We’re not talking about playing football on the moon, zero gravity is going to make us all rethink the game a bit.

“In space” means playing with distance between your players and the other team. If your team is bigger and more athletic and can handle other teammates one-on-one, you need space, that’s your friend.

However, if you don’t have bigger and better players than the other team, space is your enemy.

Playing “in space” is exactly what it says, giving your players space between themselves and the opposition. If your team is made up of faster, bigger and more athletic guys, they will dominate in one-on-one match-ups. That’s why you see teams with a lot of big speedy receivers do very well in “spread” offenses where they isolate the weaker defenders very wide against these dominant receivers, of course you have to have a QB that can throw it in these cases. If that stud receiver can just get the ball “in space” he will have a chance to score in most cases.

On the other hand, most youth football teams do not have players who truly dominate the league. Most of us have just an average group of guys, and some of us will have the odd group of guys that are even smaller and less athletic than the teams we’re facing. In these cases you want as little space as possible between your children and the opponent.

Think about your tackle drills, when you are running tackle drills in a close area, say a 1 yard square box, many of your less athletic kids can often make tackles. But change that tackle drill to a 20 yard by 20 yard square open field tackling drill, how many of your less athletic kids can tackle in that drill now? The same goes for blocking; Very athletic kids can block “in space” less athletic kids can’t.

Less athletic teams almost always do better if they tighten their line down, block double teams and get overwhelming numbers at the point of attack. Less athletic teams need to run other close quarter running plays like traps and wedges to keep more athletic teams at bay. Less athletic teams need a lot of misdirection running to keep the defense out of the game, while they run into tackles. Spinner Series in Kryptonite for supermen on these teams. There are plays that make no sense against teams, sweeps, drop back passes, deep reverses, that would be negative yardage plays.

The good news is with single wing offenses, less athletic teams can compete with more athletic teams. Often referred to as “football in the phone booth,” spinners and traps prevent very athletic teams from getting into your base play. Double team blocks, wedges and pulls give your team advantages at the point of attack so even smaller or weaker linemen can have success. Tight splits, misdirection and pulling linemen help even average backs put up big numbers for this offense.

In 2002 we had a very average size back named JA with average speed. He weighed 81 pounds for our 8-10 age group and was 6th out of 25 kids when we competed in our eval race. JA was a very obedient player, a patient runner, always moving his feet and always looking for an opening, but nothing special. He played fullback for us in 2002 and only ran 2 plays that year, a wedge and a trap. He scored 31 TDs for us on FB wedge plays alone, obviously our backfield was pretty weak that year and he got a lot of carries. Had we had a spinner series, he would have done better.

To beat bigger or more athletic teams: In 2003 my 8-10 age group in Omaha was undefeated in league and put up some pretty impressive numbers. We scored at will, went 11-0 and won our league title game 46-12 after leading 46-0 in the third quarter. We beat two league champions from other 11-12 age leagues. In 2004 I started a new program in rural Nebraska where the existing youth program had won 4-5 total games in the 5 years before I got here. The first year we had all gray players except for 2-3 bench-warming castoffs from other teams in town. We had one player at 8-10 years old who weighed over 100lbs. Slowly but surely we were improving every week and towards the end of the season we looked very good. That year we played a very big and fast inner-city Salvation Army team from Lincoln. They hadn’t lost a game in 3 years, we were out-manned, outsized and under-speeded, but beat them by a TD in a nail-biter in an 11-0 season.

Our biggest win was the 2005 Omaha Select Black Overmatch. That team, ages 8-10, was selected from over 150 kids, had at least 5 kids over 150 lbs, and had not lost in 3 years in Omaha’s “selective” league. They were a very aggressive inner-city team with plenty of pace and confidence. On the other hand I only had kids from 25 countries that showed up, no cut or select and there were a lot of young kids on it. To make a long story short, we had this team by 4 TDS in the first half and could have done with the score. Needless to say, the team, their parents and our parents were shocked. The good thing is that you can compete with anyone with this offense, the bad news is that it’s hard to get extras out of league play once you’re done. Big inner-city teams like the North Omaha Boys Club won’t play us on their home field, it’s embarrassing to lose to much smaller and slower teams, they’ve turned me down twice in the last 2 years for extra games that we both had open dates at the end of the season.

The single wing offers some flexibility if you have a stud player that you want to isolate “in space”. We added the mesh series in 2005 to accommodate a player that we felt made sense to put “in the space”. The “mesh” series worked very well when we went up against weaker opponents, no one could handle our studs. When we played against equal or lesser competition, we had to go back to our strict split base offense to move the ball consistently.

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