Date Time Location Of 4A High School Football Championship Game Should You Run the Triple Option in Youth Football?

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Should You Run the Triple Option in Youth Football?

Triple option and training youth football

How beautiful is it to see a triple option team run well? If you’re like me, it’s like poetry in motion. I’m a big fan of Navy and Georgia Tech because of the way they run triples. As a Nebraska native and fan, I grew up on Option Football and ran it in high school. Of course when I got my first youth football coaching job in 1986 I went back to the alternative football I loved and knew.

Many people don’t realize that youth football and college sports are very different animals. While they are both played on the same field and use the same size ball, there are several differences that significantly affect the ability of youth to replicate the college game on the field. We won’t even get into the advantage that NCAA rules give teams the option to use NFHS rules versus 48 of the 50 states that use them as the basis for their youth football rules, and that includes both Pop Warner and the AYF.

Despite what the so-called television “analysts” tell you, most people don’t even realize that many of the option plays they see on college fields are not triple option football. Did you know that wildly popular option guru Tom Osborne’s Nebraska Cornhuskers never ran a triple option? Read Tom Osborne’s book, what he did was a double option, not a true triple. The reason Osborne didn’t coach the triples was because he felt he didn’t have enough time to practice. Remember, they were with a group of 18-22 year olds who were practicing 6 days a week, playing a game on the seventh day, and also going through spring practice. On the other hand, most youth teams are practicing 3 times a week, half as much as college kids. Once you add in spring practice, film and classroom sessions, youth players are practicing 20% ​​of what college players practice.

Note that many of the option plays you see on Saturday television aren’t triple option plays either, they look like triple option plays but when was the last time you saw a pitch inside a heroic play? All we see on Friday night and Saturday are double options, like what Nebraska did in their option and 3 national titles in a 4 year span.

In college football, offensive players only play on the offensive side of the ball, and there are other things to consider. The quarterback options for Navy and Georgia Tech don’t start at linebacker or corner, like they do for your youth football teams. Those great option quarterbacks and running backs don’t return kicks or hit PAT’S like the guys on your team.

There aren’t many two-way players anymore, and very few of the starters play on special teams. In youth sports, all of your players will be on offense, defense, and in most cases special teams. Offensive players in college football, especially skill players, practice on the offensive side of the ball 90% plus percent of the time. Those skill position players at the youth level are your best players, they’re going to play both ways and on special teams, they probably won’t leave the field. Those kids are practicing offense, defense and special teams, much less specialization than college players. When you factor this into your effective practice time equation, a young skilled position player is now doing 7-10% of the offensive preparation as a college player. By taking the 20% rate and multiplying that by offensive practice time, we get what a typical youth practice would be 35-50%.

At the college level, all players have experience playing the game, most of them have good fundamentals. While fundamentals are important at all levels of football, most college kids have a basic level of fitness and have overcome their fear of contact. In youth football, that is certainly not the case. At the collegiate level, there are no minimum standards, goals, or requirements for the game, except at the youth level for most programs. At the youth level we are spending a lot of time teaching fundamentals and how to play the game, not to mention getting kids comfortable with their gear and overcoming their fear of contact. At the youth level you have to invest time that a college coach never has to worry about.

In youth football, team sizes vary from about 17-30 kids. In college football, teams vary in size from 105-180 players. In youth football you hope to have one durable quarterback and two capable running backs as average backups. In college football, most teams carry 5 scholarship quarterbacks and 5-10 scholarship running backs, all of whom were probably superstars on their respective high school teams. At the college level, when a player goes down, most teams have a good backup who can step in and do the job.

In youth football with small squad sizes, we don’t have that luxury. Even with the best coaching, the difference in talent level between first team quarterbacks and running backs is often quite dramatic compared to replacements. In youth football, if you decide to run a triple, you’ll have at least 2 good and durable quarterbacks who will never be sick, injured or have academic issues, the same goes for your fullback and main running back threat.

I coached option football from I formation and Veer for seven years. Just running a double option or a midline option is a huge investment of time if you’re going to get any good at it at all. We had good seasons when we had very good quarterbacks, good fullbacks and stud running backs and stayed injury free. When we didn’t have those stud quarterbacks, solid fullbacks and stud running backs, we didn’t have very good seasons and my teams were running double options, not triples.

My quarterback was only making one read, not two in a span of 2 seconds or so. That’s a lot to ask of a college quarterback, not to mention a young quarterback, according to Tom Osborne. While the triple option is seen as a balanced offense at the college level, it is not balanced at the youth level and even at the high school level. The reason for this is that these are two completely different equations with different boundaries.

Are you intrigued by the idea of ​​running a triple option at the youth level? Consider all these factors before you commit. Think about your obstacles and where you’re going to steal all that practice time to get you reasonably proficient in the option game and what your team is going to do on the other side of the ball. I found that out the hard way many moons ago, and I didn’t want my season to depend entirely on whether or not God dropped a bunch of great skill position players on my doorstep that season.

Now don’t label me an option fanatic or a fuddy-duddy, I still love option football, just not for my own teams.

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