Youth Football Plays

Essential Youth Football Plays

Essential Youth Football Plays

If you recently visited our site, you know that we published a blog post concerning Youth Football Formations.  In that post we mentioned that one of the most queried youth football topics according to google is football formations and that the number of searches tends to hit their peak in September when we believe many youth football coaches are frantically searching for magic football plays. Though it certainly isn’t magic, we believe Power Running plays along with a complementary play like Counter are football plays that should be in every youth offensive playbook.  The idea behind the Power Running play is pretty simple.  The offensive line on the play side of the line (side of the offensive line the ball is being run to) blocks down towards the Center and a running back kicks out or blocks the first defender on the line of scrimmage outside the gap or hole that the ball is being run to.  With the exception of the Guard, the offensive line on the back side of the line (side of the offensive line opposite of where the ball is being run to) seals off any penetration to their inside gap.  The back side Guard pulls to the play side behind the offensive line and up into the gap or hole the ball is being run to looking for a different colored jersey to block usually a linebacker.

Below is an example of our version of Coach Bruce Eien’s I Back Toss using a modified version of G.O.D. (Gap, On, Down) blocking rules verses a pretty common youth 6-2 defense:

I Back Toss Power Play

I Back Toss Power Play


Something that you may notice right away is that the play side Tackle is not blocking down towards the Center.  As we mentioned earlier, a Power Running play typically has everyone on the play side of the offensive line blocking down.  If we were to do that, the X Tight End would end up with a one on one block on the Defensive Tackle. Since many of us coach in youth football leagues where an eligible receiver has to be under a certain weight, the Tight End many times will be at disadvantage having to block a much larger player by themselves.  We account for that by tweaking our play side Tackle’s Power blocking rule such that they will form a double team on the Defensive Tackle.



Below are the blocking rules that make up our Power scheme:

  • Back side Tight End – G.O.D.
  • Back side Tackle – G.O.D.
  • Back side Guard – Pull
  • Center – M.O.M.A.  (Man On, Man Away)
  • Play side Guard – G.O.D.
  • Play side Tackle – G.O.O.D (Gap, On, Outside, Down)
  • Play side Tight End – G.O.D.

If you are an inexperienced coach and some of these terms are unfamiliar to you, a nice reference concerning Rules Blocking is Coach Parker’s Rule Blocking Vocabulary for Youth Football Offenses.

Here is the I Back Toss in action:

Complementary Football Plays

As mentioned earlier, we believe complementary plays to the Power Running play are football plays that should be in every offensive playbook.  By complementary we mean one that starts off looking like a Power Running play, but ends up attacking a different part of the field.  Keeping with Coach Eien’s I Back Toss, a good example of a complementary play is the I Back Counter.

I Back Toss Counter Play

I Back Toss Counter Play


The I Back Counter play starts out looking very much like the I Back Toss with the Quarterback and Tailback faking the Toss.  The Fullback steps to the back side as if he is going to execute his Toss kick out block, but instead comes under the Quarterback to the play side hole or gap the ball is being run to looking for different colored jersey to block.  The Wing or Z player comes underneath the Quarterback receiving a hand off and then running inside the kick out block of the Pulling back side Guard.  Though this play is considered a Counter play, it is effectively a Power play with some misdirection built-in.



Below are the blocking rules that make up our Counter scheme:

  • Back side Tight End – G.O.D.
  • Back side Tackle – G.O.D.
  • Back side Guard – Pull (Kick Out)
  • Center – M.O.M.A.  (Man On, Man Away)
  • Play side Guard – G.O.D.
  • Play side Tackle – G.O.O.D (Gap, On, Outside, Down)
  • Play side Tight End – G.O.D.

Here is the I Back Counter play in action:

Complementary plays are essential football plays as they allow you to punish the defense when they start committing to stopping your Power Running play.

If you are interested in learning more about the I Back Toss, please check out our I Back Toss (Double Wing Style) clinic.  Also, if you are interested in learning more about the Power and Counter concepts, you should take a look at our Multiple Ways to Run the Power Concept and Counter in the Youth Game clinics.

Youth Football Formations

Youth Football Formations


One of the most searched for youth football topics on google and often misunderstood is football formations.  Interestingly enough the search queries tend to peak in September during the heart of the youth football season when I suspect many offenses are struggling and coaches are looking for that magic play.

Formation Alignment Rules:

  1. Must have a least 7 players on the line of scrimmage, but can have as many as 10.  I say 10, because someone has to be able to take the snap.
  2. Can have up to 4 players in the backfield, but as pointed out in Rule #1 there can be as few as 1.
  3. Of the players on the line of scrimmage only those players on each end are considered eligible receivers.
  4. All players in the backfield are considered eligible receivers.

Youth Football Nuances

High School, College, and the Pros have numbering restrictions when determining the eligibility of a receiver.  Due to the nature of Youth Football, most youth leagues don’t enforce this restriction.  Here is a nice article that outlines in great detail if a player is eligible based on formation alignment.  Also for those youth coaches in leagues where there is a maximum weight for a ball carrier, they are often faced with the restriction that players on the end of the line of scrimmage must be of ball carrier weight.

Having Fun with Formations

As mentioned above we must have at least 7 players on the line of scrimmage and the end players are eligible receivers. Below is what Coach Bruce Eien calls his Stupid formation:

Football Formations - Bruce Eien's Stupid Formation

Football Formations – Bruce Eien’s Stupid Formation

Remember by rule the end man on the line of scrimmage is an eligible receiver.  Because the “C”enter is an end man he is eligible to go out for a pass.  From this formation you can run Sweep, Counter, Sweep Pass, and as mentioned before a Center Pass.  Keep in mind that if you use this formation and you participate in a ball carrier weight restricted league, the Center must be able to carry the ball.  If you are interested in learning more about the Stupid formation, as well as other exotic formations Coach Eien uses check out his Trick Plays and Exotic Formations clinic.

Here is another fun formation that we learned from Coach Mike Ranson called Monster:

Football Formations - Mike Ranson's Monster Formation

Football Formations – Mike Ranson’s Monster Formation

Again in this formation the Center is an eligible receiver because he is an end man on the line of scrimmage.  The trick with this play is the snap which looks more like a lateral, but is legal as long as it is one continuous motion. The following video illustrates what I am talking about:

What is the Purpose of a Formation?

While we have been having fun with some of the more unusual formations above, there are a couple of questions that you should ask yourself when wanting to use a new formation in your offense.

  1. What advantage or leverage does the formation give me ?
  2. Can I run most of my base offense from it or is it a “one trick pony”?

Often times inexperienced coaches utilize formations and really have no idea why they are doing it other than it is something they saw another coach use successfully.  Because they don’t understand why it was successful, they often don’t enjoy the same result.  Another mistake many inexperienced coaches make is that they run a single play from a specific formation.  While the play may work once or twice, the play or formation will become almost useless as they get deeper into the season and other teams have had an opportunity to scout them.

Now is the time to be planning and thinking about what formations you plan to utilize this coming season.  Don’t be the typical youth coach searching for formations and plays in September.


7 on 7 Youth Passing Playbook

7 on 7 Youth Playbook

For many of us the arrival of Spring means that 7-on-7 Season is just around the corner.  We love this time of year as it gives us the opportunity to start working with players on the basics… stance, first steps, routes / coverage.  As much fun as this is, we also like to be competitive and that is why we have developed our 7-on-7 Youth Passing Playbook.  Below are some of our favorite plays out of the playbook verses the most common defensive coverages we see.

Cover-2 Man

Youth Passing 7 on 7 verses Cover 2-Man


Cover-2 Zone

Youth Passing 7 on 7 verses Cover 2-Zone



Youth Passing 7 on 7 verses Cover 3


Here is some of the feedback we have received from coaches using our playbook:

“FYI, I didn’t coach our teams this past weekend because it was graduation weekend at RU and I had to work. Gave my iPad to a coach who has never been to a 7on7 before and he did a fantastic just because of your system. He loved it. He told me that it was the easiest thing he has ever had to do. I told him give the kids a number that is associated with the routes and tell that kid he is that number until he is told otherwise. The kids already new the deal but he was very nervous he would mess something up. This weekend I will get the recorder so you can see us in action.”

Coach Robert Stockwell
New Jersey

If you are interested in purchasing or learning more, please checkout a preview of the playbook below:

Playbook Preview

Fullscreen Mode

No Huddle

No Huddle Strategies


With so much talk about No Huddle, I thought it might be worthwhile to explain how we have used the wrist coach system and a couple minor tweaks we have come up with.

After coaching on No Huddle teams the past 5 season, I can’t imagine playing any other way. To me there are just so many advantages:

  1. No struggles getting the players in and out of the huddle efficiently.
  2. Huge time saver when executing plays on air which results in more play reps.
  3. The ability to read the defense prior to the play call allowing you to get your team into the best possible play.
  4. No need to teach hurry up.

However, there are some negatives as well associated with wrist coaches:

  1. Cost of the wrist coaches as well as some method of getting the inserts laminated.
  2. Weekly changes to the inserts.
  3. Distributing and collecting during practice and on game day.
  4. Cleaning

With all of that said, I feel that advantages far outweigh the negatives.

As mentioned earlier we have used the No Huddle system so our wrist coach would look something like:

No Huddle Wrist Coach

The offense lines up in the Base formation and then the Offensive Coordinator calls the play by using the following nomenclature:


<Formation> <Color> <3 Digit Play Code>


Assuming the last number is live:

  1. GREEN 214 = 16 Power
  2. Double RED 123 = Double Mouse 22 Wedge
  3. Rocket RED 532 = Rocket 32 Wedge

One of the things that you may have noticed is that we put the name of the color within the color.

No Huddle Wrist Coach Colors

We started doing that as a result of us having a player who was color blind but was too self-conscious to tell us.

One of the things I like to do to keep the defense honest is to be able to call the same play using different colors.  Early in the season before we have gone too deep into the playbook this is easy to do as you just place the same play on the insert multiple times in different columns. However as you continue to expand your offensive attack during the season, those play slots soon fill up. To accommodate this we just simply added another row of colors.

No Huddle Wrist Coach with Colors

So now both GREEN 214 and GOLD 974 are both 16 Power from the Base formation. It’s not rocket science, but I do feel it adds a bit of a challenge for the opponent if they are trying to determine the play call without adding any needless complexity for our players.

If you are looking for other No Huddle strategies and ideas, please take a look at the following clinics:


1 2 3