Minimum Play Tips for Youth Football
With the new season just around the corner and as a follow-up to our recent blog post concerning Minimum Play Goals in Youth Football, we thought it might be valuable to share some of the Minimum Play strategies we have picked up through the years. Please keep in mind that the intent of each of these strategies is to maximize player involvement while still being competitive and may or may not apply to your particular situation.
Assuming a typical youth football game has around 60 plays and you have 2 Minimum Play (MMP) type players on the field for each play, that gives you a total of 120 (60 x 2) plays to meet your Minimum Play requirements. If you are like us and want everyone to get their plays in prior to the 4th quarter, you really only have 90 plays to work with. Since you can’t put more time on the clock, what can you do to increase the number of plays?
Consider going No Huddle with your Offense. Think about the amount of time used during a game just huddling. There are many advantages going No Huddle and one of those is the ability to run more plays than a huddling team. If you just increase the number of plays run during the course of a typical game by 10%, you have added an additional 9 (90 x .10) plays that can be used to satisfy your play requirements.
Use your timeouts at the end of the first half to stretch out the game and create more play opportunities. At the higher levels of football, it is a sound strategy when having the ball late in the first half without much chance of scoring to run out the clock so that you don’t give your opponent an opportunity for a big play. Unlike the higher levels, we as youth coaches are concerned with getting plays for all of our players. For more detail concerning this tip, we suggest you take a look at Coach Dave Cisar’s Creatively Managing the Minimum Play Issue in Youth Football blog post.
Leverage formations to help your weaker players. Some examples:
- Use an unbalanced line and place your weaker players on the “Quick Side”.
- Split a Receiver or Running Back out wide. This will typically move a Cornerback out away from the point of attack to cover that player for fear of a pass.
If you prefer a balanced line, consider flipping your offensive line and having a strong/wall side and weak/quick side placing your weaker players on the “Weak Side”.
For more detail concerning flipping your offensive line, we suggest you take a look at our Flipping Offensive Lineman blog post.
Consider creating a Beast or Wedge team made up primarily of MMP players. This is especially an effective strategy when coupled with Tip #2.
Consider utilizing the Cisar Wide Tackle 6 or Gregory 6-3 where you can utilize the two Defensive Guard positions to rotate players in. If you prefer an odd fronted defense instead, we suggest you take a look at the 73 Bandit and 7-Diamond Defenses.
Designate boundary and field Cornerbacks. This strategy allows you to rotate players at the Cornerback position when the ball is either on the left or right hash where they don’t have to defend as much space.
Utilize onside kicks on kickoffs. We suggest taking a look at our version of the “ABC” kickoff where three spots can be utilized for MMP players.
On kickoff return utilize the two positions on the front line nearest the sidelines for your MMP players.
As youth football coaches, it is our job to try and find places where all of our players can add value and find success. Though each of these tips will cause more work for your coaching staff, in the end they will hopefully help make it a more enjoyable experience for your players.