Football Plays and Formations

Football Plays, Formations, and Adjustments

(Getting more Power in the Power Running Play)


I Wing Toss Power Play

I Wing Toss Power Play

To expand on our theme of Football Formations and Essential Youth Football Plays, we thought we should cover a couple of formation adjustments that might make sense for your situation.  Like many of you we participate in a league where the end man on the line of scrimmage must be under a certain weight limit (ball carrier weight).  Even though we typically get a double team at the point of attack on our Power Running Play, there are times when our play side Tackle and Tight End struggle to get a sufficient push against a dominant Defensive Tackle.  Because of this we have the Wing ON, Flanker ON, and Tackle OVER formation adjustments in our playbook.

Note:  We will be using Coach Bruce Eien’s I Wing Toss play as our example Power Running Play.

Wing ON Adjustment

Football Plays - Wing ON

Football Plays – Wing ON

Because the I Wing offense utilizes a wing, we have the option of using the “Wing ON” adjustment.  Of the adjustments we will cover this is one of the simplest as it usually doesn’t require any assignment changes.  The Wing or Z player simply moves up to the line of scrimmage covering the X player.  Now the Z is the end man and while the X is no longer an eligible receiver he can now be over the ball carrier weight.  This allows you to put a much larger player in what would normally be the Tight End position.  Consequently you should get a better double team on the Defensive Tackle.  The only downside to this adjustment is that you can’t call any pass plays that sends the X out in a pass route.

Football Plays - I Wing Toss Wing ON

Football Plays – I Wing Toss Wing ON

Flanker ON Adjustment

Football Plays - Flanker ON

Football Plays – Flanker ON

The “Flanker ON” adjustment moves a flanker onto the line of scrimmage to cover the X or Tight End.  Now the Z or Flanker is the end man and while the X is no longer an eligible receiver he can now be over the ball carrier weight.  This allows you to put a much larger player in what would normally be the Tight End position.  Consequently you should get a better double team on the Defensive Tackle.  Much like the “Wing ON” adjustment there is the down side that you can’t call any pass plays that sends the X out in a pass route.

Football Plays - I Wing Toss Flanker ON

Football Plays – I Wing Toss Flanker ON


Tackle OVER Adjustment

Football Plays - Tackle OVER

Football Plays – Tackle OVER

The “Tackle OVER” splits out the X.  We then move the back side Tackle over to the play side to the position vacated by the X.  We are now in an unbalanced formation, but it is has been our experience that few defenses recognize this as unbalanced.  We now have both of our Tackles to double team the Defensive Tackle.  Unlike the “Wing ON” or “Flanker ON” adjustments we don’t lose any eligible receivers, however we do create a shorter edge on the back side.

Football Plays - I Wing Toss Tackle OVER

Football Plays – I Wing Toss Tackle OVER

If you are interested in learning more about the I Back Toss, please check out our I Back Toss (Double Wing Style) clinic.

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.  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

Lastly, if you are looking for some great drills to help your young athletes develop their ability to catch, we suggest you take a look at the following article:

Catch the Football Every Time: 18 Drills That Make It Easy

ABC Kickoff – Onside Kick Strategies

Onside Kick Strategies

Like many youth coaches, unless we have a commanding lead we prefer to onside kick rather than put the ball in the hands of one of the opposing team’s best players in space.  Below is our take on the “ABC” kickoff which is combination of an onside kick we learned from and Ted Seay’s “ABC” kickoff.  Some of the advantages are:

– We don’t put the ball in the hands of the opposing team’s best athletes.
– Because we kick towards the sidelines instead of the middle of the field, it allows us to cut the field in half.
– We have the option of kicking to the left (“A” kick) or the right (“B” and “C” kicks).
– We can get some of our weaker players on the field.

This does require the use of 2 kickers, but since we are mostly looking for “ugly” kicks this has not posed an issue for us.

We designate the kick once everyone lines up by using a word that starts with either “A”, “B”, or “C”.  For example,  “A”rkansas, “B”aylor, “C”alifornia”.  When everyone is ready the “B” kicker always signals to the referee that we are ready whether he is the kicker or not.

A Onside Kickoff

B Onside Kickoff

Deep Kickoff

Note:  If you league observes NFHS Rules, you will want to move K6 to the right of K4 so that you have 4 players to the side of the kicker when utilizing the “A” option.

Below is a video of a Super Smurf team using a similar, but slightly different strategy very effectively:

If you are searching for help with your Special Teams, please take a look at our Special Teams (Long Snapping, Punting, EP/FG) clinic.


Meet the Parents

Meet the Parents

Meet the ParentsWith the new season only a few months away, hopefully you are getting prepared for those first days of practice and one of the first things that you will want to do is conduct a parents meeting. As an inexperienced coach, I questioned if this was really necessary, but with experience I learned that it most definitely is. If nothing else, the exercise of putting a meeting agenda together forces you to think about things like:

– How do I want parents to contact me?
– How am I going to conduct practice?
– What are my expectations for practice attendance?
– What is my philosophy concerning playing time?
– How do I expect players to act towards opponents, teammates, and coaches?
– How will I communicate schedule updates and changes to the parents?
– What is our practice schedule going to look like?
– What is the process for parents to voice complaints?
– When do I expect players to arrive on game day?
– What equipment do I expect players to have with them on game day?
– How would I like parents to conduct themselves in the stands?
– What is the process for parents to voice complaints?
– What are my intentions concerning the discussion of schemes and strategies?
– What parent volunteers do I need?
– What Key/Event dates will we have?
– What key Website links do I need to share?

I would suggest that prior to the parents meeting you email the parents with a copy of the agenda and most importantly take attendance at the meeting. It has been my experience that some of my worst critics and complainers have come from parents who did not attend the meeting. Even if all of your parents attend, there is no guarantee that you won’t have issues, but it will guarantee that you will experience fewer issues had you chosen not to take the time to do this. Below is a link to a sample agenda that might help you get jump started.

Parents Meeting Agenda:  Parents

Play my best 11 or risk sacrificing wins in youth football?

Play my best 11 in Youth Football?

DSC_0118On many of the coaching forums I frequent a question similar to “Should I play my best 11 or risk sacrificing wins by involving more players?” comes up often and always sparks quite a bit of discussion.  Before sharing my thoughts on this question, I should provide a little background on my coaching experiences.  For the past seven seasons (6 as 5/6th grade, 1 as 7/8th grade) I have coached in a league that does not have any type of minimum play rules.  The first two of those seven seasons I coached on staffs where the philosophy was to always have our best players on the field until the game was no longer in doubt.  At the end of season two and after our team finished with another subpar record, I started to question our approach.  During this time, I kept thinking about two brothers that I coached as part of our backfield.  They were always at practice.  They always tried to do what was asked of them and they always did it with a great attitude.  In short, they were great kids.  The problem was that they were small and just weren’t as gifted athletically as some of the other running backs.  Keeping with our philosophy of always having our best players on the field, these two young men got little to no playing time in games.  How discouraging that must have been for them to put their game uniform on every game day knowing that they would probably not see the field.  The more I thought about it the more I was embarrassed that we allowed this to happen.  Though it wasn’t our intent, we were discouraging these boys, as well as others from playing football by the way we were coaching.  We were doing this while not improving our results in the Win column.  As I continued to evaluate our situation, I came to the conclusion that it just didn’t make sense to continue with our strategy if we weren’t winning games.  Ultimately I began to ask myself the question, if you win and don’t involve all of your players, are you really winning?

If your goal isn’t to create the best experience you can for your players while striving to find areas where all of your player can contribute, I don’t believe you are winning despite what the scoreboard says. I would go further to say this type of approach is as equally damaging to youth football as the recent concussion scare.  Keep in mind I am not part of “everyone gets a trophy crowd”.  I believe that players earn the right to play and if they are coming to practice, listening to coaches, and trying to do what the coaches ask, they have earned time on the field whether you have minimum play rules or not.   With a little work, offensive and defensive schemes can be employed to maximize player involvement while still being competitive.  If you agree with this point of view, but just don’t know where to start, shoot me an email using the form below and I will be glad to share with you some of things that we have used the past couple of years.

Why do I Coach?

Why do I Coach?

CoachingI thought as my first blog, I would examine a question that I ask myself several times during a long season. Dealing with parent issues, players missing practices, injuries, competing for player’s attention all the while trying to take care of my highest priority that is my family, I often question why do I coach? Well as a youth coach it certainly isn’t for the long hours and lack of pay. Is it to replace the competition I miss not being a player? While I do love the competition and the challenges it provides, it is not just that. For me it gets down to the relationships that I have been able to create as a result of coaching. During my 17 years of youth coaching, I have come in contact and have become close to some of my dearest friends. Without coaching I most likely would not have been able to form these relationships. So I guess the answer to my question is that coaching enriches my life. Do I have to be reminded from time to time of this? You bet! Shamefully I must admit that very few seasons have gone by where I wasn’t convinced that this season would be the last. Often it’s about that time I receive a nice note from a player or parent or in the case recently when I received a text from a parent after the loss of a big game telling me that while her son was disappointed that our team lost, he was most disappointed because he wanted to win for me. It’s those types of moments that bring me back and help me remember why I coach.

How about you? Why do you coach? Whether it football, basketball, baseball, or any other sport I would love to hear your answer. If you are willing to share, shoot me an email by using the form below.

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