Many great High School, College and Pro coaches script plays. Ken Hofer, the Single Wing Legend from Menominee High School in Michigan scripts his first 15 plays or so. He likes to see how the defense lines up and how specific defenders respond to certain football plays in his playbook. I’ve watched many Menominee games and often thought the play calling was a bit odd in the first possession or two. The Maroons didn’t seem to move the ball as well as normal in their first two possessions, and ran a different play on each snap. On subsequent possessions they seemed nearly unstoppable. It became obvious Coach Hofer was scripting his first 10-15 plays.
When coaching youth football, you are under different constraints than the High School guys. The quarters are just 10 minutes long in most cases instead of 12 minutes at the High School level. The youth games move slower so there are far fewer possessions, each possession then becomes very important. Using up an entire possession or 2 or 3 to follow a script may put your youth football team in a hole that may be difficult to crawl out of.
A hybrid way to get some of the benefit of scripting without giving up 2-3 possessions is to scout for just your base play and a handful of your “homerun” plays. An example would be on your off-tackle run, make sure and scout the playside defensive end, if he’s boxing keep running off-tackle, if he’s a rush end, run the sweep. On wedge plays see how hard the weakside defensive tackle is coming, if he’s charging hard, run a trap play, if not charging hard keep wedging. On sweep plays if the playside corner is sitting back keep running the sweep, if he is coming hard, throw the sweep pass. On the sweep, if the backside defensive end and corner bail out, run the reverse. All this is detailed in Chapter 13 my book “Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan” along with our “Quick Scout” and “Easy Count” scouting methods . Most youth football coaches prefer to “watch” the game rather than scout the game, you have to stay disciplined and watch your keys to determine what will work and what won’t. It is definitely more fun to watch the game than to properly scout it.
Another thing many youth football coaches fail to do well is to set up their home run plays properly. If you are running a play action pass, the run off that play has to be established well before you go for the throat on the play action pass play. In youth football, that means 5-6 times minimum. If you are running a trap or reverse, the off-tackle or sweep flow has to be there and it won’t be there if you have not run the off-tackle or sweep enough. The buck wedge series won’t work unless the wedge has been established, so on and so forth. Too many coaches get anxious and go for the throat when the opponent isn’t quite ready yet for the “kill shot”.
I go into a game with a script for the first 6 plays or so. I'm going to scout specific defenders on each of those plays to help determine what I’m going to call most of the game. Then I have mini scripts of 4 play series that I’m going to run as the game unfolds, each mini script is designed to set up a home run play in the series or something in the next possession. I also remind myself to try and work in a certain play or two we may have neglected or need work on. In the meantime I’m making sure the defense has to stop our base football play, if they don’t I’m going to keep running it until they over adjust, then they get hit with that plays complementary play for a long gain. Too many youth football coaches don’t pound a play that is working enough. Make the defense do something they aren’t used to doing, make the overcompensate for that football play, then hit the weakness it exposes.
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Dave Cisar- Dave has developed a detailed systematic approach to developing youth players and teams that has enabled his personal teams to win 97% of their games in 5 Different Leagues at all levels and age groups while retaining 90% of his kids.
Dave is a trainer of youth football coaches nationwide. He has a passion for developing youth coaches so they can in turn develop teams that are competitive and well organized, while having fun and retaining players. His book “Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan” was endorsed by Tom Osborne and Dave Rimington. His web site is http://www.winningyouthfootball.com