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Coaching Youth Football Defense reader success stories, Part 2

Dear Mr. Reed,I just thought I'd drop you a line and let you know how our 1st game of the season went. Well, today was our first game of the season and we won 34-0. This was due in large part to you and your books; "Coaching Youth Football, 2nd Ed", "Coaching Youth Football, 3rd Ed", "Coaching Youth Football Defense", and of course the GAM. We recovered 3 out of 5 onsides kicks-the other 2 were just fallen on by the receiving team. (Our parents used to HATE the way we kicked. But, when you recover your own kick more than 50% of the time...They shut up real fast.) They kicked it off to us deep after the half and (with the help of a brilliant block) we ran it back for a touchdown.
About that block: My son Bob is a very good lead blocker (very valuable in youth football, as you know) and after the
game he came up to Coach Cox and said, "Thank you for telling me to yell at the other guy before I hit him. I didn't want to clip so I yelled HEY KID! He turned around and I blasted him!" In turn, that player took out two more when he fell and we scored a touchdown.
The reason Coach Dave told him to do that was because in our preseason scrimmage, Bob blocked a kid pursuing our ball carrier, and it was pretty close to being a clip. Dave pulled him aside and told him that from now on just yell at the kid and when he turns, POW! All of this, I might add, is straight from your book.
I should also mention that they only had ONE 1st down all game. That came on a penalty against one of our minimum play players who was playing one of our interior lineman. We used to get hassled about our defense too-"It's too vulnerable against the pass!" Well, they tried about a half dozen and only one was completed for a gain of about 2-3 yards. The rest were useless, either being batted down or thrown away. No one complained after the game.
Thanks for your advice. Thought you might appreciate the feedback.’
Kevin P. Drennen
Assistant Coach

“I own your book coaching youth football and it is by far the best I have read, their is not a close second. Your book is really the only source I use for my team. Last year I took over an A team that had lost all games and only scored one touchdown the previous year and the 5th graders coming up from the B team didn't score at all. I implemented as much of your defense as I could ( our rules only allow us to have 6 on the line of scrimmage) and we went 7-0 only giving up 4 tds all year and three of those were broken plays with my subs in the game. Our offense ave. 23 points a game running basically running 5 plays all year out of a split back and double wing formation. Our defense was so could and the kids so smart we actually for fun ran a spread offense, lonesome polecat, and shotgun just for fun. By the way are biggest kid was our running back at 110lbs. We had by far the smallest team in the league with about a average of 80lbs for 5th & 6th graders. Sorry for the long winded letter, but your teaching in your book was mainly responsible for the teams turnaround. What a defense!! keep it simple,” Craig Bridges

“Hey Coach Reed,
Last year our 8-10 year old team used your defense and went undefeated. We went one four game stretch in which we gave up a total of 2 first downs. I'm a believer.” Mal Parrish

“I wanted to let you know about some things that happened this last weekend. I think you'll be excited about this. As you know, when I came from Alaska and was stationed in Petaluma, I ended up a short distance away from Tomales High, which runs the Double Wing offense I had decided to use (on your recommendation).
Well, along with becoming the defensive backs and running backs coach, I was given the task of "Tackling
Coach," because I had a clear-cut system. Gee, I wonder where I got that, huh?

Anyway, the meat of this story is that this last weekend we held a three day contact camp at our school. We had six high schools from all over Northern California there, and not one of the schools was in our division. (We are a SMAAAAAALL school.) I think we aquitted ourselves admirably.

Here's the best part. The format for the camp was a two hour practice followed by two 1/2 hour scrimmages. Then lunch, then another two hour practice and a final set of scrimmages. We did this for three days.

Friday was the first day I installed my tackling drills, which could have been xeroxed from your book. We used the landing pads, emphasized lift, and went at 1/2 speed. In our scrimmages Friday we missed a couple tackles, and I went ballistic each time, making the high-volume point that missed tackles are NOT allowed on this defense. I cut off the responses from the players by using another of your lines, "Sir, no excuse, sir."

Saturday, there was a marked improvement. We used the tackling system (I call it "Ten Minutes of Happy Time With Coach Wade".) for both practices, and our final scrimmages of the day we missed three tackles, total.

Sunday we scrimmaged all six of the teams in 45 minute blocks. We beat each of them at least once over the three days, but Sunday we REALLY laid on the hammer. We missed ONE tackle all day. ONE! Even better was the third string free safety, who was starting because of our lack of personnel (besides, he needed the reps). He was the kid that missed the first tackle, but he made up for it in our final game, when Santa Rosa completed a slant pass over the middle.

Coach, he laid that kid OUT! It was just like the form tackle you described in CYFB 3ed. I was forty yards away on top of the press box filming and I heard the POP! (actually more of a KAPOW!!!) when his shoulder pad hit the receiver's thigh. He wrapped, picked the guy up, and slammed him about eight feet backwards. That tackle fired up the defense so much that we didn't let them cross the line of scrimmage for the rest of the period.

My head coach went ballistic. Apparently he's been trying to get this kid to tackle correctly for three years, and I did it in three days with your system. I had coaches from three different high schools come up and ask us how we got our kids to make such improvement in our tackling so fast.

All I can say is, if we got this good in three days, what are we going to be like after the season starts?

You know, high school coaches could learn a lot from reading your books a couple of times. My head coach
has already asked to borrow my copy.
Derek Wade

“For the past month I've been preparing for our Fall 2001 Season. Every year I review just about everything you've published to refresh my memory and recharge the batteries. I just read your article on Rookie Coaches and could not agree with you more.

Last year we observed the most atrocious coaching I've seen in a long time, particularly our last regular season game. Keep in mind both teams had equal amount of time to prepare for the season and equal amount of game experience prior to our game. We scored 26 points in the first quarter. It took them four attempts to run their first play from scrimmage. One delay of game penalty, two illegal motion penalties. This continued throughout the entire game. The coaches were screaming at the players just as you described. We allowed no first downs. They had one positive gain on offense. Our parents were visibly upset with the opposing coaches and threatened us if we ever treated our kids the way our opponents treated their kids.

My rookie season was not as a coach but as a parent watching other coaches attempting to simulate football. I was disgusted with what I saw and decided it was time to get involved in coaching. I bought your books and studies them closely for a year before my rookie coaching debut. Result was a 10-1 season. Lost in the League semi-final. Second year we won the League championship.

This is my third year coaching and I see no reason to change my pre-season ritual. It always starts with knowledge form John Reed, and I thank you.” Brant Ruder

I am a youth football coach in Walpole, MA. Last year was my first year for the 8-9-10 year olds. Although I played high school and college football, I had been out of the game for 20 years.

I read your Coaching Youth Football (1st edition--a fellow coach, John Reidy from Walpole let me read his copy) and your Coaching Youth Defense books. Both books were outstanding. I was particularly impressed with the offensive scheme. I adopted the single wing and had terrific success (went 7-1, only loss was to Boston 25-19, they ran back a kickoff with under 2 minutes to play). By the way, Boston had lost only one game in seven years at
the E-level Pop Warner (8-9-10 year olds). By the way, Boston had lost only one game in seven years at
the E-level Pop Warner (8-9-10 year olds).Before the season, one of my coaches from the previous regime (previously a head coach) called me crazy and resigned because of the offensive scheme. Well, we showed them..... Our goal was to score 3 TD's per game since we did not want to embarrass anyone. We averaged 20 points per game. Up until the Boston game, we only had one TD scored against us.


Gary W. Whittemore
11 Tanglewood Road
East Walpole, MA 02032
781-828-5400 x225 (Work Phone) (Work E-Mail)

“I have been coaching Youth Football for 9 seasons. My teams have had some success (we were league champs in 1996), but over the last couple of years, our win total had diminished. I had a feeling that some of the problem was the fact that we were using the same offense for a couple of years (Wishbone) and everyone had game tape on us (We are not allowed to scout, but are allowed to tape our own games). I have been an assistant coach for all of my 9 seasons and have had trouble trying to convince others, that changing our stale offense was a good idea. This past season, I moved up an age group (10 and 11 year olds). The head coach on that team was a defensive coach. He said that I could do whatever I wanted on offense. I had been reading your books since 1997, but was never given the green light before, to implement any of your ideas. I decided to use the Wing-T this past season. I also decided to use the all game no huddle that you talked about in the 1st version of your Coaching Youth Football book (That took some selling).

In our first game, while running our no huddle, we actually got called for 2 delay of game penalties. The kids were wandering around and not looking for the board (I used the Magna Doodle, which you discussed in your Clock Management book). We ended up winning the 1st game 12-0 despite our poor no huddle performance.

By the second week, we looked like a completely different football team. The no huddle was clicking and we rolled up 22 first half points. We ended up playing subs for the entire second half.

Our third game, started much like the second. We rolled up 2 quick touchdowns and went on to win the game 20 -0. Several weeks later we ran into the coaches from the opposing team. They said that we had them reeling the entire first half using the no huddle style. He also informed me, that our team had run 73 offensive plays that game.

At season’s end, we had outscored our opponents 172-30 and came in second in our league at 6-1-1. We had 20 kids on our roster, many of whom played both ways. Fatigue was never a problem.

I wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge about the youth game with others. Your material has helped me to become a better coach. You have also inspired me to read something other than Sports Illustrated.

I have always liked the idea of using the GAM defense (10-1 from your old book). In 1997, I actually got the head coach to try it for the last 3 weeks of the season, since we were getting smoked every week anyway. It definitely stopped the bleeding. I was not able to convince him to use it the next season. I suspect, if we had used it from day one in 1997, we would have had a much better season.” - Jim Lochner

“I have read your coaching youth defense. I have used your coaching ideas in both football and baseball, and have good success.” Russ Bill, Pitman, NJ


“I wrote to you at the start of the season, letting you know that I used your books last year (1999) as a guide. I was Head Defensive Coach and the team went 8-3. This year I became Head Coach and again used your books and philosophies as a guide - especially defensively. I happy to report that the team went 10-0 and won the County Championship! We only give up 24 points all year (and 6 of those were on a kick return). We ran a 10-1 or 8-3 80% of the time. All year, we could hear teams that were scouting us saying it would be easy to run on us and even easier to pass. I had a good group of kids who believed in our defense. We drilled our linemen to cover their gaps first, then find the ball. Our linebackers aggressively attacked the offensive ends, keeping them on the line and stopping the off-tackle plays. Our ends stayed home. Our cornerbacks would string the wide plays out (on the few occasions the play got outside our ends) to the sidelines. Our 'safety' played parallel the whole season, anywhere from 5 -10 yards off the ball. We posted 7 shutouts. The kids took pride in the defense. Offensively, we scored 250 points. I had an Offensive Head Coach who did a great job, but he'll stay down next year, whereas I'll move up to the next weight class. I look forward to putting a lot of your offense philosophies in place next year when I take a stab at running an offense (now that the defense is in place!). Once again - a big thank you. Your philosophies just make sense to me coaching at this level. An 18-3 record the past two years provide the proof!” Skip Brown

“In a word....SUCCESS.

I am an Assistant Coach / Offensive Coordinator for a 6 & 7 year old football team in the Gwinnett Football League (GFL) near Atlanta, GA. With a lot of resistance I insisted that we use the 10-1 and Gap-8. These defenses eventually lead to us winning the league championship.

Our head coach started the season with 4-4 defense. We were matched touchdown for touchdown in pre-season scrimmages. I encouraged him to try the 10-1 or Gap-8, but he felt we would get beat easily with the pass and run between the tackles. Basically, he was telling me, stick to offense and leave the defense to me.

During the first game of the season, in the first half, he stayed with the 4-4 and the opposing offense was having great success. I insisted we try the Gap-8. I drew it up quickly at the half and gave the basics to the players. With that alone we did not allow a first down in the second half. The following week of practice we implemented the Gap-8 into our game plan to include detailed verbiage on each players assignment. Here is the result:


1 L 8-13
2 W 25-0
3 W 36-6
4 W 34-7
5 W 28-6
6 W 34-7
7 W 26-6
8 W 26-0
9 W 48-6 Playoff Game 1
10 W 19-6 Playoff Game 2
11 W 26-0 Playoff Game 3
12 W 14-12 Championship

We allowed the other team to score in the first 8 games due to a league rule of not running up the score by more than 32 points. In the playoff games that same rule is thrown out. Most of the games we did not allow a first down. The other team scored on kickoff returns that again we allowed. Teams repeatedly attempted to pass on us with NO success. Absolutely none. We intercepted a few and some were incomplete. The majority of the pass attempts were stopped by sacking the QB. In the championship game the opposing offense had a back with blazing speed. He beat our end twice. In the second half we made the adjustments and did not allow a first down. Jack, if 6 & 7 year olds can have this much success with this defense, then anyone can.

I just wanted to pass on a testimonial that your Gap-8 and 10-1 works as advertised.” Brant Ruder

“We made the playoffs coach with a 5-2 record. The two losses both being a 0-6 score to undefeated teams. We face another undefeated team this Sunday in the first round of playoffs.

Of course we could not have done it without your teachings on the 10-1 and GAM. Only 1 drive throughout the first part of the season resulted in a TD. The only other scores were given up on ONE BIG PLAY each time. We have given up 18 pts. all year long.

I couldn’t be prouder of my boys, but to give you some insight into how instrumental your teachings have been. The Gremlin team this year is made up of some kids from Gremlins and the Clinic teams from last year. Their combined record was 1-16-3 and were pretty much blown out of every game.
Thanks Coach. Bill Shine, South Valley Panthers, Van Nuys, CA.

“I thought I would save this email until we were finished with our season. I am the Southern Marin Pop Warner Head Coach at the Pee Wee level. We, my assistant coaches and myself, purchased your book quite by accident in June of this year.

My previous experience as a Head Coach started 2 years earlier at the Junior Pee Wee level, where we went 2-6. It was a tough year I was a new coach and we had all new kids. Our second year we were on the build and ended 4-4. The tragedy was a great group of kids and inadequate coaching. We knew we needed a better mouse trap and went shopping the next year, before moving up with our kids.

I think as a whole your book was excellent. We built our practices around your structure and tended to quote it periodically as ‘the book of John’ during practice.

Our first game was a little disappointing. We were smoked by Vacaville 26-0. They are hands down the best team at our level and should continue to Florida to the championship. Unfortunately, our best player failed to certify (older/lighter), he was one lb too heavy. This put my both my offense and defense in chaos. Another coaching error, I was not on top off the situation.

We regrouped, made some defensive changes and gave up only 6 points over the next 6 games. Our modified 8-3 gave up only one TD and scored several times during that stretch. We coached, drilled, scouted and used only one defense through out the year.

We finished our year 6-2, losing our final game to Vallejo on a last minute interception ran back for a TD. We had lost 2 key players to injury and our defense allowed one TD plus the interception.

Looking back, the single most important bit of information, that we all knew intellectually but never put into practice, was SCOUTING. We filmed every team and drilled on their offensive and defensive tendencies. We could no sooner imagine heading into a game blind, than going to work in your underwear. We surprised and appalled at the number of teams that never scouted us. Alhough, the time and energy it took was amazing.

I remember watching our current JPW team go through the same growing pains with a first year coach and no returning players. During a game one of my kids made the following comment, "Boy those Scouts really suck..." To which I replied, "Hey, that was our team 2 years ago, we had a lot of first year players." He turned and stopped me in my tracks with, "And you guys had absolutely no idea how to coach" All this time I thought the kids really didn't know the difference.

This year everyone noticed, the kids, the parents, our Southern Marin teams and more importantly the opposing teams. Thank you for contributing to a great season.


David Neseralla
Southern Marin "Braves" PW

“I am interested in ordering the following books, "Coaching Youth Football, 3rd ed.," and "Football Clock Management." I already have "Coaching Youth Football, 2nd ed." but your updates look well worth the purchase of the new edition. I also have your book, "Coaching Youth Football Defense, 2nd ed." I coach in Pop Warner at the Mighty Mite division (7, 8, and 9-year-olds).

Your books have been a huge help. I read them in anticipation of my first year as a Head Coach in little league football and have since compiled a 15-3 record, including an undefeated 8-0 season this year. Y'know, you are legendary amongst the youth league coaches on the net. I think your books are so helpful because it not a dry X and O treatise. You tell it like how it is in the real world. I also feel like I'm "hearing" you talk, and not like I'm reading a book. Anyway, the books have been a huge help. Thanks so much! Sincerely,” Dave Potter, Head Coach, Durham Fighting Eagles, 2000 CFF Mighty Mite Football Champions

“I bought your book "Coaching Youth Football" second edition last year (1999) and "Coaching Youth Football Defense" second edition this year (2000). Both are excellent books. They make sense. I plan to buy the third edition CYF and the new G-A-M Defense books very soon.
“Last year (1999) the head coach for our Mighty Mite team (7-8-9 year olds) would not let us use the gap-air-mirror defense. He thought it was too vulnerable against the pass and break away runs up the middle, plus I think it was to unconventional for him. But, I was able to at least talk him into using the single wing offense for some of our plays. This worked especially well because most of the time our center was getting clobbered by a nose guard. Although, most of our success was due to the fact that our Q-back was very fast running the sweep, and for the most part, playing "tag" to score touchdowns. Our final record was 5-4-0. Not bad for a bunch of kids who never played tackle football before and a bunch of coaches who never coached little kids football before.

“This year however, I am the Head coach for the Mighty Mites. A year wiser and able to implement your strategies. We only run the G-A-M defense. Works like a champ. We have had 3 shut outs so far this season and when we played a strong offensive team, the most points scored was 26. We played 3 teams that have been averaging 35-48 points a game. Of those games, we went 1-2. The scores being a 14-0 win, 12-26 loss, and 6-20 loss. After the games were over, the opposing coaches were in amazement and didn't have a clue what we were running defensively. In fact, one of the opposing coaches told me that he couldn't sleep for 2 nights in a row just thinking about it. This guy thought we were doing something illegal because sometimes there were 10 guys on the LOS. When my assistants wanted to change up the defense, say to a 4-4-3 or a 7 diamond, I would not let them. I said, "don't fix what ain't broke." Of course, after hearing what the opposing coaches were saying, I only had to say this once. As for being weak against the pass, the results are mostly in. We have had ~15 passes thrown against us this year. 3 passes were complete for a average gain of about 4-5 yards, 3 passes were intercepted by us, 4 passes were incomplete, and the rest have been QB sacks. The kids love it when the opposing teams try to pass. They just eat them up. We also coached the kids and practiced on how and when to pick up a fumble and when to fall on it. In doing that, we scored a touchdown when my kid picked up a fumble and ran it 45 yards for a TD (Head Coach was very pleased). Last year he would have just fallen on it. We also scored a safety this year for a total of 8 defensive points. Last year we didn't score defensively. Additionally, we held two teams to no first downs for the entire game. Next year, I plan to get someone to keep better statistics.

“Our record so far this year is 5-2-1 with one game left. I predict a victory. We don't preach winning to the kids at this level because Mighty Mites is more of a training division and there are no playoffs, but the coaches and parents sure like it (winning). Thanks for writing and publishing these books. I recommend them to coaches that need some direction. I know I did. I played JH, HS, and College football and thought I knew a lot and I do, but I knew nothing about coaching little kids football.
Dave Cox
“P.S. Just one more thing I learned about little kids football without reading it in your book (found it in the book after the fact) and its kind of funny but needs immediate correction. A lot of times the offensive linemen make initial contact with their man, then turn around and want to watch the play. Most of the time the guy that they made initial contact with, makes the tackle in the backfield. I have told the kids that if they would sustain their blocks instead of turning around and watching, they can watch the RB run for a touchdown instead of watching them get tackled in the backfield. They like that idea and it seems to work most of the time now.

[Subsequent email] “I also want to update you on the last game of the season. As I predicted, we won. 17-0. Our defense scored a touchdown by interception and we also scored another safety. That makes 16 points scored defensively this year. After talking to the head coach of the opposing team after the game, he informed us that their "star" running back almost gained 1000 yards this season. I think the coach thought he would get it against us. Well, we shut him down and the one and only first down they got the whole game was due to us jumping offside on a 4th and 4. In fact, the "star" was the kid that got caught in the end zone for the safety.

“Anyway, we had a successful season at 6-2-1.” Dave Cox

“I have coached Pop Warner Pee Wee's for 5 years. When I first started I was, like all coaches, lost. I searched everywhere for info about coaching. I finally found your book on some web site and promptly ordered it. It was great but still not satisfied I called you and spoke to you about ‘coaching youth football.’ We had a great conversation. We spoke about your son, my Navy career and, of course, football. You were very generous with your time and helpful concerning my new football team.
Anyway, my New Canaan, CT Bulldogs finished 6-1 this year and our first play-off game is this Saturday against the Danbury Trojan's who have, in the past, made it to Florida. Honestly, I am not using the single wing but more a knock-off of Coach Freeb's offense. However, my defensive coach does use your gap-8 and we have been VERY successful with it. We stop the run and absolutely love it when they throw! More importantly I learned the lesson that it's not how you block but knowing who to block that really counts. We spend a lot of time on the "freeze" in practice and make sure everyone knows who to get. Thanks.” Donald S. Worthley

“We won our game with the Seaside Raiders 20 - 13. Currently the Panthers are 3 - 1 for the season. The gap-8 is working great. I really like the way it stops the run, and the fact that the defensive line get in the backfeild quickly. John, thank you for the defesive help this year. Our first string defense has only allowed 6 points per game in our four games so far this year. We are half-way through our season at this ppoint and we have all ready played the real tough teams. Thank you for the Gap - 8. With best regards,Bill Jespersen, Carmel Panther Midgets

“I am writing you to thank you for writing your Coaching Youth Football books. I have just finished coaching my first team of any kind, a Junior Pee Wee Pop Warner team, in Green Bay, WI. With your books as the backbone of my coaching strategy we compiled a very sucessful 5-2 record.

It is interesting to note that I came across your website a year ago when I was scanning the Internet looking for information on the single wing. I was on a reference material hunt about this great offense, and having grown up in Menominee, MI, home of Coach Ken Hofer's single wing, I wanted to learn more. In someways it became an obsession. Along the way I came across your materials, I studied them, noted how much of a contrarian I was, how fascinating to learn you are an advocate of the offense for youth football.

After collecting other direct snap books through inter-library loan, trading video tapes, bookmarking websites, I came to the realization that I needed an outlet for my newly acquired knowledge. This past summer, I threw my application into the local Pop Warner coaching circles. To my surprise I was chosen as a head coach. I was expecting/hoping for an offensive coordinator position at best. I did not have a son playing, he's two years old, nor did I play high school football, but I wanted to give coaching a try. I felt like it was my responsibilty to show the Green Bay area that the single wing was alive.

I immediately poured over your two books formulating my plan. This became more than a hobby of researching the single wing, it became the responsibilty of a whole team of young players. Being no defensive guru, I immediately decided on the 8-2-1/10-1 defense you recommend. It sounded great to me. Next I needed to figure out which version of a direct snap
offense I wanted to use. After e-mailing back an forth with a few new coaching friends across the country I decided to give the direct snap, double wing with an unbalanced line offense a go. I figured I wanted to spread the work load around, so two wingbacks seemed the way to go. With the help of a coaching colleague and the Tierny and Gray book, our 10 play
offense was ready to go.

My assistants were on board with everything I had in store. They must have thought you were coaching this team instead of myself at times because I referred to you and your techniques so often. The important thing was they were sold and we put into motion our plan.

Both the offense and defense created a great deal of havoc over the course of the season. I was approached many times about our offense, because most football people in the area have heard of Menominee's single wing (it's 1 hr north of Green Bay and often play area teams) and asked where I was from. I admitted my background with a smile.

We scored 144 points, averaging 28 points in our 5 victories. We rotated our TBs and WBs every series to not only get them playing time, but not to get them banged up. Eight players scored touchdowns this season. Our no huddle, warp speed game plan worked to our advantage all season as well. One other note to youth coaches, utilize pulling linemen. The kids love it and it works well. Ironically the coaching staff needed the convincing, not the players.

Defenseively, we as a team grew in understanding of what we were trying to do and the players and coaches got better each week. None of our coaches had any defensive background, so we learned together. In all we held our opponents to 8 pts/game, created 18 turnovers, and held the top team in our league to 15 and 6 pts in each of our losses. They were a stronger, bigger and well-coached team. We gave them everything they could handle, with opportunities in each game to actually win the ballgame. Those were actually my two favorite games to coach.

We also scored two defensive TDs and had one safety. On special teams, we went with the squib kicking game and were lucky enough to recover 5 kicks too. We found that the other teams began to kick short, maybe because of our influence. We really never punted either, although we generated 4 turnovers on punt pressure. Teams stopped punting against our defense after that too.

We repeatedly reminded our team that this game came down to blocking and tackling and we practiced form tackling, bear crawling, blocking every practice. Like you have written the bear crawling takes time and it did get better every week, our oponents were unable to run insidenor outside due the great play of our disciplined ends.

Again thank you for the great resource. I felt like a had a hidden gem in our corner the entire season.” Adam Wesoloski, De Pere, WI


“I have utilized the single wing and your Gap Air Mirror all year with great success. We are 5-0 and average giving up about 40 yards per game. You have been a great help. I have also bent the ears of Coach Aldrich qand Coach Racely all year long. They have also been of great help.” P. A. Colquitt

“I just wanted to send you a quick thank you. I read about your ‘Gap-Air-Mirror’ defense on the internet. I also called you last week, to order your book ‘Coaching Youth Football, 2nd Edition.’ You personally answered my phone call, and had the patience to talk with me at length about some of the finer points of the defense. That was kind of you.

Our 10 year old boys team used your defense this past Saturday, after having time to practice it only one night. Even with the minimal practice, it worked as advertised. The opposing team was unable to run the sweep, and rarely ran for positive yards. We did make one mistake, which was a missed tackle, that allowed a run up the middle for a touchdown. You had told me this defense would hold the other team's offense to minus 35 yards, and that our defense would score a touchdown. That is almost exactly what happened. We won 18 - 8, despite being significantly smaller in size than the opposition. Thanks again John.” Vince Sommer [Note from John T. Reed: about 40% of all youth defense failures are due to poor tackling technique. It takes weeks or months of perfect technique daily drilling to achieve good tackling technique.]

“We played our first game employing your 10-1 defense and single-wing offense and won 28-0. Our offense ammassed 192 yards while our opponent had -48! We could have scored more but we emptyed our bench and used seven different
halfbacks giving the reserves some invaluable experience.” Kenny Glavin

“What a difference a year makes. My Pee Wee Panthers (9-10-11 year olds, 105lbs) struggled most of last year with your 8-2-1 and 10-1 systems. Most of them were 9 and 10 and playing tackle football for the first time. They finally got it by our first and only play-off game, holding the eventual Super Bowl runner-ups to 3 positive yardage plays from scrimmage before losing in overtime to a silent snap QB sneak. Well, 14 of them came back this year. My new defensive coordinator, who played Division I college ball, has embraced the system. The Defensive responsibility and alignment grid went out with playbooks as it always does in late June. This time there was a note attached that said “Do Your Job.” While I have used the Do Your Job gang tackle drill over the last four years I have used your system I never emphasized it as much as I should have. We now end every practice with a 10 minute spirited “Do Your Job” drill. Actually, the players love it and have stopped asking for “bull in the ring” or “duck, duck goose” to end practice.

I knew from our three pre-season controlled scrimmages that these kids were in tune and understood the philosophy of the D. I really knew because even our second team defense was able to handle our high powered Wing-T offense pretty well during regular practice.

Last Friday was opening night. When the defense finally got on the field, our offense took the kick-off and drove 60 yards in 12 plays eating most of the first quarter, I was thrilled to hear them break their defensive huddle by shouting “Do Your Job” in unison. They were not told to do this. They did their job all right. The opponents only gained positive yards on three plays all night. Statistically, they were minus 124 yards on the night. While I only have one true minimum-play player on this team, there was almost no drop off when we had mostly second teamers in the game. We were sloppy on offense, two TDs called back for clips long after the runner was past the infraction spot and two lost fumbles inside the opponents 20. You know the defense had to be outstanding to overcome the turnovers and mental errors. Our 11-0 victory was much easier than the score indicated. Feel free to quote. It’s the least I can do for a guy who made me a ‘coaching genius.’” Thanks Jack! Eric Heckman, Head Coach, Pee Wee Panthers - Rockville Football League [Note from John T. Reed: I love hearing that these kids decided to yell “Do your job!” to berak their huddle. I never had a huddle so we did not do any such thing. But it shows the kids understand their roles in a team sport.]

“Hi Coach.Last year i purchased,Coaching Youth Football, Defense,and time management books.Since then with Gap 8 defense and some of the other strategies learned from your books our youth football team has been 16-1-1.Only loss was in the championship game.Teams shut out 12.Thanks,Coach.” Coach Armando A.Castro (Roanoke,Va.)

“hey Mr.Reed this is Coach Thomas Garcia we won our first game and i wanted to thank you I'm the defensive
coordinator and my defense killed the other team the Buccaneers(team we played) got only maybe 5 yards once
every other time it was all for losses. We won 6-0 Thanks again Mr.Reed.” Coach Thomas
, Colts(10-12) Gainesville, Fl

“First, let me say that I have just devoured your two books on Youth Football: Coaching... and Y.F. Defense. They are so complete and to the point. I am in my third year as a youth football coach. I have coached 5 & 6 year olds for two years (one as assistant and one as head) and this year I am an assistant for 7 & 8 year olds (moving up with my son). I only wish that I had your books for my season as head coach last year! We were 5-3 with a 13 kid team. It was my rookie head coaching season and I made plenty of mistakes - although those around me were thrilled. I'm already envisioning the 10-1 defense!! It makes so much sense for youth football, but no one has the guts to run it! My teams sound like they're just like yours were - slower kids who need a coach with OOMPH! Thanks for writing your books.” Greg Hart, Philadelphia

“My name is Alfred Johnson and I’m the defensive coach for the Burien Bearcats 89’er Football team. Last year I stepped in as defensive coach for the franchise’s Midget team (11-13 yrs old) and we ran a, excuse my french, bastardized version of your ‘Gap 8’ defense out of the nescessity of that we were getting KILLED on outside runs and sweeps. When I introduced this defense to the kids (after the 3rd game of the season), we stopped a lot of those plays running to the outside of our defense by bringing more personnel to the line of scrimmage. Our record was 5 and 4 and our team made it to the first round of the South Puget Sound Jr Football League Playoffs…Now I don't claim to be any kind of football genius, but I do know what works, so imagine my delight when I came accross your web site and started reading your articles on coaching youth football. I have already implemented some of your practice elements into my defensive practice and the team practice overall…with great results so far.

Your articles on “Rookie Coaches,” “How to evalulate your players,” “Which drills should you run” and the “Gap-8 and 10-1 defense”, just to name a few, are in my playbook and I refer to your website…often.

I know I’ve rambled on here but I wanted to give you an idea of what we are doing and tell you that I was fan of the 8 man [line] and didn’t even know that it was one of the best defenses that you could teach to kids. You have won another fan, keep doing what you are doing…” Thanks, Alfred Johnson, Burien Beacats 89’er Defense Coach

“Last year we were the Eagles and went 9-1 and won the league championship using the offense and defense from your books. This year, a friend of mine is coaching in that league. He asked his son and the son of his assistant coach what team name they wanted. They asked to be the Eagles, because of our success the previous year. Plus, they asked their fathers to please run the same offense and defense as we did. The two kids in question had to play against us three times last season.” Casey Lewis, Pleasanton, Ca

“For of all - thank you for the wealth of information you've provided me in regards to coaching youth football. Our team went from 1-7 the previous year to 8-3 last year. I was the Head Defensive Coach last year and we implemented the
10-1 and 8-3 defenses. There was some resistance to this at the start from the other coaches. But - as the Defensive Coach - this was what we were going to do - because it made perfect sense to me. It worked. This year, I'm Head Coach
and I will continue to implement your philosophies. So - once again - thank you! Sincerely - Skip Brown

"I have read Coaching Youth Football and found it extremely useful. It has been passed around my coaching staff. We employed this defense last season and found it very effective. It was an integral part of winning the championship at the 8-year old level in the North Georgia Youth Football League. In eleven years of coaching it was the most demoralizing defense I had seen." Jimmy Chambers, Blackwell Bears

"I first coached in 1996 and became head coach because no one else wanted the job. Having played ball in school, I thought no problem. Well playing and coaching are two different things. We went 0-7, scoring only two TDs all season and giving up almost 250 points. Then one day I found your books and wow. Using a lot of your ideas plus getting a better grasp of the wing-T offense, we turned it around in 197. We went 4-3. In '98 we still went 4-3, but we made it into the championship round. Many thanks to you for your help. Your books really made the difference." Kevin Wilson, Yelm Longhorns, Yelm, WA

"We have our final game this Saturday against the best team in our clinic division. I have just put in the 10-1 at the half-time of our last game, and you guessed my defense scored 4 points...We haven't scored on defense the whole season and the minute I put a rough-shot version in, we shut them down completely. My players love it, because it allows them to not have so many reads and basically charge upfield instead of waiting and reacting."

[subsequent email] "Do I have a 10-1 story for you, as you know in my earlier e-mail I coach in the Valley Youth Conf., 6-8 yr. olds. We have a record of 1-8 on the year, giving up over 30 pts. a game. In our season end jamboree this past Saturday we were slated to play the best team in our League, they had a record of 9-0 with a reputation of running the score up. I knew that offensively that we could not touch them ( I am not the Head Coach or offensive coach) anyway I informed my team that a.m. that we were going to "shock the world", I'll not keep you in suspense we lost, but the way my team played on defense the heart and determination they displayed all using the 10-1, it did more for the end of their season than words can express. This was the #1 offensive team, big strong and fast kids. All their coaches thought they had to do was line them up, give them the ball and say run.., and John Reed I am happy to report that we held them to 2 TD's, both of which were set up by our ineptitude on offense...If you could only have heard their coaches and parents saying how this was the best game that their undefeated team had played, that no other defense played them as tough....Your 10-1 SHUT DOWN their entire sweep, and whenever they did break one, my MLB has such instincts and speed that he would catch them before they gained too many yds...I am without a doubt a 100% 10-1 believer and endorser..If there are any first year coaches that are wondering what to do defensively, how will their undersized, undermanned, slow, inexperienced players can compete and keep you in the game, call me and I will sure tell you about the 10-1 and how easy it is for your kids to do what they naturally like at these young ages..Run and go...waiting for a key or playing 5 yds. back and then having to react will kill you all day, trust me I know..I went through 9 games before I had had enough and went over my Head Coach's head and implemented what I wanted to run all year long..As one of our assistants said at the end of the game, I should've put the 10-1 in along time ago. Yes, I know I should've...But I can't wait till next season and I know what I am going to run defensively, and I owe this turn around in my attitude and my players to you. You have given us a chance to compete and win, and we rolled with the big dogs and gave them all they wanted..They might have won the game, but the coaches know there is a new scheme in town and they call it the 10-1 and it's going to cause them fits next season. Thank you John and I'm sure to be bugging you with more stories, but this Saturday made the whole long hard season worth it for me and the kids and it is something that I think I won't forget, I learned a lot of lessons personally this season, about not giving up and keep pushing and just because people think your out of it you never are....12-0 to the offensive juggernaut in our conference..Can you believe there is a coach out there that is this happy over a me and the team it was the best win we had all year." Bill Shine, South Valley Panthers, 6,7,8 yr. olds.....

"I just completed a season as defensive coordinator of my son's youth football team. The head coach and other assistants reluctantly agreed to let me 'try' the Gap-8. Let me me also state that last year we had the absolute worst team in the league and a defense that gave up the most points in the league. I was told that the first time we got beat on a long pass play (Does that ever happen in a 9 yr. old game?) or run up the middle, it was back to the old 7-4. Well, we stayed in the Gap -8 all season. The ONLY time we were scored on was when when we had an assignment breakdown or minimum play players in the game. Our defense was the best in the league and made 80% of our tackle BEHIND the line of scrimmage! Our defensive ends were tough and disciplined and completely shut down the off tackle plays, allowing our lineman to pursue and tackle as the runner turned back inside.(My son, our strongside DE led the team in total tackles, sacks, caused fumbles and was the defensive lineman of the year and overall defensive MVP). Unfortunately our offense was terrible, but our defense got us to within 5 points of the league championship game.
I will be the head coach next season and I am already starting to prepare. I have recently ordered two more of your books.
Thanks for all your help and thanks for making me look like a defensive genius!! ( Yes, I did give you credit).

[subsequent email] We used [the 7-4] last year (I was NOT the defensive coordinator then). We were terrible. Quite a few teams in our league use this set up. It only worked well for one team because there coach was smart enough to get his fastest players, rather than just the biggest, on the field. They flew to the ball and were pretty good. He ran the gap-8 at times, not knowing he was doing it. After playing, and losing to us, he did ask for the details and I turned him on to your book. I suspect he will use it next season.
I do have one suggestion you might want to pass on. I our league, and a lot of others, we have a
maximum weight limit for running backs. If a boy is over the limit, he must wear a 90 number and play on the line. On defense I used two of our bigger, stronger (but still pretty fast) boys as the defensive ends (These boys would be linebackers and fullbacks if the rules allowed). On off tackle plays and sweeps, most youth teams use a flanker or running back as a lead blocker. These boys were at least 15 pounds lighter that our ends. (A HUGE weight difference at this age). As a result they were unable to block our ends who were tought to get to the sweep spot untouched if possible and then take on/fight-off lead blockers and contain the outside. If leagues have this type of rule, using a "lineman" at defensive end is a big advantage." Jim Hanley SBMSA Cougars , Houston, Texas
[author note: I oppose rules prohibiting heavier players from being backs. It is unfair to the heavier players and not a problem generally if they are allowed to play in the backfield. If almost every kid in the league is afraid to tackle a particular big, fast player, this rule should be invoked on an ad hoc basis to prevent that player from destroying the games in which he plays. I saw that once. (Pittsburg Mallards junior pee wees 1993) John T. Reed]

"I was asked this season by my son's head coach (first year) to help coach, something I've never done. Though I was one of your described 'incompetent' coaches, I recognize my limitations and coach accordingly. Three years as a mediocre high school player and watching NFL is my background. I bought your book to prepare, based only on its obvious title. I was expecting only a basic introduction with lots of drills and play diagrams, and had no idea how much wisdom was really in it.

At first, the unspoken agreement was that my duties would be largely administrative. But whenever the opportunity arose, I would inject some Reed stuff, like insistence on low hitting and blowing the whistle on lousy tackles. We saw our tacklers improve and our line started beating some much larger lines. When next asked, I suggested walking through plays that were burning us, moving more players up on the defensive line (seven seemed like a lot), and using scrimmage plays to double as hitting and conditioning drills to conserve practice time. I wasn't single-handedly turning this team around or anything like that, but this head coach did begin to think I might know something, and was warm to 'my' ideas. I was reluctant to tell him about Reed, because I didn't think he or the experienced assistant coach would be too hot on coaching out of any book.

After a couple more weeks of him seeming to like ny input, I finally gave the head coach your book. He read the intro about the typical junior coach, then took your self-test, and you gained another fan. He
implemented as much as was practicable immediately. Our expansion team, incidentally the lightest in our division, went 4-0 since then, and finished 5-3, which I'm told is unheard of for a new team in our league. These two coaches have a lot going for them, so of course it wasn't all Reed that did it, but you can't argue with the record. I couldn't get my book back until he ordered two more, which was fine with me.

Other Reed techniques we started working on immediately were: more walk-throughs (real eye openers), less collision and more tackling drills, putting them on the dummy when they didn't tackle right, 10 minute drill time limits, better use of precious practice time, reducing the number of offensive plays, use of no-huddle offense to help comply with minimum play, kicking tough-to-field kickoffs, gap-8 defense, recognition of the low percentage of pass plays, and weak player strategies (especially the weak wide receiver, who was covered by a decent player most of the time). All had varying degrees of effect, and some obviously take more time to learn than others, but no Reed method we tried was unsuccessful.

Just wanted you to know your methods are effective and fun to use. Keep writing!" Doug Jones, Elko, Nevada

Please go to part 3