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Coaching Youth Football Reader success stories Part 3

After our 7 & 8 year old team went 0-8 in 2003, I went to the internet searching for help. I purchased your book Coaching Youth Football prior to the 2004 season. I was the defensive coach…we went 5-3 in 2004, and stopped some teams that had scored 30 and 40 points on us the prior year. Thanks for the help and making your book available. I will read the GAM defense for youth football this year….

Kirby Simmons
The Gerald A. Teel Co.
974 Campbell Road, Ste. 204
Houston, TX 77024

Dear coach reed, About three years ago while watching my son practice I realized the coaches were horrible and I needed to do something, so I sign up to be a coach the next year. Well, during the offseason ( coaches have none) I decided to find some reading material to help get a refreshness so went down to the local library and found your book coaching youth football 1st edition within the first page I fell in love with it . It was some of the same thought I had ( where to use certain kids, the defense for 8-9 year olds, way too many plays and formations, and always using sons and not the right boys for running back and lead blockers or linemen). …last year was my first year as head coach, I ran the single wing, out of the shotgun, and unbalanced line. On defense I was able to convince my defensive coordinator of the promise the 10-1 defense had and he agreed. By the 3rd week he was in love 2- shutouts 7 tds all year were given up. Our offense avg. 25 pts a game. We won the league championship and lost in the regional championship, are record was 8-3—not a bad first year.

Dear John,

I just wanted to say thanks. Your very descriptive yet concise writing style allowed me to incorporate the single wing and beat the snot out of our competition. I am the offensive coordinator for a youth tackle team in South Florida. I coach 13-14 yr olds 135lb max. Most of our players come from a very affluent area, and therefore are not "natural" athletes.They suffer from TMTV, (too much tv). I implemented the single wing last season, we played a jamboree in August in the heart of Miami, and marched down the field on every team we faced. Opposing coaches were stymied. We went 9-3 and to the playoffs (lost in round one) even after losing our stud TB in week 5. We begin practice on July 11th , I just ordered another copy of your book, I gave our Peewee coach my original.


Joe Adams
Weston Warriors Football


Thanks for being my 'silent partner' in developing an outstanding football team last fall. My 5th grade team played in a league where we don't know who is on our roster until 3 weeks before the first game of the season. Also, league rules require that skilled players (in our case, TB, BB & WB) can only play 2 quarters in any one position, so my backs really need to understand exactly what all of the backfield is doing, alll of the time.

My offensive coordinator and I followed the Single Wing playbook to the letter and the results were fantastic! In a league of 6 teams we went 7-2 (we lost one league game 14-12 and another 8-6) and won the championship game 18-6, outgaining the runner-up 201 to 63 yards in the championship game. Oh, the defense only allowed 35 points all season and 3 of the 5 teams in the league did not score against us (we use a slightly modified GAM).

My main thought is that I can't emphasize enough how important it is in a offensive scheme to keep it simple and run the play over and over again until the kids can do it in their sleep, as you have emphasized. We started the season with 5 plays and finished with 9. Every man needs to know exactly what they are doing on each play. I also appreciated the simplicity of the blocking schemes as well and the necessity of the line to understand that they have to work together. Rarely did we have penetration problems.

Thanks for your time and effort to write some fantastic coaching books. My fellow coaches, parents and players all salute you!

Thanks again,

Richard Beasley
5th Grade Buccaneers Head Coach
McKinney, Texas

By the way, your books are great!!! You have been an inspiration to the Northeast Rhode Island Pop Warner Football League. Robert Souza

Found your book on gap,air,mirror defense last year about this time and realized it was the defense we were trying to teach our players the previous season. The head coach (defensive cordinator) read it after I did and it became our defensive playbook. We had 3 shutouts to start the season and allowed less then 6 pts per game in midget division-175 lbs, and up to 14 yrs. old. Some of these kids can really play and we've had fun watching them excell in high schools around orange county the past 3 years. We adopted your single wing offense and found that the clarity of each play was much easier to coach. The experienced kids picked up the advantages right away, the first year kids caught on much quicker then past years teaching a multitude of sets and plays. For the most part we let the tailbacks call the plays by just defense recognition. We lost 1 game during the season to very talented Inglewood team by the score of 7 to 3. The game film identifies the lack of scoring was our inability to sustain blocks with our highest rated players. Still we were inside the 20 four times, 1 made, 1 miss on field goals, 1 interception, and a turnover on downs. Anyway thanks for info and insight, we believe we can be competitive with any group of kids with these schemes. There is 1 extra play,(blast), we found extremely effective when the lb's are playing off 3 or more yds off. We doubled both interior tackles and sent the bb right thru the open gap at the lb with tailback 1 step behind. We were most effective in gap between snap and LG or LG and IT. If you want to any other feedback to your single wing we used give me a ring.

I was lucky enough to be an Offensive Tackle on the ’73 Notre Dame national champion team and a starter on ’75 team. Rudy was our most famous senior teammate and some soph named Montana was a backup at the start of season. Thanks again. Pat J Pohlen800-779-8273

I am sorry that it has taken me this long to getting around to writing you. Our season ended in late November and time has flown by since then. I have coached this group of kids for 6 years. Last year, you may remember, we began to run your single wing offense and had our best season ever, finishing 9-1 as league runner-up. The 2004 season was a storybook year. Continuing with the single wing we outscored our opponents 231-43, finished 12-0, and won the Metro Youth Football Championship in the 11 and 12 year old division. I must say that, when executed properly, your version of the single wing is nearly unstoppable. Most teams failed to adjust to our unbalanced line and those who did usually over adjusted allowing us to exploit their back side. Our bread and butter play was the off tackle. When our blocking backs did their job the play always worked. One great play that we used catch a team off guard was a modification of the wedge. We snapped the ball to the blocking back and the tail back faked like there was a low snap and he ran to the strong side. The blocking back stepped forward, towards the line, hesitated for a count, and then passed to the short end. After a long series of running plays this play was always open. Our only disappointment was the wing reverse. We just couldn't get it to work this year. The back side end would get us every time. In summary I am truly grateful to you for sharing your knowledge of the game with coaches like myself. The youth game is about much more than winning, but if the kids can get all of the good lessons and win then the experience is just that much better.
You can "quote me" and use me as reference whenever you need. As for the reverse...I will take a look at some tape to see exactly what we were doing and maybe get back to you. One thing that I forgot to mention that I owe you credit for is the idea to limit the number of plays in the "playbook". In past years (before I found your system) we had dozens of plays and would add new ones each week. This year we ran only 10 plays, but we could execute all 10 in our sleep. Most of our opponents ran a greater variety of offensive plays, but you could clearly see that some of the players did not know what to do...they were overwhelmed by the amount of plays that they had to learn. Your idea is so obvious, but 90% of youth coaches never realize how they handicap their teams with too many plays. Thanks again for all of your help. Without you and your book(s) our team's success would not have been possible. Deane Cheatham Richmond, VA


I own all your football books and they have helped me tremendously.
I coach 7 and 8 year olds and every book has provided me information that contributed to our teams success.

I can not begin to Thank You enough!!!



Sent you an email earlier in the year and thought I would give you a follow up.

Finished our regular season 8-0 with a combined score of 219 to 18. See attached scores. The Single Wing and the 10-1 have obviously worked well.

Your instruction on game preparation has also been extremely important to our success. After scouting one of our opponents this year, I knew that if they lined up in the same defense against us and we correctly executed the off-tackle that we would score on the first play. Guess what? They did and we scored on the first play, Right Formation - Off Tackle.

Pat Thomasson

Mr. Reed:
First year head coach here for a 13-14 year old age group team. Implemented offense from your book, 'Single Wing Offense' with guidance from the 'Coaching Youth Football, 3rd Ed' book as well.
A 7 - 4 season with a playoff berth. Outscored opponents 231-110. 1255 rushing yards. 434 receiving yards. 257 yards kick return yards. Started with a 4-4 stack which evolved into the Gap 8. One game away from championship but inexperience as a post-season coach revealed itself.
Great book! Great season! Thanks, Jack!
-Brian Victor


Our 5/6 team just won our championship game and finished 10 - 0. I was the defensive coordinator and followed the advice in your book Coaching Youth Football. We only had 5 touchdowns scored against our starting defensive all season.

Thanks for your book.


Kevin Hurst

This was my second year as head coach of an 8 & under football team. Last year I went 3-4. I bought two of your books, Coaching Youth Football and the Gap-Air-Mirror Defense. We lost one game in the regular season to a team with a 39 game winning streak. I didn’t show them a lot because I knew we would meet again in the playoffs. Sure enough we met in the championship game. By this time they had a 43 game winning streak. We were down 7-0 at halftime but came back to tie by running the crunch series. In overtime we start from the ten with four plays to score. They had us third and twelve and I ran the lonesome polecat. They sent a few guys over to cover but left five players to rush the quarterback. Boom!!! We scored and with the momentum on our side, we went for the two point conversion. I used a halfback pass and it was successful. They scored but missed the two point conversion. Winning streak over. The common mistakes part of youth caoches fit me to a tee, and without your books we never would have won it all.

Thank You,
Keith McGrew
Jasper, TN

Other team keep the ball whole 1st quarter, in and out of long huddles, etc, they finally scored, we went to no huddle. no snap signal, scored on 1st play, sweep. Held them, scored on wing reverse, held them, scored on another wing reverse, held them scored on wedge.. Game over . The other coach came over and said I do not understand who was your quarterback? He never did figure what was going on. Going to put in speed option and buck lateral run this week. Thanks...Joe Davidson Amarillo, Texas......

We scored so many TDs I never knew the score, It was a lot to 0. Ran the wing reverse, it went 60 yards for TD, It was called back,so we ran it again, it went 70 yards, another game tomorrow. Joe Davidson, Amarillo, Texas..............

Yes, you can add the emails if you want, 4th game, won again scored 1st four times we had the ball, then went to everyone go out for a pass, with a different tailback every play, so the whole team got to handle the ball.. On our first series, the other coach said " Hey ref. I didn"t hear any huts on that first play... we are already lined up again, and he yells out, " they did not get in a huddle. " We run a second play, for 30 yards and he calls time out and ask the ref., " are they going to huddle and call snap signals?" Ref . looks at him and says "I guess not." Thanks for your help...Joe Davidson Amarillo, Texas

I strongly recommend any youth, or for that matter anyone interested in football, read Mr. Reed's "Coaching Youth Football" book. Mr. Reed's words remind me of those spoken by an Old Testament prophet. At first they may fall on deaf ears, but once the eyes are opened to the truth of those words, it's easy to become a believer. Besides that he writes in a very easy to read and entertaining fashion. His passion for coaching oozes with each sentence. He challenges the status quo without mercy. Even though his words sometimes sting, they often bring a smile.

I was an assistant youth coach for three years and a former Jr. High Coach and former Jr. and Sr. High player. I realized after coaching and especially after reading Mr. Reed's book, I knew very little about the game. I still have a long way to go, but I find now that my understanding of the game and hunger for knowledge grows daily as opposed to being stuck in neutral, i.e, 30 years ago! Thanks to Mr. Reed for sharing his passion and ingniting that in me.


Rick Groomes, Mpls. MN

> Hi, just wanted to give you some feedback from our purchase of your books. I
> am a first time youth football coach, asked to coach my son's Pee Wee B team.
> Pee Wees are 10 yr olds in our league. The B team is made up of kids who are
> not good enough to make the A team.
> I played football as a kid and remember running the single wing with great
> success in the 70s, so I got online and did some research and found your
> books. Despite our inexperience, I was able to implement your ideas for
> offense and defense in the first two weeks of practices. In our first two
> games, we won 14-6 and 33-6. It was really more lopsided than that. We had a
> touchdown scored on a takeaway by the defense called back because of an
> "inadvertent whistle" by the ref in the first game, and in the second game,
> the only play in which our opponent, the Cottonwood Colts, gained any yards at
> all was a tight end pass that went sixty yards for a touchdown. The biggest
> surprise for me has been the defense. Using the GAM we have effectively shut
> down our opponents' offense using kids who mostly have never played before.
> The linemen love shooting the gaps and my middle linebacker turned into an
> absolute monster when I told him, as you suggested, to line up anywhere he
> wants and do whatever he wants. His nickname on the team is "Pitbull" because
> once he gets ahold of a ballcarrier, he never lets go.
> The parents and other observers of our team have been calling me and my
> assistants "coaching geniuses" because of our success with these kids. Little
> do they know who the true genius is. Thanks for making us look so good. You
> have really taken the guesswork out of youth football coaching.
> Mark Quinn
> Head Coach
> Olympus Titans Pee Wee B
> 801-530-7478

Excellent book for a beginning through high school level coaches.

Hane Cole III, Chocowinity, NC

This is the best book (most practical) I have ever seen for middle school football. It should be mandatory reading, especially if you have never coached before. It allows you to manage your limited practice time by eliminating what doesn’t work and accelerating what does.

I didn’t get your book until after the 3rd game of an 8-game schedule. I wish I would have had it before the season started.

In one game, we played a bigger, more experienced team and we were getting run over something fierce. We implemented your GAP-8 defense (which we worked on a few minutes in one practice) and completely stuffed them for about 2 quarters until we lost our discipline and didn’t stay down on the interior line and then let the tight end slip off the line for a touchdown.

…I thought I knew a little about football. Your book was so full of information and entertaining that I couldn’t put it down.

Thanks for a marvelous job on this book!!!
Ray Webber, Oregon, WI

I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you that my team finally won a game. My 11 year olds were 0-8 last year. I put in your GAM defense this year. The first game we lost by 7 points. They scored on a "fluke" hail Mary kids ran in to each other and fell down. Otherwise the defense worked great. Saturday, our first victory!!
Defensive results.
Zero first downs
Minus 30 yards rushing
Minus 10 yards passing
2 interceptions
2 more dropped interceptions
The other team ran a Power I formation, and they never got outside on the sweep. We stopped all plays up the middle and off tackle. I made one change on the GAM. The ends keyed the tailback, if he came towards them like the sweep, they went to the sweep point, if he went away, they went to the QB bootleg point which was only one yard deep. We stopped the bootleg in its tracks.
Just wanted to thank you for your books and your support via emails and faxes. A victory was earned by the kids, but your defense let them play.
Andy Lowe

Long letter from Coach Steve Conrad, Rome, GA

Mr. Reed, Thank you.
I had my first head coaching assignment last year in a new youth football league in Indiana. I wanted to make it a rewarding experience for all involved so I purchased your "Coaching Youth Football" book. I found it to be a valuable tool from draft day through our victorious championship game.
The two most important themes that I took from your book was to: 1) Don't be afraid to put quality athletes in blocking positions and 2) Keep your play book lean but thorough
We ran a wishbone formation and primarily ran power sweeps, blasts, and misdirection to mix things up. Every practice I ran though the limited plays we had and made sure everyone knew their blocking assignment by heart. My assistant coach thought I wasn't creative enough (no passing) but his negativity waned as the season matured. By season end, I was able to instill the importance of blocking and have them take great pride in it. We didn't have a flashy offense but we protected the ball and gained positive yardage almost every play.
I would recommend to any coach that if a player carries out an awesome block in practice... Commend them enthusiastically in front of his peers. Even more so than the lucky kid that got to carry the ball in the end zone. Also, command respect from your players but make sure you make the experience as fun as possible for them.
Thanks again for the guidance!
Kelly Foster, Shoe Carnival, Inc, Database Administrator (812) 867-8321

“Hi, John. Finding your web site was like finding a lighthouse on a foggy night! It appears that you and I have much in common. First off is our love of football and baseball. I was All-State QB and All-North Georgia pitcher in high school. I was recruited pretty heavily in both sports and was offered several scholarships. I accepted an appointment to the US Air Force Academy and attended part of my "plebe" year.
Unfortunately, my eyes were not good enough to fly and I was not dedicated enough at 18 years old to stay for anything else, so I came back home and played at Georgia. I was a QB on the football team and a pitcher on the baseball team ('90 National Champs) until injuries ended both my football and baseball careers.

Recently I began coaching youth football and baseball. My son is 7 and is in his third year of football and just finished his fourth year of baseball (we start 'em young here in the South). When I started coaching him a few years ago, I realized that I still know a good bit about football and baseball, but much of that knowledge simply did not apply at the youth level. I had to re-learn many of the fundamentals to be able to coach the kids. Also, I found myself falling into the habit of coaching the kids the way I was coached, without really thinking about WHY things were always done this way, that's just the way it WAS. I think you have done a tremendous job of researching coaching tactics and techniques at the youth level and have a much SMARTER and EFFECTIVE system of coaching.

As you stated numerous times on your web site, youth football is VERY different from high school, college, and pro. You do not have world-class athletes, attention spans, etc. Therefore, you need an offense and defense that kids can run and understand. The defense must be oriented to stop the run, not the pass. The offense must take advantage of the defense's weaknesses while minimizing the potential to lose yardage and other mistakes like turnovers, penalties, and incomplete passes. Special teams play is critical, even more so perhaps than at the higher levels, because of the abundant occurrences of turnovers in the youth game. You can also never spend too much time on the fundamentals - blocking, tackling, assignments and responsibilities. Team management, parent management, clock management, etc., etc., etc. Mickey Haynes

“Thanks for your help over the past 2 years.”
Coach Rob Roark
North Henry Youth Football Super Bowl Champs 2000 for ages 6 and under!!!

“Coach Reed:
I LOVE your books. I've been coaching Pop Warner for 11 years. Last year was my 4th season as a head coach. We went 7-1. That's more wins than I had in the prior 3 seasons COMBINED. I started reading your books 2 seasons ago. This last season I fully bought into the things you were saying. The end result was a trip to the playoffs. I'm now a disciple of the single wing and a huge fan of the 10-1. Every time I speak to a 1st year head coach in our association, I sing the
praises of your books. "Buy them!!" I say. I hope they do for their sake. Because if they don't, The AVENGERS will make their lives a living hell should we meet on the playing field.
Thanks in advance for all the continued success I fully expect to enjoy the rest of my coaching career.” Keith James

“Thanks again for your knowledge. Your book has made my coaching life easy and fun. This year I coached the 11-12 yr olds and we went 9-1. Our league has a 120 lb restriction. (Any kid over 120 could not run the ball and had to play on the line between the tackles.) My team had one kid over 120 and every team we played had at least 6 kids over 120. The only team to which we lost 6-14, had 10 kids over 120. I had 3 kids quit my team after the first 2-weeks of practice because their father, uncle or brother told them we would not win a game because of the offense/defense we ran and our size. Two of the kids asked to rejoin the team after our first 3 games. I said no.

Running your kick return blocking scheme we ran back four kick-offs for touchdowns. Our most successful play again this year was the fake reverse. We scored 4 out of 11 times. We also scored 4 out of 11 times on a spinning fullback play that I found on-line. It's a variation of the fullback lead play except on the snap of the ball the fullback turns around and takes a blind handoff from the running back. The fullback then runs off-tackle, while the defense is tackling the running back who ran between the guard and tackle. It was a good short yardage or goal line play.” Thanks, Vince Icenogle

“I have used your football books for the last 3-4 seasons. Last year, I helped the St. Cecelia 7-8 grade FB team. A lot of your common sense approach helped us win a championship. Frank Raffaldi, Houston, TX

“John, Thought I would let you know how our season ended. I am the gentleman that has a new association and consequently a new team. I think that I already told you that we went undefeated in the regular season. We scored 40 points a game and gave up 10 per game. For the playoffs I preached Defense. In the playoffs we won the 1st round game 48-0. The other team quit in the 2nd quarter. The second round game we won 35-0, it also ended early. The championship game we won 39-14. It was 33-0 going into the 4th quarter. We gave them a couple at the end, because our kids had lost all composure. They were so excited about winning the Championship and going 13-0. We scored 40 points a game in the playoffs, but only gave up 5 per game.

As a side note I want to say that we have a player that gained well over 2500 yards and scored 66 TD in 13 games. If he had been in a conventional Offense he would have been lost. He is a fast kid with no experience, but he obviously understood taking the direct snap and sweeping or going off tackle pretty well.

I want to thank you again for writing your books. I think we would have been good without your books, but we were great, the best, without a doubt because of the books. You have to see the faces of the players to understand what it does for a child to feel as though they are on top of the world. You are the man John. Thanks. I attached pictures of the team holding the trophys up, for you to see[].

We use the GAM Defense and the single wing offense w/only 4-6 basic plays for each game. (This is for you readers). It works. Buy the books.” Scorpion President and Coach, Lee Perry

[John T. Reed received an order from Bill Flutie, a youth coach in Masasachusetts. Bill is the brother of Doug Flutie, the Heisman Trophy winner and current Charrgers quarterback. Reed asked Bill Flutie what offense and defense Doug recommended for youth football. Here is Bill’s answer.]

“Doug agrees that stopping the run is the most critical all the way up to college level and the best way to do that is by stacking the line and playing man to man. On offense Doug likes the single wing for the kids with the direct snap.” Bill Flutie

“Also I wanted to thank you for getting me your single wing offensive book as fast as you did. My team was struggling all year. None of my players had played before and talent was limited. I had one exceptional player and the rest were hit and miss. I went through three QBs in my first three games first one went down because of an injury. So my backup played the second game and in actuality he was my third best QB but I wanted my second best QB to play another position to try and get a more talented kid on the field.

Anyway the kid I put in as my backup continually would not keep his hands open on the snap and would fumble often between the center QB exchange. I was not running the single wing at this time. I was using an I formation offense. I had used it for 4 years and I have had success with it. So anyway after the second game which my backup fumbled too much I had finally had enough time to get my third QB (more talented QB but needed at another position) enough reps at QB to take over. He did so and we played a better game but continued to have trouble scoring. I had read your first book "Coaching Youth Football" and by the third game I would use two single wing plays to confuse opposing teams. The two plays were the seam buck and the reverse. I noticed how easily my kids picked the plays up and I was snapping the ball directly to my running back eliminating the QB. We rarely had a penalty when we would run it and I never had to worry about a fumble or my split ends lining up off the line. So for our forth game I decided I would use it more often and ordered your single wing book. Needless to say I ran Seam buck and reverse for the entire first quarter and half of the second until they stopped it. Also I was just yelling the plays from the sideline in a numbered form (we had not worked out the play call for no huddle because I had not planned on using it over and over again but I was taking what they were giving me and they kept lining up wrong so I kept telling my kids to "run it again"). In that amount of time we were ahead 21 to nothing. Then I switched back to my I formation offense and tacked on another 3 Touchdowns. The next week I had your book in hand and we were off and running winning our next two games with a combined score of 77 to 13. I might add the first three games which we lost with a combined score of 14 to 98 (we did play the eventual league champ who only allowed 12 points all year and the runner up in the first three weeks of the season) But in the last three weeks we won with a combined score of 120-13 using the no huddle and the single wing. It was a great turn around and I sure will use this offense next year and as soon as the holidays are over I am buying myself a gift called the "Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football".” Jonathan R. Vrabec

“John, I have written you several times this season to give you updates of how your book has done in Texas on the field. I started the season off with 20 players, 19 of which had never played football. I knew that it might be a long season. It was a long season. Every week wondering if the next game would be our first.

First loss that is. We went 10-0. 2 games better than the next best team in the league. We followed most of your book right down to making scouting a priority. We ran the Single wing and averaged 40 points per game. My tail back alone had 45 TD in 10 games. The Gap-Air-Mirror held opponents to 11 points per game. In the last game of the regular season, scored every way possible; a safety, interception for a TD, and a fumble recovery that we scooped up and ran in for a TD.

By about the mid season point, folks tried scouting us. I noticed at the beginning of ea. game how they would stack their defense to the strong side. Of course, we ran the reverse or the blast play to avoid that mess. They tried every thing to stop us. They couldn't. 5 of our 10 games ended in the 3rd quarter because we had 35 points or more on them. One team
even quit at half time. That game I started my #3 Tailback. After every offensive play we have, the opposing coaches come running out onto the field to pick up their players who stayed down. They simply get tired and just can't get up again. The no huddle-silent snap count just takes the wind out of the other teams.

NOTE to readers: Make sure you tell The referees that you run a silent snap count. We raise our leg to signal to the Center that the tailback is ready. The reason we tell the ref's is because the other team will start jumping offsides on the leg raise. We play NCAA rules so that means encroachment on the defense.

Since the season has started I purchased your Single wing book and will begin instituting it as soon as the 2002 season starts up. My single wing is a little different than yours. We play by NCAA rules so I do not use a possum I use the split end as a "NASTY". If the D-end lines up inside of the nasty split then we run the sweep if he lines up on the outside we run the off-tackle. Anyway we crack back on the D-end on the sweep if he lines up inside. He usually does not line up there again. Nor does he come across the line very fast any more.

John thank you. Your book has given me the confidence to be firm with what I am doing as a head coach. In turn it has given my players the confidence to go out onto the field and do their jobs. It makes it more FUN for the players.

I attached a team photo for you. ( Off to the playoffs we go,” Lee Perry

“Well, chalk up another championship for your philosophy, as we won our 7th/8th grade city championships yesterday, shutting out our opponent, mostly using GAM. The opponent, known as a speed team, did not get outside once, and I can't recall their speed back making any significant run. Their only two (!) major gainers were a quick hitter by a FB, and a QB scramble (he was scrambling because all five of his receivers were blanketed by our man coverage!). As I mentioned to you before, we put GAM in after our season started, but it quickly became our primary defense, running it almost exclusively. Next year, we intend to follow you recipe more closely in the practice season so we have a better handle on the various positions, but most importantly grill the down linemen into staying low....thanks for your advice during the year, and we can now bask in the glory of an undersized team out scoring their opponents 147-32 over a nine game schedule, finishing by shutting out a previously undefeated high scoring team. Bill, Geauga Lions 7th/8th grade football team (consisting of players from St. Mary's, St. Helens, Notre Dame and St Anselms).”William Salus

“Just finished our youth (10-11 year olds) football season. Our record was 5-2. I ran the veer option offense and the GAM defense. We won our first game, lost our second two, then won the last four. The league I coach in is an “educational” league. We have only 3 weeks (10 practices) before our first game. Of those 10 practices only 4 are in pads, so I am in a big rush to evaluate kids and install an offense and a defense. The GAM defense was simple to teach and unbelievably effective. Our GAM defense gave up only 2 touchdowns the entire season. This was accomplished even though I had only 17 players and I let everybody play at least an entire half on defense every game. To do this I had two complete defensive units, one played the first half and the other played the second half. I kept the CBs, OLBs, and MLB the same on both units, and swapped out the front 6. To find places for everybody on the front line I had to go against your player size advice at the guard positions. I was forced to put light players there, but made them stay low to clog the hole. Heavier kids were put at the tackle positions to help with the off tackle play. I put a stud at MLB to clean up after the lightweight guards and tried not to over coach him. I made corrections through him and made sure he checked the alignments of the CBs and OLBs. Because I was vulnerable up the middle, one other change I made from your recommendations was when the offense was in a trips formation with nobody in the backfield other than the QB, I always had the MLB cover the inside trips receiver, and had him go halfway out rather than lining heads up. This allowed him to get back to help in case the QB tried to run up the middle over my lightweight guards.

The most difficult part of running this defense proved to be getting my CBs to get up on the line and hit the receiver, rather than play off the line as is the norm. I had to constantly work on keeping them up there, even when they could see the benefit when we reviewed their game films. This defense works. Two touchdowns in seven games attests to that. By the middle of the season I knew if we just scored one touchdown we would win the game, our defense was that tough. I have purchased three of your football coaching books including this one, and plan on purchasing your new single-wing one for Christmas. I ran that offense the past two years. I think if I could run my option offense the first half of the game, then come out running the single-wing the second half (after the opposition spent halftime making adjustments for the option), we would be unstoppable! I thoroughly enjoy all of your books and would not have had the success I had this year without your help. I look forward to reading your new single-wing book.” Sincerely yours, Rick Wilburn, Rockford, Michigan

“I want to thank you for a wonderful year. I have always been a successful coach (30-8-2 in 5 years), but have never had the fun coaching that I did this year. We ran the triple option against a league that was super competitive. We have 17 teams in our league and played a tough 9 game schedule. We played 4 undefeated teams this year and broke even at 2-2. Of course, both games we should have won. We lost by a total 10 points and gave up some easy scores.

I went to the triple option with a no-huddle offense and you should have heard my assistant coaches scream bloody murder. They were hopeing that I had a second offensive scheme, but I told them no. You and I proved them wrong and I want to thank you. It also didn't hurt, politically, that I was the only youth coach brave enough to run the same offense as the High School thanks to you. The High School only ran the Triple and thought the No-Huddle was too risky. Oh, well.


I have 6 assistant coaches who have been with me for 3 years. We went from Freshman(9-10) for two years and JV(11-12) this year. The problem this year was that I seemed to be spread so thin and devoted very little time to the defense. I tried to teach my coaches the GAP, but I spent more time on the Triple Option than the GAP and it showed. I thought the GAP would be easy for them to pick up. We finally got the defense going, but it took almost the whole year.

My assistants are a great bunch of ex-football playing Dads, but are very opinionated, aggressive and competitive. I am moving up to Varsity next year and am losing 3/4ths of my coaches and 1/2 my team. I thought that I was well prepared coming into the season, but was surprised how much coaching to the assistants that I had to do.

Your best 2 tips that I picked up are as follows:

Use Contrarian Tactics
Triple Option
Spread Formation
Special Teams Emphasis
Block Assignments on Kick Return (6 for TDs)
None the first 3 games until I made the carrier start by going up the middle before he broke it off. This helped the blocking scheme.
Kicked Extra Points(2 points each)

If you ever want someone to talk to me, feel free to have them contact me. I will be buying your other books in the offseason and am a big fan of yours. I thought I could do this all myself because I played college football. Your book made the difference in fun and execution. THANK YOU!” Donald P. Cantwell

“Please let me start by saying thank you.
I am Josh Navis a 30 year old football coach. I have coached the 7th grade Waupun Warrior Football team for 5 years now. After 5 years I am just understanding the time and effort it takes to do it right. I have one book that I hold on too and read all year long and that is your book "Coaching Youth Football 2nd Edition". I got this book as a gift after my first year of coaching from a friend. It has turned out too be one of the best gifts I have ever received. Sometime after the new year I started reading it at work. I never put it down until I read it 4 times. Things I believed would work and wanted to try were spelled out there in black and white. The season could not come fast enough.

Since I did not play college football or was not the super star of my high school team I am blown off by the other coaches in the program as someone who does not know anything. Despite the fact that over the past 5 years the teams I have coached are 15 and 8. This includes my 1st year when I went 1 and 3 and hand no clue. In response too this I get too hear from the other coaches "well it's only 7th grade". I try to tell them that they have to learn how too teach the game to the kids not just instruct them on what they want them too do. But I am continually scoffed at.

When I played High school football we played an 40 stack defense. 4 linemen 4 line backers stacked over their respective linemen 2 corners and one safety. We all had a gap. Every year we had a good defense. It was the offense that struggled. Not knowing or explained to us that we were running a gap 8.

So In my 1st year coaching I had the kids play what the existing coach did for the previous 5 years. A 50 with 3 line backers. It failed terribly. Finally the week before our last game I put in the 40 stack defense with the line backer getting to pick his gap to cover on each play by tapping his lineman on the side he wanted him to go. They crashed their gaps and because of that defense we won the final game of the year.

It was that Christmas that I got your book and really started to believe that the gap 8 is the ONLY defense to have but I had to give the kids less to understand. Simple is better. It then lets them forget about the "play or job" and play more instinctively. So we really sharpened up the defense by defining each players roll, setting the right kids in the right positions, getting kids in shades on the line and getting them to penetration their gap before flowing to the ball could happened. 90% of our plays are a run read first for obvious reasons but we can and do place our backers in pass reads 1st in obvious passing downs.
Now 4 years into really knowing and understanding this defense I am proud to say that this year we are undefeated in 4 games and have out scored our opponents 110 to 8.

This was only accomplished by implementing the gap 8 defense and then reading on how to make it work. The tackling drills you suggested and other blocking suggestions you made in the book have made our program one that kids want too play. I thank you for giving me the backing and the belief that what I was doing was the right thing and how to make it even better. Every year I learn something new.

My problem is that the Varsity coaches do not believe the same thing I do, the simpler the better. They have almost 70 different offensive plays and the defense is a 40 but it does not give a gap responsibility to the line backers. The kids get defensive plays that seem to make them forget they have to make plays. This is so frustrating to watch these kids that I know are winners and have won at every level until there varsity days and no changes or suggestion seem to change the ways of the coaches.

I write this to you because I wanted you to know your words have reached more then you would know. And the positive things that have happened to me and the program is night and day to what was happening. Gap 8 not only works but dominates games if run right. That is the team huddle cheer we end every time out and quarter with "1-2-3 DOMINATE!"

I will continue to use an 8 man gap defense no matter what level I coach. I know it works and at least with your book I have some backing to help me prove my point if they don't want to believe my stats. Thank you for your time.” Sincerely,
Josh Navis, 7th Grade Warrior Football Coach

“Hey Coach, Wanted to drop you a note of thanks. I got your book on G-A-M Defense and used it as a base to run my 10-1. I also run Coach Wyatt's double wing. After 7 games (8 & 9yr olds) we have allowed net (-10yds) and have gained over 2000 yards rushing. I visited your site before the season and took some of the good advise you have to offer. Our practices consist of blocking 10 minutes of blocking drills and 10 minutes of tackling drills, the rest of the time is spent getting as many reps in on our plays as possible. Following your advise, no stupid drills like last year. It shows with our execution on both sides of the ball. The 10-1 is great for this age kids. I am lucky to have 22 great kids. I have 11 kids on 1st O and 11 different kids on 1st D. Through my first 6 games, at the half, 1st O becomes second D and plays the rest of the game on D and visa versa. Also on your advise, got all my opponents on tape at the jamboree. Just wanted to say thanks.” Stuart Whitener, Huntsville Alabama

“We gave up 6 points all season and no completions. We were undefeated, even though we were the B team in a town that stacked the A team with the best talent. We beat everybody including the A team. We used your 10-1 defense and the single wing with the spinning fullback. Every one of my players scored a toucdown during the season.” David Jacobs, Austin area

“we went on to crush our (8th grade) weekend opponent 22-0 (with two TDs called back for penalties, one pick called back for an outlandish roughing call, and another pick going for an apparent TD stopped on a quick whistle). We even had a safety, and one goal line stand (inside the three! and the only reason they got to there was due to blown coverage by a sub CB). Their D, which I mentioned last week seemed to play a variation of GAM, was tough, shutting down many of our patented sweeps and counters, and adding blitzers to their gap men, almost ruining any chance we had to pass. Yet, our D demoralized them, and our O gave enough to run away with the game despite the call backs.

You might also be interested that I ran one single-wing variation, snapping the ball directly to our fullback for a PAT that had their entire D scratching their heads, and the adult fans smiling and reminiscing about leather helmets.” William Salus

“FYI - We won this weekend 20-0 against an undefeated team. We use your GAM defense and run a simplified double wing. They never crossed their 45 yard line.” Rick Hawkins

“John, 2nd time writing to you. I have been reading your books for about 4-5 years. Let me start by quoting an opposing coach, that we just played. "Your offense looks like sandlot football." He had to say something, I guess, I know I wouldn't say anything, if that "sandlot football" had beaten me 46-6. "We run the singlewing". John through week 4 my scores have been. We have won all 4.

Week 1 - 39-26
Week 2 - 33-6
Week 3 - 39-0 Only 3 quarters. Game stopped after 35 point lead.
Week 4 - 46-6 That was the "sandlot game". This game ended 2 minutes into the 4th. 35 point rule again.

I want to say that it is all scheme, but I can't. I have 20 players on my team. 6 of those would play Tailback on other teams. My #1 tailback has 47 carries, 769 yards and 19 TD's, in 4 games. I do however believe that the total domination of other teams comes from the schemes. I see other very good players on the other teams and I am very glad they do not run our offense. They are over coached trying to run the "I" or whatever. The other 14 players on my team are also very good. I have no minimum play players. In fact to keep everyone happy, we start different players every week.

I do attribute the other part of our success to your books. Not all things do I use from your books, but most I do and I thank you for that. I wish you hadn't written a Singlewing book, because now I will have to defend it. I will be purchasing that book soon. Thanks again for what you have done for me and my new Association. Note: I have a 2 other teams in my association 1 older and 1 team younger. They now mimic me on offense and defense. Imagine that! Lee Perry

Quick update on our team. We are still running the gam defense we have only givin up 24 points in 5 games.
Our single wing offense has scored 123 points. Please feel free to use the story, If it wasn't for your book we would still be struggling like last year. Thanks for your help!” Kendall Smith, Jordan Gremlins Coach, Sandy Ut.

Dear John: I am a "Daddy" assistant coach that has coached the 8 & 9 year olds up to 95lbs division of the Suncoast Youth Football Conference for 4 years. This league is the dominant youth league in the Tampa Bay area. I checked out Coaching Youth Football last year from the local library last year. I was intrigued with the 10-1 defense and tried to get my team to try it. I was laughed at. This season I checked out your book again and read it again. We have a good team with a great offense but even weak teams ran over our 5-3 and 6-2 defenses. The head coach gave me the defense and even though we were 3-0 he was scared to death of our defense. I talked him into trying the 10-1 and said that if it worked it was "our" idea and if it didn't it was "mine". Last week against a good team we pitched a shut out allowing 13 yds total offense and 1 first down. I need to know more! I feel it is a perfect defense for our personnel. I need to take it to the next level and perfect it.

I owe you. We pitched another shut out Saturday 27-0. We had some missed tackles by our end that triggered two big plays. Our Middle Linebacker ran them down though. They still need a lot of fine tuning. We are now 5-0 and heading into the light part of our schedule. If things go right we should face the Clearwater Jr. Tornadoes the last game of the season with both of us being undefeated. They have won 4 out of the last six championships. Dunedin has never beat them. This could be the year.
Best regards,
Jim Shelton

“Hello Coach Reed, Update # 2. Us 2, Opponents 0. Quite a defensive struggle. Here is a break down. They stopped us, we stopped them, for most of the game. They punted 4 times, we blocked 2 of them. We didn't punt the whole game. They kicked off to us deep to start the game. We onside kicked to them at the start of the second half, we recovered. The last play of the 3rd quarter we blocked their punt, we recovered right there ~ on the 30 yard line. It was blocked so hard that the ball just went dead right off his foot. Their punter just got creamed.
We got inside the 10 yard line but stalled. I told my defensive team, "We need a defensive score right now". Their first play was a 5 step drop back pass, our defensive LG was all over their QB for a 8 yard loss. Their second play was a sprint out to their left, our right, our right DE grabbed the QB with the defensive RT backing him up for the SAFETY!!!!!!! WOW, POW, SHAZZAM!!!!. They kicked off to us, we drove down to the 1 inch line, then got called for a holding penalty. Backed us up, then ran 3 more plays which ended the game.
I think they tried to pass about 10 times during the game. They only got one pass off and it went incomplete, it was real close to a lateral. For those people that think this defense is weak against the pass, THEY JUST DON'T GET IT!!!!!!
Thanks again for everything. Your stuff is making us look and play great.

P.S. the other team was running a 5-4 defense.
P.S.S. I couldn't believe that the other team was so un-ready for our onside kick. The kid that was closest to the ball kind of backed off and let it go. Even if he was in the know we would have gotten it because there was such a big "G" there. We practice kicking it to our left all the time, our opponents right. We like to use the extra man (Mr. Sideline). But in both games we kicked to our right, opponents left. Seems you are right again because it just so happens to be the side of the field that is furthest away from their sideline and when their coaches yell at them, the kids can't hear a word of it.”
Dave Cox

“Coach Reed, Saturday 9/8/01 was our first game. In fact it was the first game of my Associations existence. The team we were playing was the 2nd place team last year. I was a little uneasy because only 1 of my players had ever been in pads before this season. We are a 7-8 and 9 year old level with no weight restrictions. I have players from 75lbs. to 160lbs. I asked prior to the game if we could putcoaches on the field, and the opposing coach laughed at me. I expressed my feeling that the game was for the kids not us, so he let me on the field.

They won the toss and deferred to us so we chose to receive. They did exactly what you said they would and kicked it to one of my deep backs who proceeded to run it right up the middle, untouched for a TD. We ran the GAM defense and did only fair with it. They scored 3 TD's on us all outside, and as you predicted in your book the D-ends did not contain. (Needless to say that is the focal point of our Defensive practice this week). There 3 TD's were O.K. as far as the outcome of the game was considered. Let me tell you why. I am running the single wing - Direct snap to the Tail back that stands about 4 yards back. My #1 Tail back ran the ball 6 times for 203yards and 5 TD's all on the same sweep play always to the friendly sideline. You can tell by the yards that they were big TD's. We also run No huddle no snap count. Thank you very much for showing me the common sense side of youth football. Watching the other team be confused about lining up etc... was crazy. By the way, by the end of the 2nd quarter I had pulled out my best to players on both sides of the ball. I also got off the field. This is when they scored their TD's. They also had 3 coaches on the field starting the 3rd quarter. Now I was laughing. The final score was higher than I wanted (39-26), but my 2nd and 3rd string did the best they could, and are learning more and more each day.

Against your advice I put together a coaching staff of 7. I only ended up with one coach who did not agree with my schemes. You can bet your bottom dollar he's a believer now.”

Again Thank You,
Lee Perry, Scorpion Football President/Coach

“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

Please go to part 4