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Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football reader success stories, Part 5

oach, Boy, when you are right, you are right! We went live for the first time last night vs. our counterparts in our town. We were to go about 15 min. O and D. We took D first - they had one play that did NOT lose ground, and a lost fumble, and an interception which we returned. "Oskie." They ran about 7 - 9 plays in their 15 minutes. Their coach calls their offense a double wing, I believe a slot is more appropriate. Either way, G-A-M shoved it down their throat.

We ran single wing, warp speed, no huddle for ten minutes before one of their assistant coaches said, "we're done." All he did the whole time was berate his players. We were not stopped save for one play, the buck lateral. We will fix it.

You may notice that I am extremely excited to play our first game. SO ARE OUR KIDS! I have already asked our director to get us a game at the season's end. Thanks again to you for putting these materials together. I hope none of our opponents ever hears your name.

I would also like to mention that scrimmage number two was even more lopsided. No passes left the QB's hand, as it is impossible to throw from one's back - especially when there are two, three or more people smothering you.” Name and location withheld by request

Long letter from Coach Steve Conrad, Rome, GA

“We used your defense last year at the Mitey Mite level in Huntersville, NC. We went 8-0 gave up an average of 3.5 points per game. Thanks for all your work.John Donoghue

“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

“We've been able to turn our league from the door mats to competitors in 2 years 2000 1-8 2001 6-2 This year is our first shot at playoffs w 23 returning players from mitey mite to jr.pee wee. Thanks for the books and the coaching insight.

Ali Perez

Santee Pop Warner Jr. Pee Wee

“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 trophies 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

“BTW our 65 lb. team of 24kids (17 never played ball before) went 9-2-1. We used the GAM defense and it worked great.”

Thanks,Bix Goodwin

“I have just finished my first year as a head coach after two years as an assistant. In an earlier E-mail to you during the season I thanked you for your advise and mentioned that we were 4-0. At the end of this season we were 7-0 and won our first two play-off games to advance to the County Championship. We ended up losing that game to another team from our league that we scrimmaged 2 nights a week all season long until the last two weeks. They new us well and effectively stopped our generic offense. When I started this season I was determined to stop other teams offenses and have an offense that could put up just enough points to win. The GAM was extremely effective and for the most part shut other teams down, six shut outs in a seven game season. Only one touchdown scored all season long. No extra points. Unfortunately in the championship game the offense couldn't muster more than 6 points. This was not enough to win.

Thanks for all your help,Doug Jewell, SYA Football, Centreville, VA

“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 love your GAM defense. I ran a 5 - 3 defense that was shutting out every other team we played and the 3 teams that we scrimmaged. In our 6th game, we lost to Natick Mass, Doug Flutie's home town and the team had a Flutie on it. My defense had 4 of our starting defensive line members out. We lost in a heartbreaking game 21 - 18, the most points my defense gave up. My head coach gave me your book to read after the game and I did so reluctantly, using the excuse that we were missing to many men on our defense for the last game to win. So I read your book and was impressed. At practice, our team of 24 only had 15 show up that night. So we had parents with dummies representing corners, linebackers and D-ends. The remaining 4 kids I had rush in the GAM defense manner. The O-Line did not know what hit them! We were just running plays between the tackles and our powerful offense was held to negative yards.

Needless to say we played the GAM in the next game against the Conference leader who was destroying teams. We shut them out most of the game and only gave up one touchdown because our strong side LB did not pop the O - End and he was able to block our D - End on a sweep they ran. We won 19 - 6 and we are now in the playoffs! I was one of those macho coaches who blitzed all the time.

Yes, you may quote me. It's the least I can do. Tonight it was offense night and we ran a 5 - 3 as a scout defense. After playing the GAM (I cap it out of respect) my kids on defense now hate the 5 -3. The president of the former leading team in our conference told our president that he hopes he doesn't meet our

team in the playoffs.”Roger

“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

“I was asked to coach my son's football team this year. I have "helped" out in his previous two seasons. The first year the head coach was doing what you describe in your books. Reliving his own youth football horrors. The second year there was very little teaching and lots of yelling. I was asked that year to run the defense and was in over my head. Although I didn't know it at the time. We did OK 5-2 lost in the first game of the play-offs. The other coaches in our league were in over their heads as well.

At the end of that season I was asked by our commissioner to coach next year. I agreed much to my wife's chagrin. I was determined to do a much better job for the kids this time. I spent hours on the net looking for any info I could find. When I happened upon FBFORYOUTH.COM. This site had some great information but more importantly led me to your site and your books. I ordered Coaching youth Football 3rd edition and GAM defense for youth football. I read both from cover to cover and use them every day as a guide. When I mentioned the defense to some of the coaches I had worked with in the past and some of the "successful" coaches in our league the response was always the same. "If they get past the line it's a touchdown, The pass will kill you, You'll lose every game. I ignored the "experts" and installed the defense. I was adamant about the boy's doing exactly what I told them and we worked hard. We won our first game 27-0 and held the other team to - 28 yards of offense. Yes that's negative. Since then we have gone on to 4-0 only giving up one score on a busted play where the ball was rolling around on the ground. The opposing Q/B picked up and ran around the end as my containment man was looking for the ball. I hear my players saying this is the best football team I've ever

been on. That makes you feel good! Their having fun learning a lot and winning ball games. Remember winning is more fun than losing.

This could not have been accomplished without your knowledge and your willingness to share it in your books.

Thanks for making our season a success,

Doug Jewell

SYA football


“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

“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

“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


Quick update on our team. We are still running the GAM defense we have only given 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

Does the GAM defense work for older age levels?

“GAM worked well to a shut out Sunday; boy, you just can't sweep against it. We also in the last two games only had two passes completed against us (8th graders), both from blown coverage. We also had a pick, playing underneath, that we ran back for a TD.”William Salus

“Coach Reed, I am the defensive coach for the Orcutt (CA) Youth Football League Senior Radiers (12-14 yr olds). For this year, for our goal-line/short yardage defense, I am trying your GAM defense. We worked on GAM assignments and responsibilities this week and last nite we scrimmaged the other Orcutt Sr. team using the GAM defense. I was surprised at the results! We held the opponent to little gains and the kids on "D" loved it.”Ken Bychak

“Hi. Mike Nelson, Sharon High freshman football defensive coordinator. I corresponded with you about using your defense at the high school level.

We have been using your defense with a modification or two depending on scouting reports.

Our school is in division 3 (of 6). Our opener was away at Malden Catholic, a division 1 program. The defense gave up no more than 10 yards through A & B gaps and no more than 20 to 30 yards between the C's. Our problem was four plays that day. Two sweeps in which our left E allowed the sweeper way too much room to cut up/back, combined with no strong-side linebacker support. One option play where the E did not hit the QB and a 40 yard pass completion on a scramble that the left E lost contain, ball was under thrown (perfectly) on a corner route and the C fell trying to comeback to the ball with the receiver and the receiver made a hell of a catch. The combination of sweep and option break downs lead to a TD. The pass led to another TD in which they scored on fourth and 1 (barely). So one conversion later we were down 14-0. The game finished 14-12 with a punt return called back with 12 seconds to play on a flag thrown after our returner was in the end zone!

Our second game against a division 2 school we had four breakdowns. One on an off tackle play in which my weak side backer dropped back in pass coverage and vacated his "traditional" LB role in his "over the offensive tackle" alignment I had him in (versus modified wing T) and my M got caught too close behind the D line. The other three break downs were poor pass covers where twice my M did not complete the receiver's route because he thought he could stop, leap and get a pick each time (strong wind with pass) and a C simply playing too loose and allowed a free release.

The off tackle went for about 55 yards and a TD. One of the passes my M went for he regained his footing and went to tackle and did not wrap... TD. The final score, 20-14 us! Game decided for opponent on a goal line stance, from the 1/2 yard line (due to a punt-coverage break down).

Each game had four breakdowns. If the breakdowns are taken out, we are undefeated and given up no points (second game gave up two on a safety). The breakdowns are were corrected, proof being that we have given up zero-second half points due to adjustments as game proceeds. We have given up only one of four two point conversion tries. No one has had more than two-second half first downs on us. In fact, with the exception of the "big" plays we're working out, we have not given up more than 3 or 4 first half first downs. "4 and out is very common".

Our first game, our line was out-sized by 20 pounds at least player for player and 15 to 20 our second game.

The amazing thing is that the defense has had "minimal" preparation time. The head coach is very offensive minded and literally days go by w/no D practice. Preparing for this last game, we had one hour of defense with only 6 starters present due to religious holidays. I briefed them all on the bus ride over of specific responsibilities.

Due to the limited D practice, I started with a right and left C and E, for they all looked about the same ability level in practice. But games showed a whole new light. The original starting left end is actually now the second string weak side E. My strong side B never played LB prior to 4 weeks ago.

We have caused 4 fumbles, recovered three and have had two interceptions. There have been 6 sacks and at least 8 or 9 "pressures" where the QB has been hit immediately after releasing the ball. Thanks,” mike nelson

 General comments

“Much of John Reed’s work, especially the Gap-Air-Mirror Defense book should be mandatory reading for youth coaches in youth leagues.” Frank Raffaldi, Houston, TX

“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 put coaches 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

“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

“My 3rd Grade team had their first game this weekend. The GAM defense held our opponent to 21 plays for a net minus 32 total yards. I assigned the players just as you explained in the book. Also, my MB is just as you described -- he made the most tackles, flies to the ball, and loves to hit. He doesn't have the best tackling form but he always brings the ball carrier down. FYI - We are running the double wing offense and had a total of 334 yds on 30 attempts. 27-0

I am sure they will not all be that easy but I just want to thank you again for all of the good information.” Regards,Greg Cazzell

“Mr. Reed,
I recently purchased your Coaching Youth Football 3rd Edition. I am an assistant coach to a local youth football organization. My responsibility is the defense (Defensive Coordinator). I wanted to let you know that we tried you GAM defense and as you predicted, I caught a lot of flak over it from the other coaches. They kept saying "what if they run up the middle, or pass behind the middle linebacker !!!!!" and I will admit that I was a little skeptical myself. Our first scrimmages put a silence on that. We first tried my conventional 5-3 defense that we ran in the past with no result. They ran and passed at will. Then when we switched to the GAM, it was like someone turned on a light switch. It completely shut down both offenses.”James Felker

“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

“Hi John, Dave Marcotte here, I am from, and coach youth football in Seabrook NH. I am also president of our league. I won the election by a landslide,,,,,,,,, because nobody wanted to do it.

Also, this book [Coaching Youth Football] is the best book I have in my football coaching library. I wish I found it 4 seasons ago when I first started as offensive line coach. I also think your GAM defensive book is the most complete and instructional book I have ever read including books on other subjects not pertaining to football. Thanks again and feel free to use any of my comments, they are quite sincere.”

Dave Marcotte, Head coach, Seabrook Rams (3rd- 6th grade football)

“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

“GAM is an awesome book and if you have anything along the same subject please let me know. Sincerely,Dave Marcotte Seabrook, NH Rams (4th - 6th grade)

“By far best youth book have read. Had to develop 11-in-box scheme out of necessity in ’96 to stop killer opponent who beat us in regular season 36-0. Their athletes so good I figured only way we stop was to bottle backs in—no open field. Still using it in ’01 after 6 yrs. total. Won bowl 14-12 in rematch. Have used 10-1,8-3,7-3w/safety in box strong side. All work if proper responsibilities taught. Was thinking about writing a book, but you got it covered. Kudos.”Tony Gladu coach Highlands Ranch Falcons in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

“I’ve been through the GAM book a couple of times now, and it would be hard for this book to be any better. It’s a bit redundant to state, but I am a huge fan of your books, and this book also is excellent.

My favorite sentence in this book is: ‘Bury football's sadistic conditioning rituals.’ After 4 years of highly organized youth and school football in early 1970’s Texas, I quit football in 9th grade. Those useless grass drills, performed in 90 degree heat, were part of the reason. I didn’t mind the running. I continued to play high school basketball, which had far more running. But I was a kid, and large parts of football practices were simply not any fun. Your comments about this were right on.

An Idea:

My brother and I love the shrunken field situations drill from your ‘Youth Baseball Coaching’ book.

I'm going to try the same thing at the very end of next year's football practices- esp. for special teams. We will take helmets and shoulder pads off, keep hands in pants (no talking or touching with hands), squeeze formations as tight as possible, use no ball, and fit and freeze everything with substitutions.

I really think this will have value for all 3 phases. I also think 4 reps a minute is possible.

Good luck, and don't run out of power,”Greg Cotharn, Ft. Worth, TX

Review by Scholastic Coach® Editor Herman Masin

“Reed is a West Point graduate, a Harvard MBA, owns one wife and three teenage sons, milks the mind of every sport technician he meets, is a youth-sport authority of staggering proportions, and is massively bright, intriguing, and controversial. All of which are strikingly exemplified in his latest writings: Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football.” Herman Masin, Editor, Scholastic Coach® and Athletic Director magazine, 555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, 212-343-6372

Hi John,

So, now comes tackle. 8 to 11 y.o. level. I admit I don't know enough about it to head coach a team, so I run defense for a coach that didn't know anything either, but insisted he was a pro. He wouldn't let me try anything or change player assignments. Needless to say, we were losing game after game. Frustrated , I was searching for a better plan. We were running a 5-3 when I found your GAM [DEFENSE] book. (…/gap-air-mirror-defense-for-youth…)
After losing enough to put us out of playoff contention, the head coach conceded to my weird ideas. I ran your GAM defense, with only one week of preparation, and we held the no. 1 team to 13 points for the game. We lost 7 to 13. Our best game of the season.
In the following off season, I purchased ALL of your football books. (
I read and re read your books 3 times each, in their entirety, in preparation for the next season. The club that I coached for was a very backwards one, and they would not allow me to head coach at the same level as the previous year. So I went Down a level and coached my younger sons team, 7 8 and 9 y.o. kids. I put in a hurry up, no huddle, single wing offense and the GAM defense, applied the time management book, and some contrarian tactics as well. We won 5 of our 7 games that year, the best anyone had done at that club in 5 years or better. Meanwhile, the other coaches were trying to tell me that " its neat that your gimmicks win games, but we play tried and true football". They only won 1 and 2 games for the season.
The next season, my son and I move up a level, and so do a bunch of the players from our previous years team. Again, I am blocked from coaching that level by "politics", so I work it out with the head coach that I will be offensive coordinator. In the first week I turn to the head coach and tell him that we are going to go to the championship game this year. Needless to say, he wasn't a believer. With the exception of a tie during regular season, we won every game that season, including the championship game. We beat athletically superior teams by as much as 3 touchdowns.
My youngest son was one of the long snappers, I got him his reps and he didn't have a bad snap all season until the second round of regional play, 11 games straight, and everybody laughed when I pulled out the lawn chair. I was as fair as I could be with all the kids, I had 4 offensive backfields with long snappers and changed long ends with them. I had 20 kids that could run the ball or receive that knew every play because of your books.
The best part of this is, and probably why I am no longer coaching for them, I never played football. I did not watch it on TV, I can't quote stats about this years Bills team, nothing. But that football team I coached for won the first championship that organization had seen in better than 10 years at any level. During the course of the year, I heard things like "that will never work", "you're ruining the kids for their next coaches", "you should be running what the high school runs". I had many arguments with the organization, so since my sons were borderline with weight, I chose not to coach, and my sons are not playing. This year, the coaches that have the kids from that team, haven't won yet. They are not using your books.

Mike Farino