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Reader Success Stories on the Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football

Posted by John Reed on

GAM reader/user wins 2008 Pop Warner national championship

Good morning Mr. Reed

On Friday, our peewee team won the national championship 15-12. I wanted to thank you on behalf of the Raritan Bay Cougars, my son Jordan, and more importantly me for all the help and guidance you provided us. Without this defense and all the help you provided [by emails during the season] we would have never gotten this far and definitely not beaten the last team we played.

Their offense killed everyone. As I have told you before, if you need anything to help you promote your book, just ask.

We are a peewee [usually age 9 to 11] team in Pop Warner. Our name is Raritan Bay Cougars of Old Bridge New Jersey. We play in the central jersey conference as part of the eastern region. We are the 1st team from the conference to ever win.

The team we played in the finals ran a double wing, but the wings were inside the te's and the lineman were set back 1 yard behind the center. We questioned the refs as to whether there line was illegal with not enough on the line but were told it was.

Erik Fetterman

2006 Pop Warner National Championship using Reed’s Single-Wing Offense and GAM defense

Mr. Reed,
My name is Tim Ailes, I contacted you a couple years ago about our team from Flagler County, Florida that won the 2006 D-2 National Championship by using the Single-Wing on offense and the GAM on defense. Yes it was Pop-Warner and I contacted your in early 2007 to let you know how successful we were with a lot of your ideas. Our Head Coach was coached in college by Rex Ryan so we tried to coach a physical style of football and it was amazing the compliments we used to get. by no means am I trying to take credit for this, all the credit should go to our Head Coach and the players, I was an Asst. Coach on this team, my son was the Power Tackle...

Tim Ailes 

Dear John Reed,

I contacted you in 2003-2005 to purchase your football books (offense, defense, etc.) and use them for Pony football (12 year olds). I recall calling you and describing the resistance from my coaches and parents -- especially since I was trying to teach football to over 42 players including two girls.

I was pushed out of coaching [hereinafter League A], due to a conflict with the new football director -- his words --'that isn't football' -- he subscribed to a playbook and the I formation - the playbook had over 30 plays! I asked that we create a B division to handle so many players and let them play football. He disagreed. So I contacted [League B] football league (must play and no weight restrictions), and the first year we fielded 1 team and all the players (over 30 of them played) the next year [League B] expanded to 4 teams, and eventually to 6 teams…

[Our local] High School football team just won its third Maryland State Public school 2A State Title, and 4 consecutive years in the final. Over the last 4 years, many of the dominant football players on these teams got their start with [League B] football and the principles I used from your books in the first season (single wing, GAM defense), many of the other League B] youth teams also used your books. The two leading players on this years State Championship team both have Division I football scholarships -- but I want to reemphasize that many of the [second league] starters usually 5 to 7 of them on the starting offense or defense) go their start with [League B] contrary to the [League A] youth football program -- the old I formation and 30+ plays in the playbook!

[Reed note: After my first year of head coaching freshman football at our local high school, my freshman players did spring football under the JV coach. After one or two days of spring football, he came to me wide-eyed and thanked me and my staff for doing such a great job of preparing the players for the next level. He said, “These kids are already where last year’s JV team did not get until three games into the season! Your guys know how to practice, how to study film, they understand the game! I can’t thank you enough!” I have also gotten that from other high schools after my kids moved up. The reason is my books are not only about the gimmick of the GAM defense or the single wing offense. They are mainly about basic good football play and coaching. I always use and advocate contrarian approaches because they give your team an advantage, but the main reason my books work for my readers and my former players work for higher levels is my readers have a far better understanding of how to coach football (or baseball) than the vast majority of those coaches who have not read my books. One of my youth readers applied for a local high school job. The board doing the interviewing including a former very experienced high level coach. When my reader was asked how he would handle various offensive plays on defense, he recited the stuff from my GAM book. He got the job. The experienced coach interviewer subsequently told him he got the job because he understood basic football defense, and had the right answers for difficult offensive plays better than any other candidate.]

Best Regards,

Vincent DiGioia

Coach Reed,

I emailed you 8 months ago when I ordered your books in Afghanistan. I took over a team that hasn't won a game in two years, and only scored 1 touchdown last year. Many of the players and parents refused to comeback. I am left with 17 kids and we only had 3 weeks to put your Single Wing, and GAM in. We had no live action except half offense vs half defense like you suggested. Ok, that was all the negative.

Today we won! 38-0. I had 3 kids over 100 yards, one with 300 if you include his 60 yard pick 6. On defense we held the team to close to 100 yards negative offense I don't have exact numbers until I watch the video. We had 6 fumble recoveries and turned the ball over ZERO TIMES!!!!

The game was mercy ruled before the end of the 2nd quarter. This is where its a continuous clock and the losing team stays on offense. Its 28 points for Mercy rule. It was 25-0 so the next TD n conversion gave us 32 and then we had the pick 6 to give us 38.

I could not have done this without your books. I bought all of them except clock mgt. I will get that one soon. Thank you so very much Coach. You made me look like a genius, and my kids look like world beaters, but I'm just an enlisted Air Force Dad with an young team of mostly first year players.

I also forgot to mention we were 4-6 passing for over 60 yards. The two incompletions were drops.

God Bless, Gabe

I've ran the offense now for two years and the first year my team won the conference with a 7-1 record and we lost in the semi final game 1-1 playoff
Last year we were undefeated with an average of more than 50pts a game in the first round of the playoffs we won 80-6! It was 60-6 at halftime!
The next round we were 44-0 at halftime
And the championship we won 44-14!
I used the warp speed offense with wrist coaches and I shuffled the long side guard every two plays.

We have had great success with the GAM as well. Last year we allowed less than 6 points a game.

Shawn Kea

Hi John,

I bought you GAM defense book back about 2001 or 2002. By the way, we went 9-1 in the 2002 season and won the NH PW state championship at the Midget level. Thanks.

Tom Lapierre
Rockingham County Cougars
Website -
Facebook -
Twitter - @RCCougars
Cell - (603) 303-6519

Coach Reed,

I just wanted to take a moment to say, thank you for taking the time to produce such USEFUL resources for youth football coaches. I have coached youth football for 4 years now and despite my best efforts in exhausting all resources available, I have found nothing that comes close to offering such instructive and practical guidance as your books!

I purchased your Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football book 3 years ago. As you indicate in your book, other coaches and parents were immediately skeptical. I took my lumps and stayed the course, just as you recommended. By week 2 the skeptics were quieted as we had boast 2 shutouts! We finished that season with the number 1 defense in our league and lost in the second round of the playoffs in overtime.

Year 2-The skeptics never quit…..however they were again hushed by the results, as we made our way to the league championship and proved the GAM defense was not a fluke. We lost the championship in a real heartbreaker 12-6. But again, we claimed the number 1 defense in the league.

I took over the head coach position this past winter and with that, I decided to run your single wing offense as well. I wasted no time in purchasing your Single Wing Offense for Youth Football immediately. Once again, I caught grief for what was considered by many as, more of my eccentric coaching methodology. Having become somewhat immune to this type of behavior it did not bother me nearly as much as it had in past, our perhaps I am becoming callused. Long story short we finished this season with not only the number 1 defense 3 years running, but the number 1 offense as well. The cherry on top was taking home the championship in our 7-0 season!

2013 stats
Offense-Total Points Scored-276-Average per game-39.4
Defense-Total Points Allowed-54-Average per game-7.7

It is my theory that our success started with confidence at the top. Once the coaches believed in the system, the kids believed in the system. With that, the players to take ownership of the team. Further, the simplicity of both systems helps our coaches focus on fundamentals to instill proper technique and safety, which I personally believe to be our greatest obligation at this age. Your books also provided us a trouble shooting guide, which we found very helpful in fixing problems vs covering them up. I believe all of this helps our kids down the road and better prepares for Friday nights.

I am well aware of the fact that every coach has his own style and knowledge base to draw from in what and how they coach/teach, it makes sense. But, for what it is worth I would recommend your books to anyone. Just not anyone in our leagueJ

Again, I thank you for what you do.


Doug Bensman

Little Raider Football Association, Ohio

Coach, I don't know if you remember getting an email from me at the start of the season. We were going to be implementing your defense for our 11 man pop warner team. We finished the regular season with only one loss 7-6. We are now starting our run into the state playoffs this saturday.


It's been years since I coached little ball, but when I did, I used your GAM defense with pretty good success, given I was a new and very green coach dealing with 11-year olds.

Football (6th grade) was infinitely more challenging to me [than baseball], and the GAM book was critical, and I was really taken with it.

I might also add that I depended on your materials for baseball for kids as well—we were quite successful in our area, I might add. The baseball book (…brilliantly, taught me to manufacture runs via enlightened stealing, among other things) …

Thanks, and kindest regards,

Steve Knippenberg
Law professor, Oklahoma University

You may find this interesting. I have been a high school coach in Texas for 37 years, spending time in every public school classification this state has to offer, (even one, class B 11 man which no longer exsists). Retired, took a job as a private school which played 6 man, we moved up (even though we still don't have the recomemded number of boys) to 11 man football this fall. To prepare I RE-read your clock management, read your Youth Football, Contraian Football (extremly helpful), 10-1 defense, and single wing books last summer.
We went 11-1 won our district (first year I have ever won 11 games) and went two rounds into the private school Division III (smallest division) playoffs. Your books were extremly helpful, I found after 40 years in coaching, your Youth Football concepts more helpful than ideas I have picked up from college coaches.

Most of the schools we played were bigger. We have 103 students and we beat schools with enrollents of 400, 300, and 700 students, and again it was our first year to play 11 man ball. Thanks for your help. Keep me informed if you publish more books.

havae been listining and studing under good and great coaches since my junior year in college (1968) and I must say that you offer a fresh prespective. I have enjoyed and gained a great deal. THANK YOU.

Coach Reed,

I've been coaching football and watching every level for a long time now and have noticed that many of your ideas are being used. For instance sideline play calling with poster boards is just a spin off of your magna doodle. Warp speed tempo? Chip Kelly must have bought your book. The ducks look like a team you would coach.

I used the place kick punt this year on varsity and the other team was lost. We pinned teams deep with the quick kick on third down. All that stuff inspired by you.

I have read the GAM book over and over and I have tried to find stuff on the 10-1 to no avail. I can't seem to figure out why the GAM would not work at the high school level. The concept is sound and innovative. Every D has risk. I think it would be a great D for Varsity or at least combined with something else. I used it at the freshman level and it worked well.

Thanks for your time coach
Tim Mitchell

Hi Jack,

…the Pee Wee Falcon's owe you a debt of gratitude as well. …I ordered Coach Reed's "Coaching Youth Football" and "Gap Air Mirror Defense for Youth Football" books. As you can read below we only let up 36 points in 8 regular season games and 12 points in our 2 playoff games. We recovered three onside kicks this year thanks to coach Reed's suggestions! You have … contributed greatly to our success this year. Thank you for your books and websites!

Last year I signed on to help out as an assistant. As you can imagine I was in for a rude awakening as to how complicated a sport football is to coach. We did not have much success finishing the year 0-8 at the Varsity level. This year we went 7-1 in the regular season outscoring our opponents 146-36. We lost our first game 10-0 to a team that finished their regular season 8-0 and were the number one seed in the playoffs. I blame myself as a first year head coach just not having the [double wing] offense firing on all cylinders for that first game. After that first game we beat most of our opponents by three scores only with me taking my foot off the gas towards the end of games. Our league rules state that a Pee Wee team shouldn't beat another team by more than 24 points. We won our first playoff game 20-12 to advance to the Finals. On Sunday we beat the team that knocked off the number one seed 14-0 to win our Division Super Bowl!!! This season we rushed the ball 275 times for 1657 yards averaging 6.03 "tough yards" per carry. I can't fully express how grateful I am that you gave this rookie head coach the tools necessary to teach his kids how to play like champions. Thank you for all of your help and support.

Yes you may quote me. I love your GAM defense. I heard lots of yelling from Offensive coordinators! I told my assistants many times this season that I love hearing opposing coaches raising their voices! Thanks again for all of your help. We wouldn't have had this level of success without your contributions. Your books are a great resource for youth football coaches...especially rookie head coaches!


I just wanted to send you an note of appreciation. We had an undeafeted season this year going 10-0 running your defense. We have been running the GAM for several years now and it has been very solid. One of the things that I like most about it is that no matter what offense the opponent thows up there, our kids know how to line up and what their assignments are. Our defense was very solid this year. We never had a let down.

Thanks again for your help.

Gaston Acosta-Rua
Wilton, CT
7th Grade Football Coach

Paul McConnell

Just thought I'd share with you some facts from a successful 8-0 Pop Warner Jr. Pee Wee campaign here in southern Colorado. Boys are gearing up to face southern Texas in the Pre-Quarter Finals this year….

It hasn't been perfect, and neither have I, but we took a team that won no games the previous year and turned in an undefeated season. It wasn't all because of defense, good coaches and a few more athletes helped. We took a team that was running a traditional 4-4 stack giving up 20+ points a game and gave up the following this season:

Game 1: 6 points against
Game 2: Shutout (Defense scored 2)
Game 3: Shutout (Defense scored 6)
Game 4: 18 points allowed (1 special teams TD, another big return to
inside the 20 and a pick returned to inside the 10)
Game 5: Shutout (against the same team that scored 18 the previous week)
Game 6: 19 points allowed (Man-Child QB on the boot running over our
kids for all 3 scores, defense got kids where they needed to be,
thankfully we scored 42!) This game was a lesson for me, one that you
mentioned in the book and that I will use against our likely opponent
if we advance beyond our next game.
Game 7: Shutout, only 2 positive plays the whole game
Game 8: 12 points allowed (Too many penalties extended the first drive
and led to the first score, a GREAT run by the other team the second)

55 total points scored against us in 8 games
6 directly from special teams
We scored 8 for a net of 41 against our defense in 8 games, or a
little over 5 points per game.
4 Shutouts!

I look forward to playing better competition as we hopefully advance deeper into the Pop Warner tournament. I just wanted to thank you for your book, practical insight and detailed explanations.

Happy Halloween,

Marty Venticinque

Hey John-

1st time youth football coach, and grabbed your book this summer to try and learn about coaching defense. I have not been disappointed. After a 1st week loss, we have put up 3 straight shut outs, in large part due to the GAM design and execution.


Alan Kroll


Fellow USMA [West Point] ('92) grad (and 150s [Army intercollegiate 150-pound limit or sprint fooball team] player) here.

First, I want to send you kudos for your books. I coached my son's 4th grade and 5th/6th grade teams and credit your books for helping/counseling me as a youth FB coach. Although I did not run a single-wing offense, I ran a contrarian offense that followed many of your principles: direct snap to the running back, minimize passing (even/especially on typical NFL passing downs), signaling plays in to the QB, etc. In season 3, we saw many teams running the direct snap, while in season 1, none were, and we'd often hear comments from the opposing team suggesting we were crazy for doing it until they were too busy figuring out how to stop it. In fact, most teams incorrectly identified it as a shotgun formation, which I guess it might look like if you're used to watching the NFL on Sundays.

Additionally, I avoided the typical coaching mistakes that I saw other coaches making. We had a combine during the first week of practice (no pads allowed anyway), which allowed us to position players by strengths/weaknesses vs. casting (where they looked like they should play). I had a pre-season parent's meeting and covered the importance of little Johnny learning one position well to set him up for success in doing the basics (blocking/tackling) vs. trying to learn/play many positions which would just encourage doubt/hesitancy which would put him out of position and make it hard for him to block/tackle successfully. I limited the parents on my coaching staff to two (myself & one close friend who I could trust not to fall into the typical parent traps) and recruited some younger, successful football players from work to round out the coaching staff.

It's amazing what crazy ideas parents will accept when their kid is on a winning team. We went 21-1 over those three seasons, and it was my first time coaching youth football. We lost the second-to-last game to a very good team because of a fumble which gave them one more possession and 6 more points than we had. Perhaps if we would have been playing the GAP-air-mirror D, for which I have your book, we would have won that game, although our D had many, many shut-outs, and in most games held the opposing teams to one score or less. I had parents of our football players suggesting that I coach their kids' hockey teams, although I've never played organized hockey. If you would have written youth hockey books, I might have considered it!

Sure, you can use my comments. I think I've probably bought all of your books…but the two I used the most were the base Youth Football book and the contrarian offense book.

I bought the GAM book, but I had a really good D-coordinator (the other dad), and his D was so dominant in all but our second to last game. He also reminded me today that there were restrictions placed on us that prevented us from deviating too much from the norm—linebackers had to play 3 yards off the ball and couldn't move forward until the ball was snapped, linemen had to be on the LOS, etc. We played a symmetrical 5-5-1 and occasionally slipped a linebacker up to a 6-4-1, which was one of our forms of a stunt; the other method was just to stunt the linebacker on the snap.

I don't have your book in front of me, but there's an offense where the QB/RB lines up in the middle and has a half-back on either side of him (power-T?). We found the timing to work better if we moved the halfbacks a yard behind the QB or the QB in front of the halfbacks (can't remember which), so it looked almost like a wishbone, except instead of a fullback in a 3-point, we had the QB/RB in a 2-point receiving the snap. After we had installed our offense, at some point I caught a HS game on TV late at night in a hotel room that was running out of this formation, so I was bummed to learn I had not invented it. I still don't know what it's actually called. Believe it or not, we were running a triple-option by the end of the 3rd season. After the first season, the league scrambled most of our returning players to other teams; we had the least number of 6th graders than any other team and most of our new 6th graders were first year football players. However, they gave me back my two QB/RBs (mistake, my two best athletes) and of course my and the other coach's kids. I turned out that the new 6th graders were pretty athletic and thanks to having never played a down, didn't have any bad habits, learned our contrarian offense quickly because they didn't have to re-learn, etc.

You're right. With leadership comes disciplined teams, and disciplined teams with decent athletes can beat undisciplined teams with better athletes in my opinion. Of course, disciplined players look like better athletes when they're winning and undisciplined players don't have a chance to showcase their better athletic ability. I heard lots of complaining from opposing team parents that thought we had a stacked team. (Maybe they didn't notice my 65 lbs offensive guards.) With respect to typical parent conflicts, I think what I found was that winning forgives everything; if you're winning, it doesn't matter if Johnny's playing OG or HB; he's having fun.

Again, thanks for your advice/counsel I found in the books. It was invaluable.


Mr. Reed-

First, thank you for your invaluable books and articles on coaching youth football. I am in my second year of coaching youth football, and your books are the best on coaching youth football. I served last season as the defensive coordinator of a 6-9 year old youth football team. It took me until midway through our preseason to convince my head coach to run the Gap-AIr-Mirror defense. The results were remarkable. As soon as we switched to the GAM defense, we had 4 consecutive shutouts, and 6 others games we only allow one touchdown.

Jason Velo

Good Morning Mr. Reed,

I coach youth football in the Dallas, TX area. In 2011, we won the 8 yr. old league championship using both the Single Wing & GAM. We had the highest scoring offense & the best defense in the league!

"Henderson, Steve G." <>

RE: Our 2011 season Using the GAM

Hello Mr. Reed,

I would first like to state that the GAM is great against the off tackle plays. We played the league's powerhouse team (Super Bowl Champions). This organization's teams have been running the Power I at all levels for 40 yrs. They get 70 kids per team to sign up and they cut, to end up with 28-34 players on the team. They will run the off-tackle until you take it away from them. They had nothing off tackle, they needed to pass and sweep. They tried to go B gap from 1 yd to end zone and were stuffed. We held the Counties' super bowl runners up to 6 offensive points. We ended the season 4-4. We could have easily won at least 2 more games but our offense just could not get going. Our defense found it self starting with there backs against the end zone very often. With all this against the defense we allowed an average of 13 points per game.

As a rookie coach, it was very rewarding to hear the opposing coaches complement our HC for the defense after games. I heard phrases like, "Wow, that defense is tenacious," "What do you feed those boys?" and " We could not get any[thing] going".

My choice of DE raised a lot of eyebrows. Well one of them at least. My short side DE…. But watching him play last year I noticed 2 things about him. First he would do exactly what the coaches asked of him, second he had the heart of a lion. This young man [does not have a John Wayne personality]. But he played his position exactly like I instructed him to. I will just say that one of the best moments I had was towards the end of a home game, his father walks over to me and says thank you. His named kept being called out via the PA. Sacks, busted plays etc etc. his father was so proud to see the success he son was having.

During our first game, the opposing team got two very long runs from a counter. Our lineman refused to bear crawl. Without getting to much into detail, [some adults] did not believe in the technique. [Reed note: What you demand, you get. What you tolerate, you encourage. You absolutely cannot tolerate failure to bear crawl the first two steps in the 4 interior down line positions.]

This created a lot of tension throughout the beginning of the season. I call the smallest kid on our team over. He was 4 feet tall and weighed in at 50 lbs. I sent him to right [defensive] guard, they run that counter, and run right into a pile created by my sole bear crawler. Needless to say, slowly but surely, more and more people become believers in the Defense. Our first win came in our third game against a single-wing team that had success in previous games with the wedge. They gave up on that very soon.

We shut out two teams, we allowed 6 points once, and twelve two times. In one game our offense never made it to mid field and was unable to punt. This was one of those teams that only scored 12 points on us, 6 of which were on a pick 6 against our offense. This team went on to win their conference and was runner up in the super bowl. We allowed teams to score more than twelve only twice, 34 and 35. We faced the top 3 offenses in our league of 14 teams. One of the games in which we allowed more than 12 points was 6 to 12 with 5 seconds left in the first half. The other game in which we allowed more than 12 was against the top offense in the league. They ran triple option out of the pro set I or Power I. They did not run true option, play was called by coach, Dive, toss , QB keeper or pass, every play the same motions and blocking. They also had several of the fastest kids in the county, and the fastest in our conference. For this reason we set up in a Okie 5-4. [Reed note: Against triple-option teams, I recommend going to an Oklahoma 5-4 with zone pass coverage in my GAM book.] And played assignment football. Missed tackles and turnovers on offense allowed them to pull away from us.

I want you to know that I truly appreciate your defense and the fact that you wrote a how-to-manual for it. Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for youth football is detailed enough that even I, who never played a day of organized football in my life, was able to teach and implement. The fact that you warned in the book about the threat option offense represented, as well as the trouble shooting section, made it very easy to seem like I actually knew what I was doing. The HC made me promise I would stay on with him for next year. Let me tell you that in this Florida county, football is a way of life. We often had ex College and NFL players visit our practices, even though our organization is only in its 3rd year of tackle. We have had so much talent recruited from this county that about half the kids on our team had a brother, cousin, uncle or dad that played college. This made the work of the coaches that much harder because you had this constant barrage of people commenting publicly on our work. And just as you state in your books, they could not grasp the concept that youth football is not the same sport as college or High school football. One of the assistant defense coaches was an ex semi pro coach here in Florida. His grandson was our best defensive lineman. Not only was he a beast at 137 lbs, but was extremely fast and nimble for a 9 yr old. Needless to say by the end of the season he believed in the bear crawl.

I think you deserve more credit than I do. The [other adults were] supportive most of the time. But had…doubts at certain times. However, most of the critics said the same things you write about in your books and website. I was always prepared with an answer based on defensive fundamentals. For example, GAM DE takes on lead blocker [Reed note: on a sweep to his side], [one adult] thought it was insane, HC…went to local High school HC, he asked a few questions about responsibilities and scheme, he concluded ..... DE must engage lead blocker EVERYTIME. In fact he went on to show us how he has defenders doing the same out of a 4-3 cover 2. I was so relieved, this HS coach had taken his previous team to 2 state championships as defense coordinator, very highly respected in the county.

Sorry for going on for so long, thanks and good luck.


Gus Sanchez

Dear John,

We bought your book on GAM defense and have done an amazing job this year. 85% of the time we have 2 or 3 defenders in the backfield blowing up the play before it has a chance to develop. Last year, we averaged 3 touchdowns against us per game. This year, we are averaging less than one. Our first year of coaching was last year and we got schooled every way imaginable. This year we look like super stars as do our kids.

We have our most compliant players at defensive end. But, they are not our best players. We have followed the book to a T and it works! Our linebackers are rock solid and good athletes who make lots and lots of tackles, our corners are average but cover passes well.

Todd Miller
Oklahoma City

A week later, Todd sent this email:

Played last night. Beat the same team we [beat] 7-6 three weeks ago. We hadn't pitched a shutout all year. They had tons of speed and good athletes.

[We] won 25-0.

Figured out something we were missing. Even though our DE's were line up correctly, outside the widest guy, they were still a little too tight and the team last night does crackback blocks on DE's with their wide receivers constantly. We coached against it all week, ramming the swee[p] spot down our DE's throats. Worked like a charm. They still cracked down on our DE's but our DE's were always watching for it. And, since they were in the sweet spot most of the time all they did was clog up running lanes even more each time they did it. [Reed comment: getting your wide side defensive end to the sweep spot on every play is the main key to stopping the sweep—it is explained in the GAM book]

They finally resorted to trying to run sneaks up the middle which simply isn't going to happen effectively with this defense. At this age, if you take away the outside game, you demoralize the other team.

We just missed our average on [takeaways] by one. We are averaging 4 [takeaways] a game. Got 3 last night.

Todd Miller

Fantastic books on youth football. Thanx a million for keeping my coaching mistakes lower! {I'm still making them,but fewer}

Ray Landstrom

Mr. Reed,

In case you were wondering who I was, I thought I would fill you in. I have bought and read a number of your coaching books. Last year was was my first year coaching, so I turned to a good friend of mine to ask for guidance. He gave me one of your books, and I liked how straight forward your material was. I bought others, read them and put my knowledge to use on the football field. As a first year coach I wasn't given much credit, and I used that to my advantage. Our team went on to win the championship. The runner up team was running Dave Cisar's SW-just FYI.

This year I'm coaching another peewee team and will have 2 of my sons on my team. Needless to say, I'm excited for another season.

Thanks for "friending" me on facebook Coach.

Carlisle Bannister posted on Facebook

Dear Coach Reed,

I have the Coaching youth football, GAM and Coaching Youth Flag Football books. I just finished my first season of 5 on 5 NFL flag (7, 8 and 9 yr olds) with a record of 8-0. We outscored our opponents 273-32. 20 of our opponents points came during the super bowl after we had established a 36-0 lead.

What I gained from your coaching books that helped my team become so dominant was that we did not do purely conditioning segments. We had two practices per week of 1 hr and 30 minutes. While our opponents where jogging around the practice field we were running plays full speed ( about 3 per minute) with the kids not on offense for the particular play on defense. We also did this without flags for the first hour of practice, 2 hand touch was the norm. Come game time our offense was so precise parents would come to me after games and just say "I can not believe how much you have taught my son". I had eight kids on my team. All scored TD's during the season and 7 put points on the board for us in the super bowl. My kids never got tired during any game, including one day we had only 5 players make it to a game we played against the team with the fastest boy in our division. They were spent after 40 minutes of pursuit sideline to sideline, but they were able to stay with him throughout the game. Also, we always started the game with a hurry up no huddle offense. This led to our team normally scoring within the first couple of minutes of first possession. We would go to no huddle throughout the game and just kept our opponents on their heels.

I am very exited about the upcoming tackle season. I will be the defensive coordinator for our 9-10 yr old team. I will be installing the GAM which our HC is very exited about.

Thanks for sharing your experince and insight with the rest of us!

Best Regards,

Gus Sanchez

Charles Zimmerman coached an 11-12 team in 2010 in Evansville, IN using the GAM defense. After the season, he was unexpectedly asked to help with a 9-10 all-star team in an Owensboro, KY tournament where they played several games. After a poor defense performance using a non-GAM defense, the head coach asked Zimmerman to put in the GAM. When? During the following day’s pre-game warm-up. Zimmerman only had 35 minutes to put it in. None of the players on the all-star team had ever played in the GAM defense before. The result? The 9-10 all-stars shut out the opponent, who had beaten them previously, and gave up only one first down.

I want to thank John T Reed for publishing his books on coaching football. We had all rookie coaches who were coaching 19 rookie players. Not one of our players had ever played before. We purchased the books for the coaches and implemented the single wing offense and the gap-air-mirror defense. We followed the books and we ended up winning the 7 year old championship our first year. We were told that we were the first team from our league that has ever won the title with 100% rookie players. We never could have done it with out following the suggestions from the books. Thank you again so much!

Steve Brewster
Bulldogs Coach
Rome, GA

My youth football organization has run the single wing and GAM with great success.

Brian Meekins

Hi John,

am not sure if this email will ever find its way to you, but I wanted to say how much I enjoy your insights on life, coaching and business. I coached youth football and baseball for 8 years (my son is a sophomore now) and I loved your coaching books and recommended them to many guys coming up that I mentored. Sadly, some parents in my affluent area ”just didn’t get it” and it was a source of encouragement and confirmation that I wasn’t out of line expecting discipline, teamwork and allocating playing time based on merit. Not only did I learn a lot from your books, but it was a pleasure reading the no-nonsense way you delivered the message (maybe that’s my military upbringing). I especially enjoyed the way you described how some coaches miss-assess talent and quoted those pages countless times to other coaches that were new to youth football. Now that I am done coaching it is gratifying to see my Pop Warner kids thriving in high school and the way they light up and say “hi Coach” every time I see them. I am toying with the idea of coaching at the high school level some day when I have more time and will be sure to purchase your books on that subject if I decide to take the leap.

Needles to say, I am going to purchase Succeeding, read it, and then give it to my 15 year old son as a gift for Christmas.

Happy Holidays,
Dave Roper

Coach Reed:

Just a short note to say we won our championship this year for 11-12 yrs old running the GAM for the full season. We could of worked on more man to man play which was our weakness, but it all worked out great in the end.


Les O'Hara on Linkedin

John, we are 8-1 for the regular season going into the playoffs first seed, we scored 209 , only allowed 33 points [using the GAM].

David H. Whitt from Facebook

Hi Coach

Thanks for your advice this season. As I said before, this is my first year as head coach on any team. I purchased all your books and followed them to the best of my ability.

We won the league championship game 25-0. Your SW, GAM, and Warp-speed no huddle really work. So many people were complimenting me on all "my" innovations this year. Glad to see your books have not penetrated into my league yet. The coaches of the team we played in the championship were so freaked out the first time they lost to us that they totally chucked their entire offense and defense for a new one just for us. I think this is on your list of stupid youth coach mistakes. Needless to say we crushed their 1-week-practiced O & D with the [your] strategy that we installed on day 1.

Best Regards

Gary Grena
[Reed comment: Actually, my books have penetrated Grena’s league. He read them. I think my books are rapidly approaching the optimum situation for my readers: every league has one Reed reader. Consequently, he is often, like Grena, the league champion. For my income, everyone in the league reading them would be better. But there will always be many who claim you “can’t learn how to coach from a book” or who lack the guts to use contrarian approaches in spite of their obvious advantages. And although selling more books is nice, I like being part of championship seasons, too.

One other thing. In youth football, first-year head coaches often do not score a point or win a game all season. So for Coach Grena to not only do better than all zeros but with the league championship on his first try is pretty amazing.]


I coach the Jeff North Lil’ Chargers….I am the founder of our small rural Pee Wee team….that is big on heart and aggressiveness, but very small. Generally, we are outweighed 30-40 pounds per man along the line in our league. Still, we compete based on speed and have been a playoff caliber team in our leagues toughest division. We are now at the 5th grade level and allowed to play other than the league standard 4-3-4 defense…..I read your book and installed the GAM as our second defense behind the 5-4.

We played a Jamboree last weekend and started with the 5-4….the opposing team got one first down then fumbled. On the next series we used the GAM….on the first play, my son, playing the wide side end sacked the quarterback for a 16 yard loss……we did not give up a play for positive yardage the rest of the day…..the Lil Chargers are sold. Based on the result, the league moved us back into the competitive division….we play a tourney this weekend against the toughest teams in our league and 2 big traveling teams from St. Louis….personally, I think they are in for a big shock.

I am buying more [GAM] books for the Middle School and High School coaches.....since I train the boys from 2-6th grade....they should probably understand what we're doing. The season has been great.....our defense simply overwhelms most teams.....I have a very good MLB (we call it safety) who is our fastest kid and a very sure tackler. …we are going to go down swinging and this defense gives us our best chance.

The Lil Chargers are 5-2 in league, 5-0 in our conference. We are 3-2 in non-league against the toughest teams I can find. For instance, Silverlake H.S., perennial KS power (currently #1 in KS 3A) crushes our HS 50 and 60 to nothing at every meeting. The Eagles Pee Wees escaped us 16-12 on a late touchdown....our 50lb GAM lineman facing off with their 100-120 pounders prompted their coach to comment..."most heart of any team I've seen in a long time".....The Atchison County baby tigers survived 12-6 in OT (0 first downs) before their HS team thrashed us Score Chargers 33 Red Raiders 0....the Red Raiders had -97 yards and 5 fumbles......they are the feeder program for Lawrence Free State a 5A KS program.

Our first playoff game is Saturday....we play Platte County, a Missouri HS Football powerhouse that our High School could not hope to compete with. I would say the line on the game is PICKEM.....a moral victory, all by itself. I will send you an update and possibly a film clip, we will be in standard GAM....I've filmed them....they are very right-handed and wide side oriented, and probably cocky enough to persist......that will be a mistake......wish us luck and feel free to quote and or use any clips I send you. guys practiced until after dark last night.......its a really exceptionally focused group of kids and parents....tired of being the laughing stock.......the Lil' Chargers are taken seriously, even feared (if only of the ultimate embarrassment of losing to Jeff North).....we'll see how it works out today.....

Jeff North Lil' Chargers 20 Platte County 13........we gave up one offensive touchdown....championship next weekend against St Joseph North....they are undefeated and unscored on over the past two seasons.......

It was a big win for our kids....and really, the community...the upcoming game is a real test, but I think they play right into the hands of the GAM....our win last weekend was the first playoff win by a Jeff North Football team at any level in over a decade......the crowd traveling 50 miles will be bigger than we get at our home HS games....I'm counting on the addictive qualities of winning to lift this program up by its bootstraps.......

Go Chargers!

LTC(R) Bob Kiser
Jeff North Lil’ Chargers

…really liked the GAM alignment,…[we got] gashed on the off tackle play.  [We] did follow the GAM plan for the interior line, and you are right in your book, our interior lineman gave up practically zero yardage on many wedge attempts as well as almost every other effort to run inside.   Some say that GAM's problem is that you need linebackers in case of breakthrough.  I can see this is patently false.   There will be no breakthrough if the kids stay low as they are told.  We simply dominated the interior as there was a huge pile up every attempt to run inside.
Our problem, however, was off-tackle.   Instead of following the GAM alignment v. Single Wing, [we] tried to adapt…"stack" ….   We did run 4-4 stack with some success in other games, but we needed something different for this undefeated Single Wing team.  So we had the two corners off the LOS, playing like linebackers in stack defense. The idea was to stunt these four stacked players, and with two playing off the LOS, we were hoping that it might confuse the offensive lineman as far as who to block, instead of just lining them up on the line.  Made sense.  But it didn't do the job.  Their guys downblocked on our tackle, and managed to entangle and/or kick out the other four players to the outside of the tackle, creating a big breach between our tackle and them.  ([We] also had the Middle Linebacker over on the weakside, instead of in the middle, for fear of a reverse.  So he was no help).    We were down 20-0 at the half, and were getting whooped.  Our kids were dejected, and frustrated.  Some were crying and feigning injury.  The good news is that just before halftime, having read your section on adjustments to stop off-tackle, I suggested…simply move our tackles over a bit, toward the C gap, and instruct them to play in the gap.  This worked very well.   [Reed note: This is the GAM-T adjustment explained on page 32 of the current edition of my GAM book. This is a slight adjustment—maybe two or three feet, but it transformed this game.] Maybe we gave up a little strength on the wedge, but they weren't trying it anymore, having been stopped in the first half on that.  They kept going off tackle, and we totally shut them down in the second half.   We were a brand new team.  Our "hurt" kids suddenly weren't hurt anymore.  The offense could not get that breach off the tackle any more.  And our kids regained their confidence and got fired up, playing for pride, and hitting them real hard.  The game ended 20-0, with our offense driving, and on their one-yard line last play.  A bunch of their kids were crying now.   (Not that we wanted to see that, but their coach said post-game we were the hardest hitting team he's ever faced).  They actually celebrated like crazy when time ran out, and we didn't score on that last play.  The feel of it was that it was a second game, and we had really won the second game.  That was largely the result of the change we made with our tackles.  Once we shut down their off-tackle play, their Achilles was broken.  Our kids felt so confident, after that second half, that they are begging for another chance to play them. [Reed note: I also wrote a book on offense, namely the single wing, the offense this opponent was using. The first play in the book is the off-tackle play. Our line captan make a line call before every play. That line call identifies the location of the defensive tackle. We do that because the blocking scheme at the hole is different. There are three such blocking schemes. Had a reader of mine been on offense in this game, when the GAM defense team moved their tackles out, his line captain would have started making a different line call and we would have changed the blocking to reflect the new DT location. Those two books of mine: Gap-Air Mirror Defense for Youth Football and Single-Wing Offense for Youth Football, are the two most detailed offense and defense books ever written. This game experience is the perfect illustration of how the detail in those books helps you win—details that took me years to experiment with and work out.]

Michael Stepakoff

Thanks for your books! I am just wrapping up my first year as a head coach and used the GAM defense and your single wing Offense. We are undefeated and best of all the kids have had a blast. I have had 3 referees come up and ask me where we came up with this offense and silent snap, they cannot believe 10 year olds can get pull this off. What they don't know is it is actually easier. thanks

Mark Wade from Facebook

Coach Reed,

I played a team yesterday that uses this D [GAM]. I play them again and I need to learn it so I can attempt to be better prepared. We were 5-0 until yesterday.

The only successful play I had all day was...A counter play where you fake to the 6 hole and counter to 5 hole...They were over pursuing and it worked...I put up 20 in the first half, but in the second half I was shut out..
Thanks John,
I really appreciate what you provide :) I don't think I can implement it this year but I am going to this defense next year.

Mike Ricci

I wanted you to know that I enjoyed your GAM Defense for Youth Football.  I had never coached football before when the opportunity came to coach the defense on my son’s 6/7 yr. old team.  I did a lot of research on the web and found many good things regarding the GAM in youth football.  I ordered your book, spent three weeks studying and drawing Xs and Os and the rest, as they say is history.  We finished our season 11-0 and are Super Bowl Champions of the 6/7 yr. old Cherokee Youth Football Association.  Thanks for the great manual and ideas that helped me coach this team.  By the way, because of our dominant defense we outscored our opponents 217 to 84.
Neil Blackman

Sequoya Chiefs (6/7)

Canton, Georgia


I am not trying to be a "kiss ass" but, you are the best. Not only have I learned coaching techniques from you, I've learned communication skills as well.

My boy got a full ride to play football in college. What he learned in 8 years I coached him in youth league came out of the John Reed books. I did everything, exactly, how you instructed. He played at the highest level of High School football, and still to this day says our youth league practices were better organized. [Reed note: I have been hearing for years from parents and players who played college football that my pratices in youth and high school were far more efficient and far better organized than those in their college. I went to one college practice because I was skeptical and darned if that player wasn’t correct. My GAM books says how to organize every minute of your practices in pre-season and during the season.]

I will pass your "Full Scrimmage" lesson on to all of our coaches.

Take care and God Bless,


Picked up your books late in the season, but the GAM defense got better each week and took us into the playoffs.
Lost a heartbreaker in the last 2 min to the undefeated 10-0 studs. Your books made a big difference in my coaching and our outcomes.


Les O’Hara (posted on LinkedIn)

"First Game running strictly GAM. Awesome day today against a much more talented team!! 2 ints( one for TD), 4 forced fumbles, gave up 1 td on busted coverage, 1 on kickoff. Was told by many in the organization "that was the best defensive showing this team has had in years against that team!" as they compared me to Monte Kiffen!LOL. Unfortunately our Offense is just tha t"offensive" and we lost 13-12, ending with Def TD and special teams TD. We converted a lot of GAM skeptics today! Thanks coach Reed!"

John Pages from my Facebook coaching page

Hey Coach
Our head coach and I, bought the book this year, but we decided to go with something else. What a mistake!  We were gashed our first two games and started 0-2.  We put in the GAM in one practice and shut down an undefeated team, whose closest [previous] game was a 33-6 opener. They scored late with all [our] subs in.  Two shut outs in a row have followed, what a difference!!!  First of all , Thanks!

David Dimond

[The following is about a 2009 game where I was asked for suggestions to defend a shotgun team. I mainly said run the shotgun stunt on pages 33 and 34 of my GAM defense book.]

Jack, we won 32-6. We had scouted the team doing 100% shotgun but they went under center in today’s game way more than we thought they would. They ended up only running the shotgun about 25% of the time, but my defense moved in and out of base and shotgun defense like clockwork. I have never coached a defense that the guys mirror themselves so fluidly. OLBs and CBs following motion, and covering trips a few times. The only calls I had to make were shading OLB’s and CB’s back just a touch when they opposition needed to start passing in the 4th quarter.

Thanks for your help!

Brett Davis

[Reed note: Don’t shade the OLBs and CBs back when the other team starts passing. They need to delay the receivers’ release on their pass routes. It’s easier to bump, and thereby screw up timing, than to cover a route.]

Your books on football coaching are fantastic. I've had them for 5 years now and still learn things each time they're read. Great antidote to the nonsense that passes as coaching these days. Thanks!

Shawn Frasier

Thanks, Jack I've purchased 7 or 8 of your great books and refer to them often. Football for real dummy's made easy thanks!!! for making me look great and know, REALLY KNOW what I'm doing!

Buddy Hicks

Mr. Reed
I am  a believer.
In the past, I have assisted at the Pee Wee, and Jr. Midget levels on the D side. 5-3, 5-4. Last year my younger son started in Mite Might’s, and I became the one of the Defensive coaches. Our town is small, so we don’t usually get a lot of kids to pick from, much less have a full team. Needless to say our teams don’t have a lot of winning seasons. I think the MM’s have been 0-8 the last couple of years. Long story short. I got your book, and we ran the GAM defense, had 4-4 season, rarely giving up more that 6-12 points a game.
If we would have had an offense that could score, we would have won most of them.

Robert Zolla

John we spoke on phone several years ago. I am the coach that showed the RARITAN BAY COUGARS in Old Bridge NJ your book first. The peewees won the championship this past season 18-0 using the GAM defense.

Ronoldo Burke


I am writing this e-mail just to say that I have found that the philosophies and schemes outlined in your football books DO work. I have coached youth football for 11 years. I own all of your football books, and everything you have written is practical and applicable at the youth level. I have not necessarily followed everything verbatim as you outline it in your various books, but sometimes I have tweaked things here and there to fit our personnel. We have never won a championship, but we have been to the playoffs every year except one, and that year we had 14 first year players on a squad of 28. Our teams have beaten vastly athletically superior teams many times over the years. I think that you are 100% accurate in your analysis of the capabilities and limitations of the typical youth football team. I look forward to the next book you publish.

Bob Hughes
Shoreline WA

Thank you very much.  I bought John’s coaching, single wing, GAM defense, and contrarian offense books and my teams have gone:
2005       3-4-2
2006       4-4-1 (purchased Johns books here)
2007       7-2
2008       8-1

Larry Rollings

 Wanted to drop you a quick note as I am a big proponent of the Single Wing and your GAM defense. I began coaching youth football two years ago (3-4th grade tackle) and am the GM for 3 other age group tackle programs that fall under my organization.

I put the single wing and GAM in two years ago with a team of 16 players of which 14 had never played football before.  We only won 2 games that first year,

However, our 2 wins were by over 30 points and our losses were by an avg. margin of 2pts.  In addition to head coach I am the offensive coordinator. Had I run the D we would have won most of those games.

I am proud to say that this year my team won the league championship with a record of 8-1 and we won our conf. with a record of 5-0.  The league is extremely competitive.  My team was the youngest team in the league as I have 14 of the 16 boys returning for next year.

Our Single Wing dominated teams as we averaged 33pts/game.  Our GAM defense allowed an avg of 6.6pts per game.  We had 5 shutouts in 9 games.  4 of them were in a row.

I have all of your football books and the time management book was instrumental in our Superbowl win back in Nov. We won the game 26-21 against an undefeated Cowboy team that beat us earlier in the season 29-26.  

As a former Army Airborne infantry officer I take great pride in being prepared and putting my teams in a position to compete at the highest level.

Your insight and experience have helped me in 2 short years to take a program that was floundering to one that is now being considered one of the best-run programs.  Thanks for your help.


John Sivilla

To Mr. J. Reed
I wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation for what the GAM Defense. I had previously been a Head Football coach for a Pop Warner Youth Football team / Mitey Mite (7-9 yrs) for the last for the previous two years from 2005-2007 and had losing seasons. Due to those tough experiences, I had a lot of unanswered questions. I talked to a few people about my concerns whom were either involved in High School or College Coaching capacities and found no refuge to say the least. I had previously employed NFL / College strategies and tactics to youth football and was confused due to the results. So one night, I was surfing the net and typed in youth football and perused several youth football sites. I finally came up your site and read all your comments Youth football and Reader Comments. After serious thought, I came to a realization that the Top Youth Football teams in my area were possibly using the very strategies that you had implored extensively. I later contacted the Youth Football Teams Head Coaches in my area and confirmed that they were using the Single Wing, Power-I, or some type of unbalanced power running attack and complimented with some type of pressure type defense. I later researched the National Pop Warner Youth Football Championship teams for both Division 1 & 2 and later discovered the above mentioned statement was true and you had eloquently described on your website.
I had moved out the area where I had coached previously. I later enrolled my son into a rival youth football team that was one of the winning teams in the Conference I had previously coached in. My older brother later became the Head Football Coach for my sons team, comprised of 7-9 yr olds. My brother had previously coached under my regime. I later became his assistant offensive coach and he was the defensive coach. I had brought your books on “Coaching Youth Football”, “Single Wing Offense”, and “GAM Defense”. After much consideration based on past experiences, my brother and I decided to implement your GAM Defense but my brother felt the direct snap in your Single Wing could be an issue but believed in your offensive philosophy and decided to go with another successful Contrarian style offense which was the indirect snap Gregory Double Wing.  

We had initially were asked by the new football organization Board of Directors to explain our offensive / defensive philosophies and were met with great resistance, almost to point where me and brother were so offended that we were going to quit coaching even before the season began. This particular meeting  had occurred months previously before the season actually began. The reason why such resistance was given by these people was because they had used conventional football tactics such as the pro style formations with man to man blocking schemes and the such. They considered their themselves as a winning Youth Football organization and did not want former opposing losing coaches to disrupt their streak. I later discovered that this organization only won handily against seasonal opponents but all the teams that made it to the Pop Warner playoffs were eventually eliminated and there was no proof that they had made to the National Pop Warner Playoffs in Florida. Nonetheless, I believed they were successful based on your valid assumption that they had such a talent advantage which nullified their poor football tactics when facing local foes but when they were up against equal or better talent, they were no match by either talent or coaching strategies.
When the preseason began, we later met with negative feedback by the Youth Football Organization we coached for. They believed that we going to lose and that I style of football was not considered football and that my brother and I would fail miserably. Even the parents thought the same of me and my brother as they complained to the Board of Directors about our practices and that our style of football looked downright embarrassing and ridiculous. Despite the lack of support, with only my wife and family believing in us, we stayed on course. We did exactly as you had suggested with practices the way you outlined and were concerned mainly with our players offensively knowing their assignments first and foremost and then using many walkthroughs and reps with minimal full scrimmage time.  Defensively, we made sure the player knew their assignments, used tackling dummy / d-line bear crawl / pursuit drills only, and rep the hell out of the upcoming opponents offensive plays / tendencies. We also employed the Contrarian tactics of the Double Wing which were very similar to your Single Wing.
The organization’s first game was an exhibition game scheduled against a Division 1 team. Our organization was a Division 2 Team, suggesting that we should not only lose, but lose by a large margin. All the teams competed this day with our team being the second one of the day. Some of the players on our team had fathers whom were Head Coaches for the older teams of the organization. They were on hand to watch as well and were curious to see how me and my brother system would work out. To say the least, we not only won the game, we won it convincingly by 24-0. The other team was so mad that after the game was over, the head coach made that team run multiple punishment sprints and had a grueling full scrimmage practice over a two hour period. That same day, the all the other teams were blown away by the opposition had only one of the teams put six points on the board while they all suffered 20 point margin blow outs.
After this game, the organization was stunned and later became friendly. The next game, we blew out that team 26-0. To make matters short, we went undefeated with a 10-0 season with our team averaging over 300 rushing yards per game / 24 pts per game / opponents scoring avg 6 pts per game / holding teams to 50 rushing per game. We shut out 5 of the 10 opponents we faced and were considered the best team in the conference.
Your GAM Defense was a shut down, instant pressure defense. The teams were played against were had so much problems that the referees were calling illegal procedures penalties against us in order for the other team to gain ground. When other teams tried to pass, they were pressured into making throwing interceptions and taking sacks. When the other teams tried to run the the vaunted “Sweep”, that play was mainly shut down for major losses. When they tried the Counter plays or trick plays, those plays even ended up for more major losses. The only time the other team was successful offensively was because one of players failed his assignment.
Offensively, the Double Wing Offense was unstoppable. Funny thing is, when only ran Three plays all season, which were running plays. That was our whole offense. I can relate it like this, In your Single Offense, we had an Off Tackle play was our power play. We then had a Wedge play up the middle and a Counter play for the weak side. When teams didn’t make up for the unbalanced attack to the play side for the Off Tackle play, we were gaining 10 yards a carry or more. When they tried shut that down, we ran the Wedge up the middle gaining at least 6 yards a carry. When the other team tried to overplay the Off Tackle play and clog up the Wedge play, we killed the other team with the Counter which gained over 25 yards a play or scored. This offense looked weird and didn’t look like what you see on TV when you watch the NCAA or the NFL.
Neither the Organization or Parents complained but complimented us and befriended us. The Organization was so impressed by our system (AKA GAM DEFENSE / DBL WNG) that they are now currently looking to implement it universally throughout all their teams because the other teams in the organization did not do as well.
After all was said and done, Thank you very much Mr.Reed for all you have done for the sport of Youth Football. I know for a fact that what your preach in your books and on your website area 100% true and applicable in Youth Football at this time.
 Matafanua Lualemaga / Off. Coordinator

West Bay Rams / Mitey Mite (7-9) / Pop Warner
San Bruno, CA.

Coach  Reed

I have been using the single wing offense and GAM defense for the  past 4 seasons (10-11yrs old) and wanted to give you an update for this season. Over the past 4 years, our teams have compiled a record of  28-4.  Our 2008 season ended just last week with a record of 7-1. [Reed note: This league has no playoffs.] The one team that beat us is undefeated and won our game with a score in the last 30 seconds of the contest.  We scored a whopping 230 points while only allowing 40.  Five our our wins were shutouts. The off-tackle play was our bread and butter and the wedge and tailback dive ( a play I put in to compliment the buck lateral) provide excellent gains as well.  Defenses rarely shifted to our unbalanced line so the Wing Reverse was rarely used.  We implemented a flanker streak with great success and scored at least one touchdown per game in the air.  Occasionally we ran a balanced line with double wingbacks to slow backside pressure, but just changing the formation from right to left was more than sufficient to have our way with most defenses.  I also installed a trips formation to spread out the defense.  From this formation we threw a quick slant to the blocking back who was out wide and still ran the ball on a tailback dive and off-tackle (we were able to pull the inside tackle to make the trap block).  [Reed note: It is unusual for a youth team to have player athletic enough to pull on the line.] In addition, we found that releasing the Long End on the run sprint pass worked much better than the BB  due to the fact that he usually got lost at the LOS and the LE was rarely covered.  One final thought—I would like to recommend to your readers how important it is to develop the blocking skills and assignment of the O-line.  Too many youth teams just put the big slow kids up there and  tell them to block, but never really coach the position. [Reed note: I and many other coaches start outcoaching QBs and backs but end up coaching the line because we eventually figure out that’s where the game is won or lost.] I have built all my teams around my lineman and what they are able to do and I have had some great assistant coaches who have made that possible.

Defensively we were very impressive.  Pressure from the guards and tackles usually prevented a play from even getting started.  This was pivotal due to the fact that we did not have the athletes at LB that we have had in the  past.  Our DE's were solid all year with the exception of our one loss in which the reverse hurt us.  Late in the year, I discovered that one of my ends made an outstanding MLB but I did not have the experience to replace him full time at end.  Had I to do it all over again, another DE would have been developed.  Opposing offenses only had 2 choices, pass or go wide and we both know that most youth teams are not very good at the pass.  Disciplined ends and hard hitting corners were key to our containment success.

I just wanted to say thanks again for all the help I received from your books.  I will be ordering more as I prepare for the next level of coaching.

Al Johnson

Coach Reed,
My name is Rick Catalano and I purchased a few of your books earlier in the year (GAP defense and Coaching Youth Football).  I coach a youth football program for 7-8th graders here in Wilmington, DE.  First, I’d like to thank you for sharing your wisdom regarding the specifics of coaching this very unique age group.   I’ve gained considerable knowledge from your books and it has made us a better team!  Last year we were 1-6 and this year, after implementing your defensive scheme, we’re 4-3 (includes 3 shut-outs!!) and making our first playoff appearance in several years!!
Thanks again for providing such a great teaching tool.  Thanks to you, our team is enjoying a success that they haven’t felt in a long time!
Rick Catalano

A couple years ago I bought your books and installed your offense and defense.  We did not immediately win the championship, but I stayed with it.  Last season, I was asked to coach an all-rookie, 5th grade team in my league as they had a boost in enrollment and were in desperate need of a coach who was dumb enough to take over a team of kids that the other coaches did not claim.
We lost every game against vastly more experienced and talented teams BUT, with patience and attention to detail and realistic expectations and goal setting, and encouragement and still more patience we began to move the ball, then we started to score, and then we became competitive in games.    
This year, 15 of 17 kids came back and in our second game, on the third play from scrimmage, our tailback went 75 yards for a touchdown running unbalanced left, off tackle.  We won 37-12.  Then we played a HUGE team the following week and put the game away with a 17 play, 70 yard drive.  Our 65-lb tailback had 40 carries!  We won this past weekend against a 4-1 team with ball control in the ice and rain.  Their under-center offense yielded them 8 fumbles.  We had only 2.  Their bad exchanges and our 1/1, 45 yards, 1 TD passing day was the difference in the 14-12 win.  
Our opponents refuse to respect the unbalanced line even when we run "power" 35 times in a game!  They always over-play the wedge once we rattle off a 20 yarder on the opening drive.  Our "jump pass" to the weak end is never covered as they often put 10 in the box on us.  We even added a "double wing" style pulling guard to your offense to really seal off the LB pursuit.  

Our GAM defense is improving dramatically each week as we get more confident and more aggressive.  We have had some breakdowns when QBs scramble and on trick plays and passes to 5'10" 11 year old TEs, but the 20-yard sacks and the complete destruction of our opponent's blast and sweep plays more than make up for it.  It's great fun.
Coach, we are now 4-2 and with a win we'll be in the playoffs!  We've already blown out a team that beat us 40-12 last year.  Several coaches have remarked that we run an "unsophisticated" and "simple" offense that is somehow beneath the standards of [our league].  I tell them they are absolutely right and that I run it because I am a dumb coach.  One coach who sneered at us has not scored in 5 games!  Go figure.  Anyway, I recommend your books to everyone I know who is not in our league!
There is no way I can express for you the joy these kids and I experience when we knock off these bigger, faster, more experienced teams with ball-control offense and play-making defense.  Coaching enables me to stay involved with the sport I love and the life lessons we learn about teamwork and effort and attention to detail are immeasurable.
Thanks again for writing your books!
Troy Grice (6th grade, Division 3)

I am a first year coach and your books have been a huge asset to me and have given me much confidence. When I googled youth football, I saw your article on the 10 most common mistakes that youth football coaches make and realized that I would have made 7 of the 10. I read your other articles and then ordered your books (everything but the clock management so far). Thank you very much for the energy that you have put into your work. You have had a big impact on all of the parents and kids on my team.

Bernie Lyons

Coach Reed
I'm the defensive coach for L.V.O. football league in Evansville, IN 11-12 yr old Patriots team. I'm in my third season running your G.A.M. defense and we are still undefeated, knock on wood. To date we are 19-0 and we take nothing for granted . I have studied and read Gap-Air-Mirror Defense at least 100 times. Thanks to your Coaching Youth Football book I have scouted our opponents from film and live game every single week of the season, and our knowledge of our up-coming opponents leaves us truly prepared.

I really believe in sportsmanship and teach my kids to honor the game and put team first. I'm sorry I can't post game scores because to me it really doesn't matter, I'll leave that to the head coach.

Thanks for your insight, I like your no-nonsense approach to football. John I found your books on the net over four years ago on the Gap-Air-Mirror Defense and Coaching Youth Football.

The head coach of our team at first had doubts, but had a good amount of patience and I was able to implement the system without fear of being fired.

We faced a big and fast team in our jamboree and lost 34-0. We later found out that they had a[n illegally old] 14-year old running back. He was put off the team.

Charles Zimmerman
Defensive Coach - Patriots

Coach Reed,

The [GAM] defense is great. No one we play has any idea what to do against us so they just keep trying the same plays. On Sunday, we didn’t give up a single 1st down against a team that was 4-1. Since I started running the defense we are 16-1.

Thanks again.
Erik fetterman

Today I am ordering two more copies of your Single Wing book for my other offensive coaches -- there is simply too much good, insightful information in there for them not to read it first hand . . . and I need them on the same page.

Again, thank you for the excellent publicatoins.  I have all the other football books now, some in multiple copies.

I've gone to the Superbowl 2 years in a row using the GAM. Lost the book. [Message in the comments line of a new order for the GAM book.]

Joel Wells

Hi John.

Your Coaching Youth Football was an excellent read. The best $29 I have ever spent. Thanks to your books, we faced the single-wing offense last year twice out of eight games, I was the OC so I had no control over the 5-3 we were running to defend the SW. Needless to say, we were crushed on the D side of the ball both games.

By the way, we will be running the GAM in our Mitey Mite PW league. Thank you for writing these books. They have really helped me and to what I have seen on the field, they have helped a lot of other coaches too. 

Mark Langseth

I have your books on single wing offence, air-gap defence, youth football and contrarian football... excellent stuff!  In our spring league in Victoria, British Columbia Canada, we took a team that was 2-11 last year and finished 8-3, with pretty much the exact same players.

Keep up the good work!

Dave Wong

Coach...reading your email about the GAM, etc. brought back good memories. Started slow, but closed out our last 4 seasons of spring 8-man tackle at 25-4, with 2 Championships - City of San Antonio,

Tim Brown

Dear Jack,

Contrarian Offense is fantastic. In fact, when I receive your "Clock Management" book, I will own all of your football coaching books. I have coached defense exclusively for the past three years, and your contrarian philosophies on the defensive side of the ball have served us well. This past year we had the third ranked scoring defense out of thirty teams at the Junior Varsity level (11-13 years old) in our league. We were ranked first in scoring defense until we suffered a bad loss in the playoffs. The eventual champion beat us 8-6.
They scored at least 25 points on every other opponent. Our defense looked very different than the 4-4's most other teams were running. We used a combination of Gap-Air-Mirror, 9-1-1, and 8-1-2 (two safeties). We were under-sized, (5 defensive starters will continue to play JV football this coming season) our linebacker (70 tackles) had only played defensive tackle previously, our safety (50 tackles) had never played football at all...

Jack, I enjoy reading your books and your ideas really work!

Bob Hughes
Asst. Coach
Bothell Cougars Varsity
Greater Eastside Junior Football Association

[Your books] are awesome - best books on coaching I've ever read.
I plan on buying all your football books now!!!
I didn't realize what an "idiot coach" I was until now.
THANKS for slapping sense into me!!
I'm switching over from the veer & spread to the Reed Single Wing.
2 months ago (spring ball) I had a single wing (with fullback) run against my 5-3-3 and I didn't know what it was and my defense suffered a slow, grinding defeat. The coach running the SW was Coach Mohns of Saguaro High School, Scottsdale, AZ.
Matt Thornton
Chandler AZ

Used your defensive system last year, went 7-1 (from a previous 0-7 season). Such common sense, it's remarkably refreshing and effective. Thanks John.

Brian C. Costa

I've read and used your football techniques for the past 2 seasons and haven't lost a game (first time in program history). You wouldn't believe the hell I got for running the GAM defense the first year. Even 3/4 of the way through the season when we were allowing the opposing offense about 20 yards per game, I was still hearing about it. I even had coaches from higher levels trying to run their offense against it during practice (as if they could teach the offense a "better" play in one practice to outmaneuver GAM). Their frustration was palpable. The next year I ran into two of our biggest rivals who were running a version of it. I imagine that since they've all
taped our single-wing offense this past year, I'll probably see it in our opponents.

Walter Sheehy

I thought you might find this interesting....I am entering my first year as a head coach (and am paying close attention to the mistakes I do not want to make that you highlight) and recently interviewed and was awarded a team for the upcoming year. One of the interviewers was Coach [name withheld], Varsity Head Coach of [name withheld] High School here in Orange County. I've been studying the GAM defense for 1-1/2 years in order to implement it if given a chance and was/am a vocal proponent of the GAM defense. Well, Coach [name withheld] threw several hardballs at me to attack the defense and, although quite nervous, felt that I explained the approach to his attacking of the scheme rather well. I received feedback that Coach [name withheld] felt that my interview was one of the strongest of all of the interviews including long-standing coaches in our league. Thanks again for your help to date!

[name withheld to avoid identifying high school]

 Coach, thank you on your reply and advice. I ran the pro formation with my pee wee team last year and felt it was not fast enough, because we liked to sweep a lot with our slot and running backs. A little info on how we ran across your defense. We started off the first two games of the season using a 5-3 defense. Lucky these teams were weak, but our third game was against a well coached double wing offense. I used your gam defense and it worked a lot better than our 5-3, so I kept it as the main defense. Everyone else in the league played T.V. football, except one (double wing). We were 8-0-2- last year and though are offense sputtered (avg. 3 to 5 turnovers a game) it was the GAM that made the kids season a successful one.

I want you to know my players loved the gam. when I decided to stay with your defense, you could here the kids get excited... They felt comfortable with the alignment and assignments... I remember one team that had only one loss (to us) and wanted to beat us "so" bad. The second time we played them they ran trips. They are a power I offense and your defense took them right out of their strength, before the game even started!

Thanks for letting me bend your ear,

Dear Mr. Reed,
Thank you. I'm just coming home from a victory party for our 10/11 year old youth football team. We won the league title today with a team mixed with kids who on two levels last year were a combined 0-8, 4-4. This is my third year coaching, and having read and studied your books on offense, defense, youth football and clock management, you are a huge part of this championship too. It was a battle at times with other coaches who fought me on many aspects of the game (I believe and follow your theories on the game because they are logical and they work) regarding offensive philosphy and time management, but it paid off.
Just one example: today we beat a team 6-0 who was 9-1, had scored 200 points in ten games, but by controlling the ball on our offense we kept their offense off the field. We knew how to shut them down while on defense, and on offense had two long drives of almost an entire quarter each, both starting on our own twenty, that ended in one touchdown and the second leaving them on their own 7 with 9:00 left in the game.
They had an explosive offense with the two fastest backs in the league. At one time in the third quarter, on 4th and two in our own end with my head coach screaming at me to punt, I lied and told the refs we were going for it. In our league punts are dead ball plays, no time runs during them beacuse they are not live. We went to the line after an injury timeout, ran twelve seconds off the clock trying to draw them offsides, and with one second on the play clock called timeout and then punted. At the end of the game those twelve seconds came in handy as we were able to run the clock off with three kneel down plays at the end of the game, the last snapped at 24 seconds on the clock on third down (we run on 25 seconds a play) to end the game without them getting a chance to touch the ball again. The other coach was furious the whole drive because we ran every play at 24/25 seconds, and ran off the last 4 minutes of the game.
If I had the time to, I could cite many other examples of how your books helped us to win all season long and today. We had a team that was the third seed in the playoffs (I gave you our last year's records) and knocked off the one and two seeds to win the title. Thank you, thank you, thank you again!
Bill Robbins
BANC Raiders Junior Division

Coach Reed,

I have enjoyed and learned a lot from a few of your books. My experience and study has taken me a long way from a guy who wanted to help my fraternity's flag football team not get embarrassed to currently being an assistant for a small college football team. How I have gotten from there to here has been quite a journey.

In 2004 I was stationed at Camp LeJeune and was able to be an assistant for the 10th Marine Regiment football team. I adapted the Gap Air Mirror defense and your Single Wing offense to the 8-man tackle football league that the base ran that fall and winter. As an assistant I experienced many of the frustrations you have as an assitant, but I was able to see promise to both systems at that level where I was coaching 18-40 year olds. 

In 2005 I deployed to Iraq and was out of football except for the books I read during my deployment. Yes, I did ship some of your books to myself.

In the 2006-7 Camp LeJeune base season I was fortunate to be able to be the head coach of the 10th Marine Regiment's team. Fortunately the base had gone to an 11-man league using high school rules. I was very fortunate to have an assistant who I developed a great working relationship with. Even though the defense is designed for youth football I made the Gap Air Mirror our primary defense that we ran all over the field with only slight adjustments used in obvious passing situations. I decided to use this very simple defense because I was very limited to the amount of effective practice time with a team of active duty Marines and Sailors. Since other teams in the league would have the same limitations, I didn't expect to see an effective option attack or passers that were very effective in the passing offense. These assumptions proved to be correct. The defensive unit was very effective and left other teams and coaches scratching their heads. Nothing got through the middle, our defensive ends rarely gave up containment, and when they thought the pass was the answer the QB was often sacked or running for his life, resulting in a lot of interceptions. While we did have good players, the scheme made our defense seem all-world We ended up with 4 shutouts, 9 wins and 1 loss, in the base championship game. The team that defeated us had good players, good organization and huge unit support that was key to their success. They ran a very effective option attack. I had scouted them very little as I didn't expect to see them in the championship game. Preparation for that championship game was lacking as operational commitments had me and my battalion in the field the week of that game and I only returned from training 5 hours before game time.

I wish I could have ran the same defense at the Semi-Pro level where I was an assistant the teams in that league were even less organized than the base league, but alas as an assistant I wasn't calling the shots. But I think it would have been very effective at that level as well.

I am now stationed at The Naval Academy where I am able to be an assistant to the Sprint Football team (formerly known as "lightweight football") and am loving every minute of it.

James J. Sheasley

My name is Jeff Bateman, I coach little league football in Lynchburg Va. This year I put in the singlewing and the GAM defense.I coach with my uncle who has been coaching for over 20 years.I ran the offense and he ran the defense. I change some things to make the offense my own but I left the key points in place. We scored 283 points in 10 games, the defense only allowed 25 points in those games. My 1st string tailback rushed for over 1100 yards and scored 21 touchdowns, this kid was only 8yrs.old. Thanks to you parents and even other coaches are asking what I’m running. I can’t wait until next year when I put the spin series in. Thanks again and you made a believer out of me!!!!!!!!!

Coach Reed,

I wrote you a number of weeks ago about our teams progress and the GAM. (6-0 victory after a blocked punt against our Arch Rivals)

After a few setbacks during the season, today we advanced to our Superbowl. Our defense blocked a punt to give our O the ball @ the three again ( this is our 4th punt block in 9 games). Further, we stripped and ran the ball in 60 yards (I read and took to heart your direction on coaching the boys to pick up fumbles).

Combining that with an 80 yard KO return for a TD resulted in a 20 - 8 ( We let one pass play get away from us) win against a team that had beaten us two previous times (8-0 and 6-0).

In the Superbowl we will face a team that is 7-0 averaging 21 points a game. They beat us twice, the second time the score was 6-0. Should be fun.

Thanks again for sharing your time tested strategies.

The GAM is the definitive defense for youth football

Dan Sipe
Defensive Coordinator
LUYAA U-12 I 70
Mr. Reed,

I just wanted to thank you for your assistance in my now complete youth football coaching career. I implemented a tailored version of your GAM defense in 2003, my first year of coaching youth football. Our teams went 42-3 and won 4 championships. We gave up only 102 points in five years. I helped a younger age group implement this defense this year and they were able to win the championship. Your books are well written, cover almost everything a coach could ask, and provide a solid foundation for a great youth football defense.

Thanks again,
Scott Shelton

John, Just thought I would pass on that we won our league Championship on Saturday. We started our season losing the first two games. The head coach and I had never coached youth football before and really were not sure of what we were doing. After I put in the Gam and we began putting our best athletes in the right position we never lost another game. We came back and made the playoffs and then beat the two teams that beat us in regular season to win it all. 

I enjoyed your book on defense and have ordered your book for the single wing offense.

It was very helpful to be able to send a few emails to you for more explanation. Thank you.
You can certainly quote me. Your book was excellent and it won us the championship.

Thank you,

Ben Berriochoa


You gave me some great tips last year and I have enjoyed your books. They've been one of my primary sources on coaching over the last two years. I wanted to send you a quick story related to your Crunch Series article.

This is my second year coaching youth football. We ran a variation of your GAM defense and a Split Back Veer offense. Both systems very simple and effective. We finished the regular season at 8-1 in a 3-way tie for first place. We had to go to a Kansas City Tie Breaker (ball on the 10, double elimination) last night to decide the conference champion. In order to have a twist for two teams we had already played (one which had beaten us) we installed the crunch formation and three plays out of it (crunch right, crunch left and crunch counter) about an hour before the scrimmage. We practiced lining up and running the play a couple times on the soccer field next to the football field and ran it live for the first time in the scrimmage. We took to the line of scrimmage in our normal Split-Back formation, then shifted quickly on the QB's first sound, got set, then direct-snapped the ball to our best athlete who rumbled for about 7 yards. We called the same play again... the opposing coach burned his ONLY TIME OUT (you only get one per round in the tie-breakers). He coached his team to shift and line-up balanced over us when we shifted. The next play we ran the counter, which worked like a charm vs. their shift. We scored on that play. We ended up winning the tie-breaker and clinching the division title. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP ONCE MORE!

Scott P. Armatti


Just an update, The mimosa mustangs are 6-0 thanks in large part to your philosophy on coaching youth football. We have won all of our games by a combined score of 139 to 25. We run your version of the 8-2-1 defense and have shut out 3 opponents this year and have only allowed four touchdowns all season in 24 quarters of play, and have held 3 of our 6 opponents to 0 or negative yardage for the game. The most yards we have given up in one game is 98 yards. We also run your warp speed no huddle. With that we have achieved a dominant 4 to 1 play differential, average 40 plays a game compared to our oppoents running 15 offensive plays a game. They can't score if they don't have the ball. Our football team has had drives of 15, 8 and 10 plays several times this season. I have never seen a youth team sustain a 15 play drive ever, until this year, thanks to the warp speed no huddle. Also, we run the single wing offense, and have owned not only time of possesion but yardage wise we avearage 250 to 300 rushing a game. Now, we do have some pretty good talent, but if we were running the I formation or the wishbone or any other conventional offense, I doubt we would put up those kinds of numbers. We have had 8 different players score touchdowns this season. Furthomore, what has contributed to our time of possesion dominance and our offensive play dominance is the fact that we kick on sides every time, and for the season we have recovered 62% of our on sides kicks. We recovered 6 out of 6 on sides kicks in one game this season and recover at least two a game. The funny thing is, we don't even get cute with it. We don't care if the opponent knows where we are kicking it, we pretty much tell them where we are kicking it, and they still can't stop it! The ball bounces really funny when it isn't perfectly round, and this approach is just devestating to the opposition. We have seen as much as 10 guys on the front line of the return team and still recovered the kick. More defensive notes, we have had 32 pass attempts against us this season, they have completed two, and we have intercepted 9. The rest have fallen to the turf for an incompletion, due to the 8-2-1 man to man pass coverage. Just wanted to thank you for your books! I see that you have a book on coaching youth baseball, I can't wait to buy that in the coming months, maybe santa will bring it to me for christmas! Thanks again Jack, your a youth football genius!

Kristian Garic

Coach Reed

I purchased your books on the single wing offense, youth defense and GAM 3 seasons ago. I would like to provide this third installment to my yearly updates. We just finished our 2007 season with a 7-1 record. Although we did not pile up the points like we did last year, we were still effective. I must add that we did move up a division this year and faced much better competition. I coached 8-9 yr olds the first two years and this year we had the 10-11 yr olds. We averaged over 20pts per game with a season high of 48, and did so using only 4-5 plays from a playbook of 12 in each contest. The wedge was a consistent gainer but it did not go for big yardage but 2-3 times. The off tackle was our bread and butter and most of our points came from it. The wing reverse was only effective when defenses shifted somewhat to our unbalanced line. At times we shifted to a balanced line and ran the off tackle to either side. The first time we did this, the play went for 40 yards or so and a TD. We were also able to pass a little more using the sprint pass and a flanker streak. However; I switched the run sprint pass receiver most of the time. The long end and WB would run this route or the flanker would run a Q route. The main reason for this was the BB's inability to get out in the flats fast enough. We threw for touchdowns and extra points and a few 3rd down conversions. I did tweak your version of the single wing occasionally to spread the defense and then ran the wedge and a TB dive with consistent success against defenses that stacked the line of scrimmage to stop our power running plays. One of the greatest aspects of the single wing is BALL CONTROL. The other team cannot score without the ball. Most of our scoring drives were at least 5-6 plays and several were more than 11 plays. I plan on passing a little more next year and maybe doing some more tweaking, but the information in your books have been outstanding and everything that we have done has been a direct result of the principles and tactics that you have taught me through them.

Defensively we were OUTSTANDING with the GAM. Of our seven wins, 5 of them were shut outs and most of the teams we played ended up with negative yardage. The only difficulty we had was with a team that ran a spread offense. They were not able to effectively throw against us but we did give up chunks of yardage when we really needed a defensive stop. I must admit that part of the problem with this particular game was too much coaching the week prior - that will never happen again. Teach them their responsibilities, line em up and let em play. All but one of the teams that we played did not even come close to being able to handle the pressure that our boys applied play after play. Disciplined Defensive ends, aggressive linebackers, athletic corners and MLB/safety and tenacious lineman are too much for almost any offense to overcome.

Over the past 3 seasons, I have built our teams around our defense and relied on the tried and proven single wing to propel us to victory. These systems are easy to teach, troubleshoot and the kids love it. Our teams have a 21-3 record which includes 1 undefeated championship season and two second place finishes.

Thanks for your contribution to our football success!

Coach Al Johnson

Coach Reed,

I just wanted to thank you for your influence on my success as a youth football coach. I coach the 9-10 team in a rural community in South Carolina. Before we took over, this team was the perennial doormat of the league, and the designated "W" on everyone's schedule. Now, thanks to Coaching Youth Football, three seasons later, we are one of the most feared teams in the league. Last season we finished 10-1 and lost in the league semifinals game in double overtime. This season, we're off to another great start (6-0). We run the tight, 0 line splits double wing and the single wing. Defensively, we run your GAP-Air-Mirror defense. We have four shutouts thus far.

Last week we played a very talented team that had our double and single wing scouted and defended well. We were down 6-0 in the 4th quarter, then we unleashed the "Crunch" package with a direct snap. We marched right down the field and scored easily! We secured the extra point, and won 7-6. It amazed me how the other team NEVER adjusted to our unbalanced line, with all of our backs lined up behind them. We had a 7-3 advantage at the point of attack!

I am amused at how the coaches scramble to stop the on sides kick. Many burn timeouts or spend the entire half-time period trying to stop it. LOL! Once again thank you, for all you've done for youth football coaching. Your book has been a godsend for me, and most importantly has given some pride and self-esteem back to a small community that WAS conditioned to being the laughing stock to the other teams we play with a much larger population.


Sanford Williams, Honea Path, SC

Jack, we talked about 10 years ago, My dad and I were coaching a youth football team in Radcliff Kentucky. We have read all of your books, and currently implement your 8-2-1 defense. We are currently coaching together in New Orleans La, and are 3-0, and are allowing on average 4 points a game through three games on defense, and curently we average right around 30 points a game on offense, with the single wing. I just wanted to catch up with you, and let you know you have had a huge impact on my coaching philosophy, we basically have copied everything that you do, with good success! By the Way we have recovered 5 out out 9 onside kicks!! Everyone around the league asks me "Why do you kick onsides so much?"...I feel like saying, are you watching? If you watch our game you will see why!! 5 out of 9!

Kristian Garic

Coach Reed,

Thanks for your defensive books.

I am a second year defensive coach for U-12. Last year after four games, we had given up 130 points. This year its 32 and we just had our first shut out. In addition, we blocked a punt to give the offense the ball on the two for a 6-0 win against our arch rivals. (Our record is 3-1, last year we were 0-4 at the same point)

We are still working on our tackling (half of our players are first year) but the GAM delivers players to the point of attack better than any system I have seen. Thanks for sharing it.

Dan Sipe

Loyal client and believer


We had our opening game this past weekend with 7 – 9 year old Mighty Might team. We have implemented your GAM defense which produced a shutout. Our defense only allowed 1 first down in which a 2nd team DE and CB lost contain. It resulted in a 15-yard sweep. They had a little success up the middle due to the fact that I found out at half time that we are not allowed to have a Nose Guard or anyone in the A gaps. This week I will work with my linemen to Pinch into the gap and stop them. Or MLB did a great job only allowing 1 to 3 yard gains even with little support from the guards.

[Our double wing offense] scored 25 points with 196 yards in 25 plays.

This is my first year at coaching a tackle team. The past 3 years I spent coaching flag which was only a baby step to added complexities of tackle. I only received your books GAM and Coaching Youth Football a couple of days before the season so I had to read fast and work on implementing you system quickly and so far working great. I have already found more that I need to improve on as a coach and being efficient during practices. But the parts that I have been able to implement have put us ahead of other teams this year.


Bo Gibson

Head Coach East Fairmont Rockets – Mighty-Might Division


I purchased your football books a couple of years ago, and just purchased your clock management book today. I have been an assistant coach for the last four years, and this year the head coach left and I took over the head coach position. I have implemented your system (single-wing and gap-air-mirror) and your approach fits my style. We are 2-0 and have outscored our opponents 89 to 7. The 6 was scored on us on offense on the sprint-out run pass (the ball hit our receiver in the face mask and bounced up and the defender ran it back for 6). So I wanted to give you some good feedback, great advice, and wanted to ask you a question. Your books are the best. I think I have all of your sports related books and you have done a great job. FYI – the last two teams I coached after reading your books on Football and Baseball won their league championships.David M. GuidaHi John:

 I want to thank you for your web-page. I am a second year defensive coach and have been given the task of looking after the DB's for our team. I must let you know that I am e-mailing you from Canada and judging by your experience as a coach you must have some knowledge of the Canadian game. If not then here are a couple of things you should know:

- there are 12 men per side on the field.

- our field is much wider (~ 15-20 yrds I do believe) than yours.

- we are allowed to have more than one man in motion at the line.

- we only have 3 downs therefore we throw much more.

These few factors alone make it much more tougher for a defence to cover the field. I just wish to say that I love your philosophy with regards to zone defence and the futility of teaching it to youth. I am coaching minor-bantam players (13-year olds) and I was originally doing what you stated not to. I tried teaching them all sorts of backpedaling drills and the like as well as zone pass coverageand got away from the meat and potatoes of good fundamental football, like proper tackling form. We have now switched back to straight man and concentrate our practice time on learning our basic assignments and stickingto them. Again thanks for simplifying my approach and putting me on the right track. Although your rules are different in the U.S., youth football players are the same all over with regards to learning.


John Quagleini

North Winnipeg Nomads Football Club

Winnipeg, Manitoba


Coach Reed,

I am a youth football coach from Houston and we have been running the GAM since our kids were 7 yrs old. It has been a wonderful defense and has led to many championships.

Mike Patrick

Coach Reed,

You are the Man!!!! Results are the best barometer. Our Mighty Mite team (Havasu Blue) 9-0!!! Scored 265, 26 allowed. GAM Defense, is hands down the best possible youth defense. I hope the other coaches in the league don't find out about it. It wasn't an easy sell, at first. Other coaches wanted more from DLine (swim move, bullrush, etc..) you know, the macho stuff. I think the other coaches were hoping it, and me, would fall flat on our butts... The Head coach was with me 100% and 2 games later we were all one big happy family. Thank you Sir. Everyone involved with our team had a memorable season.

Coch Bob Stidd

Lake Havasu Pop Warner

I am in the middle of re-reading each of your football books (for the third time by the way) this off season. I wanted to say “thank you” one more time. You absolutely saved me as a clueless rookie coach and last year, my 2nd season as a coach; our 3rd and 4th grade team went 12-0 (10-0 officially since a couple were pre-season scrimmages we set up as coaches) easily winning the championship. The team we beat in the championship had not lost in the previous 3 seasons and had averaged over 35 points a game all year. We shut their offense out and scored 4 touchdowns of our own. In a very competitive league, 7 of our 10 games the “mercy rule” went into effect. My minimum play players (we had a very large roster, so I have a bunch of them) were able to see as much or more game time than my starters because of that. That made us heroes to the parents of the younger kids. Needless to say, we had a blast and we can't wait for the 2007 season to begin.

Thanks again,

Coach Thayne Harrison

Coach, I haven't e-mailed you in about three years, so I thought I'd give you an update on where we're at. About three years ago my son asked me to coach again, this time on his staff. He had just taken over a group of kids that over the previous three years had a combined winning % of .321, were giving up in excess of 30 points a game, had never made the playoffs, and were the laughing stock of our Pop Warner Conference. My son asked if I would be the D coordinator. I immediately began looking for information about solid run D as I had noticed watching my Grandson play the previous three years that nobody passed much. I found your site, read your books on the GAM, coaching youth football D, and clock management.

During the first year I e-mailed you with a problem we were having with the off tackle play. We were 0-3 at that point and giving up 33 points a game. Your response, which I might add was the best thing that could off happened, was, “you're not coaching it right.”

We went back to work, fixed things, and turned our season around. I'm happy to tell you that since that point we have pretty much mirrored your philosophy on organization of practices, to repetition of everything we do, and we have reaped many rewards. These same kids have complied over the last three years a combined wining % of .727, made the playoffs all three years, made one Championship-game appearance, they give up right around 9 points a game, have created 68 turnovers, and are 6 - 0 in post-season bowl games. I wanted to send this to let you know you were right we weren't teaching the system right, and to say thank you for your help, and the great books. Thanks Coach...

Rod E. Sorenson

Victorville, CA

I am a youth football coach and last year I ordered your GAM defense book. I read it and agreed it would be a great defense in youth football. I had my defensive coach read it and implement the defense this year with our Jr. Midget Team. I must say it worked out better then we both thought. We outscored our opponents 220-18-if you can believe that.

Anyway, the GAM worked so well other coaches on our other teams will be installing it next year. Offensives just did not know how to adjust to the defense, not that it would have made any difference if they did. I was very proud of our team this year as we took the Regional Pop Warner championship. .

Thank you for your putting forth a youth football book that relates to youth football.


John Nigro

Jr. Midegets

South Valley Grizzles

San Jose, CA

Dear Coach Reed,

I want to thank for your role in my team's championship this season. I coach second and third graders and adopted the G-A-M Defense and the Single Wing as discussed in great detail in your books. Although I am a former player on a nationally ranked defense in I-AA football, my background clearly did not prepare me to coach youth football.

Last year, before I had read your books, my team did not win a regular season game, but this year we took a less talented team and won the championship. We went from 0-7 to 7-2. With little team speed, we used the Single Wing with great success. It allowed us to control the clock with long, sustained drives and the G-A-M allowed us to hold all but two opponents to 6 points or less. Most of the teams we played had more speed and talent, but our scheme and some tough, disciplined kids resulted in a storybook season. Your books warned me of many of the pitfalls of youth coaches which made me flinch as I reflected on the previous season, but it guided me to preparing for success this season. What a year! Thanks!

Brian Sulc

Mr. Reed,

Just finished a 9-0 regular season and am headed into the playoffs using your modified single wing offense and gap air mirror defense. Last year I went 8-1 using the same systems, but they get better as I get to know them more and learn to innovate. People think I'm a football genius.

I know I'm just smart enough to know I need help and to find where to get it. Great work on your books!

[subsequent email] It got better. We won the league championship with a record of 12-0. The single wing offense averaged 34 points per game, even given a rule that we switch out the starting backfield when ahead by 24. The gap air mirror defense held our opponents to an average of 7 points per game. In the championship game, our blocking back (my son) broke his arm and couldn't throw. However, we had scouted the opponent's 4-4 defense and every player knew who to block for the off tackle, so we easily ground out an 18-8 victory on the ground. The kids are close knit and confident, and all of them are going on to try to play the best sport in the world in high school. I'm particularly gratified because last year, when our team went 8-1, I tried telling the other coaches that my offense didn't have a quarterback, and they laughed at me. Now they're asking me for advice.

Thanks for your help.

John Phelan

I was the defense coach for a 5 & 6 grade Grid Kids team. We used your defensive principles, adjusted for our rules, and crushed teams defensively. Great Defense!!!!

Jim Puryear

Mr. Reed,

I wanted to thank you for your help and update you on the season. We ended up at 7 and 2 and took second overall. If we would have won or tied the second last game (lost 18-12) we would have played for the championship.

I ended up using the interior defense line in the GAM defense as the way to sub and get the 16 play minimum we needed. I took 4 players and taught them how to submarine on every play. It worked really well and at times we subbed all 4 at the same time.

Thanks again for your help.


Mr. Reed,

This is my first year coaching the kids, junior football 11-13 in Western Wa. I have been on staff at the high school for 2 years now working with the freshman football team. When the head coach of my sons junior team asked me to do defense, i put in our high school 40' defense and it got us 4 wins and 4 losses, 6th seed in playoffs.

I put in your 10-1 defense in 1 day, day before our game and our kids were excited about playing the 3 seed, and were confident. I know 1 day is tough for kids to learn a new system, but the basics were easy;

the opponent plays a wing t with one fullback, wings on ends, one te, and one w/o. I put 3 corners in to jam wings and w/o on los, and had my athletic end on their tight end jamming him on line. They were told to jam as long as possible then release if they got by into man coverage. 4 lineman stayed in gaps rushing hard, two tackles spying qb hips, and two ends spying fb hips. We put in two stingers on each side, controlled rush to outside shoulder of fb, and if they see wing release hard outside they jam in. One middle lb, our best athlete spied fb all game. It was great, we won 8-0 with a saftey and td (missed xpoint)

they got 2 first downs all day and rushed for maybe 15 yds and passed for 20 yds (one pass which was 1 first down).

On to round 2!


Coach T

Mr. Reed, my name is Bob Morin and roughly six weeks ago I sent an e-mail to you about my 5th and 6th grade team from Poland, Maine winning its first two games of its innaugural season 22-0 and 30-0. Well, the season is now over and we are the only undefeatead team in the league. we finished with a record of 6-0-1. We averaged 25.4 points /game while the starting defense gave up only 2.85 points per game. Overall, the defense gave up on average 6.5 points per game. Great Stuff!

The starting TB averaged three thouchdowns(would have been more but we have a twenty point rule) per game while the starting BB averaged 4yds per carry.

I can not say enough about your books and the GAP Air Mirror Defense. Again, GREAT STUFF!!! I plan to use both again next year when I move up to coach this group in the 7th grade. Thanks again for all you do.

Bob Morin

Mr. Reed,

I have used your books & articles with much success in the past few years in youth football. [We went] undefeated last year…

Paul M. Bonaccini

Traverse City, MI

Mr. Reed,

Just finished a 9-0 regular season and am headed into the playoffs using your modified single wing offense and gap air mirror defense. Last year I went 8-1 using the same systems, but they get better as I get to know them more and learn to innovate. People think I'm a football genius. I know I'm just smart enough to know I need help and to find where to get it. Great work on your books!

John Phelan

Mr. Reed,

I purchased your "Coaching Youth Football" and "Single-Wing Offense for Youth Football" books back in 2003. Much success followed (we were 27-5 between '03-'05 (lost championship in '03 at 9-2, won championship in '04 at 11-0)). I have given you credit for our success in many circles. I played for 11 seasons but quickly learned a player doesn't necessarily make a coach.

Ashley R. Bolton

Huntsville, Alabama

Incidentally, I've always been a big fan of the Gap-Air-Mirror and have always had it in my defensive repertoire.

Mr. Reed, I'm a first-year head coach of a 5/6th grade youth football team in Poland, Maine. I have read your single wing offense for youth football and your GAM defense for youth football prior to the start of our inaugural season in a league with seasoned football programs.

I introduced both the single wing and GAM to a group of 23, ten- and eleven-year olds, 19 with no prior playing experience. To date we have played two games and won the first 22-0 and the second 33-0 against teams that were expected to beat us.

The books were very informative and were a great help in helping me manage the team while the introducing the single wing and GAM. My assistants were somewhat reluctant when I first mentioned the offense and defense I wanted to run but all four are now believers in the system.

Most important of all is that the kids love playing the single wing and are having fun doing it. Their confidence level improves with each win and they now feel that they can compete with any team in the league.

Thanks for the hard work and providing information for guys like me with no football coaching experience. I found that it helps level the playing field a bit when facing seasoned coaches. I would not have known where to begin without the information without the books you have written. Thanks, Bob Morin

Hi Coach,

I got "roped" into being head coach for my son's Pop Warner team here in Pittsford, MI. I had never coached period and only played a couple of years of high school ball. Needless to say, I went searching for some guidance on the web and came across your site. I purchased "Coaching Youth Football", "Single Wing Offense for Youth Football" and "Gap Air Mirror Defense for Youth Football". I have done a lot of reading since early August!

Pittsford is a small rural community, so I have a total of 17 players on the team. We have been practicing since August 3rd, but had never had a live scrimmage untilthe first game of the season this morning. We have 10 plays total. Really 5 plus the mirror image the opposite way. We have only run the plays against air. The G.A.M. defense the same way. The kids had never gone up against a live offense. We had only stressed assignments.

[Reed note: this team should do half-line scrimmages, that is, the right side of the offense goes against the left side of the defense running only plays that go to the right side, then repeat with the left side of the offense going against the right side of theh defense. They can and should also do 7-on-7 to practice passing and pass defense and 9 vs 8 to practice only the run game.]

As our first opponent we had the team that won the league last year.

At halftime we were up 32-0 and the referee came over and explained to us the Pop Warner mercy rules. My assistant coach said he had never been on this side of the mercy rule before while coaching Pittsford football. Pittsford has been kind of the laughing stock of football around here!

So, we stop them on defense again (they never got a first down). We take over on our 40 (Mercy rule). Under the mercy rule we could no longer pass, or run outside the tackles. So, we run the wedge! My son goes 60 yards for a touchdown! The final was 44-0.

Most of the time my 4 down lineman had a hold of the quarterback or running back during the handoff. The [opponent] had no clue what we were doing on offense. They were yelling at the[ir]kids to "play harder," "hit somebody," etc. It reminded me a lot of what you wrote in your book.

Thank you,

Jeff Wendt

Dear Coach Reed,

I…wanted to write and thank you for your help. I took on a team of 8/9 year olds this year and after reading ALL your books I installed the Single Wing and the Gap air Mirror Defense.

I am the new guy on the block and got 4 assistants (none my brother or family unfortunately) and from day 1 they claimed the kids would never get this. I stayed the course and tonite we had our first game against a historically very tough local team. The outcome?

Maranacook Black Bears 34- Gardner Tigers 0

We led 28-0 at the half. I put in all my bench players and they still scored once. They also allowed only 1 long sweep of 60 yards due to my weakest player standing there and watching it go by. None the less, one of my LBs ran the kid down from behind on the 5 yard line—awesome effort. The second stringers then held for no gain on 4 plays and we took a victory kneel down to salt away a 34-0 win. I am so excited for the kids.

The coaches for the [age] 10-11 kids were there and came up to me after and said they could not believe we played an entire game with long snaps and had none missed. I told them that it is because we do it at least 60 times every practice.

Well, they are all sold on the strategy now and I am thankful to you for your wisdom. I keep re-reading the books and always find stuff I can use. I did throw in a TE flat pass which worked 1/3 times, but I needed to have SOMETHING original! My son plays LE and DE and has boxing down to an art form. He had 1 reception, 7 tackles, and a fumble recovery in the game, so I am a proud Dad as well!

Thank you,

Rick Morand, Head Coach

Maranacook Black Bears

Manchester, Maine

Our team participated in a big season opening jamboree at Boise State this past weekend. Our scheduled opponent beat us last year in a regular season game 36-0. We had numerous injuries and a near riot between the coaching staffs. They are considered one of the 3 best teams out of 38 going into this season and they were undefeated last year. We were nervous to say the least because of last year and because we were running a new offense. Everyone (except our wives) have said we're nuts for running the single wing. Most of the comments centered on the direct snap, which they said will never work and the lack of a quarterback. To make matters worse, the head coach's son, our snapper, broke his arm in a scrimmage two days earlier (he had over 1200 snaps) and was out. Our back up snapper was less than stellar and had maybe 300 snaps.

In the eight days of practice preceding the jamboree, I taught the boys 6 plays from the right formation: sweep, off-tackle, wedge, wing reverse, sprint out pass and post pass. For the jamboree, I scripted 6 plays for each of our 2 tailbacks. The format of the jamboree was each team gets 6 minutes of offense with no clock stoppage. Offense starts from the forty yard line. If you score or don't gain 10 yards in 4 plays, you go back to the forty and start again. The offense scored on the 4th play with the first tailback and I switched tailbacks. The offense then scored on the 3rd play. We ran two more plays and were ready to score again before time ran out. On the defensive side, the head coach has implemented a modified gap-air-mirror defense. In 6 minutes, our opponents gained less than 5 net yards with no first downs. Our opponents were shell shocked. Our boys were ecstatic!!

So far so good, first game in two weeks. Thanks coach!!


PS The back up snapper was perfect.

Hi Coach Reed -

I have purchased your instructional books on coaching youth football and won our city championship using your philosophies - thank you!

Thanks for your dedication directed at coaching youth football. The guys I beat weekly think I'm a genius thanks to you.

Tim Russell

Hello Mr. Reed;

I never did follow-up after our successful season last year (6-1), but we did email in the middle when I had a question about defending a passing-centric team at the Rookie level. Your advice was right-on and we ‘stopped their key play' and forced them to go to what they weren't comfortable with...running. I don't expect you to recall that, but thank you for your books!

Thank you, sir!

Kevin Gaines

Colorado Springs, CO

Coach Reed,

I have several of your books including Coaching Youth Football 3rd edition. By the way, I used the gap 8 defense last year and had 6 shutouts in 8 games! One game we gave up a kick return for the only score and the other was a sweep for a TD by the fastest kid on the field. I love your books!

Thank You,

Craig Smith


I just wanted to give you a testimonial on this defense. I was the defensive coach for a Pop Warner football team in Fairport NY. The level was mighty Mite –ages 7, 8 9. We were the new team in the league , the league had expanded from 2 team from Fairport to 3 teams. 99% of our kids had never played tackle football and the 1% who had, were castoffs that the other two teams did not want back. I installed your Gap -8 defense for a number of reasons but mostly for its simplicity. Needless to say we won every game and really shut down most team's offensive playmakers. Coaches would repeatedly try to run up the middle and could not believe that we could stop them. Up until the last game we only surrendered 2 touchdowns in 6 games. Our last game was against a very fast and very talented team that if we went player for player we should have never had a chance. In this game the gap 8 had 4 goaline stances and stuffed them each time. The game ended in a tie 7-7. I believe very strongly in this defense and I would recommend it to every youth coach. Thanks for making our season a very memorable one.

Daniel D. Wetzel

Indirect Sales Manager

Upstate Markets

PCS- 585-230-0065

Dear Mr. Reed:

I have been coaching youth football for five years and in 2004 I took over as head coach of a team that went 1-8 in the previous season. I had high hopes of turning the program around for 2004. Well, with all my good intentions our team had the identical record as in 2003. I felt I did a disservice to those youngsters who came out for the team to learn something about football and what it meant to be part of a team. I vowed that I would take some pro-active steps so we would not repeat the same mistakes as in the previous seasons. I attended coaching clinics, spoke with other coaches and read some books. Two of the books I read were "Coaching Youth Football and Gap, Air, Mirror Defense. We finished with a 9-1 regular season record and lost the semi-final play off game to the team that went on to win the championship. We finished first in scoring and our defense did not give up a rushing touch down until our seventh game against the other team that went on to play in the championship game. One of the first things I remember from your books was the comment, "If anyone is running a 5-3 defense in youth football does not know what he is doing". That person was me. We went to GAM defense, rehearsed our offensive plays against various defensive formations so everyone knew who to block and had great success. There were many things to be proud of from the 2005 season. In 2004 one of our starting running backs had only one touch down. In 2005, our second string back field, 4 separate players, accounted for 7 TDs. Our league requires that every player have at least 5 plays in a game and we carry a 40 player roster. I believe having a well organized, clear and simple program was the key to our success. Your books were instrumental in creating our program and formulating our game plans. Incidentally, I had our assistant coaches read the same books, they were a great group of guys that all bought in the program and enjoyed their various roles.


Gene Allman

Orchard Park, NY Little Loop Football.

Mr. Reed:

Yes you may quote me and on 12/22/2005 our team was awarded the second place trophy in their division.


I have been coaching youth football for 6 years. My primary responsibility has been offensive play calling. We have had some success running the GAM but did not use it consistently.

Last year I took my first head-coaching positioning back down in the 7-8 year old division. I spent the off season studying the GAM and asking many questions. It was obvious that it would be difficult for any team to establish a sophisticated offense at this age. My strategy was to focus our strength at defense and make the best of field position to give the offense as many chances as possible in these shortened games. Dedicating my strongest players to defense was hard at first thought for an offensive person like myself. But I understood your philosophy and put it into play. Fortunately, at this age group, this league allows me to be on the field the entire season so you can really see where the break downs are happening and can coach/correct in between plays.

Wow, did it work! Our starting defense only allowed 1 touchdown (by the way we fumbled the ball inside the 10) in 11 games.We held 4 teams to no 1st downs and 3 more to only 1 first down. After a 25 point advantage our league requires that the strongest 6 players are removed. 2nd team defense did well also and we had 7 shut outs and several interceptions.

We made it to the super bowl undefeated. Unfortunately we did not win the big game partially due to some uncharacteristic [lack of] discipline by my linebackers and due to my inability to call a stunt we had been using all year successfully to help stop strong off-tackle teams. I look forward to developing the GAM further with these same players next year.

11 – 1 record for kids who have never played before was more than impressive. Thanks for the guidance.

Shane Geringer

Camarillo Roadrunners

Pee Wee Division – Team BLUE

Pacific Coast Youth Football League <>


I just came across this email exchange we had back in September. I have to tell you of the success we had as a result of your input. I wrote to you after we had lost our first 3 games. After getting your reply and doing as you said – getting the linebackers to not back up and to attack the LOS, and making the wedge play more of a key in our offense, things really came together. We only lost one of our subsequent 6 games (and that one we should have won, but for a couple of let-downs when we had minimum play kids in). We had two shut-outs and outscored our opponents 123 – 46 over the span. The line started playing more assertively with the wedge blocking mentality, and the wing reverse started clicking as the off tackle and sweep worked better. It went for 4 TDs over the six games (and the fake reverse went for two.) The season became a success.

Anyway, I just wanted to close that circle with you and say thanks so much for responding to me. I believe your response factored greatly into salvaging our season.

Happy holidays,

Mark McDermott

McDermott & Associates

9607 N. Copper Ridge Trail

Fountain Hills, AZ 85268


(480)837-7476 fax


I would like to add to your collection of success stories. Last year (2004) I took over a pee-wee youth football team, ages 7 to 10 years old. Although I purchased your book “Coaching Youth Football”, I did not fully implement it. I opted to stay with more conventional formations I had coached before. Needless to say, my roster was all first year players, and we went 2-8.

This year, I additionally bought your book “Single Wing Offense for Youth Football”. I decided this offense complemented the talent I had returning, and against my assistant coach’s advice, we went with the Single Wing Offense this season. All I can say is WOW, what a change. We not only went undefeated (11-0) and won the championship; we lead the league in scoring, by putting up 320 points for the year. We only had five plays, and our top three running backs averaged 14, 12 and 11 yards per carry. The plays were simple for the kids to learn, and by the end of the year they were running them to near perfection. After a few games, opposing teams knew what we were running, but still couldn’t stop us. I found at this age group, the defenses had a hard time adjusting to the strong side, and as you know that spells disaster for them.

Defensively, I also went with the GAM. I modified it some, and usually went with three down lineman and two middle LB’s, but this was due to the fact I had more speed than size. The defense worked well, and we led the league on this side of the ball too. We only gave up 44 points all year, and didn’t even get scored upon until the sixth game of the season.

Granted, I think we would have been successful this year running a number of different schemes, but I also believe your systems were a huge contributing factor in us finishing undefeated. I highly recommend your books to any coach (new or old), that is taking on the challenge of coaching youth football.

Jason Hunt (Hanford, CA)

Head Coach

Hanford Pee Wee Steelers

2005 All Valley League Champions

I am writing to give support for your GAP-AIR-MIRROR defense. I was thrust into a head coaching postion for 10-12 year olds due to the existing coach not being able to fulfull the committment. I researched on line and came across your book and ordered it. I had helped out last year with running the defense which was a mandatory 5-3 per league rules. It looked like something I could implement based on my limited experience and never having played football.

What a success! My team went 9-1 and won the Rocky Bowl Championship. We allowed a league low 51 points. The concepts were excellent and your book was easy to follow. Thanks, lookign forward to next year.

Mike Kouwenhoven, Billings, Montana.


I wanted to thank you for putting together excellent coaching books. I just finished my third year as the defensive coach for my son's youth football teams. I bought Coaching Youth Football before his first season of tackle football. I wanted an aggressive, but disciplined defense and the GAM seemed to be a good fit for what I wanted to do. I have made some slight adjustments at various times to fit our personnel, but overall we have followed the setup you describe. I bought the Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football book before the 2005 season. We moved up to a higher age group and I wanted the additional detail this book provided. It was very useful.

Here's few statistics to show the success that our team has achieved. A large part of it was due to the defense.

2003: County Championship, 8-1 record, 152 points scored, 40 points allowed, 1,713 yards gained, 615 yards allowed.

2004: County Championship, 9-0 record, 181 points scored, 6 points allowed, 2,201 yards gained, 491 yards allowed.

2005: County Championship, 10-0 record, 178 points scored, 18 points allowed (only 12 by the defense), 2,354 yards gained, 614 yards allowed

Thanks again for the books. Studying the defense, reviewing tape, and working with the boys on tackling and individual responsibility in a team construct really helped them to be successful.

Scott Shelton

Dear Mr. Reed,

I decided to coach youth football after assisting for a season and seeing a number of things I thought could be done better. I thought I might be selected and started to research the type of offense and defense I was going to play.

After reading a number of articles on the single-wing offense I came across your web site and purchased "The Single Wing Offense For Youth Football" and "Coaching Youth Football". One of my assistants had purchased your GAP Air Mirror Defense For Youth Football. I read all of the books several times over the summer and implemented the single wing and GAP Air Mirror.

Your books were fantastic!! You covered everything from the actual plays to the problems with parents and assistants and I experienced them all first hand. Our D Team (6,7,8 year olds) had the best season in the 12 year existence of the program. The team was 8-0 which was a first. Although we only had 2 exceptional athletes (starting tailback and fullback) we were able to score 36 touchdowns and gain almost 1900 yards in 8 games. Due to parent pressure (why isn't my son carrying the ball) the starting tailback and fullback did not play in the second half or not at all in several games. The defense was exceptionally well only allowing 6 touchdowns all year. There were 4 shutouts and in 3 of the games the opposing offense had a negative total yards for the game.

I attribute the success to your books and the detailed instruction you provided. Although I had played football as a youth I was not prepared to coach until I finished your books. I would highly recommend them to anybody. Thanks very much for a great set of "instruction manuals"

Nick Carola

Amston, CT

Hi John.

I ordered your book and my son's team converted almost exclusively to GAM defense by second game of the season.

We won the mini-bowl (championship) for the 10 year old Jr. Pee Wee classification in our league of 32 teams.

After beating their heads against our big 4 in the gaps and getting killed by the d ends and the people lined up outside, our opponents generally tried to pass on us, without much success. We never blitzed all season. The defense really works. Thanks for a great approach. I need to study the offense and look at putting in some of that for next year.

Best regards,

Roger Andersen

Coach Reed ,

We are currently 8-0 with 2 games left to play in our season thanks to your advice. This is my first year as DC and I picked the GAM defense after reading your book on youth defense. I must admit, I was a little worried installing this defense with 7/8 year olds, but they caught on fast and believe in it. We have allowed only 5 TDs in 32 QTRS and some of those were coaching mistakes. I took your book on GAM DEFENSE to practice every day and I must say it was pretty easy for the kids and coaches. Success breeds confidence. Thanks coach and I'll let you know how we finish up the season.

Coach Dave , DC ,

Fullerton JR. Mighty Mite Titans

Fullerton Football

I'm writing back to let you know we won those last 2 games of the season, including our Bowl Game against a previously undefeated team, to go 10-0 and finish UNDEFEATED. Thanks in great part to your book on GAP-AIR- MIRROR-DEFENSE for Youth Football , we were able to stop teams from scoring that last year would have run allover us. We only allowed 51 points in 10 games with 5 shutouts and that was our 1st year with the GAM...with a rookie coach! Your books ( I have 3) are a lot more than X's & O's. They are complete guides to Winning at the Youth Level with a "COMMON SENSE" approach that is very rare in youth coaching. Thank-you for helping us see youth coaching for what it should be and more importantly ...ALL THE THINGS YOUTH COACHES SHOULD NOT BE DOING. Jack, thanks.

Dave Wenderlich




Coach John,

Just a short note to say thank you for your writings that I've discovered over the last year. Because we have adhered to many of your strategies, our team has just finished their regular season, undefeated .... 6-0.

This is a Pop Warner Pee-Wee team, in Traverse City, Michigan that I have been fortunate enough to coach for three years now

We are on our way to the Championship game this weekend...... I'll keep you posted.

Paul M. Bonaccini

Vice President, Investments

Raymond James & Associates

522 E. Front Street

Traverse City, MI 49686




We worked in practice on the things you stressed below – linebackers attacking the LOS; and better execution on offense, especially the wing reverse – and came away with a 27- 0 dominating victory. The wing reverse went for 2 long TDs; and the defensive shutout was led by our linebackers who made numerous plays for negative yardage.

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to my plea for help!! The kids (and the coaches) are now very excited to keep the roll going, and there’s a lot more faith in the systems.

Feel free to use me as a testimonial… J

Best regards,

Mark McDermott

Head Coach – Fountain Hills (AZ) Condors (Pop Warner Mighty-Mite level; 7-9 year olds.)

McDermott & Associates

9607 N. Copper Ridge Trail

Fountain Hills, AZ 85268


(480)837-7476 fax

Anyway, thanks for the advice. I used it successfully. Our opponents dressed 41 players to our 15. They were bigger and just as fast. But, we won the game 36 – 14.

Thanks again,

Kevin King

Curtis Baptist School


quote me one more time, The Ponca City Cardinals are now "STATE CHAMPIONS", and will play for the Super Series National Championship in their Age and Division, due to implementing your strategies.

Dave Tarver

PC Cardinals

Coach Reed,
I have bought and read four of your books now on coaching youth sports. Since i have started using your knowledge as a basis for my coaching philosophy I have had great success coaching football and baseball. We won the conference championship in football using the single wing. Coaches laughed at us , literally until we beat the socks off their team and then they tried to emulate us the next week.

You mentioned that you would like to quote me about our success. Please do, I'm known as a John T Reed disciple around here, I get laughed at about that also. But if you want some good information about our success let me fill ya in.

My first year coaching youth football (10-12 year olds) we went a miserable 0-6.

I vowed that it would never happen again, so I began to read everything I could about youth football. I bought three of your books for football and used them. The next season the other coaches in the league said we "went from the outhouse to the penthouse!" We were Conference Champs. Undefeated in Conference play. Breezed through the playoffs until we got to the superbowl. We ended up losing to a great team, that we had beat earlier in the season. We beat them 20-18, then they ended up beating us 20-19. No shame in that loss.

Here is what I learned from you that made all the difference in the world.

1. We learned how to stop a sweep

2. We had no losses of the ball on snaps,, the entire season

3. We had no losses of the ball on exchanges,, the entire season

4. We threw no interceptions , the entire season

5. We were the best team in the league by far at running between the tackles.

By the way, your GAM is illegal in our league. I have a great modification for it in leagues that outlaw it.

Give me a call when you get a chance,, I'm sure your a busy man, but I know that you would love to hear a few of the specifics that happened when other coaches saw our offense.

I'd love to tell you about them—and that is just our football team. Our baseball team had a great season also.

Thanks Coach

LT Mann


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, all 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 coordinator) 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 excel 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 Pohlen 800-779-8273


2004 was my 2nd full year as a Head Football Coach. Last year, in 2003, I coached a 8/9 year old tackle football team. We went 3-8 and although our defense was hard hitting and very tough, we gave up a lot of long touchdown runs.
In preparation to the 2004 season, I spent about a month this summer researching for a defense for my team to run. I stumbled upon your web site and PowerPoint and it made sense to me. It sold me on using the GAP 8 Air defense this year. I had very few returning football players, only 9 players of my 24 players ever played tackle football before. I wanted a defense that would give each kid specific responsibility. The GAP 8 seemed like it would be a good fit for my particular team.

As the defensive coordinator for my team, I was responsible for the defense for my team. In the beginning of the season I introduced your defense to my coaching staff. The coaching staff was skeptical at first, but I convinced them that I thought it was the best defense to run for our team.

The result was a perfect season!!!! My team finished the year by winning the 8/9 year old Super Bowl 24-0. We played in one of the largest youth sports football program in Texas. The league consisted of (23) 8/9 year old teams.

My team completed the season 13-0. Although our offense was unbelievable, we scored a league high 394 points, our defense was also dominant. We also recorded 10 shutouts, including at 24-0 shutout in the Super Bowl, and only gave up 5 touchdowns the entire year. My defensive line averages 63 pounds! The offensive lineman typically outweighed them 2 to 3 times.

Thanks so much for your detailed information, your system really works and my team and I can't thank you enough.

Coach Jim

Jim Pugliese

Head Coach

Freshman Yeager Colts


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!!!


Coach, back around October 5, I e-mailed you with a concern I had with running your defense. We had just instituted the scheme this year and everything was working pretty well, with the exception of us giving up a lot of big, and I mean really big plays. The defense stopped almost all the plays, but couldn't get it right. Through week four we were 1 - 3 and had been outscored 111-45, and created only 4 turnovers. In your response you asked me to read the book again and gave me some brief pointers on adjusting the defense. You also told me to coach the darn thing, adjust during the game, and not to just line up every week. I took your advice and read the book not once but twice before our next practice. We made adjustments based on our shortcomings, and strengths of upcoming opponents. We cut down on drills, and concentrated more on rehearsing for the game. The results were astonishing. They were greater than anything I had imagined. We finished up the year going 6 - 0, outscoring our opponents 127- 12, created 17 turnovers, 6 of which were interceptions, and we pitched 4 shutouts. Of the points scored all 12 were scored in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, during mop up time. In our last game a bowl game in Arizona, we had a chance to speak with the coach of the other team in the hotel later that night. He said some of the same things I read when learning of this defense. Thought he could run up the middle, he couldn't.!! Too many bodies laying around... Tried "C" gap but our LB's were controlling that gap. Tried to counter, but back side stayed home, and we slide our short side DE. Went to the air, but had no time to throw, when he did we had coverage. Swept us, but couldn't get outside, our ends really boxed on the wide side. At halftime he said that the entire staff was confused. They decided to spread us out. That had to work. Found out that 5 couldn't block 6, and they still didn't have the time to throw and couldn't run as we continued to play "D" in their backfield. We went on to win the game 25 - 0, and finish the year at 7 - 3. I just want to thank you. We are really looking forward to next year. It will be the second year the kids run this "D", and we have very high expectations. Thanks coach for all of your advise, you made us look like genius'. I love this attacking defense..

Rod Sorenson

Mr. Reed,

I just wanted to let you know that our football team was successful this year thanks to your knowledge and expertise. I corresponded with you back in July and was able to check out one of your books from our public library. I was not aware of your literature on football and actually happened across your web site while surfing the net to gain information to help our coaching staff. When I first approached the other coaches with your defensive suggestions, they were shot down, just as you said, they wanted to run the 6-4. The head coach agreed to give the 10-1 a shot and ran it against the upper level team (4th and 5th graders). It became our primary defense. The only time our team was scored on was when we used a defense other than the 10-1. We finished our year undefeated and won the Central Indiana Batam Football League Championship. Many other points in your book were surprisingly accurate, especially the politics of positions on the team. Something unfortunately we had to combat through out the season. However once the season was over I was approached and asked to coach the line for the upper level team next year.

Thank you

Bryan K Wynn


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

My name is Craig Happel.

I coach a Pee Wee Football Team (5th and 6th Graders) in Mansfield, Texas. During the three previous seasons my core group of players played .500 ball. The team averaged 25 points a game but gave up 20.

During the summer I did a lot of research and found your book on the gap-air-mirror defense. I studied it, understood it, but I was not sure if I could convince the rest of my coaches that this was the way to go.

My best selling point was we did not have a better plan. We implemented it during the first days of practice.

We gave it another name just so kids could identify with it. We told them no one else would use it and that they were special because they could run it. We completed our season Saturday night winning the Brazos Valley Football Association Super Bowl 18-0. Our regular season record was 8-1. We outscored our opponents 278-28. During the three playoff games including the Super Bowl we outscored our opponents 64-6.

Our boys played outstanding football, but the simplistic but effective gap-air-mirror defense was the difference. The boys did not have to think or read. They just played.

Before the playoffs, one of my assistant coaches emailed you for advice as we entered the playoffs. Your advice was simple and right on track. Thanks for all your help.

My coaches and I are believers in GAP-AIR-MIRROR defense.

Happel, Craig E


We finished the season 11-0, outscoring our opponents 337-54. Pretty good for a 9-10 year old team. We had good players that were made great by the single wing and the 10-1. Thanks again.

Pat Thomasson

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 coaches fit me to a tee, and without your books we never would have won it all.

Thank You,

Keith McGrew

Jasper, TN

Coach -

Without your book, I'm not sure how I would have pulled this season off. We're 3-3 so far and we're looking to close out the season 6-3. Not bad for a first year 3rd grade team.

As part of our preparation, we incorporate your drills and your philosophies with one exception. We've been using Coach Wyatt's Double Wing because a friendly local Coach (who is also a Reed disciple) suggested we try it. He also allows my younger kids mirror his older kids. Once my kids see a play up close, they get it and they can run it effectively. For the most part, we get 30-35 offensive plays per game and we rack up 300 or so yards with as many as seven kids touching the ball three or four of whom will score a touchdown. It sure keeps their parents happy.

We initially installed the GAM defense but my defensive coordinator wanted to use the venerable 5-3 cover for easier substitution. I reluctantly agreed because we have a 12 play minimum rule in our league and it was tough to sub the weaker players. After giving up some cheap points to inferior teams we're now back to the GAM because it works. Period.

Your books should be mandatory reading for anyone who cares to walk the sidelines of a youth football team. If you're ever in Tulsa, look me up. I'd like to shake your hand in gratitude. Thank you.

BTW - You have my permission to post my comments.

Phillip A. Taylor

Tulsa, Oklahoma


I know you're not used to this but I'm going to praise your defense on a loss that we had. I run your defense for the Natick Pop Warner Jr. Redmen B team in Massachusetts and we faced Dorchester Mass in the first round of the playoffs.

Dorchester is a city team with great athletes and greater coaching. No one scored on them all season and they've beaten their opponents by an average of 40 points. They're the Mike Tyson of Pop Warner. Teams would be intimidated by them at the weigh in. In fact, after Dorchester would weigh in, their coaching staff would tell you that it's not necessary for you to weigh in. This group was ready to make their third trip to Florida this year for the Pop Warner Superbowl in as many years.

Dorcherster multiple offense, the power I, crunch, 5 wide, and even the lonesome polecat. During the season and in the following playoff games I saw them totally confuse teams with their formations. Teams wouldn't adjust to the unbalanced line and unbalanced back field, time outs were always called for the lonesome polecat. And what is most disheartening is they ran every formation to perfection. That is why they're a perennial Superbowl team.

So we face the juggernaut in the first round of the playoffs. I drilled the our kids on the basics of the GAM until it was coming out of their ears. Game time comes and we are stuffing Dorchester all game. Our kids know how to line up on any formation, we're stuffing the power I, shifting and mirroring everything. I have to admit, they had a lot more talent and speed then we had. If it wasn't for two broken plays, where our corner fell on a duck pass and a kid missed what should have been a sure tackle, we would have held them to almost negative yards. We ended up losing 16 - 0.

The most amazing thing about the game was that at the end of the award ceremony, the captain of the Dorchester team instructed his players to give Natick a hand for a hard fought victory and we were given a standing ovation.

Coach Roger

I don't know if you remember me, but 3-4 years ago we spoke over the phone many times and I bought several of your youth coaching books. To get to the point, I just want to thank you for giving me the foundation necessary to win a youth football championship in a very competitive league. Your organizational materials gave me and my staff a flying start that would have taken us years of trial and error to accomplish on our own. Also, your suggestion to run the single wing turned out to be sound advice. We took the league by storm, averaging 8.5 yrds per play over the past 2 seasons.

This season was the payoff for us, going 11-0 and outscoring our opponents 334-28. We beat a perennial power in the championship 28-0. If you remember, four years ago, you spent hours on the phone with me trying help me win a ball game. It took 6 games to get that first victory and we ended up 3-7 that first season. 2001 we were 6-4 (my first as head coach) then last season went 8-2. Even as we went into our playoff run this season, I referred back to your books regularly to make sure we continued to stay on track.


Jim Pettigrew

RE/MAX Northwest Realtors

206-306-7710 Offfice

206-306-7759 Fax

206-948-5590 Mobile

I have been waiting to get through the 1st half of the season to give you an update. After winning the championship last year and going 13 and 0, we had a great off season getting ready for this fall. This season we are currently 6-0. In 6 games, using the single wing we have scored 260 points. That’s 43.33 points a game. Defensively using the Gap-Air-Mirror we have given up 6 points! That’s not an average, that’s the total for the season! They scored on us with 5 seconds left in the game. The competition is good. They all have the same talent. They just spin their wheels trying to look like the NFL. Funny thing this season I have noticed a few copy cats trying to do what we do, but they just can’t get all the way there.

Lee Perry, Scorpion President.

“We played our second game Saturday the 21st. The opposing coach is also a referee. They never adjusted to our unbalanced line, and they stayed in a pass defense all morning (as you suggested, youth coaches are stupid). They were also unable to penetrate the GAM -after the first play which the kid ran for about 90 yards (with a net gain of 11).

GAM got us a couple of fumble recoveries, and practicing kickoffs DAILY got us a couple kickoff recoveries. We got to the point where we were kicking deep (to the side of course) to avoid getting the ball back. No matter where they ran, our Straight DOWN THE FIELD coverage was there. Every kid on our team ran the ball if they wanted to.

Our league has a mercy rule which states that if a team is up by more than 41, the game is over and the team with 41+ loses. We were up 32 - zip within the first ten minutes. Warp speed, no huddle, no cadence, single wing. From there on out we were in slow down. As a matter of fact, the refs told us we could take more than 25 seconds if we wanted. Thanks again for the ideas. Your books make me look like a genius.”

“John, I just wanted you to know that we scrimmaged the team who is supposed to be the fastest team in our league last night. We scored on the first play. The other team gained approximately three total yards in the scrimmage and fumbled the ball about six times because of the pressure that our team put on their backfield. Thanks...”

Coach, 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

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