Coaching Youth Football Defense reader success stories, part 1
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
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.
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
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!
“I’ve purchase three of your coaching books. Which, by the way, are the most useful coaching books for Pop Warner coaching I’ve ever read.” Devon Price
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.
I will pass your "Full Scrimmage" lesson on to all of our coaches.
Take care and God Bless,
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)
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!
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.
I just finished reading your Coaching youth football & coaching youth football defense. I loved both books. I have dozens of word documents with drills, notes & information. I would make it manditory reading for all coaches in my association if I could. I'd make it mandatory for ALL football coaches
except that then, there may no be a winner if everyone follows your suggestions.
Again, thank you so much.
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.
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!
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
Some positive feedback for your tackling drill. A friend of mine is using your book in coaching his son's 5th grade team. He said he's never had a tackling drill that worked so well as yours. The boys actually stayed within the four cones, maintained half speed until impact, kept their head in the right place and followed through. He was just giddy telling me about it this morning. My buddy (coworker) is a former Mankato State football player--one of the MN state colleges. He's a teddy bear of a guy. Loves coaching Youth Football.
I checked out your website this morning after a long hiatus. Your book on Freshman and JV football looks intriguing.
If this is at all like your Youth Book, it should be mandatory reading for Freshman and JV coaches.
Keep up the good work Jack.
Rick Groomes, Mpls. MN
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!
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.
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
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.
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!!!!
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!
Thank you for the great books on coaching youth football. I ran a wing T in high school and I wanted to used that for my son’s team, but I thought that it was "too" much for ages 8-9, so I purchased your book on the single wing offense and I was pleasantly suprised. I wanted to keep it simple for the boys and I got what I was looking for. We were able to post a 6-2 record and the boys (and myself) learned a great deal about football and we had a great time. The parent of my 2 star players (they have been playing pop warner since age 5) tells me that her two boys had learned more about the game than all previous years combined. Your books helped me to convey what I understood about the game to our team. We only ran 5-6 plays on offense - The wedge and wing reverse were our big gainers and the off - tackle and sweep were consistently productive. We only threw about 6 times all year. I made the hitch pass into a quick slant and it worked a few times. I also brought the flanker in as a short side wing back to help block when teams began to blitz from that side. I would also like to reitereate your thoughts on the snapper position to anyone who wants to implement this offense - The snappers need a lot of reps or it will cost you. It cost us 1 game late in the fourth quarter.
I also purchased your book on Coaching Youth Football Defense. We ran the 8-2-1 and we were dominant and aggressive because the kids understood their relatively simple assignments. If we were hurt by anything it was over aggression and over pursuit which cost us a few big plays that beat us. Parents from other teams were asking me before games to have my boys take it easy on them - Yeah Right...
To sum it all up - I could not have been more pleased with my first head coaching job. Thanks for the instruction in your books, they are by far some of the best that I have ever read. When I played ball in high school and college - in particular, high school - We had some great coaches and won 2 state titles. I credit much of what I know to them, but now I will have to add you to that list. I am looking forward to another great year in 2006!
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.
Orchard Park, NY Little Loop Football.
Yes you may quote me and on 12/22/2005 our team was awarded the second place trophy in their division.
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.
Curtis Baptist School
In your book you suggest that if a youth coach does not scout his opponent, then he should be fired for coaching malpractice. I agree!
After coaching high school football for 3 years, my job forced me to coach in the local football association. My first team was comprised of 7th and 8th graders, and we had 6 such teams. We also played other "traveling" games.
After our last game before the championship, I gave a 1 minute speech to the players, then bolted to the game in which our opponent for the championship was playing (the "blue" team). About 3 minutes before halftime, the blue team had the ball at midfield. The came out in a goofy formation: Wide out left, guard-center-guard as normal, and both tackles and the tight end lined up far wide on the right. The QB was in shotgun with a tailback behind him. Both backs were lined up behind the 3 players far right. Their opponent was confused and scrambling. The coach was both too dumb to not scout this team, and too dumb to call a quick time-out. When the ball was snapped the QB threw it out the halfback on the far right, and he followed his blockers for a 30 yard gain. Next play, same formation, the QB hits the wide out on the left with a slant, and he easily took it the distance.
Now in our championship game, we were clinging to a 1 point lead with 3 minutes remaining in the game. The blue team had the ball at about midfield. They break the huddle, and their players align in the goofy formation. Our guys instantly lined up with them perfectly. Their QB was now confused! He went to throw to the halfback, but saw our linebacker start to close in for the pick the other way. He then scrambled and was sacked for a loss. Next play was the goofy formation again. Our guys doubled the wide out and the pass was incomplete. We won the game. The blue team was dejected as their coach screamed at them, and our kids were very happy beating this very good team.
Here's the point. We didn't win because I'm a great coach or because my assistants were great coaches. We won because our staff hustled as much as our players. Tell these coaches to hustle and scout their opponents!
I was actually criticized for scouting that year with other coaches saying that "I took it way too seriously, and wanted the victory for myself." Well, I do take my coaching seriously, but there is not a better feeling in the world, than to see your players happy and excited following a game. Nobody cares who the coach is, and that's as it should be!!!!
“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. (www.scorpionfootball.homestead.com) Off to the playoffs we go,” Lee Perry
“Please let me start by saying thank you.
I am Josh Navis a 30 year old football coach. I have coached the 7th grade Waupun Warrior Football team for 5 years now. After 5 years I am just understanding the time and effort it takes to do it right. I have one book that I hold on too and read all year long and that is your book "Coaching Youth Football 2nd Edition". I got this book as a gift after my first year of coaching from a friend. It has turned out too be one of the best gifts I have ever received. Sometime after the new year I started reading it at work. I never put it down until I read it 4 times. Things I believed would work and wanted to try were spelled out there in black and white. The season could not come fast enough.
Since I did not play college football or was not the super star of my high school team I am blown off by the other coaches in the program as someone who does not know anything. Despite the fact that over the past 5 years the teams I have coached are 15 and 8. This includes my 1st year when I went 1 and 3 and hand no clue. In response too this I get too hear from the other coaches "well it's only 7th grade". I try to tell them that they have to learn how too teach the game to the kids not just instruct them on what they want them too do. But I am continually scoffed at.
When I played High school football we played an 40 stack defense. 4 linemen 4 line backers stacked over their respective linemen 2 corners and one safety. We all had a gap. Every year we had a good defense. It was the offense that struggled. Not knowing or explained to us that we were running a gap 8.
So In my 1st year coaching I had the kids play what the existing coach did for the previous 5 years. A 50 with 3 line backers. It failed terribly. Finally the week before our last game I put in the 40 stack defense with the line backer getting to pick his gap to cover on each play by tapping his lineman on the side he wanted him to go. They crashed their gaps and because of that defense we won the final game of the year.
It was that Christmas that I got your book and really started to believe that the gap 8 is the ONLY defense to have but I had to give the kids less to understand. Simple is better. It then lets them forget about the "play or job" and play more instinctively. So we really sharpened up the defense by defining each players roll, setting the right kids in the right positions, getting kids in shades on the line and getting them to penetration their gap before flowing to the ball could happened. 90% of our plays are a run read first for obvious reasons but we can and do place our backers in pass reads 1st in obvious passing downs.
Now 4 years into really knowing and understanding this defense I am proud to say that this year we are undefeated in 4 games and have out scored our opponents 110 to 8.
This was only accomplished by implementing the gap 8 defense and then reading on how to make it work. The tackling drills you suggested and other blocking suggestions you made in the book have made our program one that kids want too play. I thank you for giving me the backing and the belief that what I was doing was the right thing and how to make it even better. Every year I learn something new.
My problem is that the Varsity coaches do not believe the same thing I do, the simpler the better. They have almost 70 different offensive plays and the defense is a 40 but it does not give a gap responsibility to the line backers. The kids get defensive plays that seem to make them forget they have to make plays. This is so frustrating to watch these kids that I know are winners and have won at every level until there varsity days and no changes or suggestion seem to change the ways of the coaches.
I write this to you because I wanted you to know your words have reached more then you would know. And the positive things that have happened to me and the program is night and day to what was happening. Gap 8 not only works but dominates games if run right. That is the team huddle cheer we end every time out and quarter with "1-2-3 DOMINATE!"
I will continue to use an 8 man gap defense no matter what level I coach. I know it works and at least with your book I have some backing to help me prove my point if they don't want to believe my stats. Thank you for your time.” Sincerely,
Josh Navis, 7th Grade Warrior Football Coach
“Hey Coach, Wanted to drop you a note of thanks. I got your book on G-A-M Defense and used it as a base to run my 10-1. I also run Coach Wyatt's double wing. After 7 games (8 & 9yr olds) we have allowed net (-10yds) and have gained over 2000 yards rushing. I visited your site before the season and took some of the good advise you have to offer. Our practices consist of blocking 10 minutes of blocking drills and 10 minutes of tackling drills, the rest of the time is spent getting as many reps in on our plays as possible. Following your advise, no stupid drills like last year. It shows with our execution on both sides of the ball. The 10-1 is great for this age kids. I am lucky to have 22 great kids. I have 11 kids on 1st O and 11 different kids on 1st D. Through my first 6 games, at the half, 1st O becomes second D and plays the rest of the game on D and visa versa. Also on your advise, got all my opponents on tape at the jamboree. Just wanted to say thanks.” Stuart Whitener, Huntsville Alabama
“We gave up 6 points all season and no completions. We were undefeated, even though we were the B team in a town that stacked the A team with the best talent. We beat everybody including the A team. We used your 10-1 defense and the single wing with the spinning fullback. Every one of my players scored a toucdown during the season.” David Jacobs, Austin area
“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.”
“Coach Reed, Saturday 9/8/01 was our first game. In fact it was the first game of my Associations existence. The team we were playing was the 2nd place team last year. I was a little uneasy because only 1 of my players had ever been in pads before this season. We are a 7-8 and 9 year old level with no weight restrictions. I have players from 75lbs. to 160lbs. I asked prior to the game if we could putcoaches on the field, and the opposing coach laughed at me. I expressed my feeling that the game was for the kids not us, so he let me on the field.
They won the toss and deferred to us so we chose to receive. They did exactly what you said they would and kicked it to one of my deep backs who proceeded to run it right up the middle, untouched for a TD. We ran the GAM defense and did only fair with it. They scored 3 TD's on us all outside, and as you predicted in your book the D-ends did not contain. (Needless to say that is the focal point of our Defensive practice this week). There 3 TD's were O.K. as far as the outcome of the game was considered. Let me tell you why. I am running the single wing - Direct snap to the Tail back that stands about 4 yards back. My #1 Tail back ran the ball 6 times for 203yards and 5 TD's all on the same sweep play always to the friendly sideline. You can tell by the yards that they were big TD's. We also run No huddle no snap count. Thank you very much for showing me the common sense side of youth football. Watching the other team be confused about lining up etc... was crazy. By the way, by the end of the 2nd quarter I had pulled out my best to players on both sides of the ball. I also got off the field. This is when they scored their TD's. They also had 3 coaches on the field starting the 3rd quarter. Now I was laughing. The final score was higher than I wanted (39-26), but my 2nd and 3rd string did the best they could, and are learning more and more each day.
Against your advice I put together a coaching staff of 7. I only ended up with one coach who did not agree with my schemes. You can bet your bottom dollar he's a believer now.”
Again Thank You,
Lee Perry, Scorpion Football President/Coach
Please go to part 2