Where Should I Put My Best Players on Defense - Coaching Pop Warner Football
The first part of your coaching year will begin with placing the correct kids in the right positions. Putting the best players in the right positions takes many seasons of experience and can vary depending on the skill level you are working with.
I receive many questions, from across the country from veteran and rookie coaches on a variety of topics. Where to place your kids in their defensive positions is our current topic.
I will answer the question later, but first here is the question. Please remember that the answer I give is my opinion, baseed on my experiences. I describe what has worked for me in the past. It is by no means the only answer, but as far as I am concerned it is the most correct answer based on the question asked and the schemes I use.
A coach from Alabama has sent us the following inquiry:
Where should I put my best players on defense when coaching Youth Football? Should I play him at linebacker or at defensive end? I am coaching a 7 and 8 year old team.
Should I put my best 2 kids at linebacker or at defensive end on defense. In most games there is a maximum of only two passing attempts... I forgot to mention that defensively, we have to play heads up on the offensive lineman. No nose tackle, etc.
When coaching such a young age group level, there is no real passing threat you need to worry yourself with. Some coaches will chuck it deep and see if they can out run your secondary, but if you have a disciplined safety that should not be a big concern.
Pick your defensive scheme, based on your players, then assign positions. Many defenses, including the base 5-3 defense needs to have strong defensive ends. You will be placing your better players in this position. The defensive end has outside run responsibility and your best player should be able to stop the outside sweeps and turn the running back into the middle of your defense.
The safties are critical in the 3-4 defense and I place two of my best players here. In the 3-4 we run our safeties have both outside run containment responsibilities as well as inside gap responsibilities like a linebacker. There responsibilities vary depending on the stunts, blitzes or slants we are running on that particular play.
To review, assignment of your best players on defense will depend on a few factors. The age of your team, the skill level and defensive scheme you use all must be taken into consideration.
Jim Oddo has been coaching youth football, ages 4-14, for over 23 years. Find over 400 FREE tips and great articles on every aspect of youth football at http://footballplaybooks.info. In addition to coaching tips, there is a wealth of information regarding Youth Football Playbooks.