The Secret To Beating Teams More Athletic Than Your Team In Junior Football


Playing in space is the key term.

We’re not talking about playing football on the moon, zero gravity would force us all to rethink the game a bit.

“In Space” means playing with the distance between your players and the other team. If your team is bigger and more athletic and can handle the other players individually, you want space, he’s your friend.

However, if you don’t have bigger and better athletes than the other team, space is your enemy.

Playing “In Space” means exactly what it says, putting your players with space between them and the opposition. If your team is made up of faster, taller and sportier kids, they will dominate in one-on-one matches. That’s why you see teams with a lot of big, fast receivers doing very well in ‘extended’ offenses where they isolate weaker defenders very broadly from those dominant receivers, of course you have to have a QB that can run it in these cases. If that stud catcher can just get the ball “in space” he will have a scoring chance in most cases.

On the other hand, most youth football teams don’t have the player who really dominates the league. Most of us are fortunate enough to only have an average group of kids and some of us will have this weird group of kids who are just smaller and less athletic than the teams we face. In these cases, you want to have as little space as possible between your children and the opposition.

Just think about your tackle drills, when you perform a tackle drill up close, say a 1-yard square box, most of your kids, even non-athletic ones, can often do the tackle. But turn that tackle drill into a 20-yard, 20-yard square field tackle, how many of your less athletic kids can now tackle in that drill? The same is true for blocking; very athletic children can create blocks “in space” that less athletic children cannot.

Less athletic teams almost always perform better if they tighten their division, double the block, and shoot to have an overwhelming number at the point of attack. Less athletic teams need to perform traps and other close-range running games like wedge in order to keep more sports teams at bay. Less athletic teams need to do a lot of wrong steering to get the defense out of play, while they are doing it between tackles. The kryptonite spinner series to the supermen of these squads. There are just a few games that MAKE NO SENSE against teams like this, sweeps, back passes, deep backhands, those will be negative distance games.

The good news is that with single-wing offense, less athletic teams can compete with very athletic teams. Often referred to as “phone booth football,” spinners and traps keep very athletic teams from rushing to your base games. Double team blocks, corners, and traction give your team advantages at the point of attack, so even smaller or weaker linemen can be successful. Tight divisions, wrong directions and line shooters help even very middle backs make big numbers with this attack.

In 2002 we had a very medium sized back named J.A. with medium speed. For our 8-10 year old team he weighed 81 pounds and when we ran our evaluation races he was about 6th out of 25 kids. J.A. was a very obedient player, he was a patient runner, he always kept his legs moving and was always looking for an opening, but nothing special. In 2002 he played Fullback for us and only played 2 pieces that year, wedge and trap. He scored 31 touchdowns for us on FB wedge games alone, sure enough we had a really weak backfield that year and he got a lot of runs. If we had had the spinner series it would have done even better.

As for beating bigger or more athletic teams: In 2003, my 8-10 year old Omaha team was undefeated in the league and had some very conspicuous numbers. We scored at will, went 11-0 and won our league game 46-12 after leading 46-0 in the third quarter. We then beat two league champions from other leagues between the ages of 11 and 12. In 2004, I started a new program in rural Nebraska in an area where the existing youth program had won about 4 to 5 games in total in 5 years before I came here. The first year there we had all the rookies except 2-3 dropouts from the other team in town. We only had one player over 100 pounds aged 8-10. Slowly but surely we got better every week and at the end of the seasons we started to look pretty good. We played a really big, fast Lincoln team that year, the Salvation Army. They hadn’t lost a game in 3 years, we were overcrowded, oversized and had less speed, but we beat them biting our fingernails with just one touchdown en route to an 11-0 season.

Our biggest win in an extreme upgrade with in 2005 against the Omaha Select Black. This 8-10 year old team chose from over 150 children, had at least 5 children over 150 pounds and had not lost in 3 years in the “selective” Omaha league. It was a very aggressive downtown team with a lot of speed and confidence. I also only had the 25 country kids that showed up, not cups or caps and lots of young kids on it. To make a long story short, we had this team by 4 TDS in the first half and could have named the score. Needless to say, the team, their parents and our parents for that matter were shocked. The good thing is that with this attack you can compete with anyone, the bad news is that once you do, it’s hard to get the most out of league games. Big downtown teams like the North Omaha Boys Club won’t even play us on their field, embarrassing to get beaten by much smaller, slower teams, they turned me down twice in the past. Last 2 years for extra games we both had open dates at the end of seasons.

The Single Wing offers some flexibility if you have that stud player you want to isolate “in space”. We added the mesh series in 2005 to accommodate a player that we thought it would make sense to put “in space”. When we faced weaker opponents the mesh series worked great, no one could handle our stud. When we played against equal or lesser competition, we had to go back to our tightly divided basic attack to move the ball consistently.

Source by Dave Cisar


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