Coaching Youth Football Defense Responsibilities

By FirstDown PlayBook on Jul 1, 2024
The #1 Tool for Youth Football & pop Warner Coaches

What is often lost in the mix when it comes to coaching defensive football is that communication matters on this side of the ball too. You can’t coach defensive football without assigning alignments and responsibilities. When coaching a youth football defense at the Pop Warner level, gaps and techniques help you get this done.

Let’s break it down so you will not only understand it but you will also be able to teach it. Most of you will be coaching 11 man football. If you are coaching a modified version of our game, you will see common sense adjustments you can make to what we teach here.

Teaching Your Youth Football Defense Gap Responsibility

By definition, a gap is that area between the offensive linemen. As you can see in the diagram, the gap between the Center and Guards is the A gap. The B gap is between the Guards and Tackles and so on. This is all basic stuff right? It is pretty universal in football, regardless of what level you coach.

Why is it important? Defensive assignment and responsibility is designated by which defender is responsible for each gap. A lot of Pop Warner coaches just assume the ball is snapped and everyone on defense finds the ball and pursues it. That is important and might work once in awhile. However, you are asking for a big play if that is all you teach your youth football defense.

Defensive Gaps

The second part of this formula is what we call defensive techniques. When we say “techniques” here, we are not referring to taking the proper step etc. We are talking about a system that allows you to communicate what offensive player your defenders are going to line up on. It is also a system that tells them to line up inside, outside or head up on that defender.

Defensive Line Techniques

There is a numbering system that starts directly over the Center. If the defensive lineman lines up head up on the Center that is labeled as a “0” technique. Lining up head up on the Guard is a 2 technique and so forth. You will also notice that outside alignments are labeled with odd numbers. So if a defensive lineman lined up on the outside of the offensive Tackle, that would be a 5 technique.

The other thing that you will see is that when your defender lines up on the inside of the offensive lineman, then it is call a 2I or a 4I. The “I” stands for inside. This system tells your defensive linemen exactly what gap is to be defended and where to line up.

This Video Explains How You Put This Together To Teach Your Youth Football Defense

Now before you watch this short video that puts all of this together for you. please understand this. This blog and video are designed to help you with a system for coaching youth football responsibilities. After you teach your players where to line up and what gap they are defending, then you begin teaching how to get this done with the fundamentals for each position. FirstDown PlayBook can help you with this too.

Lou Ford Youth Football