Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Youth Football Plays And Formations - The 4-4 Defense

The 4-4 Defense is one of the most basic defensive formations known to football. When choosing youth football plays and formations, it is very important to keep things as simple as possible. This formation is a perfect place to start, to get children to understand the basic defensive concepts.

The 4-4 Defense is a formation that is built for speed. Most Youth football leagues (that I know of) have weight requirements; therefore, there will be a lot more speed on the field than there will be size and strength.

Since most offensive youth football plays rely on the run, by stacking 8 defenders in the box (the imaginary box around the line of scrimmage), the defense will be in great position to stop just about any run play!

The Linebackers

With only 3 Defensive Backs (2 corner-backs and a safety), it is important to have smart, athletic linebackers in the 4-4 defense.

  • Middle Linebackers

    Most of the time, middle linebackers are responsible for stopping the run between the gaps (the space between both tackles, and between the tackles and ends). If you can teach your middle linebackers how to read the offensive guards (explained in a future post), this will become a very easy task (as long as they have solid tackling skills).

    It is also a good idea to assign a strong side and a weak side middle linebacker. The strong side linebacker will line up on the strong side of the defense (usually the side where the tight end is at). The weak side line backer will line up opposite to him, and will have slightly more responsibilities.

  • Outside Linebackers

    On a youth football team, this may be one of the most difficult positions (in the 4-4 defense). The outside linebackers must have great speed to cover half-backs and sometimes wide receivers, but also must have a nose for stopping sweeps, tosses, and other outside runs. As with the middle linebackers, strong side and weak side outside linebackers should also be assigned.

Defensive Line

  • Tackles

    Size is usually very important when it comes to playing the defensive tackle position; however, because of the youth football rules about maximum weight, this becomes almost impossible.

    The good news is, the other team also follows those rules. If you can teach solid techniques (covered in a later post), size will not be much of a factor.

    The main goal of a defensive tackle is to attack the line of scrimmage. Using size, strength, and technique, they should push their blocker's into the backfield, while looking for any runs that may come their way.

  • Ends

    The defensive ends are usually big and fast. Look for the tall players on your team, and try to plug them into this position.

    Defensive ends are very valuable to a 4-4 defense. They can be dropped back into coverage, used to contain (penetrate to the outside of the offensive line, to prevent runs from getting outside), or angled inside, putting a lot of stress on the interior offensive line.

    Defensive Backfield

  • Corner-back

    The corner-back position requires speed that will allow the player to cover quick and athletic wide receivers. Usually, when a kid wants to be a wide receiver, but does not posses the hands that a receiver needs, they will fit in good at the corner-back position.

    In youth football, plays are not usually geared towards the pass, but the ability to cover the other team one-on-one, drop into a zone coverage, and tackle are very important for corner-backs.

  • Safety

    To play the safety position, a player must posses a lot of the same skills as an outside linebacker, except they should be a lot quicker.

    In a 4-4 Defense, the safety is either in dropped into a zone, covering the deep middle of the field, covering an extra receiver one-on-one, or blitzing. Also, moving the safety around can be a very useful tool to confuse the offense (including their coach).

Next Up: Youth Football Plays- To Blitz Or Not To Blitz- That is the question!


Admin said...

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Football Drills for Kids