Coaching Tips for Defense

Coaching Tips for Defense-Football Position Techniques

There is an old saying “Defense Wins Championships”! It is certainly true. Having a great defense comes down to three components- (1) solid defensive line play (2) pursuit to the ball and (3) sure tackling. If your defense does those three things well, you will be in great shape.

Defensive Line 

If you control the line of scrimmage, you will control the game. Every dominate defense always starts with a dominate defensive line.  Anchoring gaps, getting penetration, block destruction, and containing the edge are all vital aspect of a dominate defensive line. There is nothing more demoralizing for an offense than trying to block a dominate defensive line.

  • Great stance-It all starts with a good defensive linemen stance. Firing off on ball movement is imperative.
  • Staying low and launching- The low man usually wins. Always make sure your D-linemen play with leverage. It is also important that your D-linemen jolt the offensive linemen.
  • Squeezing-This will prevent any vertical space, voided gaps, and will eliminate cut back alleys for running backs.
  • Get off the Blocks (block destruction)-defensive linemen must be able to get off blocks.

(See Also) Guide for Coaching the Defensive Line 

(See Also) 10 Fundamentals of Defensive Line Play


I formation Playbook

The # 1 priority of linebackers is to stop the run game. You want to have you linebackers at 4 yards deep and have them play downhill. Your linebackers have to be master block shredders and tacklers. This is an aggressive position. Linebackers are also responsible for pass coverage. Linebackers must have a good nose for finding the football. In addition, they have to be able to read keys and just flat out hustle to the ball carrier.

(See Guide) Coaching the Linebackers 

(See Drill) Tap the Hip Linebacker Drill 

(See Also) Linebacker Read Drills


Parker Allen Tackling

You should do a mix of form tackling and live tackling throughout the practice week. We will form tackle (non-live) every single practice. If is important that you teach the proper tackling technique before you go into live tackling. Utilize form tackling, tackling dummies, tackling sleds, and live tackling during the practice week.

Proper Form Tackling:

  1. Good-ready stance hitting position.
  2. Keep the head up to avoid injury-always see what you are hitting.
  3. Drive through ball carrier’s midsection with your shoulder pads- not your helmet.
  4. Head has to be up- head placement needs to be across the body.
  5. Sink your hips and sky your eyes (should look like a power cling exercise).
  6. Wrap up.
  7. Grab cloth (jersey).
  8. Wide base– drive ball carrier to the ground- do not stop feet. Run through the ball carrier.
  9.  Tip – Coach your players on taking good angles to the ball, keeping their head up, sinking their hips, and running though the ball carrier. Remember, head across the ball carrier’s body.

(See Technique) How to Tackle with Proper Technique

(See Technique) Open Field Tackling Technique and Drills

(See Technique)  The Strip Drill- Forcing Turnovers

Block Destruction 

Youth Football Run Blocking

Block destruction is probably one of the most under practiced techniques. On every play, pretty much every defender on the field will be required to beat a block. When I say beat a block, I mean destruction the block. Teach your players to destruction (rip through) the block, rather than ‘go around’ the block. Block destruction needs to be practiced every single practice. The success of your defense depends entirely on your defense’s ability to beat blocks.

(See Technique) Teaching the Rip Move for Block Destruction 

Defensive Alignment

Youth Football defense

Defense all starts with proper alignment. YOU CANNOT ALLOW THE OFFENSE TO OUTNUMBER OR OUT FLANK YOU ON ANY SIDE. It is all about numbers advantage. If they have 7 guys to the left, you better have 7 defenders to the defense’s over there. Match numbers-mirror the offense.

Scouting the offense you are facing is very important. You can learn your opponent’s tendencies, formations, players, and play calling from the film. Knowing what is coming will allow you to practice against it during the practice week. Knowing how your opponent is going to attack you will help you prepare your kids.

Bend but don’t break. Do not give up the big play! Great defenses tackle well and do not give up big plays. Make the offense earn every single yard. It is hard for an offense to go 10+ plays without making a mistake. Make the offense go the field-good tackling, pursuit to the football and proper alignment are the foundations of a great youth football defense.

(See Also) Utilizing the Pursuit Drill 

Defensive Backs 


Man to man is the most commonly used pass coverage in youth football. Man to man coverage is easy to teach and works fairly well in youth football. But, play action, slants, and combination routes are man to man killers. It is hard for a linebacker when they reads run in the backfield, then have to recover and cover a tight-end or slot player that goes out for a pass. We play cover 3 zone most of the time. We will mix in some cover 2 and very little man to man coverage (sometimes in goal-line situations).

(See Also) Cover 4 in Youth Football 

(See Also) Cover 3 Zone in Youth Football  

(See Also) Cover 2 Zone in Youth Football

(See Also)  Man to Man Coverage Techniques and Tips

(See Also) Press Coverage Technique | Bump & Run Coverage