Zone Running Plays at the Youth Football Level

 Zone Running Plays in Youth Football

Coach Demiko is the Head Coach & Offensive Coordinator for the  UM Gators Jr Pee Wee team. The UM Gators play in the American Youth Football League.  Coach Demiko has had much success with these zone running plays.  Here is an excellent article breaking down his inside and outside zone running plays. 

Some inside zone from the #spreadoffense. #football #hsfootball #fridaynightlights

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Effective Zone Running 

The Problem

  1. How can we create running lanes with or without a superior OL?
  2. How can we help young (inexperienced) RB’s get to daylight?

The Solution

  1. Zone Blocking (Double teams at the point of attack).
  2. Providing the Runner with a Key to Bang/Bend/Bounce.

What exactly is Zone Blocking?

  • Zone Blocking is the concept of blocking the play-side half of a defender in a designated area (Zone).
  • The Primary responsibility is the Down Lineman (DLM).
  • The Secondary responsibility is the 2nd level defender (LB, Safety, Overhang player).

Defining the Zone

  • Have your Linemen extend their left arms to 10 o’clock and their right arms to 2 o’clock. This is ‘the Zone’.

Zone Blocking Rules

  1. Covered= There is a DLM in ‘the Zone’. Block his playside number.
    1. If there are defenders in both gaps, block the playside defender. Help will come from adjacent lineman.
  2. Uncovered= There is no DLM in ‘the Zone’. Step play-side (close gap) and climb to the second level looking for defenders moving towards the play-side.


  • Horizontal: 1 Foot splits (Younger players have a tendency to bunch. Do not over coach the splits. The defense will bunch as well).
  • Vertical: OL hands should be aligned with the Centers belt. (Again, do not over coach this. As players mature, this will solve itself).

Hole Numbering

We do not number the Gaps between linemen. This is an important distinction for the ball carriers. The holes are numbered OVER the linemen. The Hole is meant to provide an aiming point for the ball carrier. Coaching point: Instruct the ball carrier to run to the Lineman’s numbers. Always run to his backside. If he turns in, run out. If he turns out, run in.

Stance & Holes


Aiming Points

  • Inside Zone
    • P.O.A: 1 & 2 Holes.
    • Bend: 0 Hole.
    • Bounce: Daylight.
  • Outside Zone
    • P.O.A: 7 & 8 Holes.
    • Bend: 5,6 Holes.

Goals for Zone Runs

  • Inside Zone: 3 yards per attempt.
  • Outside Zone: 5 yards per attempt.


Inside Zone vs 44 Stack 

Inside Zone Running Plays

Outside Zone  vs 44 Stack Defense

Outside Zone Play

Outside & Inside Zone Running Plays vs 44 Stack ( 3 man coverage)

Zone Read Play

Here are some of Coach Demiko’s highlights: 

Follow Coach Demiko on Twitter:  @CoachDSuggs

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