Goal Line Defense in Youth Football

The heart of Goal Line Defense is an attitude that no matter the circumstances the offense will not cross the goal line. This attitude is a belief that must be developed and nurtured in a team. This can be done in a variety of ways but it’s important that each player knows they have a critical role in defending the goal line and that without all 11 players fulfilling their responsibility the defense will not be able to stop the offense.

Goal Line Defense in Youth Football 

Defensive Linemen must move forward. In a Goal Line setting there will almost always be some sort of double team on the down linemen. It’s critical that the linemen do not move backwards. They must fight the double team and cause piles that force the ball carrier to bounce the ball to the outside. By forcing the runners to go to the outside the linebackers have a better chance to scrape and make a play.

Defensive Line

There are a variety of ways that defenders can beat a double team but the universal principle is that the defensive line must play with a low pad level. This starts with the stance of the lineman. On the goal line most teams have one gap linemen (meaning each lineman is responsible for only one gap). This means that in their stance they can put more pressure on their hand to let them move forward more quickly. This will allow them to get a better jump and defeat the initial push of the offensive players.

One of the most popular offensive plays on the goal line is the QB Sneak. In order to successfully defend the goal line it’s critical that the defense stops this run. There are two possible ways to do this. One is to put a nose guard directly in front of the Center and have him bear crawl through the Center’s legs. When done properly this eliminates any push from the Center and forces the QB to find a secondary gap to sneak through. The downside of this is that the Nose Guard, beyond stopping any momentum from the Center, is essentially worthless and will not be making any tackles. The other option is to have two defenders line up in either A gap and control that gap. Again there are strengths and weaknesses to this strategy. The strength is that these two defenders should be able to dominate the A gap and force the Center back. The downside is that because these players are lined up in gaps they are more susceptible to double teams.

(See Also) 10 Fundamentals of Defensive Line Play

63 Goal Line Defense
63 Goal Line Defense


Playing linebacker on the goal line can be a difficult task. It’s important (and difficult) to manage how aggressively they should come downhill.  Linebackers must play back a little bit so they can let the play develop and have a chance to get to the hole without having to run around defensive linemen. At the same time they can’t play too far back since they must make the tackle before the runner reaches the End Zone.

How far back each linebacker starts depends on the defensive system that your team is running. Some teams will look to cover all of the gaps and just have one linebacker behind the linemen. In these situations the linebacker should play a bit further off the line so that he can scrape to either side and fill the gap on any off tackle runs. As a general rule teams that have two linebackers should have their linebackers a little closer to the LOS.

(See Also) Coaching Linebackers

Defensive Backs 

Playing Defensive Backs at the Goal Line is something that all great DBs love. In these situations it is almost always a press coverage where the offense will attempt to isolate their best receiver on a DB. From a competitive aspect DBs must learn to love the challenge that this presents.

In press coverage the DB should look to take away any inside route. By taking away any inside route he forces the offense to throw the ball through him which gives him a chance to make the play. There are a variety of ways to play press coverage and there isn’t enough time in this article to go through those but the main concept is to force the receiver to run outside by harassing any inside release.

(See Also) Man to Man Coverage Technique

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