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Defensive Responsibilities

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We run two basic defenses. Safety rush or LB rush. Both zones. On LB rush all line up on 7 YL. I am wondering if I start to talk about responsibilities beyond flag pulling and swarming. I try to avoid letting a RB get outside my corners. Other then that, I don't do much else to do. Do you coach responsibilities? If so what do you coach for each position? C LB S? Any suggestions would be very welcome.



6-7 YO

My team has 7 boys

5 v 5

7 yard rush

no QB run

no blocking

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We try to keep it very simple on defense (we play 8v8/8-9year olds).

The only "responsibilities" I teach them are first and foremost to ALWAYS watch the ball before the play starts. Once they are set on defense, a cardinal rule is to simply stare at the ball. It usually takes a full game for them to learn this---but typically the instant I say, "Eyes on the ball, gentleman." they get it. If there is a shift in offensive formation, I will move the player(s) accordingly.

I then teach them once the QB gets the ball (remember they are following the ball with their eyes the whole time), that he will do one of two things: pass or hand-off. If they see the hand-off, most everyone is to swarm to the ball. The only exceptions are the corners and safety. The corners are to "stay home" in the event is to the outside. If they see the ball going up the middle, they are to swarm at that point.

If it is a pass, they are to drop-back in coverage and simply watch where the ball is going and get to it. Most QBs at this age will bird-dog their receiver, so I let their instincts take over. So the rule is to stay home until you are SURE where the ball is going. I had a few players last season (that were really good) whom I just let run wherever.

My only other big rule is that the safety is not to let ANYONE behind him. I found out last year this can be hard---at least for our safety to happens to be my son. ;-) Early on, once he would see a hand-off, he would charge right up the middle. Now he's learned (learning) to take the angle.

There were often times he let receivers slip past him because he "thought" the QB was going to another receiver. After driving home the importance of not letting anyone past him he's done better. I told him the only time he is to knock the ball down should be if it is in front of him. He struggled a bit last season because he wants to be very aggressive, but he's also disciplined, which is why I keep him there.

This season I've let someone else take the defense. Maybe he'll come up with a better plan for us this year. Our defense was fairly stout last season, but there is always room for improvement.

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I have two suggestions. One: teach your corners to use the sideline as a defender (like basketball). Put a foot on the line to force the runner back inside at all times. We had trouble with the sidelines early; then drilled them on using the line. If there foot was not on the line we had them do it again until it was second nature. Two: when we do our flag pulling drill we teach the defense to run to the back (before the back can get to them) and we use pylons to mark a halfway point; once there the idea is to "break them down". (I use another basketball analogy here) It's like a defensive slide technique. We tried to teach them to run hard; then get low and wide, focusing their eyes on the mid-section and flags. It was effective once they got past their fear of being trucked. Once a runner trips over a kids legs getting wide, they slow down and the battle is won.

Hope it helps.

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