am not sure if this email will ever find its way to you, but I wanted to say how much I enjoy your insights on life, coaching and business. I coached youth football and baseball for 8 years (my son is a sophomore now) and I loved your coaching books and recommended them to many guys coming up that I mentored. Sadly, some parents in my affluent area ”just didn’t get it” and it was a source of encouragement and confirmation that I wasn’t out of line expecting discipline, teamwork and allocating playing time based on merit. Not only did I learn a lot from your books, but it was a pleasure reading the no-nonsense way you delivered the message (maybe that’s my military upbringing). I especially enjoyed the way you described how some coaches miss-assess talent and quoted those pages countless times to other coaches that were new to youth football. Now that I am done coaching it is gratifying to see my Pop Warner kids thriving in high school and the way they light up and say “hi Coach” every time I see them. I am toying with the idea of coaching at the high school level some day when I have more time and will be sure to purchase your books on that subject if I decide to take the leap.
Needles to say, I am going to purchase Succeeding, read it, and then give it to my 15 year old son as a gift for Christmas.
John, we are 8-1 for the regular season going into the playoffs first seed, we scored 209 , only allowed 33 points [using the GAM].
David H. Whitt from Facebook
Your books on football coaching are fantastic. I've had them for 5 years now and still learn things each time they're read. Great antidote to the nonsense that passes as coaching these days. Thanks!
I am a first year coach and your books have been a huge asset to me and have given me much confidence. When I googled youth football, I saw your article on the 10 most common mistakes that youth football coaches make and realized that I would have made 7 of the 10. I read your other articles and then ordered your books (everything but the clock management so far). Thank you very much for the energy that you have put into your work. You have had a big impact on all of the parents and kids on my team.
Ive purchase three of your coaching books. Which, by the way, are the most useful coaching books for Pop Warner coaching Ive ever read. Devon Price
I am not trying to be a "kiss ass" but, you are the best. Not only have I learned coaching techniques from you, I've learned communication skills as well.
My boy got a full ride to play football in college. What he learned in 8 years I coached him in youth league came out of the John Reed books. I did everything, exactly, how you instructed. He played at the highest level of High School football, and still to this day says our youth league practices were better organized.
I will pass your "Full Scrimmage" lesson on to all of our coaches.
Take care and God Bless,
A couple years ago I bought your books and installed your offense and defense. We did not immediately win the championship, but I stayed with it. Last season, I was asked to coach an all-rookie, 5th grade team in my league as they had a boost in enrollment and were in desperate need of a coach who was dumb enough to take over a team of kids that the other coaches did not claim.
We lost every game against vastly more experienced and talented teams BUT, with patience and attention to detail and realistic expectations and goal setting, and encouragement and still more patience we began to move the ball, then we started to score, and then we became competitive in games.
This year, 15 of 17 kids came back and in our second game, on the third play from scrimmage, our tailback went 75 yards for a touchdown running unbalanced left, off tackle. We won 37-12. Then we played a HUGE team the following week and put the game away with a 17 play, 70 yard drive. Our 65-lb tailback had 40 carries! We won this past weekend against a 4-1 team with ball control in the ice and rain. Their under-center offense yielded them 8 fumbles. We had only 2. Their bad exchanges and our 1/1, 45 yards, 1 TD passing day was the difference in the 14-12 win.
Our opponents refuse to respect the unbalanced line even when we run "power" 35 times in a game! They always over-play the wedge once we rattle off a 20 yarder on the opening drive. Our "jump pass" to the weak end is never covered as they often put 10 in the box on us. We even added a "double wing" style pulling guard to your offense to really seal off the LB pursuit.
Our GAM defense is improving dramatically each week as we get more confident and more aggressive. We have had some breakdowns when QBs scramble and on trick plays and passes to 5'10" 11 year old TEs, but the 20-yard sacks and the complete destruction of our opponent's blast and sweep plays more than make up for it. It's great fun.
Coach, we are now 4-2 and with a win we'll be in the playoffs! We've already blown out a team that beat us 40-12 last year. Several coaches have remarked that we run an "unsophisticated" and "simple" offense that is somehow beneath the standards of [our league]. I tell them they are absolutely right and that I run it because I am a dumb coach. One coach who sneered at us has not scored in 5 games! Go figure. Anyway, I recommend your books to everyone I know who is not in our league!
There is no way I can express for you the joy these kids and I experience when we knock off these bigger, faster, more experienced teams with ball-control offense and play-making defense. Coaching enables me to stay involved with the sport I love and the life lessons we learn about teamwork and effort and attention to detail are immeasurable.
Thanks again for writing your books!
Troy Grice (6th grade, Division 3)
Thanks Jack I've purchased 7 or 8 of your great books and refer to them often. Football for real dummy's made easy thanks!!! for making me look great and know, REALLY KNOW what I'm doing!
I am writing this e-mail just to say that I have found that the philosophies and schemes outlined in your football books DO work. I have coached youth football for 11 years. I own all of your football books, and everything you have written is practical and applicable at the youth level. I have not necessarily followed everything verbatim as you outline it in your various books, but sometimes I have tweaked things here and there to fit our personnel. We have never won a championship, but we have been to the playoffs every year except one, and that year we had 14 first year players on a squad of 28. Our teams have beaten vastly athletically superior teams many times over the years. I think that you are 100% accurate in your analysis of the capabilities and limitations of the typical youth football team. I look forward to the next book you publish.
I just finished reading your Coaching youth football & coaching youth football defense. I loved both books. I have dozens of word documents with drills, notes & information. I would make it manditory reading for all coaches in my association if I could. I'd make it mandatory for ALL football coaches
except that then, there may no be a winner if everyone follows your suggestions.
Again, thank you so much.
Used your defensive system last year, went 7-1 (from a previous 0-7 season). Such common sense, it's remarkably refreshing and effective. Thanks John.
Brian C. Costa
Just an update, The mimosa mustangs are 6-0 thanks in large part to your philosophy on coaching youth football. We have won all of our games by a combined score of 139 to 25. We run your version of the 8-2-1 defense and have shut out 3 opponents this year and have only allowed four touchdowns all season in 24 quarters of play, and have held 3 of our 6 opponents to 0 or negative yardage for the game. The most yards we have given up in one game is 98 yards. We also run your warp speed no huddle. With that we have achieved a dominant 4 to 1 play differential, average 40 plays a game compared to our oppoents running 15 offensive plays a game. They can't score if they don't have the ball. Our football team has had drives of 15, 8 and 10 plays several times this season. I have never seen a youth team sustain a 15 play drive ever, until this year, thanks to the warp speed no huddle. Also, we run the single wing offense, and have owned not only time of possesion but yardage wise we avearage 250 to 300 rushing a game. Now, we do have some pretty good talent, but if we were running the I formation or the wishbone or any other conventional offense, I doubt we would put up those kinds of numbers. We have had 8 different players score touchdowns this season. Furthomore, what has contributed to our time of possesion dominance and our offensive play dominance is the fact that we kick on sides every time, and for the season we have recovered 62% of our on sides kicks. We recovered 6 out of 6 on sides kicks in one game this season and recover at least two a game. The funny thing is, we don't even get cute with it. We don't care if the opponent knows where we are kicking it, we pretty much tell them where we are kicking it, and they still can't stop it! The ball bounces really funny when it isn't perfectly round, and this approach is just devestating to the opposition. We have seen as much as 10 guys on the front line of the return team and still recovered the kick. More defensive notes, we have had 32 pass attempts against us this season, they have completed two, and we have intercepted 9. The rest have fallen to the turf for an incompletion, due to the 8-2-1 man to man pass coverage. Just wanted to thank you for your books! I see that you have a book on coaching youth baseball, I can't wait to buy that in the coming months, maybe santa will bring it to me for christmas! Thanks again Jack, your a youth football genius!
I purchased your books on the single wing offense, youth defense and GAM 3 seasons ago. I would like to provide this third installment to my yearly updates. We just finished our 2007 season with a 7-1 record. Although we did not pile up the points like we did last year, we were still effective. I must add that we did move up a division this year and faced much better competition. I coached 8-9 yr olds the first two years and this year we had the 10-11 yr olds. We averaged over 20pts per game with a season high of 48, and did so using only 4-5 plays from a playbook of 12 in each contest. The wedge was a consistent gainer but it did not go for big yardage but 2-3 times. The off tackle was our bread and butter and most of our points came from it. The wing reverse was only effective when defenses shifted somewhat to our unbalanced line. At times we shifted to a balanced line and ran the off tackle to either side. The first time we did this, the play went for 40 yards or so and a TD. We were also able to pass a little more using the sprint pass and a flanker streak. However; I switched the run sprint pass receiver most of the time. The long end and WB would run this route or the flanker would run a Q route. The main reason for this was the BB's inability to get out in the flats fast enough. We threw for touchdowns and extra points and a few 3rd down conversions. I did tweak your version of the single wing occasionally to spread the defense and then ran the wedge and a TB dive with consistent success against defenses that stacked the line of scrimmage to stop our power running plays. One of the greatest aspects of the single wing is BALL CONTROL. The other team cannot score without the ball. Most of our scoring drives were at least 5-6 plays and several were more than 11 plays. I plan on passing a little more next year and maybe doing some more tweaking, but the information in your books have been outstanding and everything that we have done has been a direct result of the principles and tactics that you have taught me through them.
Defensively we were OUTSTANDING with the GAM. Of our seven wins, 5 of them were shut outs and most of the teams we played ended up with negative yardage. The only difficulty we had was with a team that ran a spread offense. They were not able to effectively throw against us but we did give up chunks of yardage when we really needed a defensive stop. I must admit that part of the problem with this particular game was too much coaching the week prior - that will never happen again. Teach them their responsibilities, line em up and let em play. All but one of the teams that we played did not even come close to being able to handle the pressure that our boys applied play after play. Disciplined Defensive ends, aggressive linebackers, athletic corners and MLB/safety and tenacious lineman are too much for almost any offense to overcome.
Over the past 3 seasons, I have built our teams around our defense and relied on the tried and proven single wing to propel us to victory. These systems are easy to teach, troubleshoot and the kids love it. Our teams have a 21-3 record which includes 1 undefeated championship season and two second place finishes.
Thanks for your contribution to our football success!
Coach Al Johnson
Some positive feedback for your tackling drill. A friend of mine is using your book in coaching his son's 5th grade team. He said he's never had a tackling drill that worked so well as yours. The boys actually stayed within the four cones, maintained half speed until impact, kept their head in the right place and followed through. He was just giddy telling me about it this morning. My buddy (coworker) is a former Mankato State football player--one of the MN state colleges. He's a teddy bear of a guy. Loves coaching Youth Football.
I checked out your website this morning after a long hiatus. Your book on Freshman and JV football looks intriguing.
If this is at all like your Youth Book, it should be mandatory reading for Freshman and JV coaches.
Keep up the good work Jack.
Rick Groomes, Mpls. MN
Jack, we talked about 10 years ago, My dad and I were coaching a youth football team in Radcliff Kentucky. We have read all of your books, and currently implement your 8-2-1 defense. We are currently coaching together in New Orleans La, and are 3-0, and are allowing on average 4 points a game through three games on defense, and curently we average right around 30 points a game on offense, with the single wing. I just wanted to catch up with you, and let you know you have had a huge impact on my coaching philosophy, we basically have copied everything that you do, with good success! By the Way we have recovered 5 out out 9 onside kicks!! Everyone around the league asks me "Why do you kick onsides so much?"...I feel like saying, are you watching? If you watch our game you will see why!! 5 out of 9!
I am in the middle of re-reading each of your football books (for the third time by the way) this off season. I wanted to say “thank you” one more time. You absolutely saved me as a clueless rookie coach and last year, my 2nd season as a coach; our 3rd and 4th grade team went 12-0 (10-0 officially since a couple were pre-season scrimmages we set up as coaches) easily winning the championship. The team we beat in the championship had not lost in the previous 3 seasons and had averaged over 35 points a game all year. We shut their offense out and scored 4 touchdowns of our own. In a very competitive league, 7 of our 10 games the “mercy rule” went into effect. My minimum play players (we had a very large roster, so I have a bunch of them) were able to see as much or more game time than my starters because of that. That made us heroes to the parents of the younger kids. Needless to say, we had a blast and we can’t wait for the 2007 season to begin.
Coach Thayne Harrison
Coach, I haven’t e-mailed you in about three years, so I thought I'd give you an update on where we’re at. About three years ago my son asked me to coach again, this time on his staff. He had just taken over a group of kids that over the previous three years had a combined winning % of .321, were giving up in excess of 30 points a game, had never made the playoffs, and were the laughing stock of our Pop Warner Conference. My son asked if I would be the D coordinator. I immediately began looking for information about solid run D as I had noticed watching my Grandson play the previous three years that nobody passed much. I found your site, read your books on the GAM, coaching youth football D, and clock management.
During the first year I e-mailed you with a problem we were having with the off tackle play. We were 0-3 at that point and giving up 33 points a game. Your response, which I might add was the best thing that could off happened, was, “you’re not coaching it right.”
We went back to work, fixed things, and turned our season around. I’m happy to tell you that since that point we have pretty much mirrored your philosophy on organization of practices, to repetition of everything we do, and we have reaped many rewards. These same kids have complied over the last three years a combined wining % of .727, made the playoffs all three years, made one Championship-game appearance, they give up right around 9 points a game, have created 68 turnovers, and are 6 - 0 in post-season bowl games. I wanted to send this to let you know you were right we weren't teaching the system right, and to say thank you for your help, and the great books. Thanks Coach..
Rod E. Sorenson
Just finished a 9-0 regular season and am headed into the playoffs using your modified single wing offense and gap air mirror defense. Last year I went 8-1 using the same systems, but they get better as I get to know them more and learn to innovate. People think I'm a football genius.
I know I'm just smart enough to know I need help and to find where to get it. Great work on your books!
[subsequent email] It got better. We won the league championship with a record of 12-0. The single wing offense averaged 34 points per game, even given a rule that we switch out the starting backfield when ahead by 24. The gap air mirror defense held our opponents to an average of 7 points per game. In the championship game, our blocking back (my son) broke his arm and couldn't throw. However, we had scouted the opponent's 4-4 defense and every player knew who to block for the off tackle, so we easily ground out an 18-8 victory on the ground. The kids are close knit and confident, and all of them are going on to try to play the best sport in the world in high school. I'm particularly gratified because last year, when our team went 8-1, I tried telling the other coaches that my offense didn't have a quarterback, and they laughed at me. Now they're asking me for advice.
Thanks for your help.
I was the defense coach for a 5 & 6 grade Grid Kids team. We used your defensive principles, adjusted for our rules, and crushed teams defensively. Great Defense!!!!
This is my first year coaching the kids, junior football 11-13 in Western Wa. I have been on staff at the high school for 2 years now working with the freshman football team. When the head coach of my sons junior team asked me to do defense, i put in our high school 40' defense and it got us 4 wins and 4 losses, 6th seed in playoffs.
I put in your 10-1 defense in 1 day, day before our game and our kids were excited about playing the 3 seed, and were confident. I know 1 day is tough for kids to learn a new system, but the basics were easy;
the opponent plays a wing t with one fullback, wings on ends, one te, and one w/o. I put 3 corners in to jam wings and w/o on los, and had my athletic end on their tight end jamming him on line. They were told to jam as long as possible then release if they got by into man coverage. 4 lineman stayed in gaps rushing hard, two tackles spying qb hips, and two ends spying fb hips. We put in two stingers on each side, controlled rush to outside shoulder of fb, and if they see wing release hard outside they jam in. One middle lb, our best athlete spied fb all game. It was great, we won 8-0 with a saftey and td (missed xpoint)
they got 2 first downs all day and rushed for maybe 15 yds and passed for 20 yds (one pass which was 1 first down).
On to round 2!
Thank you for the great books on coaching youth football. I ran a wing T in high school and I wanted to used that for my son’s team, but I thought that it was "too" much for ages 8-9, so I purchased your book on the single wing offense and I was pleasantly suprised. I wanted to keep it simple for the boys and I got what I was looking for. We were able to post a 6-2 record and the boys (and myself) learned a great deal about football and we had a great time. The parent of my 2 star players (they have been playing pop warner since age 5) tells me that her two boys had learned more about the game than all previous years combined. Your books helped me to convey what I understood about the game to our team. We only ran 5-6 plays on offense - The wedge and wing reverse were our big gainers and the off - tackle and sweep were consistently productive. We only threw about 6 times all year. I made the hitch pass into a quick slant and it worked a few times. I also brought the flanker in as a short side wing back to help block when teams began to blitz from that side. I would also like to reitereate your thoughts on the snapper position to anyone who wants to implement this offense - The snappers need a lot of reps or it will cost you. It cost us 1 game late in the fourth quarter.
I also purchased your book on Coaching Youth Football Defense. We ran the 8-2-1 and we were dominant and aggressive because the kids understood their relatively simple assignments. If we were hurt by anything it was over aggression and over pursuit which cost us a few big plays that beat us. Parents from other teams were asking me before games to have my boys take it easy on them - Yeah Right...
To sum it all up - I could not have been more pleased with my first head coaching job. Thanks for the instruction in your books, they are by far some of the best that I have ever read. When I played ball in high school and college - in particular, high school - We had some great coaches and won 2 state titles. I credit much of what I know to them, but now I will have to add you to that list. I am looking forward to another great year in 2006!
Dear Mr. Reed:
I have been coaching youth football for five years and in 2004 I took over as head coach of a team that went 1-8 in the previous season. I had high hopes of turning the program around for 2004. Well, with all my good intentions our team had the identical record as in 2003. I felt I did a disservice to those youngsters who came out for the team to learn something about football and what it meant to be part of a team. I vowed that I would take some pro-active steps so we would not repeat the same mistakes as in the previous seasons. I attended coaching clinics, spoke with other coaches and read some books. Two of the books I read were "Coaching Youth Football and Gap, Air, Mirror Defense. We finished with a 9-1 regular season record and lost the semi-final play off game to the team that went on to win the championship. We finished first in scoring and our defense did not give up a rushing touch down until our seventh game against the other team that went on to play in the championship game. One of the first things I remember from your books was the comment, "If anyone is running a 5-3 defense in youth football does not know what he is doing". That person was me. We went to GAM defense, rehearsed our offensive plays against various defensive formations so everyone knew who to block and had great success. There were many things to be proud of from the 2005 season. In 2004 one of our starting running backs had only one touch down. In 2005, our second string back field, 4 separate players, accounted for 7 TDs. Our league requires that every player have at least 5 plays in a game and we carry a 40 player roster. I believe having a well organized, clear and simple program was the key to our success. Your books were instrumental in creating our program and formulating our game plans. Incidentally, I had our assistant coaches read the same books, they were a great group of guys that all bought in the program and enjoyed their various roles.
Orchard Park, NY Little Loop Football.
Yes you may quote me and on 12/22/2005 our team was awarded the second place trophy in their division.
Anyway, thanks for the advice. I used it successfully. Our opponents dressed 41 players to our 15. They were bigger and just as fast. But, we won the game 36 14.
Curtis Baptist School
In your book you suggest that if a youth coach does not scout his opponent, then he should be fired for coaching malpractice. I agree!
After coaching high school football for 3 years, my job forced me to coach in the local football association. My first team was comprised of 7th and 8th graders, and we had 6 such teams. We also played other "traveling" games.
After our last game before the championship, I gave a 1 minute speech to the players, then bolted to the game in which our opponent for the championship was playing (the "blue" team). About 3 minutes before halftime, the blue team had the ball at midfield. The came out in a goofy formation: Wide out left, guard-center-guard as normal, and both tackles and the tight end lined up far wide on the right. The QB was in shotgun with a tailback behind him. Both backs were lined up behind the 3 players far right. Their opponent was confused and scrambling. The coach was both too dumb to not scout this team, and too dumb to call a quick time-out. When the ball was snapped the QB threw it out the halfback on the far right, and he followed his blockers for a 30 yard gain. Next play, same formation, the QB hits the wide out on the left with a slant, and he easily took it the distance.
Now in our championship game, we were clinging to a 1 point lead with 3 minutes remaining in the game. The blue team had the ball at about midfield. They break the huddle, and their players align in the goofy formation. Our guys instantly lined up with them perfectly. Their QB was now confused! He went to throw to the halfback, but saw our linebacker start to close in for the pick the other way. He then scrambled and was sacked for a loss. Next play was the goofy formation again. Our guys doubled the wide out and the pass was incomplete. We won the game. The blue team was dejected as their coach screamed at them, and our kids were very happy beating this very good team.
Here's the point. We didn't win because I'm a great coach or because my assistants were great coaches. We won because our staff hustled as much as our players. Tell these coaches to hustle and scout their opponents!
I was actually criticized for scouting that year with other coaches saying that "I took it way too seriously, and wanted the victory for myself." Well, I do take my coaching seriously, but there is not a better feeling in the world, than to see your players happy and excited following a game. Nobody cares who the coach is, and that's as it should be!!!!
Long letter from Coach Steve Conrad, Rome, GA
John, I have written you several times this season to give you updates of how your book has done in Texas on the field. I started the season off with 20 players, 19 of which had never played football. I knew that it might be a long season. It was a long season. Every week wondering if the next game would be our first.
First loss that is. We went 10-0. 2 games better than the next best team in the league. We followed most of your book right down to making scouting a priority. We ran the Single wing and averaged 40 points per game. My tail back alone had 45 TD in 10 games. The Gap-Air-Mirror held opponents to 11 points per game. In the last game of the regular season, scored every way possible; a safety, interception for a TD, and a fumble recovery that we scooped up and ran in for a TD.
By about the mid season point, folks tried scouting us. I noticed at the beginning of ea. game how they would stack their defense to the strong side. Of course, we ran the reverse or the blast play to avoid that mess. They tried every thing to stop us. They couldn't. 5 of our 10 games ended in the 3rd quarter because we had 35 points or more on them. One team
even quit at half time. That game I started my #3 Tailback. After every offensive play we have, the opposing coaches come running out onto the field to pick up their players who stayed down. They simply get tired and just can't get up again. The no huddle-silent snap count just takes the wind out of the other teams.
NOTE to readers: Make sure you tell The referees that you run a silent snap count. We raise our leg to signal to the Center that the tailback is ready. The reason we tell the ref's is because the other team will start jumping offsides on the leg raise. We play NCAA rules so that means encroachment on the defense.
Since the season has started I purchased your Single wing book and will begin instituting it as soon as the 2002 season starts up. My single wing is a little different than yours. We play by NCAA rules so I do not use a possum I use the split end as a "NASTY". If the D-end lines up inside of the nasty split then we run the sweep if he lines up on the outside we run the off-tackle. Anyway we crack back on the D-end on the sweep if he lines up inside. He usually does not line up there again. Nor does he come across the line very fast any more.
John thank you. Your book has given me the confidence to be firm with what I am doing as a head coach. In turn it has given my players the confidence to go out onto the field and do their jobs. It makes it more FUN for the players.
I attached a team photo for you. (www.scorpionfootball.homestead.com) Off to the playoffs we go, Lee Perry
Please let me start by saying thank you.
I am Josh Navis a 30 year old football coach. I have coached the 7th grade Waupun Warrior Football team for 5 years now. After 5 years I am just understanding the time and effort it takes to do it right. I have one book that I hold on too and read all year long and that is your book "Coaching Youth Football 2nd Edition". I got this book as a gift after my first year of coaching from a friend. It has turned out too be one of the best gifts I have ever received. Sometime after the new year I started reading it at work. I never put it down until I read it 4 times. Things I believed would work and wanted to try were spelled out there in black and white. The season could not come fast enough.
Since I did not play college football or was not the super star of my high school team I am blown off by the other coaches in the program as someone who does not know anything. Despite the fact that over the past 5 years the teams I have coached are 15 and 8. This includes my 1st year when I went 1 and 3 and hand no clue. In response too this I get too hear from the other coaches "well it's only 7th grade". I try to tell them that they have to learn how too teach the game to the kids not just instruct them on what they want them too do. But I am continually scoffed at.
When I played High school football we played an 40 stack defense. 4 linemen 4 line backers stacked over their respective linemen 2 corners and one safety. We all had a gap. Every year we had a good defense. It was the offense that struggled. Not knowing or explained to us that we were running a gap 8.
So In my 1st year coaching I had the kids play what the existing coach did for the previous 5 years. A 50 with 3 line backers. It failed terribly. Finally the week before our last game I put in the 40 stack defense with the line backer getting to pick his gap to cover on each play by tapping his lineman on the side he wanted him to go. They crashed their gaps and because of that defense we won the final game of the year.
It was that Christmas that I got your book and really started to believe that the gap 8 is the ONLY defense to have but I had to give the kids less to understand. Simple is better. It then lets them forget about the "play or job" and play more instinctively. So we really sharpened up the defense by defining each players roll, setting the right kids in the right positions, getting kids in shades on the line and getting them to penetration their gap before flowing to the ball could happened. 90% of our plays are a run read first for obvious reasons but we can and do place our backers in pass reads 1st in obvious passing downs.
Now 4 years into really knowing and understanding this defense I am proud to say that this year we are undefeated in 4 games and have out scored our opponents 110 to 8.
This was only accomplished by implementing the gap 8 defense and then reading on how to make it work. The tackling drills you suggested and other blocking suggestions you made in the book have made our program one that kids want too play. I thank you for giving me the backing and the belief that what I was doing was the right thing and how to make it even better. Every year I learn something new.
My problem is that the Varsity coaches do not believe the same thing I do, the simpler the better. They have almost 70 different offensive plays and the defense is a 40 but it does not give a gap responsibility to the line backers. The kids get defensive plays that seem to make them forget they have to make plays. This is so frustrating to watch these kids that I know are winners and have won at every level until there varsity days and no changes or suggestion seem to change the ways of the coaches.
I write this to you because I wanted you to know your words have reached more then you would know. And the positive things that have happened to me and the program is night and day to what was happening. Gap 8 not only works but dominates games if run right. That is the team huddle cheer we end every time out and quarter with "1-2-3 DOMINATE!"
I will continue to use an 8 man gap defense no matter what level I coach. I know it works and at least with your book I have some backing to help me prove my point if they don't want to believe my stats. Thank you for your time. Sincerely,
Josh Navis, 7th Grade Warrior Football Coach
Hey Coach, Wanted to drop you a note of thanks. I got your book on G-A-M Defense and used it as a base to run my 10-1. I also run Coach Wyatt's double wing. After 7 games (8 & 9yr olds) we have allowed net (-10yds) and have gained over 2000 yards rushing. I visited your site before the season and took some of the good advise you have to offer. Our practices consist of blocking 10 minutes of blocking drills and 10 minutes of tackling drills, the rest of the time is spent getting as many reps in on our plays as possible. Following your advise, no stupid drills like last year. It shows with our execution on both sides of the ball. The 10-1 is great for this age kids. I am lucky to have 22 great kids. I have 11 kids on 1st O and 11 different kids on 1st D. Through my first 6 games, at the half, 1st O becomes second D and plays the rest of the game on D and visa versa. Also on your advise, got all my opponents on tape at the jamboree. Just wanted to say thanks. Stuart Whitener, Huntsville Alabama
We gave up 6 points all season and no completions. We were undefeated, even though we were the B team in a town that stacked the A team with the best talent. We beat everybody including the A team. We used your 10-1 defense and the single wing with the spinning fullback. Every one of my players scored a toucdown during the season. David Jacobs, Austin area
Hello Coach Reed,
Update # 2. Us 2, Opponents 0. Quite a defensive struggle. Here is a break down. They stopped us, we stopped them, for most of the game. They punted 4 times, we blocked 2 of them. We didn't punt the whole game. They kicked off to us deep to start the game. We onside kicked to them at the start of the second half, we recovered. The last play of the 3rd quarter we blocked their punt, we recovered right there ~ on the 30 yard line. It was blocked so hard that the ball just went dead right off his foot. Their punter just got creamed.
We got inside the 10 yard line but stalled. I told my defensive team, "We need a defensive score right now". Their first play was a 5 step drop back pass, our defensive LG was all over their QB for a 8 yard loss. Their second play was a sprint out to their left, our right, our right DE grabbed the QB with the defensive RT backing him up for the SAFETY!!!!!!! WOW, POW, SHAZZAM!!!!. They kicked off to us, we drove down to the 1 inch line, then got called for a holding penalty. Backed us up, then ran 3 more plays which ended the game.
I think they tried to pass about 10 times during the game. They only got one pass off and it went incomplete, it was real close to a lateral. For those people that think this defense is weak against the pass, THEY JUST DON'T GET IT!!!!!!
Thanks again for everything. Your stuff is making us look and play great.
P.S. the other team was running a 5-4 defense.
P.S.S. I couldn't believe that the other team was so un-ready for our onside kick. The kid that was closest to the ball kind of backed off and let it go. Even if he was in the know we would have gotten it because there was such a big "G" there. We practice kicking it to our left all the time, our opponents right. We like to use the extra man (Mr. Sideline). But in both games we kicked to our right, opponents left. Seems you are right again because it just so happens to be the side of the field that is furthest away from their sideline and when their coaches yell at them, the kids can't hear a word of it.
Coach Reed, Saturday 9/8/01 was our first game. In fact it was the first game of my Associations existence. The team we were playing was the 2nd place team last year. I was a little uneasy because only 1 of my players had ever been in pads before this season. We are a 7-8 and 9 year old level with no weight restrictions. I have players from 75lbs. to 160lbs. I asked prior to the game if we could putcoaches on the field, and the opposing coach laughed at me. I expressed my feeling that the game was for the kids not us, so he let me on the field.
They won the toss and deferred to us so we chose to receive. They did exactly what you said they would and kicked it to one of my deep backs who proceeded to run it right up the middle, untouched for a TD. We ran the GAM defense and did only fair with it. They scored 3 TD's on us all outside, and as you predicted in your book the D-ends did not contain. (Needless to say that is the focal point of our Defensive practice this week). There 3 TD's were O.K. as far as the outcome of the game was considered. Let me tell you why. I am running the single wing - Direct snap to the Tail back that stands about 4 yards back. My #1 Tail back ran the ball 6 times for 203yards and 5 TD's all on the same sweep play always to the friendly sideline. You can tell by the yards that they were big TD's. We also run No huddle no snap count. Thank you very much for showing me the common sense side of youth football. Watching the other team be confused about lining up etc... was crazy. By the way, by the end of the 2nd quarter I had pulled out my best to players on both sides of the ball. I also got off the field. This is when they scored their TD's. They also had 3 coaches on the field starting the 3rd quarter. Now I was laughing. The final score was higher than I wanted (39-26), but my 2nd and 3rd string did the best they could, and are learning more and more each day.
Against your advice I put together a coaching staff of 7. I only ended up with one coach who did not agree with my schemes. You can bet your bottom dollar he's a believer now.
Again Thank You,
Lee Perry, Scorpion Football President/Coach
Dear Mr. Reed,I just thought I'd drop you a line and let you know how our 1st game of the season went. Well, today was our first game of the season and we won 34-0. This was due in large part to you and your books; "Coaching Youth Football, 2nd Ed", "Coaching Youth Football, 3rd Ed", "Coaching Youth Football Defense", and of course the GAM. We recovered 3 out of 5 onsides kicks-the other 2 were just fallen on by the receiving team. (Our parents used to HATE the way we kicked. But, when you recover your own kick more than 50% of the time...They shut up real fast.) They kicked it off to us deep after the half and (with the help of a brilliant block) we ran it back for a touchdown.
About that block: My son Bob is a very good lead blocker (very valuable in youth football, as you know) and after the
game he came up to Coach Cox and said, "Thank you for telling me to yell at the other guy before I hit him. I didn't want to clip so I yelled HEY KID! He turned around and I blasted him!" In turn, that player took out two more when he fell and we scored a touchdown.
The reason Coach Dave told him to do that was because in our preseason scrimmage, Bob blocked a kid pursuing our ball carrier, and it was pretty close to being a clip. Dave pulled him aside and told him that from now on just yell at the kid and when he turns, POW! All of this, I might add, is straight from your book.
I should also mention that they only had ONE 1st down all game. That came on a penalty against one of our minimum play players who was playing one of our interior lineman. We used to get hassled about our defense too-"It's too vulnerable against the pass!" Well, they tried about a half dozen and only one was completed for a gain of about 2-3 yards. The rest were useless, either being batted down or thrown away. No one complained after the game.
Thanks for your advice. Thought you might appreciate the feedback.
Kevin P. Drennen
I own your book coaching youth football and it is by far the best I have read, their is not a close second. Your book is really the only source I use for my team. Last year I took over an A team that had lost all games and only scored one touchdown the previous year and the 5th graders coming up from the B team didn't score at all. I implemented as much of your defense as I could ( our rules only allow us to have 6 on the line of scrimmage) and we went 7-0 only giving up 4 tds all year and three of those were broken plays with my subs in the game. Our offense ave. 23 points a game running basically running 5 plays all year out of a split back and double wing formation. Our defense was so could and the kids so smart we actually for fun ran a spread offense, lonesome polecat, and shotgun just for fun. By the way are biggest kid was our running back at 110lbs. We had by far the smallest team in the league with about a average of 80lbs for 5th & 6th graders. Sorry for the long winded letter, but your teaching in your book was mainly responsible for the teams turnaround. What a defense!! keep it simple, Craig Bridges
Hey Coach Reed,
Last year our 8-10 year old team used your defense and went undefeated. We went one four game stretch in which we gave up a total of 2 first downs. I'm a believer. Mal Parrish
I wanted to let you know about some things that happened this last weekend. I think you'll be excited about this. As you know, when I came from Alaska and was stationed in Petaluma, I ended up a short distance away from Tomales High, which runs the Double Wing offense I had decided to use (on your recommendation).
Well, along with becoming the defensive backs and running backs coach, I was given the task of "Tackling
Coach," because I had a clear-cut system. Gee, I wonder where I got that, huh?
Anyway, the meat of this story is that this last weekend we held a three day contact camp at our school. We had six high schools from all over Northern California there, and not one of the schools was in our division. (We are a SMAAAAAALL school.) I think we aquitted ourselves admirably.
Here's the best part. The format for the camp was a two hour practice followed by two 1/2 hour scrimmages. Then lunch, then another two hour practice and a final set of scrimmages. We did this for three days.
Friday was the first day I installed my tackling drills, which could have been xeroxed from your book. We used the landing pads, emphasized lift, and went at 1/2 speed. In our scrimmages Friday we missed a couple tackles, and I went ballistic each time, making the high-volume point that missed tackles are NOT allowed on this defense. I cut off the responses from the players by using another of your lines, "Sir, no excuse, sir."
Saturday, there was a marked improvement. We used the tackling system (I call it "Ten Minutes of Happy Time With Coach Wade".) for both practices, and our final scrimmages of the day we missed three tackles, total.
Sunday we scrimmaged all six of the teams in 45 minute blocks. We beat each of them at least once over the three days, but Sunday we REALLY laid on the hammer. We missed ONE tackle all day. ONE! Even better was the third string free safety, who was starting because of our lack of personnel (besides, he needed the reps). He was the kid that missed the first tackle, but he made up for it in our final game, when Santa Rosa completed a slant pass over the middle.
Coach, he laid that kid OUT! It was just like the form tackle you described in CYFB 3ed. I was forty yards away on top of the press box filming and I heard the POP! (actually more of a KAPOW!!!) when his shoulder pad hit the receiver's thigh. He wrapped, picked the guy up, and slammed him about eight feet backwards. That tackle fired up the defense so much that we didn't let them cross the line of scrimmage for the rest of the period.
My head coach went ballistic. Apparently he's been trying to get this kid to tackle correctly for three years, and I did it in three days with your system. I had coaches from three different high schools come up and ask us how we got our kids to make such improvement in our tackling so fast.
All I can say is, if we got this good in three days, what are we going to be like after the season starts?
You know, high school coaches could learn a lot from reading your books a couple of times. My head coach
has already asked to borrow my copy.
For the past month I've been preparing for our Fall 2001 Season. Every year I review just about everything you've published to refresh my memory and recharge the batteries. I just read your article on Rookie Coaches and could not agree with you more.
Last year we observed the most atrocious coaching I've seen in a long time, particularly our last regular season game. Keep in mind both teams had equal amount of time to prepare for the season and equal amount of game experience prior to our game. We scored 26 points in the first quarter. It took them four attempts to run their first play from scrimmage. One delay of game penalty, two illegal motion penalties. This continued throughout the entire game. The coaches were screaming at the players just as you described. We allowed no first downs. They had one positive gain on offense. Our parents were visibly upset with the opposing coaches and threatened us if we ever treated our kids the way our opponents treated their kids.
My rookie season was not as a coach but as a parent watching other coaches attempting to simulate football. I was disgusted with what I saw and decided it was time to get involved in coaching. I bought your books and studies them closely for a year before my rookie coaching debut. Result was a 10-1 season. Lost in the League semi-final. Second year we won the League championship.
This is my third year coaching and I see no reason to change my pre-season ritual. It always starts with knowledge form John Reed, and I thank you. Brant Ruder
I am a youth football coach in Walpole, MA. Last year was my first year for the 8-9-10 year olds. Although I played high school and college football, I had been out of the game for 20 years.
I read your Coaching Youth Football (1st edition--a fellow coach, John Reidy from Walpole let me read his copy) and your Coaching Youth Defense books. Both books were outstanding. I was particularly impressed with the offensive scheme. I adopted the single wing and had terrific success (went 7-1, only loss was to Boston 25-19, they ran back a kickoff with under 2 minutes to play). By the way, Boston had lost only one game in seven years at
the E-level Pop Warner (8-9-10 year olds). By the way, Boston had lost only one game in seven years at
the E-level Pop Warner (8-9-10 year olds).Before the season, one of my coaches from the previous regime (previously a head coach) called me crazy and resigned because of the offensive scheme. Well, we showed them..... Our goal was to score 3 TD's per game since we did not want to embarrass anyone. We averaged 20 points per game. Up until the Boston game, we only had one TD scored against us.
Gary W. Whittemore
11 Tanglewood Road
East Walpole, MA 02032
781-828-5400 x225 (Work Phone)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Work E-Mail)
I have been coaching Youth Football for 9 seasons. My teams have had some success (we were league champs in 1996), but over the last couple of years, our win total had diminished. I had a feeling that some of the problem was the fact that we were using the same offense for a couple of years (Wishbone) and everyone had game tape on us (We are not allowed to scout, but are allowed to tape our own games). I have been an assistant coach for all of my 9 seasons and have had trouble trying to convince others, that changing our stale offense was a good idea. This past season, I moved up an age group (10 and 11 year olds). The head coach on that team was a defensive coach. He said that I could do whatever I wanted on offense. I had been reading your books since 1997, but was never given the green light before, to implement any of your ideas. I decided to use the Wing-T this past season. I also decided to use the all game no huddle that you talked about in the 1st version of your Coaching Youth Football book (That took some selling).
In our first game, while running our no huddle, we actually got called for 2 delay of game penalties. The kids were wandering around and not looking for the board (I used the Magna Doodle, which you discussed in your Clock Management book). We ended up winning the 1st game 12-0 despite our poor no huddle performance.
By the second week, we looked like a completely different football team. The no huddle was clicking and we rolled up 22 first half points. We ended up playing subs for the entire second half.
Our third game, started much like the second. We rolled up 2 quick touchdowns and went on to win the game 20 -0. Several weeks later we ran into the coaches from the opposing team. They said that we had them reeling the entire first half using the no huddle style. He also informed me, that our team had run 73 offensive plays that game.
At seasons end, we had outscored our opponents 172-30 and came in second in our league at 6-1-1. We had 20 kids on our roster, many of whom played both ways. Fatigue was never a problem.
I wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge about the youth game with others. Your material has helped me to become a better coach. You have also inspired me to read something other than Sports Illustrated.
I have always liked the idea of using the GAM defense (10-1 from your old book). In 1997, I actually got the head coach to try it for the last 3 weeks of the season, since we were getting smoked every week anyway. It definitely stopped the bleeding. I was not able to convince him to use it the next season. I suspect, if we had used it from day one in 1997, we would have had a much better season. - Jim Lochner
I have read your coaching youth defense. I have used your coaching ideas in both football and baseball, and have good success. Russ Bill, Pitman, NJ
YOUR BOOKS ARE THE BEST, MY TEAMS HAVE HAVE WON 2 CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THE LAST 3 YEARS WITH THE 10-1.
THANKS COACH KAREY
I wrote to you at the start of the season, letting you know that I used your books last year (1999) as a guide. I was Head Defensive Coach and the team went 8-3. This year I became Head Coach and again used your books and philosophies as a guide - especially defensively. I happy to report that the team went 10-0 and won the County Championship! We only give up 24 points all year (and 6 of those were on a kick return). We ran a 10-1 or 8-3 80% of the time. All year, we could hear teams that were scouting us saying it would be easy to run on us and even easier to pass. I had a good group of kids who believed in our defense. We drilled our linemen to cover their gaps first, then find the ball. Our linebackers aggressively attacked the offensive ends, keeping them on the line and stopping the off-tackle plays. Our ends stayed home. Our cornerbacks would string the wide plays out (on the few occasions the play got outside our ends) to the sidelines. Our 'safety' played parallel the whole season, anywhere from 5 -10 yards off the ball. We posted 7 shutouts. The kids took pride in the defense. Offensively, we scored 250 points. I had an Offensive Head Coach who did a great job, but he'll stay down next year, whereas I'll move up to the next weight class. I look forward to putting a lot of your offense philosophies in place next year when I take a stab at running an offense (now that the defense is in place!). Once again - a big thank you. Your philosophies just make sense to me coaching at this level. An 18-3 record the past two years provide the proof! Skip Brown
In a word....SUCCESS.
I am an Assistant Coach / Offensive Coordinator for a 6 & 7 year old football team in the Gwinnett Football League (GFL) near Atlanta, GA. With a lot of resistance I insisted that we use the 10-1 and Gap-8. These defenses eventually lead to us winning the league championship.
Our head coach started the season with 4-4 defense. We were matched touchdown for touchdown in pre-season scrimmages. I encouraged him to try the 10-1 or Gap-8, but he felt we would get beat easily with the pass and run between the tackles. Basically, he was telling me, stick to offense and leave the defense to me.
During the first game of the season, in the first half, he stayed with the 4-4 and the opposing offense was having great success. I insisted we try the Gap-8. I drew it up quickly at the half and gave the basics to the players. With that alone we did not allow a first down in the second half. The following week of practice we implemented the Gap-8 into our game plan to include detailed verbiage on each players assignment. Here is the result:
1 L 8-13
2 W 25-0
3 W 36-6
4 W 34-7
5 W 28-6
6 W 34-7
7 W 26-6
8 W 26-0
9 W 48-6 Playoff Game 1
10 W 19-6 Playoff Game 2
11 W 26-0 Playoff Game 3
12 W 14-12 Championship
We allowed the other team to score in the first 8 games due to a league rule of not running up the score by more than 32 points. In the playoff games that same rule is thrown out. Most of the games we did not allow a first down. The other team scored on kickoff returns that again we allowed. Teams repeatedly attempted to pass on us with NO success. Absolutely none. We intercepted a few and some were incomplete. The majority of the pass attempts were stopped by sacking the QB. In the championship game the opposing offense had a back with blazing speed. He beat our end twice. In the second half we made the adjustments and did not allow a first down. Jack, if 6 & 7 year olds can have this much success with this defense, then anyone can.
I just wanted to pass on a testimonial that your Gap-8 and 10-1 works as advertised. Brant Ruder
We made the playoffs coach with a 5-2 record. The two losses both being a 0-6 score to undefeated teams. We face another undefeated team this Sunday in the first round of playoffs.
Of course we could not have done it without your teachings on the 10-1 and GAM. Only 1 drive throughout the first part of the season resulted in a TD. The only other scores were given up on ONE BIG PLAY each time. We have given up 18 pts. all year long.
I couldnt be prouder of my boys, but to give you some insight into how instrumental your teachings have been. The Gremlin team this year is made up of some kids from Gremlins and the Clinic teams from last year. Their combined record was 1-16-3 and were pretty much blown out of every game.
Thanks Coach. Bill Shine, South Valley Panthers, Van Nuys, CA.
I thought I would save this email until we were finished with our season. I am the Southern Marin Pop Warner Head Coach at the Pee Wee level. We, my assistant coaches and myself, purchased your book quite by accident in June of this year.
My previous experience as a Head Coach started 2 years earlier at the Junior Pee Wee level, where we went 2-6. It was a tough year I was a new coach and we had all new kids. Our second year we were on the build and ended 4-4. The tragedy was a great group of kids and inadequate coaching. We knew we needed a better mouse trap and went shopping the next year, before moving up with our kids.
I think as a whole your book was excellent. We built our practices around your structure and tended to quote it periodically as the book of John during practice.
Our first game was a little disappointing. We were smoked by Vacaville 26-0. They are hands down the best team at our level and should continue to Florida to the championship. Unfortunately, our best player failed to certify (older/lighter), he was one lb too heavy. This put my both my offense and defense in chaos. Another coaching error, I was not on top off the situation.
We regrouped, made some defensive changes and gave up only 6 points over the next 6 games. Our modified 8-3 gave up only one TD and scored several times during that stretch. We coached, drilled, scouted and used only one defense through out the year.
We finished our year 6-2, losing our final game to Vallejo on a last minute interception ran back for a TD. We had lost 2 key players to injury and our defense allowed one TD plus the interception.
Looking back, the single most important bit of information, that we all knew intellectually but never put into practice, was SCOUTING. We filmed every team and drilled on their offensive and defensive tendencies. We could no sooner imagine heading into a game blind, than going to work in your underwear. We surprised and appalled at the number of teams that never scouted us. Alhough, the time and energy it took was amazing.
I remember watching our current JPW team go through the same growing pains with a first year coach and no returning players. During a game one of my kids made the following comment, "Boy those Scouts really suck..." To which I replied, "Hey, that was our team 2 years ago, we had a lot of first year players." He turned and stopped me in my tracks with, "And you guys had absolutely no idea how to coach" All this time I thought the kids really didn't know the difference.
This year everyone noticed, the kids, the parents, our Southern Marin teams and more importantly the opposing teams. Thank you for contributing to a great season.
Southern Marin "Braves" PW
I am interested in ordering the following books, "Coaching Youth Football, 3rd ed.," and "Football Clock Management." I already have "Coaching Youth Football, 2nd ed." but your updates look well worth the purchase of the new edition. I also have your book, "Coaching Youth Football Defense, 2nd ed." I coach in Pop Warner at the Mighty Mite division (7, 8, and 9-year-olds).
Your books have been a huge help. I read them in anticipation of my first year as a Head Coach in little league football and have since compiled a 15-3 record, including an undefeated 8-0 season this year. Y'know, you are legendary amongst the youth league coaches on the net. I think your books are so helpful because it not a dry X and O treatise. You tell it like how it is in the real world. I also feel like I'm "hearing" you talk, and not like I'm reading a book. Anyway, the books have been a huge help. Thanks so much! Sincerely, Dave Potter, Head Coach, Durham Fighting Eagles, 2000 CFF Mighty Mite Football Champions
I bought your book "Coaching Youth Football" second edition last year (1999) and "Coaching Youth Football Defense" second edition this year (2000). Both are excellent books. They make sense. I plan to buy the third edition CYF and the new G-A-M Defense books very soon.
Last year (1999) the head coach for our Mighty Mite team (7-8-9 year olds) would not let us use the gap-air-mirror defense. He thought it was too vulnerable against the pass and break away runs up the middle, plus I think it was to unconventional for him. But, I was able to at least talk him into using the single wing offense for some of our plays. This worked especially well because most of the time our center was getting clobbered by a nose guard. Although, most of our success was due to the fact that our Q-back was very fast running the sweep, and for the most part, playing "tag" to score touchdowns. Our final record was 5-4-0. Not bad for a bunch of kids who never played tackle football before and a bunch of coaches who never coached little kids football before.
This year however, I am the Head coach for the Mighty Mites. A year wiser and able to implement your strategies. We only run the G-A-M defense. Works like a champ. We have had 3 shut outs so far this season and when we played a strong offensive team, the most points scored was 26. We played 3 teams that have been averaging 35-48 points a game. Of those games, we went 1-2. The scores being a 14-0 win, 12-26 loss, and 6-20 loss. After the games were over, the opposing coaches were in amazement and didn't have a clue what we were running defensively. In fact, one of the opposing coaches told me that he couldn't sleep for 2 nights in a row just thinking about it. This guy thought we were doing something illegal because sometimes there were 10 guys on the LOS. When my assistants wanted to change up the defense, say to a 4-4-3 or a 7 diamond, I would not let them. I said, "don't fix what ain't broke." Of course, after hearing what the opposing coaches were saying, I only had to say this once. As for being weak against the pass, the results are mostly in. We have had ~15 passes thrown against us this year. 3 passes were complete for a average gain of about 4-5 yards, 3 passes were intercepted by us, 4 passes were incomplete, and the rest have been QB sacks. The kids love it when the opposing teams try to pass. They just eat them up. We also coached the kids and practiced on how and when to pick up a fumble and when to fall on it. In doing that, we scored a touchdown when my kid picked up a fumble and ran it 45 yards for a TD (Head Coach was very pleased). Last year he would have just fallen on it. We also scored a safety this year for a total of 8 defensive points. Last year we didn't score defensively. Additionally, we held two teams to no first downs for the entire game. Next year, I plan to get someone to keep better statistics.
Our record so far this year is 5-2-1 with one game left. I predict a victory. We don't preach winning to the kids at this level because Mighty Mites is more of a training division and there are no playoffs, but the coaches and parents sure like it (winning). Thanks for writing and publishing these books. I recommend them to coaches that need some direction. I know I did. I played JH, HS, and College football and thought I knew a lot and I do, but I knew nothing about coaching little kids football.
P.S. Just one more thing I learned about little kids football without reading it in your book (found it in the book after the fact) and its kind of funny but needs immediate correction. A lot of times the offensive linemen make initial contact with their man, then turn around and want to watch the play. Most of the time the guy that they made initial contact with, makes the tackle in the backfield. I have told the kids that if they would sustain their blocks instead of turning around and watching, they can watch the RB run for a touchdown instead of watching them get tackled in the backfield. They like that idea and it seems to work most of the time now.
[Subsequent email] I also want to update you on the last game of the season. As I predicted, we won. 17-0. Our defense scored a touchdown by interception and we also scored another safety. That makes 16 points scored defensively this year. After talking to the head coach of the opposing team after the game, he informed us that their "star" running back almost gained 1000 yards this season. I think the coach thought he would get it against us. Well, we shut him down and the one and only first down they got the whole game was due to us jumping offside on a 4th and 4. In fact, the "star" was the kid that got caught in the end zone for the safety.
Anyway, we had a successful season at 6-2-1. Dave Cox
I have coached Pop Warner Pee Wee's for 5 years. When I first started I was, like all coaches, lost. I searched everywhere for info about coaching. I finally found your book on some web site and promptly ordered it. It was great but still not satisfied I called you and spoke to you about coaching youth football. We had a great conversation. We spoke about your son, my Navy career and, of course, football. You were very generous with your time and helpful concerning my new football team.
Anyway, my New Canaan, CT Bulldogs finished 6-1 this year and our first play-off game is this Saturday against the Danbury Trojan's who have, in the past, made it to Florida. Honestly, I am not using the single wing but more a knock-off of Coach Freeb's offense. http://jvm.com/coachfree/ However, my defensive coach does use your gap-8 and we have been VERY successful with it. We stop the run and absolutely love it when they throw! More importantly I learned the lesson that it's not how you block but knowing who to block that really counts. We spend a lot of time on the "freeze" in practice and make sure everyone knows who to get. Thanks. Donald S. Worthley
We won our game with the Seaside Raiders 20 - 13. Currently the Panthers are 3 - 1 for the season. The gap-8 is working great. I really like the way it stops the run, and the fact that the defensive line get in the backfeild quickly. John, thank you for the defesive help this year. Our first string defense has only allowed 6 points per game in our four games so far this year. We are half-way through our season at this ppoint and we have all ready played the real tough teams. Thank you for the Gap - 8. With best regards, Bill Jespersen, Carmel Panther Midgets
I am writing you to thank you for writing your Coaching Youth Football books. I have just finished coaching my first team of any kind, a Junior Pee Wee Pop Warner team, in Green Bay, WI. With your books as the backbone of my coaching strategy we compiled a very sucessful 5-2 record.
It is interesting to note that I came across your website a year ago when I was scanning the Internet looking for information on the single wing. I was on a reference material hunt about this great offense, and having grown up in Menominee, MI, home of Coach Ken Hofer's single wing, I wanted to learn more. In someways it became an obsession. Along the way I came across your materials, I studied them, noted how much of a contrarian I was, how fascinating to learn you are an advocate of the offense for youth football.
After collecting other direct snap books through inter-library loan, trading video tapes, bookmarking websites, I came to the realization that I needed an outlet for my newly acquired knowledge. This past summer, I threw my application into the local Pop Warner coaching circles. To my surprise I was chosen as a head coach. I was expecting/hoping for an offensive coordinator position at best. I did not have a son playing, he's two years old, nor did I play high school football, but I wanted to give coaching a try. I felt like it was my responsibilty to show the Green Bay area that the single wing was alive.
I immediately poured over your two books formulating my plan. This became more than a hobby of researching the single wing, it became the responsibilty of a whole team of young players. Being no defensive guru, I immediately decided on the 8-2-1/10-1 defense you recommend. It sounded great to me. Next I needed to figure out which version of a direct snap
offense I wanted to use. After e-mailing back an forth with a few new coaching friends across the country I decided to give the direct snap, double wing with an unbalanced line offense a go. I figured I wanted to spread the work load around, so two wingbacks seemed the way to go. With the help of a coaching colleague and the Tierny and Gray book, our 10 play
offense was ready to go.
My assistants were on board with everything I had in store. They must have thought you were coaching this team instead of myself at times because I referred to you and your techniques so often. The important thing was they were sold and we put into motion our plan.
Both the offense and defense created a great deal of havoc over the course of the season. I was approached many times about our offense, because most football people in the area have heard of Menominee's single wing (it's 1 hr north of Green Bay and often play area teams) and asked where I was from. I admitted my background with a smile.
We scored 144 points, averaging 28 points in our 5 victories. We rotated our TBs and WBs every series to not only get them playing time, but not to get them banged up. Eight players scored touchdowns this season. Our no huddle, warp speed game plan worked to our advantage all season as well. One other note to youth coaches, utilize pulling linemen. The kids love it and it works well. Ironically the coaching staff needed the convincing, not the players.
Defenseively, we as a team grew in understanding of what we were trying to do and the players and coaches got better each week. None of our coaches had any defensive background, so we learned together. In all we held our opponents to 8 pts/game, created 18 turnovers, and held the top team in our league to 15 and 6 pts in each of our losses. They were a stronger, bigger and well-coached team. We gave them everything they could handle, with opportunities in each game to actually win the ballgame. Those were actually my two favorite games to coach.
We also scored two defensive TDs and had one safety. On special teams, we went with the squib kicking game and were lucky enough to recover 5 kicks too. We found that the other teams began to kick short, maybe because of our influence. We really never punted either, although we generated 4 turnovers on punt pressure. Teams stopped punting against our defense after that too.
We repeatedly reminded our team that this game came down to blocking and tackling and we practiced form tackling, bear crawling, blocking every practice. Like you have written the bear crawling takes time and it did get better every week, our oponents were unable to run insidenor outside due the great play of our disciplined ends.
Again thank you for the great resource. I felt like a had a hidden gem in our corner the entire season. Adam Wesoloski, De Pere, WI
I HAPPENED ACROSS "COACHING YOUTH FOOTBALL" & "COACHING YOUTH FOOTBALL DEFENSE" WHILE LOOKING FOR BOOKS THAT WOULD HELP ME UNDERSTAND THE SCHEMES THAT MY SON'S TEAM WERE USING. YOU ARE RIGHT ON WITH CONCEPT THAT YOUTH FOOTBALL IS DIFFERENT THAN BIG LEAGUE FOOTBALL. IRONICALLY, AS I WAS WATCHING MY DAUGHTERS 7TH GRADEVOLLEYBALL GAME LAST NIGHT I DREW A PARALLEL BETWEEN THE OVERHEAD SERVE IN YOUTH VOLLEYBALL TO THE FORWARD PASS IN FOOTBALL (THEY DON'T WORK VERY MUCH). I'M SURE YOUR COMMON SENSE APPROACH WOULD LEND ITSELF TO SUCCES IN ALL YOUTH SPORTS. Steve Kane
I have utilized the single wing and your Gap Air Mirror all year with great success. We are 5-0 and average giving up about 40 yards per game. You have been a great help. I have also bent the ears of Coach Aldrich qand Coach Racely all year long. They have also been of great help. P. A. Colquitt
I just wanted to send you a quick thank you. I read about your Gap-Air-Mirror defense on the internet. I also called you last week, to order your book Coaching Youth Football, 2nd Edition. You personally answered my phone call, and had the patience to talk with me at length about some of the finer points of the defense. That was kind of you.
Our 10 year old boys team used your defense this past Saturday, after having time to practice it only one night. Even with the minimal practice, it worked as advertised. The opposing team was unable to run the sweep, and rarely ran for positive yards. We did make one mistake, which was a missed tackle, that allowed a run up the middle for a touchdown. You had told me this defense would hold the other team's offense to minus 35 yards, and that our defense would score a touchdown. That is almost exactly what happened. We won 18 - 8, despite being significantly smaller in size than the opposition. Thanks again John. Vince Sommer [Note from John T. Reed: about 40% of all youth defense failures are due to poor tackling technique. It takes weeks or months of perfect technique daily drilling to achieve good tackling technique.]
We played our first game employing your 10-1 defense and single-wing offense and won 28-0. Our offense ammassed 192 yards while our opponent had -48! We could have scored more but we emptyed our bench and used seven different
halfbacks giving the reserves some invaluable experience. Kenny Glavin
What a difference a year makes. My Pee Wee Panthers (9-10-11 year olds, 105lbs) struggled most of last year with your 8-2-1 and 10-1 systems. Most of them were 9 and 10 and playing tackle football for the first time. They finally got it by our first and only play-off game, holding the eventual Super Bowl runner-ups to 3 positive yardage plays from scrimmage before losing in overtime to a silent snap QB sneak. Well, 14 of them came back this year. My new defensive coordinator, who played Division I college ball, has embraced the system. The Defensive responsibility and alignment grid went out with playbooks as it always does in late June. This time there was a note attached that said Do Your Job. While I have used the Do Your Job gang tackle drill over the last four years I have used your system I never emphasized it as much as I should have. We now end every practice with a 10 minute spirited Do Your Job drill. Actually, the players love it and have stopped asking for bull in the ring or duck, duck goose to end practice.
I knew from our three pre-season controlled scrimmages that these kids were in tune and understood the philosophy of the D. I really knew because even our second team defense was able to handle our high powered Wing-T offense pretty well during regular practice.
Last Friday was opening night. When the defense finally got on the field, our offense took the kick-off and drove 60 yards in 12 plays eating most of the first quarter, I was thrilled to hear them break their defensive huddle by shouting Do Your Job in unison. They were not told to do this. They did their job all right. The opponents only gained positive yards on three plays all night. Statistically, they were minus 124 yards on the night. While I only have one true minimum-play player on this team, there was almost no drop off when we had mostly second teamers in the game. We were sloppy on offense, two TDs called back for clips long after the runner was past the infraction spot and two lost fumbles inside the opponents 20. You know the defense had to be outstanding to overcome the turnovers and mental errors. Our 11-0 victory was much easier than the score indicated. Feel free to quote. Its the least I can do for a guy who made me a coaching genius. Thanks Jack! Eric Heckman, Head Coach, Pee Wee Panthers - Rockville Football League [Note from John T. Reed: I love hearing that these kids decided to yell Do your job! to berak their huddle. I never had a huddle so we did not do any such thing. But it shows the kids understand their roles in a team sport.]
Hi Coach.Last year i purchased,Coaching Youth Football, Defense,and time management books.Since then with Gap 8 defense and some of the other strategies learned from your books our youth football team has been 16-1-1.Only loss was in the championship game.Teams shut out 12.Thanks,Coach. Coach Armando A.Castro (Roanoke,Va.)
hey Mr.Reed this is Coach Thomas Garcia we won our first game and i wanted to thank you I'm the defensive
coordinator and my defense killed the other team the Buccaneers(team we played) got only maybe 5 yards once
every other time it was all for losses. We won 6-0 Thanks again Mr.Reed. Coach Thomas
Garcia, Colts(10-12) Gainesville, Fl
First, let me say that I have just devoured your two books on Youth Football: Coaching... and Y.F. Defense. They are so complete and to the point. I am in my third year as a youth football coach. I have coached 5 & 6 year olds for two years (one as assistant and one as head) and this year I am an assistant for 7 & 8 year olds (moving up with my son). I only wish that I had your books for my season as head coach last year! We were 5-3 with a 13 kid team. It was my rookie head coaching season and I made plenty of mistakes - although those around me were thrilled. I'm already envisioning the 10-1 defense!! It makes so much sense for youth football, but no one has the guts to run it! My teams sound like they're just like yours were - slower kids who need a coach with OOMPH! Thanks for writing your books. Greg Hart, Philadelphia
My name is Alfred Johnson and Im the defensive coach for the Burien Bearcats 89er Football team. Last year I stepped in as defensive coach for the franchises Midget team (11-13 yrs old) and we ran a, excuse my french, bastardized version of your Gap 8 defense out of the nescessity of that we were getting KILLED on outside runs and sweeps. When I introduced this defense to the kids (after the 3rd game of the season), we stopped a lot of those plays running to the outside of our defense by bringing more personnel to the line of scrimmage. Our record was 5 and 4 and our team made it to the first round of the South Puget Sound Jr Football League Playoffs
Now I don't claim to be any kind of football genius, but I do know what works, so imagine my delight when I came accross your web site and started reading your articles on coaching youth football. I have already implemented some of your practice elements into my defensive practice and the team practice overall
with great results so far.
Your articles on Rookie Coaches, How to evalulate your players, Which drills should you run and the Gap-8 and 10-1 defense, just to name a few, are in my playbook and I refer to your website
I know Ive rambled on here but I wanted to give you an idea of what we are doing and tell you that I was fan of the 8 man [line] and didnt even know that it was one of the best defenses that you could teach to kids. You have won another fan, keep doing what you are doing
Thanks, Alfred Johnson, Burien Beacats 89er Defense Coach
Last year we were the Eagles and went 9-1 and won the league championship using the offense and defense from your books. This year, a friend of mine is coaching in that league. He asked his son and the son of his assistant coach what team name they wanted. They asked to be the Eagles, because of our success the previous year. Plus, they asked their fathers to please run the same offense and defense as we did. The two kids in question had to play against us three times last season. Casey Lewis, Pleasanton, Ca
For of all - thank you for the wealth of information you've provided me in regards to coaching youth football. Our team went from 1-7 the previous year to 8-3 last year. I was the Head Defensive Coach last year and we implemented the
10-1 and 8-3 defenses. There was some resistance to this at the start from the other coaches. But - as the Defensive Coach - this was what we were going to do - because it made perfect sense to me. It worked. This year, I'm Head Coach
and I will continue to implement your philosophies. So - once again - thank you! Sincerely - Skip Brown
"I have read Coaching Youth Football and found it extremely useful. It has been passed around my coaching staff. We employed this defense last season and found it very effective. It was an integral part of winning the championship at the 8-year old level in the North Georgia Youth Football League. In eleven years of coaching it was the most demoralizing defense I had seen." Jimmy Chambers, Blackwell Bears
"I first coached in 1996 and became head coach because no one else wanted the job. Having played ball in school, I thought no problem. Well playing and coaching are two different things. We went 0-7, scoring only two TDs all season and giving up almost 250 points. Then one day I found your books and wow. Using a lot of your ideas plus getting a better grasp of the wing-T offense, we turned it around in 197. We went 4-3. In '98 we still went 4-3, but we made it into the championship round. Many thanks to you for your help. Your books really made the difference." Kevin Wilson, Yelm Longhorns, Yelm, WA
"We have our final game this Saturday against the best team in our clinic division. I have just put in the 10-1 at the half-time of our last game, and you guessed my defense scored 4 points...We haven't scored on defense the whole season and the minute I put a rough-shot version in, we shut them down completely. My players love it, because it allows them to not have so many reads and basically charge upfield instead of waiting and reacting."
[subsequent email] "Do I have a 10-1 story for you, as you know in my earlier e-mail I coach in the Valley Youth Conf., 6-8 yr. olds. We have a record of 1-8 on the year, giving up over 30 pts. a game. In our season end jamboree this past Saturday we were slated to play the best team in our League, they had a record of 9-0 with a reputation of running the score up. I knew that offensively that we could not touch them ( I am not the Head Coach or offensive coach) anyway I informed my team that a.m. that we were going to "shock the world", I'll not keep you in suspense we lost, but the way my team played on defense the heart and determination they displayed all using the 10-1, it did more for the end of their season than words can express. This was the #1 offensive team, big strong and fast kids. All their coaches thought they had to do was line them up, give them the ball and say run.., and John Reed I am happy to report that we held them to 2 TD's, both of which were set up by our ineptitude on offense...If you could only have heard their coaches and parents saying how this was the best game that their undefeated team had played, that no other defense played them as tough....Your 10-1 SHUT DOWN their entire sweep, and whenever they did break one, my MLB has such instincts and speed that he would catch them before they gained too many yds...I am without a doubt a 100% 10-1 believer and endorser..If there are any first year coaches that are wondering what to do defensively, how will their undersized, undermanned, slow, inexperienced players can compete and keep you in the game, call me and I will sure tell you about the 10-1 and how easy it is for your kids to do what they naturally like at these young ages..Run and go...waiting for a key or playing 5 yds. back and then having to react will kill you all day, trust me I know..I went through 9 games before I had had enough and went over my Head Coach's head and implemented what I wanted to run all year long..As one of our assistants said at the end of the game, I should've put the 10-1 in along time ago. Yes, I know I should've...But I can't wait till next season and I know what I am going to run defensively, and I owe this turn around in my attitude and my players to you. You have given us a chance to compete and win, and we rolled with the big dogs and gave them all they wanted..They might have won the game, but the coaches know there is a new scheme in town and they call it the 10-1 and it's going to cause them fits next season. Thank you John and I'm sure to be bugging you with more stories, but this Saturday made the whole long hard season worth it for me and the kids and it is something that I think I won't forget, I learned a lot of lessons personally this season, about not giving up and keep pushing and just because people think your out of it you never are....12-0 to the offensive juggernaut in our conference..Can you believe there is a coach out there that is this happy over a loss....to me and the team it was the best win we had all year." Bill Shine, South Valley Panthers, 6,7,8 yr. olds.....
"I just completed a season as defensive coordinator of my son's youth football team. The head coach and other assistants reluctantly agreed to let me 'try' the Gap-8. Let me me also state that last year we had the absolute worst team in the league and a defense that gave up the most points in the league. I was told that the first time we got beat on a long pass play (Does that ever happen in a 9 yr. old game?) or run up the middle, it was back to the old 7-4. Well, we stayed in the Gap -8 all season. The ONLY time we were scored on was when when we had an assignment breakdown or minimum play players in the game. Our defense was the best in the league and made 80% of our tackle BEHIND the line of scrimmage! Our defensive ends were tough and disciplined and completely shut down the off tackle plays, allowing our lineman to pursue and tackle as the runner turned back inside.(My son, our strongside DE led the team in total tackles, sacks, caused fumbles and was the defensive lineman of the year and overall defensive MVP). Unfortunately our offense was terrible, but our defense got us to within 5 points of the league championship game.
I will be the head coach next season and I am already starting to prepare. I have recently ordered two more of your books.
Thanks for all your help and thanks for making me look like a defensive genius!! ( Yes, I did give you credit).
[subsequent email] We used [the 7-4] last year (I was NOT the defensive coordinator then). We were terrible. Quite a few teams in our league use this set up. It only worked well for one team because there coach was smart enough to get his fastest players, rather than just the biggest, on the field. They flew to the ball and were pretty good. He ran the gap-8 at times, not knowing he was doing it. After playing, and losing to us, he did ask for the details and I turned him on to your book. I suspect he will use it next season.
I do have one suggestion you might want to pass on. I our league, and a lot of others, we have a
maximum weight limit for running backs. If a boy is over the limit, he must wear a 90 number and play on the line. On defense I used two of our bigger, stronger (but still pretty fast) boys as the defensive ends (These boys would be linebackers and fullbacks if the rules allowed). On off tackle plays and sweeps, most youth teams use a flanker or running back as a lead blocker. These boys were at least 15 pounds lighter that our ends. (A HUGE weight difference at this age). As a result they were unable to block our ends who were tought to get to the sweep spot untouched if possible and then take on/fight-off lead blockers and contain the outside. If leagues have this type of rule, using a "lineman" at defensive end is a big advantage." Jim Hanley SBMSA Cougars , Houston, Texas
[author note: I oppose rules prohibiting heavier players from being backs. It is unfair to the heavier players and not a problem generally if they are allowed to play in the backfield. If almost every kid in the league is afraid to tackle a particular big, fast player, this rule should be invoked on an ad hoc basis to prevent that player from destroying the games in which he plays. I saw that once. (Pittsburg Mallards junior pee wees 1993) John T. Reed]
"I was asked this season by my son's head coach (first year) to help coach, something I've never done. Though I was one of your described 'incompetent' coaches, I recognize my limitations and coach accordingly. Three years as a mediocre high school player and watching NFL is my background. I bought your book to prepare, based only on its obvious title. I was expecting only a basic introduction with lots of drills and play diagrams, and had no idea how much wisdom was really in it.
At first, the unspoken agreement was that my duties would be largely administrative. But whenever the opportunity arose, I would inject some Reed stuff, like insistence on low hitting and blowing the whistle on lousy tackles. We saw our tacklers improve and our line started beating some much larger lines. When next asked, I suggested walking through plays that were burning us, moving more players up on the defensive line (seven seemed like a lot), and using scrimmage plays to double as hitting and conditioning drills to conserve practice time. I wasn't single-handedly turning this team around or anything like that, but this head coach did begin to think I might know something, and was warm to 'my' ideas. I was reluctant to tell him about Reed, because I didn't think he or the experienced assistant coach would be too hot on coaching out of any book.
After a couple more weeks of him seeming to like ny input, I finally gave the head coach your book. He read the intro about the typical junior coach, then took your self-test, and you gained another fan. He
implemented as much as was practicable immediately. Our expansion team, incidentally the lightest in our division, went 4-0 since then, and finished 5-3, which I'm told is unheard of for a new team in our league. These two coaches have a lot going for them, so of course it wasn't all Reed that did it, but you can't argue with the record. I couldn't get my book back until he ordered two more, which was fine with me.
Other Reed techniques we started working on immediately were: more walk-throughs (real eye openers), less collision and more tackling drills, putting them on the dummy when they didn't tackle right, 10 minute drill time limits, better use of precious practice time, reducing the number of offensive plays, use of no-huddle offense to help comply with minimum play, kicking tough-to-field kickoffs, gap-8 defense, recognition of the low percentage of pass plays, and weak player strategies (especially the weak wide receiver, who was covered by a decent player most of the time). All had varying degrees of effect, and some obviously take more time to learn than others, but no Reed method we tried was unsuccessful.
Just wanted you to know your methods are effective and fun to use. Keep writing!" Doug Jones, Elko, Nevada
" Here are the results for our first 6 games that you can quote me on.
South Attleboro WhiteHawks Jr. Pee Wee team
Round Robin Game
(Smithfield Vikings had minus 17 yards offense)
(North Providence Jets had only 61 yards offense)
(Cumberland Colts had minus 7 yards offense)
(Johnston Panthers held to 23 yards offense)
(Panthers held to 24 yards offense)
(Tigers held to 36 yards offense)
*Games 3 and 4 are not the same game. We played the same team twice. Back to
Up until this week we were 5-0 and unscored upon. We ran into an unbelievable team this week and lost 22-0. They killed us all day with off-tackle plays. [Note from Jack Reed: If you are having trouble stopping the off-tackle play, stop boxing your ends. Have them slide along the line of scrimmage to contain the sweep and just stay put to stop the off-tackle play. This was explained in my book Coaching Youth Football. This coach confirmed to me that he was boxing his ends all day and had only read my defense book.] They passed the ball a lot, but only completed 2 passes all day. One of which the receiver fumbled and we recovered after our LB gave him a jarring hit. By the way, we only have 16 kids on our team.
[Subsequent email] I just wanted to give you the results of the rest of our season.
White Hawks 12
(Eagles held to just 25 yards)
White Hawks 12
This was my first year using the Gap-8 and my team went 7-1 while giving up only 28 points all year. In 6 games we had shutouts. Thank you and please write a Gap-8 book soon...Regards,"
"I'm the proud owner of two of your football books. Thanks and keep up the good work. I'm a huge fan." Howard Johnson, Head Coach Cerritos Steelers
"I just wanted to let you know that our first game with your defense was very successful. We won our division championship this weekend, defeating Northfield 19-6. They only had about 20 yards in total
offense. Their best offensive play was the penalty flag. We were assessed over 150 yards in penalties (roughing the passer, "hitting the punter too hard after a blocked punt," etc.)
Northfield returned the opening kickoff down to about our 10 yard line, and it took them four plays to score from there. I don't believe they earned a first down after this.
[subsequent email later in season]
Our team played Atlantic City this weekend. We won 20-0. I haven't watched the film yet, so these are not official stats, but I believe Atlantic City only got two first downs the entire game. We scored a touchdown on defense when our end hit the QB in the end zone, and recovered the fumble. We also recovered 3 or 4 other fumbles. I also think they probably had negative yardage for the game. They were obviously very frustrated by our defense. One of their coaches said to me after the game 'that defense was awesome.'
[subsequent email] We looked at the film from the Atlantic City game. During the first half of the game we had 102 yards, to their -3 yards. In the second half they had a net of +10 yards. Their longest gain of the day was nine yards. One of the referees told one of our coaches that he's never seen Atlantic City shut out before. We also sacked their quarterback many times. Our third quarter was weak. Our QB/center fumbled a couple of snaps, and our running backs fumbled twice. But no harm done, since A.C. couldn't move the ball anyway.
[subsequent email]Here's another update. Our team won yesterday, 22-6! We beat Galloway Township, who was previously undefeated, and had only given up two TD's all season. One of our cornerbacks returned an interception 70 yards to open the scoring for us. Our records is now 6-1, and we head into the playoffs next week. We play for our conference championship, and then advance into the the next round of playoffs. I'm sure that if we hadn't been playing the 8-2-1 yesterday, we would have lost the game. If we had been playing the 5-2, as we were earlier in the season, we would have been chewed up yesterday. There would have been too many soft spots in our defense to contain Galloway. They are extremely fast, their backs have great moves, they are well coached, and the QB throws very well for this level.
[subsequent email] "We won our second playoff game of the season yesterday. We won 14-6, but the game shouldn't have been that close. Our defense played fabulously. We only allowed two first downs, and our opponent only had about 20 yards in total offense. They attempted to "jam it down our throats" for most of the game. But it didn't work, because, I pounded 'STAY LOW' into our down linemen all week. They only attempted four passes, all incomplete., This was probably because the last time we played them, we intercepted four passes, one for a TD.
Once when we attempted to punt from our own ten yard line, we had a poor snap which the punter bobbled, and instead of punting the ball, he ran, which resulted in a loss. Our opponent failed to score from there. On our next possession, they stripped the ball from our best running back, and recovered the ball on the one yard line. Even from the one yard line, it took them three downs to score.
Let me tell you. Since we installed the 8-2-1, our defense has been superb. The breakdowns have not been from the scheme, but the kids not doing what we teach them to do, (such as; not staying low, not jamming the tight end at the line, not playing tight man-to-man in the secondary). It's a good thing our defense is playing so well, because our offense, (which we thought would be our strength), hasn't been
playing well. Since installing the 8-2-1, no team has marched down the field and scored on us. All scoring has been the result of poor field position.
[subsequent email] I believe I neglected to tell you in my e-mail from yesterday, that our (your) defense scored another touchdown. We installed the 8-2-1 six games ago, and our defense has scored a touchdown in four of those games. By the way, each of the scores has come when the other team has
been attempting to pass. Two were long interception returns for touchdowns. One was when we sacked the QB in the end zone, and the QB fumbled. The one yesterday, was when we sacked the QB, and our defensive end picked up the ball and ran about 30 yards for the score.
THANK-YOU FOR YOUR HELP!!!!" Randy Smith
"We have been using the 8-2-1 and 10-1 defense for three years now. After reading about the defense in your book, I was able to see A.G. Moore at a clinic in Dallas. He went over the defense in a little more detail. I was much impressed with this defense that makes perfect sense to run in youth football. We are apart of the Pineywoods Football League which contains five area cities. The first year we use the two defenses, we won the league championship (8-1)! The following year, we were defeated by two tuff teams on the league (7-2). During this successful year, we had 28 players to play with, which made it tuff to compete against some teams. We did hold our first four opposing teams to negative 37 yards! This year (1999), we have started off with a 3-0 record. One of the wins was against the team who beat us 42-6 last year. I really appreciate your interest in youth football and look forward to upcoming books." Little'Nex Football Coach, John Frazier
"About the 10-1, I'm sold on that defense. We have some fine tuning to do, but I'm confident that this team can use it to win our remaining 4 games and the division. (I'll send you a game jersey.) The mistakes we've made were not the fault of the defense, but rather MY mistakes as a coach. (Sub errors, drilling on coverages, etc.) Your defense works, Coach, and works very well. By the way, of the six head coaches in the Kodiak Football League, two of us are using the 10-1 straight from your book, one Junior Division and my team. The other coach is running your single wing (He was smart enough to order BOTH your books before the season began!) We're the only two undefeated teams in the League. Frankly, I think the league SHOULD use your methods, Coach. They work. Just a comparison that you might want to put on your web site:
There are six teams in our league, three in the junior division (9-10 year olds) and three in the senior division (11-12 year olds.)
One team in each division uses your methods straight from your books. My team, the Kodiak Lions Club Lions, and the Arctic Bears.
Both teams using your methods are undefeated.
Both teams using your methods have not allowed a touchdown in their last two games (and the Bears have only allowed three all season.)
Both teams have been penalized fewer times than any other team in their division.
Both teams have made at least one score in their last three games on defense.
Both teams have not allowed a complete pass in their last two games.
Both teams have allowed a total of five first downs in the last games played. (The Bears allowed three, we only allowed the Chiefs to get two yesterday.)"
[Here is a subsequent email from Wade]
"Well, we won our fifth straight game tonight, 20-0. This makes the third consecutive game that our defense has shut out our opponents, which was darn lucky, because we fumbled on first or second down on every one of our first five possessions. The Eagles have obviously been working on stripping the ball, which they did VERY well. They also put four guys shoulder to shoulder in front of my center and nailed him right at the snap on every play. It took a while for the adjustments to take hold and we were then able to get outside on some sweeps that scored in the third and fourth quarter. We also had some great tackling turned in by one of our players that at the start of the season couldn't tackle his way out of a damp kleenex. Coach, you would have screamed your throat out to see this little guy run a picture perfect DE route and just absolutely smash the running back on a sweep. I don't think I could have performed that play any better. It looked like it was choreographed.
"I need to give you another thank you. After the game we had a pizza party at the local Pizza Hut. I was late because I was talking with the league coordinator about a schedule change. When I walked in my team gave me a standing ovation. It actually brought tears to my eyes to realize how much faith these kids have in me as a coach. Most of that I owe to you. Between your books and this patient dialogue we've had I have learned more about football in the last month and a half than I learned in five seasons on the field. Twenty four of the best kids in the world have had the chance to learn what playing as a team and winning as a team feels like thanks to the help you have given me. Thank you." Derek Wade
"I am a youth football coach (10 year olds). We had our first game last week and we won 28-0 against a very weak opponent and we used just a 6-2 defense (slant/pinch). We didn't have to use any other defense, but during the week of preparation we did put in the gap 8 (8-2-1). This week's game we played the favorite to win the division. They run the wing-t (like we do) I was convinced that our 6-2 and 6-3 could defeat this defense, but as it turned out I was wrong. We jumped out to a 14-0 lead with the 6-3 defense, in the 1st quarter, but the 2nd quarter was a disaster. They have a halfback that has to be the fastest 10 year old I have ever seen. With that hb they have a fullback that is very large and very difficult to tackle. They started to take control and they scored on a 46 counter to cut the lead to 14-6. They were controlling the game at this point. My defensive coach came to me and said,'Lets try the gap 8.' I said, 'Let's do it.' We proceeded to run the 8-2-1 for the remainder of the game, but we did switch it up just a few times. Your defense saved us. We dominated them and won 24-6. Our kids love the gap 8. During practice they wanted to keep running it. My other assistants were against it, but we made them believers after this game. My suggestion to other youth football coaches is to run this defense. They can't block everyone, and the kids have a blast. Also use the wing-t. We won the super bowl with it last year. We are not the favorites this year because the team we just beat added a few new players. Also your ideas on the contrarian (I think I spelled it right) are great. Using the wing-t with motion and different formations works. One more thing. I scouted the team we will be playing next week. They were getting punished using a 5-3. Their goal line defense consisted of the gap 8- and that stopped the offense for negative yardage at the goal line, but they refused to use it, other than the goal line." email@example.com
"We kicked off our season with a hard fought 12 -6 victory over a tough team. I thought you might like to hear that my down linemen (8-2-1) did a great job stuffing up the middle. One of them made three tackles, He is 8 yrs old weighs 55 lbs soaking wet and was up against a line full of 95 lbers (junior
pee wee div). I have one 93 lber and 3 kids in at about 85 lbs and the rest are low 70's and 60 lbers.
They are quick and have learned their double team blocking assignments well. Thanks again!!" Greg Laboissonniere, Coventry Rams, Coventry RI
"I am running the 10-1 (Pee Wee level) for the first time this season. I have only been working with it for a few weeks, but I have seen my kids take huge strides playing it. I used it for the first time in a scrimmage this past week and for the most part, had tremendous success with it. It even worked well with my second and third string players. Other than one mistake made on an off-tackle play my kids dominated defensively and had a blast playing it. I am following your rules and instructions from your books and everything seems to be working." Don Clifford, Head Coach, Bellingham (MA) Falcons Pee Wees
"This book has been a tremendous help to me and our coaching staff at Englewood Pop Warner. In one season of JPW and two seasons of PW ball, our teams have given up the least points of any in the organization as well as having the best winning percentage." Richard Callahan, Englewood Cats, Englewood,Fl., CatCoach1@aol.com
"Your strategies produced amazing results for our team. My team has given up less than 60 yards total offense during our 1st 5 games." Carl Dozier, Munford Midget Lions, Munford, AL
"This is a thorough and very readable introduction to youth football. I would especially recommend it to any parent with a youth starting to play for the first time." Jack Rasmus, San Ramon Bears Jr. Pee Wees, San Ramon, CA
"After reading your book I see a lot of mistakes I have been making. After two awful seasons, I was thinking about giving coaching up even though I love the kids and the game but after reading your book I find myself very excited about coaching this year and can't wait for it to start." Calvin Church, Baldwin, GA
"We have had success at the college level with this defense by using it as a surprise in order to confuse offenses. We also use it in short yardage and in goal-line situations. We can also shift out of it or into it on the offense's first sound. We are a slant 5-2 team, we read nothing and more often send between 7-9 guys at a time. I believe that our athletes enjoy using this 10-1 because no one else does and it also gives us a certain reputation of having no fear." John Ott, Northland Community and Technical College, Thief River Falls, MN
"Excellent book. Good job." James Edwards, Newport, NY
"John T. Reed's books should be mandatory reading given out by youth football organizations. I can only imagine how much time, wasted effort, and mistakes Mr. Reed has saved me from. I can't thank you enough for your great books." Phil Estrada, South San Francisco, CA
"Not only gives sound defensive principles, but other important aspects of running a successful youth program." Phil Albertson, Nantucket Boys Club, Nantucket, MA
"Fantastic worksheets & diagrams. Easily understood. I've given it to my other coaches to study!!! A great resource for beginning coaches as well as seasoned veterans. It's simple and to the point." Lee McGuire, Poquoson Mighty Mites, Hampton, VA
"Recently I purchased your 2nd edition of Coaching Youth Football Defense, again it was fantastic. I look forward to your next book." Lawrence Warner, Riverside, CA
"A great book!!" Roland Weeden
"I just finished reading your book on defense for the fifth time. It was an outstanding guide. Thank you." Sean Ooghe, Belmont, CA
"I have read both Coaching Youth Football and Coaching Youth Football Defense. I enjoyed both. You have compiled some wonderful info. I have been coaching youth football for the last 5 years, starting in Colorado Springs, CO and now in Warner Robins, GA. I mainly coach 8 to 10 year olds now but I started with 11 to 13 year olds. I really like your 8-2-1 and 10-1 defenses. Last year I coached the Bandit Mighty mites, we went 8-2 and made it to the championship game where we lost 8-6. I used the Wing-T offense with a 6-2 defense. My 6-2 was actually more like your 8-2-1. The year before (1995) I noticed that the best teams in our league were using a 6-2 with the cornerbacks on the line of scrimmage out wide to stop sweeps. This seemed to be working for them and I tried it. As you can see by our record it worked effectively. This was the best season I ever had coaching. Thanks for all the information in your books. I plan to use as much of it as I can during the upcoming season. Thanks again, and I look forward to your next book." Michael Harvey, Warner Robins, GA
"Just thought I'd let you know that I'm a true believer. My name is John Polvinale. I coach Fairfield Midget Football in Fairfield, PA. After two years of your defense, Fairfield is the Keystone Youth Football Champs (11-1). I read your book on defense and applied it to our team, modified it just a hair, and bingo, we're awesome with the 8-3, 10-1 or any other name you wish to give it." John S. Polvinale, Fairfield, PA
"This book is an incredible find! I'm happy to see that there is someone out there who takes a fresh, analytical look at youth football and is not just some professional/college coach looking for some extra money by publishing a youth football book containing a regurgitation of some basic concepts and plays from their play book. I wish I would have tried to do something like this, but of course I didn't have the guts. I began moving toward the contrarian defense last season (I started with a Gap-6 because I was too scared to leave very little behind the defensive line, but now that I think about it, the LBs behind the defensive line rarely made the tackles) and it worked pretty well. From one coach to another, it's nice to see someone paying attention to raising the level of play of their kids, not the level of their own ego." Mike Regester
"I have 2 of your books, Coaching Youth Football and Coaching Youth Football Defense. The two best books I have. I have been coaching for about the same time as you, and I am currently with Jr. High aged boys." Bud Meech, Aurora, CO
"First let me say I really enjoyed your books on youth football. I am an assistant coach for the Detroit Eagles PAL football team. I showed your book to my head coach, Robert Brown; he enjoyed it so much he told me that he telephoned you about it. I myself would love to meet you to further discuss your opinions on linemen play. I am the Bass Guitar player for the singing group The Spinners. We'll be performing in the Bay Area on July 16, at the Vallejo County Fair. I would like to have you come as my guest. Thanks for your help." Darrell Smith, Detroit, MI
"I've been meaning for 6 months to write and tell you how much I enjoyed and how much I learned from reading your books on youth football. Last fall I decided to form a team of 8th graders who attended (mostly parochial) local schools which did not offer jr. high football. (Our city youth program is only for 10-12 year olds) I read numerous books but I found yours to be uniquely frank, insightful and 'right on' about the utmost importance of stressing simplicity, repetition of important things and elimination of so many ridiculous practices that our high school coaches in the '60s put us through as a macho rite of passage. I totally agreed with your 'contrarian' philosophy (we printed tee shirts with 'Dare to be Different' on the back) and it served us well. We went 4-2 against opposing 8th grade teams despite having inferior talent (we only had seven eighth graders sign up, so I was forced to recruit nine seventh graders and three sixth graders who were little brothers. Only four players had experience in the youth league program out of our 18 players) largely, I believe because of our unconventional single-wing offense and 10-1 "stop the run at all costs" defense-both inspired by your book. I was very pleased with the 10-1 defense (one coach we scrimmaged protested that it was illegal in their league to play more than six men 'in the box')! We gave up only one touchdown pass and missed tackles caused it, not lack of secondary." Bill Fitzgerald, M.D., Beloit, WI
"Your book Coaching Youth Football Defense is a wonderful guide in teaching football fundamentals and making it fun! Just the best. Very useful." John Holine, Woodbury, MN
"Excellent book." Tony Hazel, Roosevelt, NY
"Thank you. It's a great book. This morning we won the game to go to our city championship next week. I had to call and tell you. My staff thought I was crazy at the beginning of the season. We have only allowed one first down all year using your 8-2-1 defense. No one has scored against us." John Willis, Jackson, MI
"I have been coaching Pop Warner Football for more than seven years in/around the Southwest region. As I was browsing the sport section of a Phoenix book store, I picked up a copy of Coaching Youth Football Defense. I implemented the 8-2-1 defense, however, the other members of the coaching staff were very hesitant about my decision to add this type of defense. We finished the season qualifying for the state playoffs. Thank you for your coaching publication..." Richard Kistner
"Your books on coaching football have made a big difference in our team's defensive strategies. I have benefited from your advice and knowledge of the sport. It has made a difference in my coaching. Your experiences in football have helped me to be a better coach." Steve Shultz, Boring, OR
"Before I read your books, in 1995, we went 0-12. Tomorrow [11/25/97], we're flying to the Youth Football National Championship in Daytona Beach, FL. When I first put in your 10-1 defense, my whole coaching staff was against it. They said it would be weak against the pass and that running plays would break through the middle for big gains. Now, whenever I try to put it another defense to supplement the 10-1, those same coaches complain that we should stick with what's working: the 10-1. Other coaches in our league are trying to get me to teach them how to run the 10-1." Tom Overton, St. Peters, MO
"After reading your books, I decided to try the 10-1 defense and found it effective and easy to teach. Lining up in the gaps is effective when you have to place a 50-pound defensive line against a 75-pound offensive line." Dana L. Parker, Wynnefield Hawks, Philadelphia, PA
"Dear Mr. Reed, I just had to write to tell you how much your book helped me in the last two years. Last year, I was asked to coach my son's 7th & 8th grade football team. This was the first time I had a chance to coach a team or be involved with a football program since my playing days in the early 80's. By chance I picked your book up at the bookstore and started reading it. I used your book to develop a game plan for the team. Last year  we won our division and finished 4th in the state. This year I'm proud to say that we went undefeated and won the Alaska state title. I utilized the warp speed no huddle offense. I did send in a new receiver each play, although we ran the ball 95% of the time, it did allow us to pass when we needed it. This year we did make a new wrinkle to the offense, by bringing in the wr and placing him by the other two backfield blockers we were able to open up some huge holes. Also, our reverse worked great scoring 80% of the time from anywhere on the field, after it we set it up by pounding the opposite side. We also added a center screen pass, which also worked great. Your 10-1 defense has worked so well, it is unbelievable!!! Over the course of the last two years we have had a total of 8 shutouts with 5 coming this year. I did learn a valuable lesson in our second game last year. The safety or the person in the back position needs to be the fastest, biggest, and definitely the best tackler on the team. I had figured that by having a fast player who could tackle would be the best person for that spot. Boy was I wrong. The boy I had back was just too small to handle a big back who broke through the line. I made a change to the player on the team who had all the attributes, and we were able to shut down the rest of our opponents in our division. We were beaten in the state tournament, basically because we were a very small team and was dependent on speed. The night before the game it snowed 8 inches and they only plowed the center of the field. We lost 20-8. This year, we were able to put everything that I learned from your book to great use and the season was a complete success. The funniest thing about this entire letter is that when I told people what Offense and Defense I was going to use, they laughed at me, including my own players. Now everyone thinks I'm a genius and I owe it all to you. Thanks for everything. I'm sorry this letter was so long but with your help I was able to make a huge impact on 24 of the greatest kids I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Thanks again!! Sincerely, Dan Blair, AK
"I purchased both your books on Coaching Youth Football early this year and implemented many of your ideas in coaching a Heart of America Pop Warner Mitey-Mite team (7 to 9, 45 to 80 pounds) this fall. This is my first season as head coach. Seventeen of my 25 players were rookies. All of my assistant coaches were rookies. I showed them your books and loaned my defensive coordinator my defense book.
"We used the 10-1 defense and the single wing offense you recommend and used 6 of your 7 plays (I took out the hook pass). We didn't use a white board to send in plays; instead we used large magnetic numbers on a metal shelf which we held up for the players to see. Otherwise, I ran the offense just like you suggest.
"We went 7-2 and missed the playoff round by 1/2 game. The two losses were our second and third games and we lost to teams we would have been able to beat had we played them later in the season. Our seventh and eighth games were against previously undefeated teams and we beat them both. Our offense scored 22 touchdowns and our defense only allowed 9 for the season. If it weren't for your book, this season probably would have been as disastrous as last year.
"By the way, my oldest son played on the Jr. Bantam team and his coach also read your books. They went 6-2, were in the playoffs and just barely missed going to the championship game." Doug McKinzie, Park Hill Mitey-Mite Panthers, Kansas City, MO
"Denmark calling. Thanks for your great books. They have been an unbelievable help in my coaching. There isn't a matter or issue that you have not covered. My name is Michael Christensen and I'm coaching adults in a club called Horsens Stallions in Jutland in Denmark. I'm Danish with an American wife. I'm looking forward to reading your latest book about clock management. I have been coaching 8 years in all. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge." Michael Christensen, Denmark
"My name is Brett Teitelman and I am the head football coach for the Educational Complex High School in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. I am a rookie coach with only a year of flag football experience. Last summer...we started the first tackle football team in the Virgin Islands since 1980. Being new to coaching but highly motivated I must say how fortunate I was to stumble on your book first. Even though it was geared towards peewee, it gave me an excellent foundation to put together a first-year program. We ran the smorgasbord offense and a 10-1 defense based on the Celina H.S. video. We were unable to join the Puerto Rico High School Football League but we did get two post-season exhibitions in Puerto Rico and won them both. Nobody could believe my guys had never played tackle football before. Thanks and good luck." Brett Teitelman, St. Croix, Virgin Islands
"Stop selling your books in the state of New Jersey! Your philosophy for the 8-2-1 and the 10-1 defenses make so much sense that my opponents will surely use it if they get their hands on it. Up to now I have been relying on the fact that these coaches would not be caught dead buying a book on youth defenses since most of them feel they could write them.
"I am the president of our local Pop Warner team, but more importantly an assistant coach with the midget level in my third year. Being new to coaching I consider myself lucky in purchasing your Coaching Youth Football Defense as my first tutorial. Wow! What an enlightenment, at least for me. Not so the rest of my coaches who say the 8-2-1 will not work. This includes my head coach who refused to let me use the 'eight' until the fifth game of our season. This is when we were 1-3 with less than moderate success with a 5-4 defense. And even then he very reluctantly capitulated because he was probably well sick of me shoving your book in his face. Nonetheless, he gave me a whole 60 minutes to show our boys the scheme in preparation for a very unpredictable team with great speed. Well, guess what! We beat them in the last 50 seconds of play. This was to me and anybody else I spoke to that witnessed this game, one of the greatest youth games I have seen in my ten-year involvement.
"We proceeded to stop their bread-and-butter sweep and held up the middle charge to near zero. Their only offensive touchdown came from a Hail Mary pass (an obvious pass interference no call.) Our new defensive philosophy for the rest of the season was the 8-2-1. By the way, we finished 6-4 but not because of the defense.
"Anyhow, thanks for a great couple of books and giving me a great insight to youth football." Michael Byers, Brick, NJ
"I started as a team 'mom.' Before I was a coach, we were 5-5, getting beat a lot by sweeps. I realized I had struck gold the moment I read your book. The head coach reluctantly agreed to let me put in the 10-1 defense and we won 10 and lost 2. There was not one sweep touchdown against us all season. We were the first playoff team in our organization in ten years. Our last playoff game was 0-0 at half-time. We lost 21-6 and they went on to win the league championship." Jim Hawkins, Richmond, VA
"I am the head football coach for the Tri-Town Panthers Mighty Mite Pop Warner football team (South Windsor, CT) coaching 7, 8, and 9 year olds. I have coached the team for two years now and have used the 10-1 from the beginning. We went 3-3-1 in our first year . The second year we went 6-2 and gave up 39 points all season. Our losses resulted from poor offensive execution and not as a result of our defensive scheme. For this age group, I would not run any other defense. Several of our opponents voiced complaints during the season because our defense was too aggressive and made most of our tackles in the backfield." Michael A. Pease, South Windsor, CT
"I coached Pop Warner Pee Wee division (ages 9-11, lighter 12s). Just before the season began, the HLA saddled us with the rule that we could only [put 6 men on the line of scrimmage on defense.] We won 6 games allowing an average of 5 points (mostly scored on the minimum-play kids that played most of the second half as we were usually so far ahead) and scored an average of 33 points in the wins. We lost two games to one team, one being the Super Bowl. They draw from an area of 58,000. We draw from an area of 4,000. The games we lost, we lost by 12 points each.
"I use many of your scouting ideas, coaching techniques and theories and I feel that yours are the BEST books of their kind." Ed Blackford
"I just got both your books on coaching youth football. Although I'm not a youth football coach my son plans to play it this year. I do coach, but at the high school level. I really enjoyed your books and found myself agreeing with many of the things you said in both. I believe that too many coaches today pattern their plan of operation from the pros or big-time college." Rick Whobrey
"I am a pee wee coach for a Pop Warner team in Wolfboro, NH. I have only been a head coach for 1 year and will be starting my second year this August.
I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed your books on coaching youth football and coaching youth defense...the reason I am writing to you is to just let you know how much the other coaches in our league and myself enjoyed your books!!!! Dale Rehm, Wolfboro, NH
"Your book is excellent. I look back through my many, many years in youth football and could only wish that a book such as yours would have been available for my coaching years. As an administrator, I find it a useful tool for any coach in youth football, whether he is new and just starting out, or an old dog who needs new tricks. Keep up the good work. You have given something to youth football a fresh approach that is way ahead of what's in second. I wholeheartedly endorse your books and I think that its time is here and now." Jim C. Taft, Vice President, American Youth Football, Inc. former National Football Commissioner of Pop Warner Football
"Just finished your Youth Football Defense. I found it interesting reading. Chapter 25 on teamwork is worth the price of the book. I have coached football for 23 years from 9-year olds to college freshman and I have never had teamwork and family as well defined as you did in your book. Anyway, a well done book that should be required reading for any coach." Dale A. Spitzer
"I purchased your book last year just before the start of our 1997 season. My first year coaching defense ( I was a former offensive linemen in high school and college) for the 120 lb Hollywood Hills Red Raiders of the South Florida Youth Football League. I instantly liked the Gap-8 concept. The head coach thought it was too risky. I asked him to be patient. After a slow start in our pre-season scrimmages this defense produced the following season results; 9-0, undefeated Central Division Champions. The only weight class at our park with a winning record. The defense scored 6 touchdowns and we held several opponents to negative yardage. I had several 10 year olds that started on the D-Line. They overcame their lack of experience I believe, because of the simplicity of their assignments. Offenses never expected to see this "goal line" defense all over the field. I have moved up to the 150# team this year with my son. We are running the wide tackle six variation. So far....3-0. Thanks for sharing your insights about not only defense but all aspects of coaching youth football." Tim Pribisco, Hollywood Hills Red Raiders, Hollywood, FL
"By the way, I have read Coaching Youth Football Defense and feel this book is the best advice for a youth program..Keep publishing good work." Brad Donavan, West Harrison, NY
"I have used the 10-1 and 8-2-1 defenses the last two years with a sixth grade team and a seventh grade team. The year before I took this team they won 2 games. The first year we lost only two games, losing the championship to a much superior team that never has lost a game since they were eight-year olds. The second year we only lost 3 games and went to the playoffs and lost in the first round. In the two years our defense shut out the opposing offenses in 10 of 16 regular season games.
"Like you, I read everything I can get my hands on concerning coaching football. I have hundreds of books and video tapes on coaching football. Of all the books I have read, the methods you teach have produced by far the best results my teams have had. I have been coaching in our youth league for eleven years. I have had some good years and some bad, but none as good as the last two, using your 10-1 and 8-2-1 defense. In addition, we have used the warp speed no huddle offense...We have also incorporated your ideas on special teams, especially not kicking the deep kickoff, which, by the way, infuriated one of my assistants, since his philosophy was to kick it deep and pin them down there, even though our best kicker could only kick it to the 15 yard line (our field is 80 yards).No one in two years has returned a kickoff for a TD. In fact, very few have had any returns at all! Thank you for all your research and letting us obsessive coaches in on your findings." Alan Andrus, Salt Lake City, UT
"I had e-mailed you earlier this year (in July to be exact) and indicated that my team (Nitro, WV Minicats) would be using the 8-2-1 this year. We have actually used the 10-1, the 8-2-1, and a 6-4-1. In any case, the purpose of this communication is to let you know that this Sunday, November 15, 1998, we will be playing for the Chemical Valley Midget Football League Championship. Our semi-final opponent only crossed the line of scrimmage TWICE in the entire game! Much of our success is due to your insight in your book Coaching Youth Football Defense." Jeramie Gibson, Nitro, WV Minicats
"I have read and enjoyed your Coaching Youth Football and Coaching Youth Football Defense books. We have just completed our second year of running the 10-1 defense with great success. Last year we were 6-1-1, with that loss in the championship 12-0. This year we were 8-0 and won our championship 27-0. Our defense gave up 30 points all season. Karey Jones, Stillwater Steelers, Stillwater, OK
"I am writing to let you know of the wonderful success I had utilizing the gap-8 this year. I am from Louisville, KY. I am a 41-year-old dentist who played high school and college football. My son plays on a optimist team ages 10-11 year old. There are 10 teams in our league. We are the 10-11 yr old Highview Mustangs. This is the first year I had been head defensive coach. I had read your book last year Feb 1998 just to see if it had any useful information. By June 98 I had decided to use the Gap-8 for my sole defense. I was not greeted with much optimism by our head coach. No one had ever heard of it. We used it in college for a goal line defense. I was determined to use it when we started in August. To make a long story short, we went 12-2, won the Jefferson County Optimist Championship and came within one game of playing for our state championship. Not bad when you consider the majority of our team were 10 -year olds. They will all come back this year and play as 11-year olds. The results were staggering to say the least. We had a powerful offense that produced over 30 pts/game and a gap-8 defense that gave up 5.58 pts/game. Never before in this league had anyone seen the gap-8. By the time we made it to the playoffs, other teams were trying to emulate the gap-8 without much success. Coaches would come up to me after the games and ask what we were doing and where I learned this defense. I felt like a real defensive master! I did however share bits and pieces with some of my close friends who coach. I have read the letters on your web page and wanted to let you know of our success with the gap-8. I will be refining some things for this season, but most of the hard work is complete since our boys learned it last year. I would like to ask if you know of any books in circulation that give mor info and options on the gap-8 and 10-1 defenses. I can't find the book by Drew Tallman. Please let me know where I can find any additional info on these defenses. Your book is a tremendous asset. It is simple, direct and a pleasure to read. I guess you could say we are another success story. People in youth football in Louisville, KY now know the Highview Mustangs are for real! I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks so much for the gap-8. It truly does work." Sincerely, David C. Jones DMD
"I just wanted to drop you a line about your book, "Coaching Youth Football: Defense." Your book was a great help last season (my first year as a coach). Especially the section on getting the team psyched up. This was our greatest weapon! Our defense was called the Raptor Pack, after the two dinosaurs from Jurrasic Park. That alone instilled a sense of pride in the boys, and they lived up to the voracity of the name. The Offense was begging me and the other coaches to be a part of it. The parents loved it, they would make signs for the games, paint it on their car windows, it was a real rallying point on the field and in the stands.
I used a variation of your chants and the kids loved it. I would ask "who are you" they would respond with, "THE RAPTOR PACK!" then I'd ask "What are you gonna do" they'd reply "KNOCK 'EM BACK!" Then I would say "give em one" and they would all growl. We had two other chants that stressed fundamentals, I would call to the line, "Whats the three points of penetration" they would
call back "HIT, HUNT, SHED!" or to the whole defense, "Three points to a tackle" "HIT, WRAP, DRIVE!" And they would do just that. Our team of 7 and 8 yr. olds had only 6 veterans, 3 of which were on Defense> Our record was 6-3-1 with 5 shutouts. One team we played NEVER got passed the line of scrimmage the whole game! Although we lost to a team that is traditionally the best team in
the league 6-0, we frustrated the offensive coach to the point of throwing his play book across the field. One of the parents from that team told me in the parking that he hoped they never saw us again.
Your book gave me the confidence and the tools I needed to develop a successful season for years to come. The boys respected me, and it gave me the chance to instill early on the virtues of good sportsmanship, hard work, and a winning attitude. I am looking forward to the next season, and all the boys I've talked to are also. Its great to know that I've been a positive influence in their lives, And I wanted you to know that your book was instrumental in this too!
By the way, we ran a 6-3 with no safety. I overheard an opposing coach mention that fact, so they ran a passing play that was promptly intercepted. We had two interceptions this year, incidentally they were the only passes thrown against us. One was picked by the corner, and the other by the outside line
backer. I stressed your "box" containment for my ends and everyone else but corners had gap responsibilities. One of my favorite plays was to have my tackles line head up on the O.T. then jump back about an arms length on "set." This seemed to confuse the offensive blocking schemes at this level. I would alternate between sending them through the B and C gaps, leaving the other to be covered by the OLB. Another fundamental that was stressed was gang tackling. Everyone went for the ball carrier but those responsible for trailing through the back field (ends or corners) and those responsible for cutbacks.
We had a great season and I just wanted you to know that you had a share in it all!
Steve Curtis of the Northmont RAPTOR PACK
Grady Holdridge: 10-12 year olds. Used to use 4-4, 5-3. Went from 1-8 to
7-3 first year using 8-2-1 and 10-1.
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