Youth Football Coaching: Quarterbacks

The most important position in all of sports as it’s called. So whether it’s youth, high school, college, the QB is always super important, because a simple mistake can lose a game. So you need to know how to coach the Quarterback of your team.

A playbook to help your team be even more successful can be found here.

How to coach a QB

Everyone responds differently to coaching. Some respond when they are yelled at. Some succeed when they are calmly walked through what to do. There are many ways to coach. This goes for every position, but you never want to discourage your QB, or make him unhappy. Figure out how to motivate and push him as quickly as you can.

For me, the way I was always motivated was when a coach would seem disappointed in me. Or doubted me. That would make me lock in, and do my job and just work harder. Every single time a coach does that I make a play. This goes for when I was a Quarterback, and now that I’m a receiver it’s a little different, but the same things still work.

Footwork, Footwork, Footwork

This is the most important thing for a QB. I don’t care how talented the kid is, he’s going to at least know the basics, and learn what works best for him.

Practice the basics first. punch step to throw, punch step slide, 3 step drop under center and in gun, and 5 step drop under center. Do it on a line to make sure they stay dropping straight back. You can make them keep dropping for 30 yards again, and again, just to drill it into them.

Do cone drills such as figure 8 drill where you weave around the cones, or set cones up in a V shape, labeling each one a number 1-5. 1 Being the far left and 5 being the far right cone. Working these drills work on the pocket movement.

Marry Drops to Concepts

This means you need to have an understanding of the concept and adjust your drop accordingly. If it’s a 3 step slant why would you take a 3 step drop back? Take your drop step and deliver on time and efficiently.

Work on throwing the 3 step drop no hitch and 3 step with hitch. Hitch is when you step into the throw at the top of the drop. You never want to throw off that back foot. It will lead to overthrows and inaccurate passes, and the drops being married to the concepts will help with this significantly.

Throwing on the run

In youth football especially, throwing on the run is a must-have skill. If it is a designed roll-out or bootleg pass, have the QB get depth, and then finish the throw by either stepping up to throw, or preferably staying on the move and finishing towards his intended target. If you can square your shoulders up towards the receiver, and then let it rip, that’s the perfect release.

But, some people can’t do it perfectly, and that’s okay in my opinion. Just practice with them. Practice having them evade the pass rush and then throw an out route, or designed roll-out and throw the 5, 10, 15 yard out routes.

Throw corners and comebacks as well. If you have a QB that can roll-out and throw a vert or a backside post, you really have struck gold. Because of slower DB’s you will have open receivers deep, even if it’s supposed to just be a clear route.

Teach them the concepts

The hardest thing is to have a concept that nobody explains to you. You shouldn’t be looking for receivers that are open, you should be reacting to what the defense is doing, and exploiting that weakness. Take what the defense gives you. Just as a simple example, on a smash concept there is a hitch and a corner.

The QB should be reading that corner to determine where the ball is going to be thrown. If the corner comes down on the hitch, throw the corner. And if he stays deep with the corner, hit the hitch route. Now of course, there will be good corners or safeties that will make a play either way, but great offense beats great defense every time.

Reading Defenses

Reading defenses is tricky. It takes a lot of practice and game experience. Chances are though, in youth football there won’t be to much deception on the defensive side. It gets pretty complicated for the defense to roll coverages and bait QBs at that age. So unless you’re competing with really good teams, you won’t be seeing much of that.

Make sure he watches film. Most youth football teams only stick to a few plays on defense, and you and the QB should both know all of them that they have run before. Have different ways to beat all of them. And just make sure he knows how to exploit the weaknesses.


SCAN is an acronym for Safeties, Corners, Alignment, Numbers. Here is what each of them means:

Safeties: Safeties can roll and use trickeration, but this is a basic thing that is really helpful. Look to see if there is one safety in the middle, or 2 deep playing around the hashes. This will be a big indicator for what coverage it is. If there is a 1 high safety, chances are there’s going to be some sort of cover one or cover 3. And if there are no safeties, expect a blitz.

Corners: Focus on how the corners are lined up. If they are locked in on a receiver, as in they are somewhat squared up, they are most likely in man. Advanced players will play games and will drop into zone, but they typically expose what they are doing before the snap. To tell if they are in zone, they will be looking at the QB. A general rule is to look at their eyes. The eyes tell it all.

Alignment: Next, look at how the linebackers are lined up. If they are close to the line of scrimmage, expect a blitz. Look at how everyone on the defense is interacting with each other, and make some inferences before the snap based on alignments. For example, lets say the strong safety creeps up next to the strongside outside linebacker. If two players are close to each other, you can expect a blitz from one of them, usually the one that was already there and didn’t bump down or slide over.

Numbers: This is common knowledge. If you have trips on one side, and they just have a safety and a corner over them, look to take advantage of the number advantage. Always take the numbers. Take what that defense gives you.


Leadership is really important in a QB as everyone should know. Now, that doesn’t mean they have to be all up in your face and loud. Look for a guy who plays hard, and works hard. The others will follow. And make sure he isn’t totally stuck up and a jerk that nobody likes, because that’s the worst kind of QB, because nobody really cares about him as a person.

Make sure he’s at least friendly with the linemen. From my experience linemen are the most fun people on the team, but they also hold your life in their hands. And make sure the QB never rags on his teammates or brings them down.


Make sure he’s athletic. Chances are he’s going to be running from a lot of pressure in games. He doesn’t have to be a sprinter, but the best QBs are sneaky athletes that are hard to bring down. And if they aren’t super athletic they better make it up with intelligence.


The most important thing is winning, because winning is fun. And so make sure you pick a QB that can give you the best chance of winning. Maybe you alternate QBs to give defenses a different look. But winning is the most important thing.

Another thing that helps to win besides a great QB is a great playbook. Because even the best QBs need plays to run. So check out this unbeatable youth football playbook here.