Youth Football Coaching: Defensive Backs

Defensive backs rarely get coached well in youth football, because there is usually heavy run offenses. But teams still throw, and you will come across teams that throw all over the field. So, coaching the defensive backs well can win or lose football games for you.


You want to scheme the coverages for your secondary. I would run man if you have really good athletes in the secondary, but make sure they keep their eyes inside for run support. But, if I were you I would run some sort of zone coverages in there too because that will help with run support, and make it easier for players to keep their eyes inside.

Then again, at younger levels, zone coverage could be confusing, so man might be the right answer for your team. Some teams have more experience than others, so just keeping it simple can be the best option.

If the scheme causes your players to think too much, then it isn’t the best option. You want everyone on the defense to play with speed and effort.

Speed and Effort

These might be the two most important things anyone on the defense can have. Nothing else matters if the team doesn’t give effort. If you run a 5.5 40, then you should be running with all your speed to the ball on each and every play.

Check out the wide receivers article here to get a speed workout.

Some ways to make players give their all is punishments. We call them loafs. If you aren’t giving your all on a certain play, then that player will have a 50 yard sprint. They have a 50 yard sprint per loaf. If a player loafs 50 times, well their gonna have to be there all night. That will just teach them good habits, especially for when they get to the high school level.

For effort you need mental toughness. Even when you are dog tired, you still have to give everything you have in the tank, so make sure your players are well conditioned.


Don’t get to complicated with young kids. Get them to do 0 breaks, or send them in a backpedal for 5 yards and then come straight down and catch a ball. Then move on to 45 degree breaks. 45 degree breaks are coming down at an angle. Then last is 90 degree angles, which are 90 degree breaks out of a backpedal.

Things to teach here are not to “step in the bucket.” That is taking an unnecessary step at the top of the break, looking like “stepping in a bucket.”

Jamming technique

This one is pretty complicated for younger guys. But older guys can do this pretty simply. Have them chop the feet, and let the receiver choose which way he wants to go. Then hit his shoulder with your opposite hand. So reach across the body with the opposite hand, and then turn with him. From there, it just turns into staying with him, and making a play on the ball if it is thrown.

Basically, you just want the absolute most effort any of your players can give you. That will lead to your best success. Defense wins championships, so make sure that you put the effort into coaching the defensive side.