7 Yard Cushion: The most successful teams understand that the name of the game is flag pulling. Your quickness as a defender means nothing if you play too tight and get beat on a pump-and-go. Play it safe and line up at least seven yards off the ball. Most leagues start at the 5-yard line, and need to get to midfield for a first down. That’s 18 yards. Put the odds in your favor and sacrifice a five yard pass here or there as long as you’re able to pull the flag and not get beat.
The Rusher: The most important part of a zone defense. A zone tends to break down within four seconds, so if the QB has more than four seconds to read a defense, odds are you’ll get burnt. The rusher must charge the QB in a controlled manner, never leave his feet, and never go for a batted ball. His sole purpose is to make the QB read and throw within that four second window, and try not to let him scramble. (TIP: Remember, always go the hips. Also, never rush straight ahead, try to come at the QB from a 45 degree angle and make him scramble toward his weak side.)
Improvements: Don’t expect miracles overnight, there will most likely be at least a couple weeks grace period until most of these skills are utilized to their highest potential. The younger the kids are, the more difficult it will be for them to process information and employ them in game situations. Be patient and stick to the basics.
Keep Plays Simple: There is no need to have difficult plays. Start off with only four plays. Try to add one new play per week.
Favorite Play: Great plays happen because of great execution. For example, your outside receiver does a 5 yard In, and your inside receiver does a 4 yard Out (the Cross). After this play is successful three times, attempt the “Scissor play.” This means the outside receiver does a 10 yard Post, and the inside receiver does an Out and Up. This play is money if it’s set up correctly, and you sell it by making the defense believe you’re running the Cross pattern again.
Love: This isn’t the NFL; the kids need love and attention. Give them love and they will perform.