Some youth soccer coaches fear that by pulling their linesmen, they will leave large gaps in their offensive line that can be easily filled by defenders and cause soccer plays in negative yards. At first glance, that topic may have merits, but when you look at the details it doesn’t if you use some very simple techniques. If your offensive line has divisions that are like what you see in Texas Tech on TV, 2 – 3 yards, shooting would open huge gaps in your line. However, in my offense, our linemen are foot to foot. There are no splits and with shoulder width stances and the gap left by a youth soccer line shooter is 1 yard or less.
Defenders don’t know the snap count, so any offensive lineman has an edge over the defense until they get an edge on the snap. We also have all of our offensive linemen with the exception of the center, outside the scrimmage line. This allows them to shoot much easier and allows our other attacking linesman to easily cut through any penetration by any defender by taking a simple short step inward, something we repeat every day in soccer practice with our linesmen. Since our shoulders also know the count and defenders don’t, our backs are usually long gone when a lightning-fast defender enters our backfield. In fact, despite having played against every standard and paper defense defense known to man in the last 6 seasons, our first team’s offense has had only one play of negative yards.
Even if there is a defender right above your linemen shooting, a very simple blocking rule like DIO; inside gap, on, down will put another offensive lineman on the defender covering your throwing player. If a defense decides to cover everyone on your offensive line or switch to a GAM-type defense, don’t shoot. There would be no defender to block if your shooter got to the point of attack with those defenses anyway. If a defense attacks a linebacker, most of the time it is close enough to the scrimmage line to be blocked by the rule or legally cut or blocked. If the blitzer comes from somewhere outside the scrimmage line, he will never be fast enough to play the game, unless he’s a Lawrence Taylor clone. We like it when our opponents play that kind of defenses, we don’t have to worry about shooting, we will still have a double team at the point of attack and we will block the unlocked defensive lineman with a kick-out of one of our shoulders.
If you have an extremely slow and nasty lineman who has trouble covering gaps to pull linemen, ask him to make a simple but effective crab block. See the crab block posts for more details on this here in the tips section. Gaps left by line shooters aren’t a problem in youth football if your team uses the techniques above.
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