Wing T at 4th grade level

Coach Stewart,

I want to thank you for making the Youth Pistol Wing T series of DVDs. They are awesome and have helped me a ton.  I also want to thank you for offering your email for coaches to reach out to you, as well as offering the free .pdfs and powerpoints to go along with the DVDs.

I have coached high school football but signed up as head coach of a 3rd/4th grade team.  Other coaches gave the following tenants in regards to offense:

  • Run a Pistol / Shotgun formation The distance will give you time to get into your offense before penetration blows up the play. 
  • Only teach 4 run plays early on.  (8 total when going both left and right).
  • Getting outside = best way to score touch downs.
  • Play two tight to keep the DE from crashing early.


League Rules for Offense: 

  1. Seven players on the line of scrimmage with 3 players on each side of the center: No unbalanced lines.
  2. Line splits are no more than arm to shoulder width apart from lineman to lineman.
    1. It is to the offensive advantage to have a tight end lined up on the line as the defensive end will be lined up across from where the tight end normally lines up next to the tackles.Line
  3. The ends can be anywhere on the line of scrimmage and do not have to be right next to the tackles. 
  4. Ends (WR + TE) can be as wide or tight as they want, as long as they are on the line of scrimmage and each one on opposite sides of the center.
  5. All QB, running back and receiver alignments are allowed per football rules.Based upon these recommendations and league rules, our base formation was double tight ram


League Rules for Defense: 

  1. Defensive front is a 4-3 defense with 2 corner backs and 2 safeties.
  2. No blitzing.  OLB have to line up over tackles if there is a TE, but can widen outside the box if there is no Tight End on their side.
  3. Ends have to be head up or outside shade of Tight End or Tackle if there is no TE on their side.
    1. Flexing the TE out actually gives the defense an advantage since Ends can reduce down and get in backfield quicker. 
  4. Safeties are players free to adjust to formation.


After tinkering with my play book in the past our coaching staff decided on the following four plays.


Learning Curve:

Our splits were too large and DT penetration was causing us to bounce off our line.

  • Fix: reduce splits down.
  • Fall Out: Hard to get 36/5 Lead and 48/7 Reverse as we didn’t have time since the DE would crash down

DE’s were best athletes on the field

  • Fix: Double DE with Tackle and TE/WR every play.
  • Fall Out: LB were generally unblocked and our WR/TE and Tackles weren’t our best athletes, so sometimes still couldn’t block them.

DE’s shoot outside.  Since every coach knows getting outside = TD they teach technique to shade outside shoulder of TE and angle out and don’t come inside until you see the ball carrier.  Reverse was ineffective against equal or better talented teams.

  • Fix: Don’t run reverse and I added in a modified version of the Jet Sweep out of “Flex” Formation
  • Fall Out: I didn’t have Down series in place so I used a 16 Lead as the complementary play off the fake jet sweep.

Corner’s played heavy fill to ensure containment.

  • Fix: moved TB and FB closer to outside depending on the play to help protect corner from stoning our outside leverage.

Snap was inconsistent

  • Fix: used your knuckle ball strategy —
  • NOTE: other coaches wanted to go to direct snap.  At the end of the year I counted bad snaps by us vs other teams and we had 4 more over the course of 10 games then other team, so I wasn’t convinced it was necessary.
  • It also took us away from our best play direct snap to FB for wedge, which would allow us to get past the first line and then bounce outside.
  • Fall out: I switched style mid season so took a while to relearn for consistency.

Quick Summary:

We won 4 games and lost 6.  All losses were to older teams with mostly 4th graders.  We beat every 3rd grade team that we played.

Now that the season is over, I bought your DVDs and feel like the Sweep, Down, & Belly families of plays will make our team better next season.  I would like your advice on the following:

Would you go direct snap or pistol? 

At Porterville I was opposed to any of our 4th, 6th, or 8th grade teams running Pistol or Shotgun, for fear of bad snaps.  However, our 8th grade coach proved me wrong and bad snaps were not a problem.  After making the DVDs, the emails I get are OVERWHELMINGLY in support of Pistol/Shotgun snap for the reasons you describe: Gives backs more time to react.

Do you draft size, which mean slow, marshmallow shaped players, or speed, which could mean 60 pounders who limp off field every time they hit a 90lber??

Very tough question.  Even the NFL with all their testing and data get this one wrong because there is no way to measure heart, desire, toughness.  I would always lean towards tougher, smaller players because you are never limited on how to use them on offense, defense, and special teams.  But every youth coach is going to to get a mixed bag which is why you have to develop a system that can adapt to ever changing personnel versus trying to make certain plays work with players who don’t have the genetics to make those plays work.

Not only are my YOUTH DVDs A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH but there are 200-page PLAYBOOKS and POWERPOINTS that support the DVDs. <



How do you assign kids to what positions?  What positions are most critical to least critical.

  • CENTER is the kid who can snap without looking.  The Center has to be able to snap and get to the linebacker.  He should practice this everyday.
  • TACKLES have to be best blockers.  
  • Would like to find smaller, smarter kid to play RG so I can pull him.  Remember:  “Pull Right, Hit Right” and “Pull Left, Hit Left”
  • WING has to be a devastating blocker, even better at blocking than the Guards.  QB and TB are best runners and have to be able to take hits without being injured.
  • WIDE RECEIVER is position that you rotate your worst players in and use my TIGHT and OVER calls to keep them opposite of where the ball is being ran to.
  • One WR is a playmaker and plays all the snaps.  If you have alot of “mandatory play” kids to get in, then put the worst player at TE, keep your playmaker at WR, and run away from TE on those plays that you have a mandatory play kid in the game.  I would never put my mandatory play kids on defense.  Shutouts guarantees that you can’t lose.
  • Mandatory play kids are good for kickoffs when you onside.  Put them on opposite side of the onside.


Introduce Motion or stay with lucky/ringo at fourth grade?

I believe motion is a great way to get extra blockers at the point of attack and can be used to draw attention away from where you are really running the ball.


Best Plays vs the 4-3 No Blitz Defense? 

The Wing T is about grouping plays together that all “Look-A-Like” to the defense.  It is about deception and putting defenders in conflict.  Since backfield actions always look the same, the defense can’t play fast because it takes time to figure out who has the ball.  You have to dedicate practice time and reward good fakes.

Another who edge is if you can find ONE kid who can figure out where & how to pull.  Put him at Right Guard.

Since the defense is very limited in how they can line up, a way to overload & get extra blockers at the point of attack is a TREY formation.

I realize that the Ends are the defense’s best players, but the running backs are the offense’s best players.  So the Ends do not worry me since we have best blocking best.  The WRAPAROUND is a plays that has to be put into the playbook.  It was by far our best play for all of our youth teams.  The DVD shows how we teach it, but basically the QB goes BEHIND the Fullback and slides the ball under the FB right arm and into his belly.  The QB is holding the tip of the ball with his LEFT hand.  He has to continue running towards sideline the entire time the exchange is made.

The 30 Dive play is a direct snap to the Fullback.  The motion man and QB should be running to the right and cross in front of the fullback before the ball gets there.  The FB is coming forward as he takes the pistol snap.  Tell the center to pick 1/2 of the Mike LB and push him right or left. The FB needs to cut off that block.

As the CB and Safeties start flying up to tackle the Liz 28 Sweep, then you run Down & Down Pass.  The KEY on Down is the Left Wing (2-back) making a great fake towards the sideline.  Remember: Swing, Rock the Baby, and Pump the Inside Arm.    On the Down Pass, the motion man can kick out the End so the FB can make a better fake off tackle.  Whenever you tell Fullbacks to block, then the fake will be sacrificed and Safety/CB may not suck up like you want them to.  Also, if the FB can fake off tackle, the QB can put it in his belly and ride the fake before pulling it out to throw.  The QB will not sprint out since the End will be getting kicked out.

There are a couple of options on blocking Belly & Down.  One option is to kick out the End with the motion man so that the FB can make a better fake but now the motion man will not make a good fake.  I Like the motion man faking and the tackle blocking the End out.  A good fake will draw the safety & CB towards the sideline.

If you are really worried about the End sacking your QB, then only send two receivers out on the pass and a RB help the tackle block the End.  If you want motion man in the flats, then the 4-back can block out the end.  If you want the 4-back in the flats, then have the motion man kick out the end.

BELLY SWEEP is another play that has to go in the playbook.  Belly Sweep and Wraparound will be your two best plays.  Belly Sweep only works if FB makes great fake into the line of scrimmage.  Reward your RB with a soda/gatorade/cheeseburger every time they get tackled on a fake.  It has to be a really big deal in this offense.

If you buy the complete package from this website…($139)

I will add you to our HUDL account and you can see hundreds of these plays being ran by youth teams all over the country

who have shared their gamefilm with me.




Teach Offense with 23-25 man roster?

Have two offenses going at same time, each one lined up on each hash.  

Use trash cans for DL.  The lineman has to pick up the trash can and move it 3 steps, put it down.

Assistant coaches/dads for linebackers.  You have to be very, very clear that they can’t all be coaching/talking.  It will be very confusing to hear 5 different voices telling your tackle how to block…the only voice to the 5 linemen has to come from the line coach.  If the dads can’t keep quiet, a mom can hold a hand shield.  I saw 4 youth hand shield for sale on ebay for $100.

The YOUTH DVDs and PLAYBOOK show every play drawn up for 4th, 6th, and 8th grade levels.

There are also on field video of our 8th grade team running every play, along with the drills needed to teach the techniques necessary to run the play

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