Mastering the Double Wing at the Youth Level
A Chicago coach breaks down why the double wing is great for young players, and gives his top tips on how to use it.
Choosing the right offense is one of the most important aspects in building a successful youth football program. You have to find a scheme that confuses the opposing defense without being too complex for your players to handle. Finding that balance isn’t an easy task.
It’s one of the primary reasons Hudl user Adam Beeson loves the double wing.
Beeson, an offensive coordinator who works with mostly seventh-graders with the Warren Youth Football Program in Chicago, loves the versatility and options the double wing has to offer. Like any offense, it has its base formation. But by shifting just a few players, the double wing takes on a completely different look while maintaining the same original plays and concepts.
“We call it double wing, but in reality I’m running power offense, I’m running counter offense and I’m running isolation plays if I want to,” Beeson said. “And I can do it with tempo. I have the flexibility to do all of these different things.”
Beeson has spent years crafting his double wing for youth football after pulling ideas from high school, college and pro teams. Hudl took some time to discuss the benefits of the offense and some of his top tips.
Benefits of the Double Wing
Everyone Gets Involved
When gifted with an elite player, especially at the youth level, most coaches are tempted to simply feed that athlete time and again, and try to have him carry the team. But this generally leads to a simplified attack, and only a few players are given opportunities to grow.
“The problem is coaches were saying, ‘This is our star and I’m going to give him the ball on every play and we’ll see what else happens,’” Beesons said. “But is that what’s best for our athletes? I want to develop all my players. I want to be developing all 11 athletes at all times.”
With a quarterback, fullback, two wingbacks and two tight ends/receivers, the double wing puts several players in position to get the ball, keeping the defense off balance and showcasing the talents of multiple athletes. It also requires four linemen - both tackles and guards - to learn how to pull, preparing them to play nearly any position on the line in high school.
“We wanted to develop more athletes, get more kids touching the ball, more kids experiencing those roles,” Beeson said. “We felt that the double wing was one where we could develop three running backs, plus receivers, on every team and develop them.”
The beauty of the double wing is its ability to execute from different formations while maintaining the same principles.
“I’m going to run at you with power,” Beeson said. “I’m going to run at you with unbalanced (lines). Then I’m going to counter back and open the passing games. I’m going to run simple slant passes. All this causes a group of 11 and 12-year-olds to look and say, ‘Wait, what’s coming next? I know I’ve won the game when the defense is unable to attack because they don’t know what I’m doing.”
Beeson typically employs unbalanced lines. He can shift one tight end wide to pull a cornerback outside and/or move one of the wingbacks into the slot. By just moving one or two players, the defense gets a different look while the offensive playcall is basically unchanged.
It’s Perfect For No Huddle
Beeson said a very wise coach once told him that incorporating just five no-huddle plays to keep a defense on its heels is a must. Beeson took that up a notch – he has 12 no-huddle plays that he can call out of eight different formations, each of which requires just a two-word call.
“We’ve simplified this to where our guys know absolutely their responsibilities,” he said. “This drives other coaches crazy. I love to use that tempo after I hit somebody for a big gainer.”
Tips for Perfecting the Double Wing
Use Wide Splits
This is one of the pillars of Beeson’s offenses. He has all his linemen at least two feet apart, creating natural holes for his backs to slither through. Beeson’s strategy is to simply have his linemen keep their man from making the tackle long enough for the back to get by. He doesn’t need his linemen driving the opposition 10 yards downfield.
“We know the defender is not going to be able to cheat off and shoot that gap,” Beeson said. “We believe with that two-foot block, all we need to do is get a body on him and execute one thing – don’t let him make a tackle. It doesn’t have to appear as if we drive him downfield. We’re just keeping him where the ball is not.”
This strategy requires great execution from the linemen, but Beeson has worked hard to ensure each knows his responsibility.
“You’ll win three games a season if your offensive front seven knows who to block on every play,” Beeson said. “Athleticism only matters to a certain extent. You don’t have to have the best athletes on the field. If your guys know who to get 100 percent of the time, you’ll be in better shape than the next guy.
“When a coach at the youth level has a line that is struggling, nine times out of 10 they’ll say, ‘The line just won’t block,’” Beeson said. “My counter to that is, in reality, your players want to succeed. They’re confused. They’re not confident in, ‘Here’s where I need to go and what I need to do.’ If you know that part of it, the rest of it comes a lot easier.”
Youth players tend to learn best visually, and Beeson will take his players aside in practice to play things back on Hudl. Instead of simply hearing what they did wrong or how they can improve, the athletes see it play out, allowing for quicker corrections.
Sprint Through Motions
Motion players are a big part of the double wing, and Beeson sees so many players casually jog from one position to another, allowing the defense plenty of time to see what’s happening and adjust.
You won’t get that opportunity against Beeson’s offense. His players get into full gear, sprinting from one position to the next.
“The reason for that is that defensive coaches are always telling their defensive players what to do based off of how they see the offensive players line up and how they run their motions,” Beeson said. “I don’t want to give a defender time to think. I want them to have to react.”
Don’t Double Team
Beeson sometimes drives his players crazy with how much time he spends on teaching them their blocking assignments, even lining up laundry baskets on the field. But the athletes have them down pat when the game starts, and Beeson believes this gives him the opportunity to win every one-on-one battle.
“When you double-team, you give free reign to the linebackers, and these linebackers are some of the best athletes on the opposing team,” he said. “That’s a worst-case scenario for me. So what I’ll do is allow a chip block or we’ll cross block it and come around or we’ll also chip, then go to the middle. I don’t want these linebackers active. I want them fighting through traffic at all times.
“The smartest thing I ever learned as a coach was, if it ever seemed like my line wasn’t blocking, the reality is it didn’t know where they were supposed to be. I make sure that it’s very, very simple.”
Beeson has learned plenty of tips and tricks in his four years running the double wing. Have any other suggestions? Feel free to leave them in the comments below, or hit up Beeson on Twitter. And if you want to get started with Hudl, use the promo code adambeeson to save 10 percent.
“What’s Radar Blocking you ask?” It’s one of the best books on offensive line blocking that I have read and many people agree. In 1986, the author, Leo Hand, published Attacking Football Defenses with RADAR BLOCKING. Radar Blocking combines Rule blocking with Line Call blocking, which allows each lineman the flexibility to adjust his blocking assignments to defensive movement and stunts.
Hand outlines 30 different Radar Blocking schemes or Master Calls with blocking Rule (Gap On Over Downfield etc) assignments for each lineman against 14 different defenses. Each Radar blocking scheme also outlines the Line Combo calls which allow the lineman to adjustment their assignments based on the defense and Master Call. The Master Calls are broken down into Off-Tackle plays, Inside Run plays, Perimeter / Sweeps and Pass Plays. The book has over 700 diagrams detailing the Master Call Schemes.
To me, the Master Calls are similar to making run / hole assignments for the lineman just like I have been doing in the past for my backs. Instead of the play reading like “Spin HB 29 Sweep Left” the play would read “Spin HB 29 Sweep Left Stampede” where Stampede is the Master Call blocking assignments letting the lineman what to do on the play based on Stampede’s blocking rules. For the lineman I am thinking about getting wrist coaches that have my Master Calls and the individual assignments listed of for each Master Call, similar to what I do for the QB.
The book is out of print, but I found a copy at Barnes and Noble for $40. It is well worth the $40 for the ideas and thoughts it generates.