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.

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 double wing base formation

It’s Versatile

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.”

Reinforce teaching points with Hudl.

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 quick 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 on 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