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The new second edition of Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football is in the process of being printed and bound. It should ship to readers around June 15th, 2013.
Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football
Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football
Item#: 50-61
$29.95

Product Description

I continue to receive, and post on my Web site, emails from coaches thanking me for the defense and telling me of their team’s success with it. The GAM defense has won a national championship, helped a team go 19-0, and held opponents to 2.5 pts/game.

[In 2008] , our peewee team won the national championship 15-12. I wanted to thank you on behalf of the Raritan Bay Cougars, my son, and more importantly me for all the help and guidance you provided us. Without this defense and all the help you provided [by emails during the season] we would have never gotten this far and definitely not beaten the last team we played.


- Erik Fetterman

To date we are 19-0 and we take nothing for granted. I have studied and read Gap-Air-Mirror Defense at least 100 times.
- Charles Zimmerman

This year I put in the singlewing and the GAM defense... We scored 283 points in 10 games, the defense only allowed 25 points in those games.
- Jeff Bateman



Defense with a complete owner's manual

The GAM defense is the only football defense in the universe that comes with a complete owners manual. The most popular youth defense, the 5-3-3, is not the subject of any currently in-print book. I do not like that defense at all, but even if a youth coach did like it, how would he know how to run it?

Recently, I have received multiple emails telling me that the spread offense has made its way to youth football. My book, Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football shows you how to deal with the shotgun properly. See shotgun defense starting on page 31.



As always with the pass at the youth level, there are three ways to defend it:

  • pressure on the passer
  • jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage
  • covering the receivers

Pressure is easiest

Pressure is the easiest and best way for youth players to stop the pass because it’s the simplest and takes the least athletic ability. With the GAM, you have six to eight pass rushers, depending on the number of receivers the offense sends out for a pass. The offense has to block every single one of them or their quarterback gets sacked. The quarterback getting sacked was the main result when a team tried to pass against us. And they were better off. Some QBs saw the rush coming and just got rid of it to who knows where on a high trajectory—as if they felt being sacked was worse than being intercepted.



Mess up opponent's timing

Jamming takes a bit more skill. The drills for teaching it are in my GAM book. You don’t need much jamming to be successful because the six- to eight-man rush will almost always hurry the quarterback if it does not sack him. Even a split-second delay in the receiver’s release can throw off the timing of the pass compared to what happened every time your opponent did it in practice (where no one jammed the receivers).

Zone coverage a disaster in youth football

Covering the receiver or a pass zone is the hardest thing to do. And even youth quarterbacks can find and hit an open receiver if they have enough time. Actually, I hesitate to even mention zone coverage. I tried it several times in youth football. What a disaster! I don’t know why, but the whole concept of zone pass coverage seems to be beyond the brain of a sub-16-year old. Even when I coached high school varsity, the defense could not do zone coverage in spring football. The coach said, “Use man. I haven’t had time to put zone in yet.” At the youth level, you hardly have time to put in anything because you have to spend so much time on ultra basics like holding still until the snap, watch the ball rather than listen to the quarterback’s cadence on defense, and so on. So whenever there is a way to do something that saves time, it is all but mandatory for youth coaches.

Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football provides an extremely detailed description of how to staff, install, practice, and troubleshoot the Gap-Air-Mirror defense, or GAM. Gap-Air Mirror is terminology invented by John T. Reed to describe the modern, more flexible version of what used to be called the gap-8 and 10-1 defenses. The gap-8 and 10-1 names were confusing some youth coaches into thinking they should always have that number of men on the line and behind the line. In fact, with modern offensive formations that vary considerably even at the youth level, terminology that more accurately reflects the way the defense aligns against various formations was needed.



Is there an offense that the GAM does not work against?

Man-coverage is unsound against any variation of the option. Speed option, triple option, doesn't matter. In order to stop the option and be sound, the defense must be in zone coverage, and the GAM does not have zone coverage. I explain why in Chapter 1.

Complete Owners Manual

The GAM defense is the only football defense in the universe that comes with a complete owners manual. The most popular youth defense, the 5-3-3, is not the subject of any currently in-print book. I do not like that defense at all for youth, but even if a youth coach did like it, how would he know how to run it? Faded memories of how he played one defensive position 30 years ago? Is he really even sure his high school team ran the 5-3-3?

Table of Contents for GAM book



  1. Overview - 4
  2. Positions - 6
  3. Alignment - 10
  4. Responsibilities - 18
  5. Practice schedules - 38
  6. Preseason scrimmage - 50
  7. Pregame - 52
  8. During game - 54


  9. Troubleshooting - 58
  10. Grading video - 62

Among the extra details that my GAM book gives you that other coaching books generally do not are:

  • order of selection (list of all positions in order of importance so you can select the player for each position so as to maximize the limited talent you have)
  • the type of kid you need for each position


  • sample GAM depth chart
  • where to put your minimum-play players
  • rules for how to use minimum-play players
  • how to align against all possible formations, shifts, and motions including stacks, full-house, pro, one-back, no-back, wildcat, direct snap, shotgun
  • responsibilities of each position and drills to make sure they can and will carry them out including stopping inside trap, pursuit angles, boxing, crack-back block, reverse, bootleg, waggle, fake reverse, sweep, throwback pass, off-tackle, receiver out of the backfield, receivers whose paths cross
  • evaluation versus practicing breakdown of whole-season practice schedules


  • first-day combine
  • how to get in three plays a minute instead of the usual taking three minutes to do one play in practice
  • defensive walk-throughs to completely understand responsibilities and techniques
  • how to make best use of your pre-season scrimmage, pre-game warm-up
  • how to make sure you see and make needed adjustments during games using the point-of-attack success chart and the list of play-specific adjustments on page 57 of GAM
  • how to make best use of halftime
  • how to troubleshoot your defense between games using film analysis and recognizing the causes of the four categories of failures


  • how to deal with critics on your coaching staff and in your parent group and bigger coaching organization
  • typical cause of defensive failure by offensive play type or location
  • how to grade video

For those of you who already have Coaching Youth Football or Coaching Youth Football Defense, neither covers the GAM defense anywhere near as extensively as Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football. Coaching Youth Football has one chapter on defense in general and several defenses. Coaching Youth Football Defense also covers multiple defenses, including the gap-8 and 10-1, but my GAM book is the only one that gives you every last detail on the specifics of the Gap-Air-Mirror Defense.



Can be used at the high school level

Even though this defense is designed for youth football, it can be used effectively at the high school level as well, especially freshmen and JV.

$29.95 80-page, 8 1/2 x 11

Youth football is also known by some as Pop Warner football or pee wee football or junior football. I am not affiliated with Pop Warner and never coached in that organization per se.