Youth FootBall 5-3 Bear Defense


By FirstDown PlayBook on Feb 13, 2022

If you are looking for a way to be strong up the middle with your youth football defense then FirstDown PlayBook’s 5-3 Bear defense might be for you. Your personnel needs to play a part in this decision though. If you have a dominant defensive lineman to play the nose position this is a good start. In this way it is similar to a base 5-3 defense.

The 5-3 Bear is a little different. Here’s why. This defense is strong up the middle. Look at your gaps. You have both B gaps defended. The coaching point for your tackles here is stay in that gap. Keep your outside arm free unless you get a down block from the tackle. If that happens you create a pile.

Your nose guard or nose tackle (whatever you want to call him) has a bigger job. The nose’s job is to beat the center to the play side gap. This can be done any of three ways.

The Nose Destroys The Block Of The Center To The Ball

This is not hyperbole. The Nose reads the block of the center and wins to the side of the play. This requires good fundamentals that include stepping with the read foot. Pad level and separation will also be key. The responsibility is not entirely on the player though. As the coach, you need to back your nose off of the ball a little. This will give your nose a chance to read the block and win to the play side.

Let The Nose Play Back Door To the Ball With Your Youth Football 5-3 Bear

If your linebackers understand this then this is a great way to play your zero nose. Everyones job is easier. Now you can coach your nose to hug the line of scrimmage and key the ball. When the ball is snapped the goal is to get penetration. If the nose wins front side then so be it. Your linebacker will play off of this. If the center reaches your nose now he will play the backside A gap to the ball. Your linebacker plays the front side A gap to the ball.

This is the time of year to be working on your youth football defense. Here is why…

You Slant The Nose To A Predetermined A Gap

Slanting your nose to a predetermined gap is a great way to go if your nose is inexperienced or maybe a little undersized. Once again, it is better to back your nose off of the ball a little. This will ensure that they can get across the center’s face. This technique can be taught several ways.

The nose can be taught to take a literal step and to stay square at the line of scrimmage. Another school of thought is to teach the nose to rip the away side arm through to the opposite gap. Then penetrate up field.

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Don’t confuse this with guessing. Remember that you have 10 other players on the field with your youth football 5-3 Bear defense. What you are doing is predetermining everyone’s gap. You know where your players are going but the defense does not. You end up playing something similar to a 5-3 Under front.

The base version of the youth football 5-3 Bear can be a little weak in the strong side C gap and a lot of coaches will walk the strong side linebacker up in the C gap and play man coverage on the tight end. Another way to combat this weakness is to bring pressure off of the strong side.

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For those of you thinking “What’s the difference in the nose guard’s technique here vs a normal 5-3?” we would say that you are exactly right. Any of these techniques could be used when playing a youth football 5-3 defense. The other thing to remember is that obviously there are other players on the field to be coached as the ball will be bounced to the perimeter a lot. To learn more about the youth football 5-3 Bear defense check out the FirstDown PlayBook youth football chalk talks.