How Important is Ball Security in Youth Football?

Written by Dave on February 8th, 2011

How Important Are Turnovers in Youth Football?

In the 2011 Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers probably lost the game due to turnovers. In the history of the Super Bowl the team that has won the turnover battle has won 33 and lost 3 of those games. Important in the NFL? Yes

 But how important are turnovers in the youth game? The answer is just, if not more. The reason turnovers may be even more important is the fact that there far fewer possessions in a youth football game. Most youth football games have just 10 minute quarters, while College and NFL games have 15 minute quarters. In youth football there are many more running plays compared to the prevalence of passing you see in the NFL and College games which also brings  the number of possessions down. Most youth team huddle and do not run plays at the same pace as most NFL and College teams, which means even fewer plays. Starting to understand why you have to make every possession count in youth football?

More on protecting the ball and ball hawking in future posts. We place a premium on protecting the football in my program. In 2005 we had just 2 turnovers in a 11 game season, in 2006 just 4 in 11 games. In 2007 just 4 in 11 games. This past season we had an inordinately high number of 6 in 12 games, but we did throw a little bit more, getting 18 touchdown passes to go along with the 3 interceptions. Ball security is key and has played a major role in the success of most championship level youth football teams.

Copyright 2011 Cisar Management, all rights reserved. This article may be republished but only if this paragraph and link are included.

8 Responses to “How Important is Ball Security in Youth Football?”

  • In football no matter what the level ball security is key. All the reasons why it is prevalent are listed in your blog and you hit the nail on the head.

    But as a youth coach it is difficult to instill the details essential to football (such as ball security.) Depending on the age group many youth football coaches are teaching their players how to play the game for the very first time, and in a very short time span so without a doubt some of the more detailed aspects of football may have to be looked over.

    But I’ve found when coaching youth in football you must use every chance to teach not just in practice but in games as well. While games are usually seen as the time to show-off your perfected craft, when coaching youth you must continue to coach and teach in games if you want the young guys to be able to fully grasp ALL the aspects of football.

  • davecisar says:


    Yes we are always teaching even at game time. What some youth coaches forget to do is to ALWAYS coach ball security during every drill, every rep, during idys, group and team. Add a ball to every drill, from angle form fit to an agility or conditioning type drill, you can always be working on ball security in youth football.

  • Jeff Gardner says:

    We had an issue with the exchange which early in the season cost us five snaps per game. When you only have about 20-25 offensive plays at the youth level that is ALOT of lost production. It showed in our scores. Once the problem was corrected we improved dramatically. We didn’t lose many balls on a bad exchange but the loss of down was just as critical.

  • Andy says:

    I’ve been extremely effective in teaching this with one simple question, “What do we want?” – The answer is, of course, “THE BALL!”

  • Brent Van Hook says:

    How do you teach kids protecting the ball?

  • davecisar says:


    It’s a progression like everythng we do staring with seating the ball. Ball has to have 5 points of contact, hend over tip of ball, ball against forearm, tip of the ball in cup of the elbow, ball against upper rib cage and other hand over top of the ball when coming into contact.

    We teach the seat, then do gauntlet drills to start. We enforce ball protection on every drill, anytime the ball is on the ground it is 100% live, no matter what. Coaches in every drill are slapping at the ball. Every drill with backs or receivers we add an extra step at the end, a player swatting at the ball. Of course one of the best ways to teach ball security is during your strip drills.

  • HEATH HILLS says:

    I guess a silly question as I am starting over with my 8 year old boy and coaching his team . At what age to you start teaching to strip the ball or ball hawk instead of the fundamentals of tackling ? If there is a good drill for stripping the ball at this age group some input would be greatly appreciated !@!

  • davecisar says:


    Good question
    We never quit teaching fundamental tackling all the way through the 8th grade.
    We teach the second man in- once progress has been halted- is the player stripping the ball

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