Crafting a Winning Run Fit System in Football: Adaptable Tactics for Players of All Skill Levels

In the ever-evolving game of football, it’s essential to have a dynamic and adaptable run fit system that caters to players with varying levels of knowledge. This not only ensures that your team can excel in defensive coverage, but also empowers players to perform at their best. 

In his clinic talk at Lauren’s First & Goal, Dan Carrel, Co-DC/LB Coach for Coastal Carolina  shared key aspects of run defense, the importance of consistent language and teaching methods, and how to use alignment and leverage to ensure your players are well-prepared for any situation on the field.

Teachable and Adaptable Run Fit Systems

When building a run fit system, it’s essential to focus on the how rather than the what. A successful system should be teachable according to the varying levels of football knowledge among players and adaptable to the inevitable changes that occur within the game. Coach Carrel prioritizes understanding and addressing these changes to ensure their team is always prepared for any situation.

Video: Focus on the How

Understanding Distributions, Backfield Actions, and Run Flows

To effectively teach run defense, players must have a working knowledge of formations, distributions, backfield actions, and run flows. This understanding allows them to anticipate the plays their opponents may use and adjust their positioning and tactics accordingly. When teaching run defense, it’s crucial to use consistent language and terminology to ensure players can quickly grasp the concepts and apply them to their gameplay.

Building Run Fits from Back to Front

In order to create a solid run fit system, Coach Carrel builds the run fits from back to front. This means focusing on the secondary support players and their positioning first, and then adjusting the fronts to suit the coverage. By doing this, he ensures that their players are in the best possible position to combat their opponents’ runs and calls, allowing for more effective coverage and overall gameplay.

Winning with Alignment, Leverage, and Numbers

There are three main ways in which a defense can win when it comes to run defense: through alignment, leverage, and numbers. By using the correct positioning and alignment,  the defense can ensure that their players are in the right spot to tackle any runs their opponents may throw at them. Additionally, by playing with aggression and leveraging their numbers, it can create an advantage in coverage and ultimately come out on top.

Video: Win with Numbers

In this example, Coach Carrel goes over the details of run fit for BOW (Backs Over Weak):

Video: Bow Alignment


Designing an adaptable run fit system in football is crucial for any defense because it allows you to choose how to keep players out of conflict. By focusing on teachable and adaptable systems, understanding distributions and run flows, building run fits from back to front, and winning with alignment and leverage, you can empower their players to excel on stopping the run.


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