The Art of Building a Winning Defensive Football Team: Strategies, Mindset, and Techniques for Success

Mastering the art of building a winning defensive football team requires a combination of skill, strategy, and determination. In his talk at THSCA Coaching School, Doub Belk revealed the top strategies for defining roles, instilling core values, and fostering a winning mindset. 

He focused on the power of discipline, accountability, effort, and physicality in creating a formidable defense, and how these values have shaped their approach to the game. He highlighted their unique traditions, such as the “Jack Boys,” and “Sack Ave.,” and how they’ve become an integral part of Houston’s team’s identity. He explains how these were developed in this video:

Video: Jackboys & Sack Ave.

Defensive Philosophy and Core Values

One of the keys to building a successful defensive football team is having a strong defensive philosophy and a set of core values that guide the team. The Houston staff focuses on defining roles for each player, matching personnel accordingly, and emphasizing the importance of discipline, accountability, effort, and physicality. 

Maximizing Player Performance

To maximize player performance, it’s crucial to reach players through various methods, such as YouTube videos, visuals, or other techniques. Coach Belk emphasized the importance of practicing correctly to win on game day and allowing players to police themselves, creating a strong team bond and mutual respect in the locker room. 

Video: Visuals – Aaron Donald Example

They also use competition to motivate players and create a mindset of domination.

Video: Compete or Retreat

Defensive Mindset and Teaching Techniques

The importance of competing on the field and how it translates to success cannot be overstated. Leveraging physicality and block protection to create game-changing plays is a key aspect of their defensive techniques. They challenge players to step up in front of the whole defense, fostering a culture of discipline and striking a balance between teaching methods and technology.

Teaching and Technology in Football

In today’s digital age, it’s essential to find the right balance between teaching and technology. While the Cougars staff uses technology to send notes to players electronically, they also emphasize the importance of using pen and paper to help players focus on the old school versus new school mentality. This combination of traditional and modern teaching methods can lead to greater success on the field.

Video: Teaching vs. Technology

The X’s & O’s: Coach Belk’s Use of Sims on Run Downs

Doug Belk has a thought process he applies to using Sims on normal down and distance.  On these 1st and second down they see a lot of Boot, and he shares how they utilize a Sim to cause problems for the defense (click on image for video):

Video: Simulated Pressure


Building a winning defensive football team is an art that requires dedication, strategy, and a strong mindset. By focusing on core values, maximizing player performance, and striking the right balance between teaching and technology, The Houston coaches create a formidable defense that has the ability to dominate the field. 

Embracing these insights and strategies to transform your defensive football team and elevate your coaching game.


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