When it comes to youth in football, you can never replace a teaching environment that is hands on. Of course, if you are like most coaches, you likely feel that you never have enough time to maximize the potential of your players implementing strategies. Fortunately, there’s a way you can teach skills needed in 15 minutes. Following the plan laid out below will help to see major improvements on your team and increase productivity.
When you start practice, spend your first five minutes working on tackling. Tackling is one of the most important skills needing to be developed in youth football. As you show your players how to tackle effectively, you are also spending time teaching them how to do it safely. Use your practice footage to go through your previous games and identify key plays that help you teach proper tackling. There are several points you need to spend time on with tackling such as the player keeping their head up, following through with the tackle, and learning how to wrap up the tackle.
The second five minutes of your practice should be working on blocking. Many youth players do not understand how their blocks benefit or hurt the team on particular plays. In fact, blocking can often be a stumbling point of the offense in youth football. To help with the blocking game, show your players how their pre-snap alignment looks by using drawings. It can also be helpful to watch videos that highlights how a play fell apart because of a missed block. You can also reinforce this by highlighting plays that were successful. You want your players to understand the cause and effect of blocking.
The last five minutes of practice should be focused on recognition. Positive reinforcement is crucial at the youth level, so you need to celebrate your team’s best moments. You can do this through video or through conversation. You will be amazed at how your team can improve with a little extra encouragement.
By breaking up your practice into these five-minute increments, you can maximize your time and practice and help your players continue to improve.
In youth level football, choosing the defense to run is an important decision for a coach. Offenses for youth tend to be ground-based, so as a coach, you need to figure out how to defend against the running game while not leaving passes open. Below are some ideas to help you with your defense game for youth football.
The first idea is to go big without sacrificing speed. In youth football, it is more important to have a fast defense rather than a large one. It can be tough to find the right player who is both athletic and big. If your defense is big but can’t move, they don’t do you a lot of good.
Remember to keep your players in the zone. It can be tricky to play defense man on man. Your players can tend to collide as routes are crossed. Instead, try to use zones. That way, your players understand their responsibility each play rather than deciding based on what the offense does. Zone play can help eliminate a lot of confusion on the field with youth players.
Next, allow your players to have ownership. As a coach, allow your players to name their position and plays. Doing so helps them to remember where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do better. When you assign something as a coach, the kids are less likely to remember it then if they came up with a name for themselves.
Last of all, always know information about the other team. With youth teams, three or four plays are used regularly. Try to find videos of your opposing team playing so you can get a good idea of what to expect. This will give the defense a great advantage over the other team because they will know what to expect and how to counter it.
Using the above tips, you can help your defense grow stronger. Try it with your team and let us know how it goes this season.
In our last article, we discussed how to improve young players in football through being supportive and including all players in games. We will continue that conversation here with more ideas on challenging your young players.
One way to help young players improve their game is to give them fun homework. Of course, you will likely hear some negative feedback using that word, but when you make it fun for them, they will ask you for homework. Some kids have a hard time getting their parents to help them on their skills when they need to improve a certain area. With this in mind, give them an assignment they can work on themselves. For example, they can simply throw the ball in the air and catch it themselves practicing tucking, or they can find someone else to play catch with. If they need to work on their speed, they can race friends or a pet. There are many options available in this area.
Second, have fun as a way to engage your players. When I work with youth, I tend to give them cool nicknames. You can allow them to choose their own nickname or pick one for them. Something simple such as this can go a long way to help the players have fun.
Last, always have an end goal in mind. The best way to do this is to break down different aspects of playing to address each practice. As a master one thing, you can start adding other pieces of the game to work on. As long as your team is regularly improving, winning is not the end game. Believe in your team from the beginning, even if they are all new to the game.
As you spend time building up your team, their confidence will grow and your investment will be rewarded. If nothing else, perhaps you will be the one to light the spark in them for football. To do so, you need to create an environment that is fun and encouraging for your young players.
Do you coach young players? If so, you may be looking for a secret that’ll help you challenge your players to improve while building their confidence and having fun. Of course, it is important to remember that these kids are not being scouted and are just starting up their careers in football. With that in mind, without the stress and pressure, young players can retain more football information in a positive and fun environment. Below are some pointers to help you get started in helping your players grow.
First, it is important to be supportive to help build their confidence both during the game and at practices. Everyone tends to have a competitive side and loves to win. It is important, though, for your players to see you cheer on the other team when they play well. As you acknowledge good plays, good sportsmanship is demonstrated to your players. Many coaches will talk to their teens about having good sportsmanship, but when you don’t practice what you preach, the kids won’t listen. Whether your team wins or loses, acknowledge their hard work. Even when there is a negative outcome, positive reinforcement will build their confidence, encouraging them to improve on their own. Always keep in mind that your players will watch you to learn how to act, not just listen to your words.
Next, always include players with every level of skill. If you have a player constantly sitting on the sideline, you are unable to encourage them to improve. It is imperative to rotate through all your players throughout the game rather than only putting in your backups when your team is ahead. It doesn’t matter if that player simply stays in the same spot the entire play. Even if your center takes forever to turn around and face the quarterback. The only way for your players to get game experiences to actually play. When they watch the game from the sideline or simply hear you tell them how to play, they are less likely to be challenged to grow and stretch beyond their comfort zone.
Using the two steps above, you will help your team grow in confidence and skill. Give them a try and see how your team grows this season.