There are many mistakes made by first-time coaches in youth football. One of the worst I have seen is when the dads tried to connect with the youth by trying to be their best friend. Though their intentions are generally good, the coach needs to be able to effectively reach his players. That can be difficult when they try too hard to be popular with the team.
It is important that your team understand that you care about them. That doesn’t mean that must dress like them and talk like them. If you begin to act like those on your team, they will begin to see you on their level and you will lose their respect.
So, how do you let your team know you legitimately care without stooping to their level? Well, it starts by knowing their name. I contact is also important as you encourage them and help them set goals. Without that relationship, you will never reach your full coaching potential. Once you have the trust of your team, they will begin looking to you for your expertise. They will begin to gravitate towards to help them grow into better football players.
When I see a team that seems to be lost, it is typically because the team members believe their coach doesn’t care about them as individuals. Many of those players will likely believe their coach is clueless. On the other hand, when you find a team that excels, it’s because they have dedicated themselves to the methods and system of the coaches. Not only to those players trust their coaches on the field, but also off the field.
Many parents these days are trying to be their kid’s best friend. Unfortunately, that will often lead to a lack of respect for the parents. Our children have friends of their own, so what they really need our parents that will teach and guide them through their young lives. The same principle applies for youth football coaches.
As in many sports, one of the most prominent team killers is daddy favoritism. We have all seen it, when a delusional father sets up their child in a position where they are unable to win because they lack the skills necessary. I often see children who excel in one position, but their father insists they start as quarterback. That type of favoritism will tear a team apart in no time. A coach he favors his own child will quickly lose the respect of the kids and parents.
It can be difficult to ensure that daddy favoritism doesn’t show up on your team. It is generally a great idea to not allow fathers to coach the same team their child is on. Or, perhaps make him unable to coach his child’s position. Each team can decide how they want to approach the situation.
Regardless of your team’s decision on hiring coaches, you need to have explicit rules pertaining to all coaches on your football team. Those rules need to be followed religiously and the coaches evaluated on them constantly. There should also be strict requirements for players to make a position. For example, when evaluating your players for the linebacker position, they need to be aggressive and able to consistently tackle.
The goal on your team should be to maximize the team dynamics, meaning that each child should play a position that matches their skill set. No coach should be allowed to show favoritism, to others or their own child. It is imperative to be strict with this policy throughout the season.
It is also important to remember that daddy favoritism is not the kid’s fault. In fact, in my years of coaching, I have found that children prefer to play positions they are skilled in rather than what may be considered a more important role. Too many kids are run away from playing football because their fathers are delusional regarding their kid’s skills. My neighbor, who works in Sprinkler Repair, completely turned his kid off to football by trying to force him to be a quarterback when he was more skilled on the defensive line. Don’t let that happen to your star players!
When it comes to the legalities of shifts or motion in youth football, there are many questions from coaches. Of course, shifts and motions are most common among children over the age of 10. If your team has at least a year of experience tackling, you can give them a big advantage using shifts and motions. Below are some things to remember with your team.
Each team must have at least seven players at the line of scrimmage, but you can use all 10 players. When your players shift, they must completely stop a minimum of one second before a motion from another player. The motioning player must run parallel or away from the scrimmage line for it to be legal.
The ball can be legally snap once your player starts their motion. Many coaches in youth football believe they must wait that one second before they can snap the football, but they can actually snap the ball at any time as long as the motion player is moving in the correct direction.
When used effectively, shifts and motions can be used as an important weapon for your offensive team. And sure your players are performing their base plays well before teaching them special moves, though.
If you plan to use shifts or motions that may be questionable, familiarize the game officials with them before the game begins. Some older teens will have the motioning players make deliberate, slow steps to make it obvious there is no intention of stimulating the snap.
If you decide to use shifts and motions with your team, ensure that your players can pull them off with fluid motions. The motioning player will need to have something they can look at in order to determine how far and deep he is motioning. Use your snap count to teach the player when to start their motion to make it easier to remember. Of course, it will take much practice and repetition to get the most out of shifts and motions, but the time spent will be well worth the effort.
In football, as with every youth sport, parents play an important role. Using videos as a parent can help you encourage your athlete to move to the next level of play. Below are some ways to help you use videos of games to help your child in football.
First, when you use video, you are able to accurately see the strengths and weaknesses of the players, reducing any bias. This will allow you to pinpoint how each player can improve their game after the emotions have worn off.
Second, videos can help parents see things from the coach’s viewpoint. This works best when coaches add comments to the videos. Parents will be able to see what their player needs to improve their game while listening to commentary from the coach.
Videos are a great way for parents to instill positive reinforcement. If the coach is critical or encouraging of the player, parents can help reinforce what the coaches saying to help avoid sending athletes conflicting messages.
Watching a game video can also help parents celebrate the successes of their player. Game highlights can be shared with friends and family, boosting the self-esteem of the player as you celebrate their victories.
Videos are also a wonderful way for parents and other family members to watch a game they missed. It means a lot to a player when someone they love takes interest in what they do on the field and off. If the game is uploaded online, you can watch the action anytime, anywhere from a computer or another mobile device.
If your child’s team currently does not have a videographer for football games, step up and volunteer. Your participation can help your child thrive, and the videos can help not only your child, but the entire team grow exponentially. You may be impressed with how much improvement can come from a simple video.
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.