How NOT to Coach Youth Football – The Worst Youth Football Coaches, How Not to Become One

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How NOT to Coach Youth Football – The Worst Youth Football Coaches, How Not to Become One

Youth Football Coaching Horror Stories

Most youth football organizations are started by and operated by volunteers. There are many like those in the Utah Ute Soccer Conference in Salt Lake City, where the League and Clubs are very well run, very well organized and where they place a premium on training coaches. On the other hand, there are other organizations where the leadership is self-centered, with many clubs having priorities that make little sense.

One striking example comes to mind. I got a frantic call from a coach in Florida last week. His club had four teams. Two of the teams in the organization did not score a single touchdown last season. The other team had very bad results. On the other hand, our hero’s team made it to the playoffs, losing only 3 games for the entire season. His team only had 14 very average players and had to compete against much better teams who had between 25-28 players, The team our friend took over had very similar results to the other 3 teams in the club the year before he this team took over. His parents love him, 8 different kids scored touchdowns, all 14 kids carried the ball at least once, everyone who played for him last year signed up to play again this year. You’d think the people in charge would give this coach a medal and a parade down the main street? If not, then at least figure out what he did differently than the other 3 teams and try to replicate his success, right?

What do these people think?

The head of this organization felt that the reason the organization’s teams had done so poorly was because “they weren’t tough enough”. This requirement of persons for next season is a universal training plan for all 4 teams that places a huge premium on the “hardening” of the players. Now according to our friend the 3 teams in this club that did so poorly last season, all they did was ‘up the kids’ during training. While our friend was working fit and freezing football lessons, power hour and bird drills, the other teams were walking their kids until they threw most of the practice or scrimmage.

Mind you, the only team in the organization that had much success was a team that used my system and practice methodology, which placed a premium on progress that taught perfect fundamentals. As many of you who use my system know, we do a significant amount of form and fit and freeze work during our practices. We firmly believe that kids will only play aggressively if first they know exactly what their responsibility is on every play in every circumstance and second they feel 100% confident in the technique they need to execute on that snap. Put them in a scheme like mine where even average skill players can add value on every snap and even excel and you have a winner. Confidence in role, responsibility and technique puts children in a position to be potentially aggressive. Add a method where you easily get kids into contact so they gain confidence in their techniques and their ability to play physical football and you have yourself a team that plays “tough” and aggressive. Of course, we describe exactly how to do that step by step in the book.

The study

In the two-year study I conducted of the best and worst youth football teams in the area and the country, I consistently found that the underperforming teams almost always spent about half of the practice time doing full speed scrimmages . In a good portion of the rest of their practices, they often did a lot of “drilling” with full contacts or “hardening” type drilling or conditioning. On the other hand, the successful teams almost universally didn’t do much scrimmaging at full speed, instead they worked a lot on perfecting fundamentals and responsibilities.

Which really worked

My personal teams over the last 8 seasons have gone 78-5 and we do very little full speed shooting and full contact drills after we “bleed” the kids noses to get the feel of contact in the first few weeks to get. We use our valuable practice time to perfect technique and responsibilities, and not beat the kids into the ground by “stuffing them up”. In those 83 games, we were out only once. We are never out of the league games or out of state tournament games. Our kids love contact and like to have contact because they have great technique, we limit it and only give it out as a “reward” and because the kids can “play hard” because they work in our schedule know front, back and side. The children accelerate in and through contact, because they know that with the right technique they will not get hurt and they will be successful. You don’t get that by bringing children into contact before you perfect the basic shape. Once you’ve perfected the basic form, you move on to adding speed, angles and changes in direction, but you do it in a progression with fits. It is all explained in the book and DVDs.

Great example of what NOT to do

Here is an example of what some youth coaches do, I am sure this person is a very nice well meaning person, BUT he is not a very good soccer coach. Can you tell me what’s wrong with this picture? The bad coaching example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB0X-G4A-Ic

What’s wrong with that picture:

Coach obviously didn’t teach the kids how to execute a form tackle, they have their head on the wrong side 70% of the time, they have their head 60% of the time, they don’t have their knees bent 75 % of the time, they don’t wrap up 80% of the time, they don’t have a consistent contact point 100% of the time. They throw the ball back instead of running it back with only one ball in the drill and run through the drill instead of around it, using up 30% of the drills time. They get one rep off every 45-50 seconds. This drill should be done with one rep every 10-12 seconds with different balls or no balls, to the point that the kids and you the coach are breathing a little heavy. The kids got bored and the drill took up so much practice time, but could easily be corrected. Of course, these kids never went through a fit and free angle mold for tackle drill.

The biggest sin

The worst thing in my mind is that the coaches praise kids who obviously do the drill incorrectly and in many cases unsafely. I’m all for praising kids for every little thing, for tying their shoelaces properly, BUT it’s dangerous and counterproductive to praise them for getting it wrong. This is a great example of how not to do a drill and a great example of how you waste practice time with little or no tangible results. At least those who read this post can benefit from how NOT to do an approach drill.

I realize these kids are very young, but I’m not sure what any of these kids learned during this “soccer practice”. These kids can’t tackle well or do anything football related well.

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