Youth Football, Who Goes in What Position in Youth Football? How to Put Players in the Right Spots

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Youth Football, Who Goes in What Position in Youth Football? How to Put Players in the Right Spots

Evaluating Youth Soccer Players

Assessing youth soccer players for drafting or determining positions is one of the most important yet poorly performed tasks many youth soccer coaches do. A player is often assigned a position because he “looks” like that position, without regard to the skills required for that particular position. Often, kids who looked like the sons of football players or coaches were given preferential treatment and picked for “skill” or honorary positions. Another mistake that many youth soccer coaches make is that the way they assess their children’s skills has little or no correlation to the actual critical success factors for performing well on the soccer field. Too often, a player is assigned to a position based on just one required attribute of the position, without regard to the full range of skills required to play the position.

i made the same mistake

The end result is that you often have a youth football team that is performing nowhere near the potential of the overall team. So when I’m constantly being asked to come in and address underperforming teams, their kids are in the wrong position, and if you know what to look for, the differences between players are obvious. Early in my coaching “career”, I too was confused by the physical appearance of players. In my first year of coaching, there was a 10-year-old who showed up at our first practice with a “look” of mohawk hair, shirt sleeves ripped off, frowning/I want to put you With his head ripped off and the look on his face, he’s a beefy but sturdy 120 lbs. Heck, from his deferred attitude, I’m guessing he has a pack-a-day habit that makes us drool at the thought of asking him to play football for us. On the other hand, there was a thin, quiet kid with a crew cut who was only 8 years old and probably weighed less than 65 pounds. He looks like one of those kids most coaches probably pray they don’t see first.

Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane

Turns out the Mohawk kid isn’t in great shape, which is no big deal, but he’s also an excuse maker. He’s the one who questions every workout, when he doesn’t win a workout (we do almost all of it in race format) he has an excuse, he slips, he starts late, another kid cheats, he eats that day Too much. In addition, his body control ability is not very good. He can go straight ahead just fine, but when he turns, like he’s trying to turn the Titanic, he can’t. His core strength is horrendous, as is his speed. While there are some technique and core strengthening moves we can take to improve this, even with a significant improvement the player would still be in the bottom 20 percent in this key area.

Looks like Jane, plays like Tarzan

On the other hand, when we do games/workouts that demonstrate core strength, it seems natural for a shy scrawny 8 year old. Not only was he able to lift and balance the dummies during the dummy relay race, but he was also able to run with the dummies while others wobbled while jogging. In the towel, he consistently sucks opponents into the cone, showing great leg power, natural leverage and heart. Even in sumo, he displayed excellent torso and leg strength, tenacity and great natural leverage. In my opinion, the Deer Hunter game is the best and most fun way to determine a player’s “football speed”. Football speed means the ability to start, stop and accelerate in tight spaces, to change direction and control the body to avoid “hunters”. Our scrawny 8 year old did a great job at this workout and our Mohawk was the first out.

make an accurate assessment

The net is that you can’t judge a book by its cover, you have to measure kids to reveal their soccer skills, not how fast they can run 40 yards or how many push-ups they can do. How many times do kids actually run for 40 yards during a football game? How often is 40 times accurate? The answer to both is rarely or never. What did push-ups prove? Upper body strength doesn’t help your lineman much in his block, a proper block puts more emphasis on foot speed, trunk and leg strength as well as attitude and aggression. Some people say that you can’t test the pads for toughness, resilience, tenacity, or aggression until your child puts them on, which is not true. So, according to those who believe you can’t keep kids in place, unless you put the mat on it for at least a week, they’ll fall behind. For them, it’s crap until the 2nd or 3rd week of practice. Towel races, sumo matches, dummy relay races, and to some extent deer hunters exhibit all of these traits without pads.

If you’re drafting players, you’ll have a huge advantage if you know what to look for and how to look for it. Being able to properly assess kids is still a huge advantage if you don’t have a draft, as you can assign positions earlier, make your plans faster and you won’t waste a lot of time moving players from one position to another Like a church social cake walk until you find the right spot for the poor lost player.

make it fun

It would be an added bonus if you could make the assessment process fun for the kids. The first week of practice, kids and parents alike keep an eye on the fun factor and you. If you can make the assessment fun, you can make a big deposit in your parent’s emotional bank account that week. We use all of the above fun evaluation games when evaluating my team and they are all available in my book. I have found these drills/games to be very effective and we are able to get the kids in the correct position 95% of the time after the first practice session.

The first race we were almost always far ahead of our competitors, even though we always practiced less. An important factor must be the ability to perform accurate and effective assessment and early placement of players.

Make sure you have a very detailed description of the requirements for each role on your team before you make an assessment so you know you’re looking for the skills that are best suited.

Unusual but Effective Evaluation Exercise/Ultra in Game

This is a very interesting method that a high school uses to evaluate its players, Rabbit Catch. Bobby Bowden even thinks that this unique assessment practice may have its merits. Think of how similar this activity is to what successful soccer players do on the pitch on match day. Note the 4 state championship rings on the high school coach.

For those who are using my system, does this look very similar to our deer hunter training/game? Evaluate your players well, and not only will you be far ahead of your competition, but you’ll have happier players and parents.

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