Winning Youth Football

Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Football Practice Plan: Individual Group Work

One of the elements of your practice plan should include at least 30 minutes of individual group work .Depending on the availability of coaches, groups can be divided by position such as offensive linemen, linebackers, quarterbacks, recievers, defensive backs,defensive line,and running backs.

At a designated time during the practice, individual group work would be scheduled and each group would go to their designated area of the practice field and work specifically on position orientated fundamentals and skills. Assistant coaches would know that their allotted time frame for individaul group would be for 30 minutes and they would manage their time effectively covering footwork, skills,and fundamentals associatted with their specific position.

If lack of coaches is an issue, then you can group together your linebackers and defensive backs, offensive and defensive linemen, and lump together your quarterbacks, running-backs, and recievers.

Use this time wisely. In other words don't just use the time to throw the football with your wide-recievers, spend specific time on open field blocking for example. You'll be happy you did when your recievers block hard and well down-field and give your athletic running back more time and space to score.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Youth Football: Conditioning

A proper conditioning routine during football practice is as important as any other elements that you have planned in your football practice. A football team that is well conditioned and well coached is a tough one to play against. Its important that as a youth football coach we balance conditioning as part of your practice routine.

Your practice plan should reflect conditioning drills as a team as well as incorporate conditioning right in your individual groups. A lot of teams now run team conditioning drills at the beginning of practice immediately after warm-up. The idea being that you tire your team out at the beginning of practice and then continue to work them through the practice at a fast pace similar to game conditions. That way they are used to playing hard and making good decisions even while fatigued. Practicing at a high pace similar to a game gives them mental toughness which is required in the latter part of close games and could spell the difference between a win or a loss.

Make sure that you do schedule your water and rest breaks efficiently during practice so that they do rest and hydrate properly but at the next element of your practice make sure they work hard at a high tempo without sacraficing proper form and technique. Probably at the beginning of the season your practice tempo won't be just there yet as players struggle somewhat fundamentally but as the practices pile up, emphasize to your coaches and players to practice hard and at a high tempo.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Introduction/Review of New Team Football Plays

When introducing new offensive or defensive plays, it is best to go over them at the beginning of practice before your team has tired mentally and physically. Explain to your team how long you need their focused attention to help reduce distractions. By providing a timeframe to the players of how long they need to focus on a task, they will generally be more committed. My experience is that a player who knows he needs to focus on a new play for 10 minutes will generally outperform a player who was not given a timeline.

When reviewing a new play or defence, focus first on specific assignments. Give a quick explanation followed by a run-through at half speed. If possible, try to only introduce one play at a time and no more than two plays. It is much better to have a team who can execute a smaller number of plays than a team who does a poor job executing a large number of plays.

If you do not have new team plays to review, this time is best spent on conditioning exercises. Completing conditioning exercises towards the start of practice will prepare your team for success in the second half of games. Players need to be able to play good football even when they are tired.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Youth Football:Offensive Line Building

Whether or not you believe it, you soon will understand that you need to have your offensive line in order if you are going to be successfull in youth football or at any football level.

Without a doubt your offensive line is the single most important group of your football team. Without a decent offensive line it really doesnt matter who your quarterback and running back are, if they don't get the blocks then they will struggle.

Yea for sure I have seen, especially at the youth level, where a dominant athletic back can overcome poor blocking and use his size and athleticism to move the ball and score touchdowns. But I also have seen the same back struggle down the stretch against more formidable opponents.

Bottom line, get your offensive line house in order and with that athletic back dominate the opposition. Evaluate your personell and build that offensive line into a solid unit. Size helps but isn't the deciding factor. Perhaps the slowfooted middle linebacket that can hit like a mule would make a great center or pulling guard or that large slow moving kid, with some work on his footwork, can play tackle. Look for certain strengths in the kids that you have not placed in a position and mold them into offensive linemen.

Size can be overcome by designing a blocking scheme that has more downblocking, better angles, traps and double teams. Speed and quickness can be a factor as well and close the size gap, hit fast and hard, and get a jump on the defence.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Youth Football Practice Plan

We have all heard that saying "practice makes perfect". Repetition of skills is the best way to get your players to perform better. Knowing what to do in a given situation is one of the characteristics of a good player. The more you practice, the more inclined your players are to do the right thing at the right time.

A majority of successful football coaches share one very important characteristic- they are organized and structured in their approach to practice planning. Football is one of the most challenging sports to coach because there are so many different positions, skills, and plays that need to be worked on throughout a practice.

Having an organized, structured practice plan allows you to cover the most amount of material in your allotted practice time. The most effective football coaching practice structure involves dividing time into structured “Training Elements”.

There are 7 key Training Elements which should appear in each of your practices:

Warm-up & Stretching
Review of New Team Plays and/or Conditioning
Individual Techniques by Position
Special Teams
Group Work
Game Preparation and Team Drills

Make sure that you cover each training element during your practice and allot a specific time for each element. Once the time is up, move on to your next scheduled element. Stick to your schedule and your players will get the most out of the practice. You'll have good flow to your practice with very little down time!

Football and Troubled Youth

I have come across many troubled youth over the many seasons that I have been involved in coaching youth football. Youth from all different backgrounds, and social levels. Youth addicted to drugs and alcohol with poor attitudes.

Youth that nobody wanted to even be around!

I always gave them a chance

I figured that it was the least I could do, and if they didn't work out nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Most would quit on their own, but some stayed with it and football became an outlet for them. It became their family. It kept them busy, made them be responsible. It took idle time from them. It made them feel important!

Football has turned the lives around for many of our youth. It teaches commitment, and dedication and an opportunity for them to change. I had a small running back once play for me that was impossible to bring down and in the open field impossible to catch. He was driven, broken home, death, foster care, he had every reason to be bitter. He was a relentless machine, a good kid that turned it around. He managed to graduate, the first in his family to do so!

Yea, football can make the difference in somebody's life; don't deny any kid that opportunity! Besides why do we do what we do?


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Youth Football Offensive Line Blocking Rules

Offensive line blocking rules vary from coach to coach. Blocking rules that are implemented are basically the personal philosophy of the coach on how he wants fronts to be blocked on a given play. Choosing blocking rules is like choosing any football system, it all depends on what you like and what you think will work for you.

You may like one coaches blocking rules over an other coach. That doesn't mean that the other coaches blocking rules are wrong, it just mean you like one philosophy as opposed to another. Either or, in youth football, its important that your offensive linemen know their blocking rules and that they are simple enough that when the defensive front changes its alignment just before the snap that your offensive linemen are able to quickly make their blocking adjustment as well.

If you find yourself telling your offensive linemen to basically just go down and hit somebody then you are effectively setting your offensive line up for failure. It's important that they have structure on that line of scrimmage. Having coached youth football for many seasons I have adopted two sets of rules for blocking. Again, the rules are geared towards youth football players. The first set of rules I have used in the past would be Gap-On-Over or to simplify it more, refer to it as" Goo" blocking. Now in the "Goo" blocking scheme the offensive linemen on their pre-snap read would refer to their rules on a each play and determine who they would block. First they would check their inside "gap", if there's a defensive player occupying that gap then that's their man, if not then go to the second blocking rule which would be the man "on", again no defender lining on. At this point the third rule would come in effect and that would be the man" over" such as a linebacker. There he is, go get him and make sure your heads on the play side! Against gap attacking defences I have modified the " Goo" blocking scheme to become the "Go-go" scheme or to simplify it more the " Go" scheme. In the " Go" scheme the rules would now reflect Gap-On-Gap-Over . The offensive linemen would now check inside gap, on, outside gap, over, on his pre-snap read and this would determine who he blocks on the line of scrimmage.

Whatever rules you like is entirely up to you as the youth football coach. It's possible that you could start with one set of rules at the beginning of the football game and your halftime adjustment would be to switch to the second set of rules in order to adjust to the defence.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Football: Disguise your Blitz

One of the most exciting plays in football comes in the form of a blitzing linebacker or defensive back creeping up to the line and then attacking the quarterback at the snap of the ball. It's almost expected, especially when a team is put in a position whereby they need a big play or long yardage in order to convert to a first down. A good football defensive system implements a solid blitzing scheme for either pass or run situations.

There's nothing that can pump fans up more in football than a quarterback sack, a forced turn-over, or a running back getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage on a called blitz.

But what are the pitfalls of blitzing and opponent?

Predictability comes to mind! For instance, if you continuously blitz eventually you're going to pay the price of being too predictable. In other words a good football offensive co-ordinator or quarterback will eventually call a play that will take advantage of your blitzing personnel and take advantage of that player vacating his normal area of responsibility. Dump the football in this area and probably get a decent gain out of it.

Now your strategy at this point will begin to change and you'll hesitate to blitz for fear of giving up another big gain. The advantage certainly swings in favour of the offence as they have more time and space to manage the football. Not good for you though!

Blitzing is a big part of any youth football system. The point is: don't be too predictable, use different looks and players when you blitz, as well as different pass coverage's whether it be man or zone. Also, don't always blitz when the offence is in a long yardage situation, mix up the downs as well. Blitzing on first down has commonly been referred to as the run blitz. Disguise your blitzes by showing blitz, but then at the snap of the ball, having your players all drop back into coverage. This can confuse any quarterback and now they will hesitate at changing the play at the line of scrimmage now giving your football defence more and time and space.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Youth Football Shuffle the Deck

As your youth football team comes together with systems and line-up in place don't be afraid to shuffle the deck a bit. In other words, try a few different looks and combinations with players to see how they respond outside of their normal comfort zone. Try playing your big offensive end on the defensive end side or move one of your defensive players on the offensive side of the ball, give him some carries and see how he does.

You may find a diamond in the rough!

The only way you'll know is just to try it out. This is your responsibility to get the utmost out of your team. Its like car racing, you know what a guy can do on the quarter mile but as a coach you're curious to see what he can do on the oval.

At least you will know.

Try this at times perhaps when you have a good lead on your opponent or when you are behind at times by a large margin and just want to get something going.

It could spark your team or it could make you better. As a football coach you'd be selling yourself short if you didn't take the opportunity to try. Probably one of your team goals is to improve every day and this might be a way to compliment that goal. But, it could also blow up in your face, keep in mind though nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Some of the best moves have come out of these shuffles. You'll get comments like" How did you ever know? or "We never imagined they were capable" but also as well "What were you thinking? Ha-Ha.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Youth Football Defensive Line Strategies

Did you ever imagine that you would be discussing defensive line strategies? Most youth football coaches just line up their biggest, slowest defensive linemen in the box and tell them to plug and penetrate into the backfield. But did you ever consider taking that defensive line a little further?

Yea, sure you want to get your defensive line to get up field but how many times have you seen these big guys miss the running back or worse run right by him oblivious to where the football is at. As well, how many of your defensive tackles have caught the quarterback from behind on a roll-out or have been fooled on a screen play?


What if you taught your defensive linemen to read their blocks and only penetrate to the heels of the offensive linemen and let the ball come to them? By reading the offensive line based on how they are being blocked a linemen can get in a better position to make a play! By penetrating only to the heels of the offensive line a defensive linemen will stay in the play, be harder to trap and not over pursue the ball.
Teach your defensive linemen to keep their heads in the game, know the situation, down and distance and react accordingly. If your contain guys do their job, they will filter the running game back inside to your defensive tackles who await patiently and are responsible to stop the oppositions running game from inside the box from offensive tackle to offensive tackle.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Youth Football Practice Plan

It seems to be a very long time between your last youth football game played and the upcoming season opener. Spring rolls in and as usual football fever heats up. I just received notice in regards to an upcoming youth football camp that is slated for the end of April. During the call my competitive juices start to flow and my excitement level rises.

It's going to be fun to get out on the field and teach youth football!

But wait a minute, what am I going to do with my group? Ah, worry not my friend for I have my trusty practice plans at hand and I will be ready to go, mange my time effectively, and get everything in that I want to get in and cover.

It's the only way to do it!

It's very difficult to show up at a football camp not be prepared and it's not fair to the players or the parents who have invested money into the camp. Besides it makes practise much simpler if I have my practice plan all mapped out.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pulling your Offensive Guards in Youth Football

To me it's a picture of sheer beauty. Two offensive guards pulling down the line of scrimmage and leading the play around the end and downfield while your athletic running back tucks himself in behind and follows the blocks into the end-zone.
It's one of the grass root plays of football!

If you have a couple of big athletic guards its something that you want to consider doing an implementing as part of your offensive scheme. It's a great way to move and protect the football and when executed properly is a hard play to stop. Basically, you're out manning the defence at the point of attack by pulling the two guards. You're creating a physical mis-match on the corner with these linemen lead blocking into the secondary.
But it takes a lot of practice time to implement as your offensive line have to work in tandem to cover off the pulling guards who are vacating their spot on the line of scrimmage and this vacant area needs to be plugged to prevent middle linebackers that read the pull from shooting the vacant gap and stuffing the play in the backfield before it develops.
Usually, when you run this play you'll get your offensive line to tighten up their splits. This makes it a little easier to plug the gap. On the play side on the snap of the ball your offensive tackle and fullback will work in tandem as the offensive tackle will step down and fill for the pulling guard while the fullback will either take on the defensive linemen covering the tackle or go down and get the middle linebacker depending on how they are lined up. On the backside of the play the offensive linemen in tight splits will all just down block and prevent penetration into the backfield.

Again, practice and timing are the keys.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Coaching Tips:When Football Goes Bad!

Let's face it, it happens. After all the drills, practices, team building, reinforcing systems, etc, it's bound to happen. You're going to have a bad day! If you are involved in sports long enough you'll soon realize that there will be good and bad days and sometimes there's nothing you can do but to try and get your players to play through it.

Sometimes nothing can go right!

It can be frustrating as all the work comes unravelled. But don't give up ever and throw the towel in. Now's the time, more than ever, to reinforce team play and your systems. Go over it and over it again, even when it's going bad. Your team will need something each and every time they go out to compete. Look at it as a character builder and try to learn something from it.

Emphasize to your players the importance of battling and competing through it within the system. Bad days will test you as a coach and it's important that you lead your team through the bad weather. At the end of the day re-evaluate your team. Ask yourself are you asking your players to do too much within there limit. The main thing is don't panic, chances are it was just a bad day and nothing else.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Youth Football Groom Your Role Players

Within your system you will have players that are naturally stronger or more talented than the others. They seem to play the game with ease, have good athletic ability, and contribute without missing a beat. The game is easy for them to play. This group would be identified as your core players and you will rely on them to carry a lot of the load during the football game. Most teams have their core players and the more core players you have the more depth you have on your bench. Usually the larger programs have more core players as a result of the higher numbers.

Does this mean that the smaller programs will not be able to compete?

Not at all! Every team will have their core group. What's important for the smaller programs with less depth is to surround your core players with solid role players and give them assignments that they must do within the system. For example, the less offensively talented players will be assigned a defensive role whereby each and every time they are engaged in play their role is to play tough defensively, be physical and pressure the opposing team into creating turn-overs and make mistakes that could possibly generate a score. They would have a primarily defensive role and when they get their time on the field, they know their role which is to be defensive first, play tough and not give up any points. This would be just as important to the team as scoring and if they fulfill their assignment each and every time, they will limit the scoring of the opposing team's core players.

These role players are important to have on any team and usually play against the top core players. For the most part if your role players are stronger than the opposing teams, than chances are you will have a good day. My experience with the role players is that once you explain to them their specific assignment within the system that they thrive within it, and become confident and key contributors. Remember, in the tightest of games it's usually the role players that determine the outcome.