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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Youth Football: Rebuilding A Football Program

Sooner or later you'll be faced with the challenge of re-building your program. Usually, this follows a couple of seasons where you had a solid team and were a legitimate contender. Or perhaps, you're the new coach taking on a new program. Either or, you got a lot of work ahead!

The challenges in the early parts of the rebuild can be immense as you get to know a whole new group of players and parents. The first thing that will stand out is how young and inexperienced they look compared to the team of the previous season.

Get over it quick! There's work to be done!

It's important that you get a handle on the static factors which basically would be the size, height, weight, and age of your players. Then test them! Have a practice with just shorts and running shoes in the gym. Test their speed and agility, their strength, vertical leap, and time them, in a shuttle run type activity while recording your results. At the end of the day, have a game of 4 on 4 basketball. Include all of your players including your big guys. Basketball is a great game to watch and see who can move their feet and who the athletes are. After this type of practice you should have a basic understanding of players and what group they should be placed in. The next practices assign them to their groups.

In the coming practices emphasize fundamentals and more fundamentals keeping in mind that a young team will need more of these than ever. As they gain confidence in their positions, introduce a simplified version of your system. Remember, that your finely tuned system from last season graduated or moved on with the departing players! Start slow, be patient, as this is all new to them. Praise them steady.

Finally, in your first game expect them to make mistakes and to look tentative. Re-enforce your systems between plays or quarters. Coach them up and most important encourage them to go out there and compete!

Usually, a young team will not be confident and will be a little intimidated in the early part of the season. They will look at you hard for guidance and it's important that you give it to them and talk to them steady. They will probably take their lumps early but as the season goes on you'll see the team emerge and the confidence grow. Sometimes they will look solid while other times they will be just awful!

The main thing is to get them to buy into the idea that they are young and will learn a lot in their first season .Despite their youth and inexperience they are expected to compete and to know their assignments win or lose. The main thing is that the experience they gain will be invaluable for the following season.

A solid rebuild will take 2-3 seasons.


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