Winning Youth Football

Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

Monday, February 28, 2011

Key Mechanics of Tackling in Football

  Tackling in football is one of the main components of the game. Proper tackling or form tackling in youth football is a core fundamental that must be practiced each and every practice at the youth football level. A team with good football tackling fundamentals is a team with confidence!
As a youth football coach there is several key elements of form tackling that you must emphasize prior to contact drills. Body position is probably the most important element of tackling in youth football. They have to be taught how to set up their body in order to safely and effectively tackle with confidence. So let's begin.

First of all it's important that they have a good tackling stance. What I mean by tackling stance is that they have a good foot base with feet about shoulder width and slightly staggered. The knees are bent with the butt down with a straight back. The head is tilted back with the neck bulled and the arms cocked back and bent slightly at the elbows. Get them to set up their body position for tackling over and over again until they get it. Once they understand their football tackling body position, its important now that you explain to them the mechanics of tackling, that is, how their body moves and explodes on contact so that they are effective tacklers. Explain to them that with their bodies in tackling position that they are like a coiled spring and all of its energy ready to explode up and through the ball carrier.
At this point it's important as a youth football coach to explain to them their point of contact. That is, what part of their body will contact the ball carrier first when tackling. We teach them at the youth level to make contact with the chest plate of their shoulder pads with the head back and neck bulled. The head is never in the equation as far as contact is concerned and is always, always, tilted back! You cannot emphasize this enough! We also emphasize a "chest on chest" contact during football tackling, again, with the head back. We do not teach shoestring type tackling as we believe that it teaches the youth football player to drop his head and expose the football player to more chance of being concussed or neck injuries. We believe that with good form tackling practiced over the season that if they are fundamentally sound in the mechanics of form tackling that they will be effective tacklers regardless of size.

Now, with these elements in mind the mechanics of tackling would fall in this sequence:

Stance and body position followed by a simultaneous explosion of hip rotation and leg extension driving up and through as the chest makes contact with the chest of the ball carrier, the head is back, and neck is bulled. As contact with the chest plate is made, the arms drive up under the arm pits of the ball carrier, the tackler locks in maintains his base while chopping his feet, driving his legs, with the head back until the ball carrier is taken down.
Coaching in football requires that you communicate effectively with your players. It's important to take the time and explain each element of tackling and body position to your football players so that they understand why they are being instructed to do things a specific way. If they understand the reasons for it the probability of them doing it increases.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Football Blocking Footwork: Stance and Step

Offensive line footwork is the key to good blocking. An offensive lineman has to be able to move his feet in order to be an effective blocker regardless of the type of blocking scheme that you implement. If they cannot move their feet, they cannot block!

The problem in youth football is that we neglect basic fundamentals that are necessary for our players to be effective blockers. Then we try and implement a blocking scheme and they struggle with it because they cannot move effectively. A lot of times, at the youth football level, the coach will take the biggest and slowest kids and throw then on the line of scrimmage and expect them to be able to block because they are big kids. In some cases this works but overall, without good footwork, they are exposed by a swifter smaller defensive linemen or linebacker, become frustrated, and lose their confidence.

It all begins with a good stance. As a youth football coach you must make sure that your linemen have a good stance. Practice it patiently step by step. Have them set their feet, and then get in their stances; feet should be about shoulder width apart and slightly staggered. Check their head position, make sure its back. Now check their back, it should be nice and flat and their butts should be down with their front hand just slightly touching the ground for balance. A lot of times the youth football player will put too much weight on their fingers. As a result they are slow getting out of their stance. Make sure to coach them up to absorb their weight in their legs, like a coiled spring, and then on the snap of the football to use this coiled energy to explode out and into the defender. Once they have their stance down pat. Teach them first step out of the stance. The first step should be a short six inch "power step" followed by a second "engagement of defender" step. Make sure they don't stand straight up as they engage the defender and make sure they always move their feet. Repeat as many times as necessary until they get Stance and Step down pat.

Offensive linemen have to be able to move in order to be effective blockers. Footwork drills are just as important as blocking drills and must be done every practice. These footwork drills are usually done in the individual group work session of your practice plan and should be a series of agility footwork and change of direction type drills. Begin all footwork drills out of a stance so as to make the drill as effective as possible. Good footwork will compliment your blocking scheme, give the big kid confidence now that he can move and not be beat by the smaller guy and as a result effectively use his size to drive out the defender.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Youth Football Blocking Tips

Adjust your splits for Run Blocking:
Once you have established your blocking scheme for your youth football team and your offensive linemen are confident in their assignments perhaps it time that you tweak your run splits a little bit to try and gain some slight advantages. One thing that you can do as a youth football coach initially is get your offensive linemen to slightly increase their running splits on the hole that you plan on running the football through. You'd be surprised what an extra couple of inches does in regards to a run split, it opens up that running lane just a little bit more for your running back to run through.

But be careful as there are some pretty sharp middle linebackers around that will pick up on your run splits and know right away where the football is being run. Just be crafty in your approach and like anything else don't go to the well with it all the time, otherwise those middle linebackers will blitz the hole and kill your play. Probably at the younger youth football levels they won't pick up on a slight increase in your split on a running play. If they don't adjust, then run it that way until they catch on, then back-off a few series and try it again. Coaching in football sometimes requires that you become a little crafty at times, this football tip is just one example.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Youth Football Blocking Rules

Once you have established your basic football blocking rules as you introduce your football system you can tweak and adjust the rules for certain plays and formations. For example, with a fullback orientated offence you may want to double team the defensive linemen at the point of attack and have your fullback go down to the second level and get the middle linebacker. Sometimes this adjustment in football blocking rules would be necessary in order to block a solid defensive lineman that has created havoc inside the box and cannot be blocked using your basic football blocking rules with one offensive lineman. Adjustments are a big part of football especially on the offensive line where changing fronts and stunts can create a lot of problems for your running game.

Between series you would discuss with your offensive linemen the defensive front and who is able to handle their block by themselves so that you can double team that pesky defensive linemen and have the fullback go down on the middle linebacker.

Another strategy in youth football is if you do not have a fullback in the backfield would be adjust to what we refer to as a "double team and chip" block. That is to have two of your offensive linemen double team a defensive linemen at the point of attack, and once you get this guy moving downhill that one of the offensive linemen would "chip off" the block and go down to the second level and get the middle linebacker. This is commonly done in the zone blocking scheme. The double team would get that linemen moving out of the box and then once momentum is established by the double team, one slips off to get a block on the linebacker.

The most important thing for you to do as a youth football coach of these offensive line adjustments is that you would have already practiced these aspects as part of your football practice plan. The message would be to your offensive linemen that if the basic football blocking rules are not working that these are the type of adjustments could be made. Again, it's important that you already would have practiced these adjustments in practice.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Football Blocking Rules

Football blocking rules vary from coach to coach. Basically, the type of offence you run and the football players you have on your roster will usually determine the blocking rules that you use. My experience with youth football blocking rules is to keep it simple as the sky is the limit as far as blocking rules in football are concerned.
At the younger youth football levels I like to  coach up what I call " Straight up Blocking". In the straight up blocking system your players will be taught a shoulder drive blocking technique. Basically, they learn to step towards the defender with their near foot, keep their head on the playside of the defender,and drive the defender away from the running hole, using their shoulder as point of contact to drive their man out of the running lane. Now some coaches at the youth football level don't like the shoulder drive block for whatever reasons but I have found that it is simple and an effective technique to teach our youth football players. Once they learn how to drive block in practice the next step would be to coach them up in how to double team using the same shoulder block technique.
Once they are fundamentally sound on the shoulder drive block technique we teach them their basic football blocking rules. Now the blocking rules are fairly simple to follow and lets remember now that at the youth football level the simpler, the better! Our blocking rules are three words: Inside Gap,On, Over or to make it simple we call it "Goo" blocking. Now in Goo blocking its important first of all that your offensive linemen know where the ball is going. In other words what hole you are running the ball through. Once thats established the offensive linemen will apply his blocking rules knowing first of all where the ball is going and then secondly checking the alignement of the defensive front and applying the football blocking rules in relation to where the defence is lining up. The offensive linemen is coached up in the "goo" blocking scheme to make sure that his head is always in the hole. So once the play is called in the huddle, the offensive linemen lines up on the line of scrimmage and begins to apply is basic blocking rules. First of all, he checks to see if a defender is aligned on his "inside gap". If there is a defender in this gap then that is his man to block. If there is no defender in that gap,then, he checks off the second part of the football blocking rules which is "On". Now if there is a defender aligned right on him, down in a stance on the line of scrimmage then he knows that this is his man to block, again keeping in mind to keep his head on the playside of the defender. If there is no defender "on" him then he refers to his final rule and that is " Over". Now in " over"  the defender would probably be the linebacker. This would be his man to block!

Again, football blocking rules are like any football system. That is, they are the personal philosophy of the coach that is implementing them. We all have our own preferences of what  football blocking rules should be and this is just one example.


High School Football Coach: Football Team Depth Chart

Manage your Football Depth Chart Effectively

As a football coach I am consistently evaluating and tinkering with my depth chart. A lot of times I'll shuffle through it, add names, change names, and drop names. Move names from a defensive football position to an offensive one and visa-versa.
I find that consistently managing your depth chart keeps you organized an up to date in your player development.
Like all good football systems that you implement, your depth chart reflects your player's strengths and where exactly they fit in the scheme of things. A football coach by maintaining a depth chart will be on top of his player's progress and keep the best possible line up on the field. It's a good way to track player progress over the course of the season and identifies players that have improved or have gotten better than one that's in a starting position.

So how does it work?

Well, at the start of a season during training camp I'll set up my first depth chart. I'll list on it all football positions that are on the football team including specialty positions, and for each position I'll assign a name or names to that football position of the player who at that time I feel is the best player for that spot. After each practice, I'll spend 15 minutes evaluating my depth chart, and move the players up and down the depth chart based on their performance and improvement. I refer to it regularly and have it with me all the time.

I find it is valuable when injuries occur in the game and you need a player substitution right away, pull out the depth chart and scan down and find the player who's the next to go in at that position. It saves time.
I also enjoy discussing the depth chart with the assistant football coaches on a player's progress and development.

A football depth chart analysis will reward a player's hard work and progress while at the same time challenge your youth football players to work hard to keep their positions and not fall down the depth chart.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Football Blocking: Tackling in Football

Schedule Blocking and Tackling Drills in Practice

Football blocking and tackling are the cornerstone fundamentals of playing youth football. To play the game successfully and with confidence all youth football coaches across the country need to focus on these specific football fundamentals. To neglect these would be an absolute complete failure on your part as a football coach.

As part of your football practice plan you need to incorporate specific tackling and blocking drills into each and every football practice. Not only do you need to practice blocking and tackling in football, you need to talk about the importance of solid blocking and tackling fundamentals with your youth football players. They need to hear how important these elements are to their game and how their game will improve once they are solid in both blocking and tackling.

It's all about confidence!

In the long run you will be much better, your players will be much more confident in their assignments and it all starts in practice. You have the control! You can have great athletes on your football team but if they cannot block or tackle then you're in for a long season. You'd be amazed what a minimum of 15 minutes of blocking drills and another 15 minutes of tackling drills will do for your youth football team. No doubt, you will be an improved football team.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Coaching in Football: Youth Football Coaching

There are many things to consider when coaching in football. First of all, the most important thing is that you have to be passionate about coaching in football. Do it because you love it, not because you feel obligated to become involved for whatever reason, but for your true love of the game of football.

Always be enthusiastic and positive when coaching in football and you'll find it becomes contagious with the people and players that are around you. Understand that there is as much work outside of the game of football as there is in it. Administrative paperwork, registrations, equipment, team and football league meetings are time consuming for a volunteer and can be costly at times.

You almost have to look at your youth coaching assignment as being a hobby. Like all hobbies that we enjoy, they do in the end cost money, but all in all the enjoyment that we get out of it coaching in football is worth the cost associated with it.

In some youth football coaching assignments, one can be reimbursed for their costs, however, for the most part; a volunteer youth coach receives little or no compensation. Understand that you will be dealing with a lot more than your players. There will be issues at times, questions to answer, happy and unhappy parents, fans, grandparents, etc. Accept the fact that the role of the football coach and coaching in football will have its ups and downs and you will never make everybody happy.

For the most part if you can keep the majority happy most of the time you're doing a good job!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Football Pre-Game Preparation

Football Player Pre-Game Routine

Every football player should have a pre-game routine. When a player consistently gets nervous in front of a crowd or gets psyched out after making a mistake, a solid pre-game routine might be the start of getting their head space right prior to the game.

Pre-game preparation should be a routine that the player chooses that helps them focus and calm themselves before a game. For some players, this could be listening to music or meditating. For some, it involves warm-up drills or mental visualization. For some just chilling out or just plain quiet time. Whatever it is, encourage your players to get into a pre-game routine that gets them prepared, focused, and confident and most importantly relaxed.

Mistakes are going to happen during any football game. The players that have a plan for getting back on track are more likely to bounce back and succeed. The players that don't will dwell on their mistake lose confidence and play poorly. It's important that as a football coach preparing your football team to compete that they know that mistakes will happen through-out the football game, that it just the nature of any sport. The point you want to make as a youth football coach is to limit their mistakes as much as possible. You want them to play aggressive, not passive, as if they are afraid to make a mistake. You want them to compete hard at a high level at all times and sometimes during the heat of battle, a mistake will be made. So be it! Personally, I'd want my team competing hard making a few mistakes than not competing and making no mistakes!

Finally, help players avoid the stress of competition by taking steps to eliminate the unknown. Explain what players should expect during every game. Talk about it leading into the game and how they should handle it. Nerves are a natural part of competition, but those players who learn to control those butterflies in the stomach are the ones who come out as winners. When players tell you that they are nervous, turn it around and tell them they're not nervous they're just excited about playing the game of football!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Coaching Youth Football: Player Selections and Football Systems

Well its time. The try-outs and training camp are over and you've selected your football team. Now, as a youth football coach the work comes to shape and mould the team in your image. Remember you picked the team and it will be a reflection of you and ultimately you will be the face of the team, accepting all the good praise as well as criticism that comes with the job of being coach.

As football coaches, we all have our favourite systems and philosophies in how we want our team to play. However, all things aside your player selections will dictate what kind of football team you will have. The worst thing you can do at this point is to implement a football system that your team doesn't have the tools to execute. You need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your team and develop a system based on these traits. For instance, maybe you have good size and good football fundamentals but lack team speed, or maybe your undersized but have good speed and football skill. Ideally, you would like to have a combination of both types of football players; however, the reality is that this is not always going to be the case.

The other point to consider is that you might be strong defensively, but lack the scoring in the offensive zone or vice versa. The whole point of this is to evaluate your football team and come up with the system that reflects their abilities and strengths. Maybe your football team will be one that plays ball control and grinds it out or perhaps you will be very skilled and explosive. The point being select a system that reflects your team's strengths. One of the biggest problems in youth football is that we select a system that our players are not capable of performing. This creates problems as far as player frustration as well as chews up football practice time. Bottom line, don't ask then to do something they are not capable of doing and for the most part keep it simple, and do it well!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Football Coach: High School Football Training Camp

A football training camp can be a complicated process. Football player evaluations can be tough at times and stressful for both the parents, players, and football coaches involved. But, it is part of the process needed in order to choose and shape your team. As a youth football coach you have to be prepared and organized.
Meet with your football coaching staff and manager prior to the first practice. Assign one or more the job of running the practice sessions. During the football training camp, plan to either sit up in the stands or on the bleachers with your pen and clip-board. Pay attention closely to the each football player's skill level by evaluating them when they do drills emphasizing fundamentals.

Evaluate how hard they work in drills. Pick out the ones that seem to struggle in the different individual skill drills that you have scheduled and make a note of them, as well as the ones that do the drills with ease. Watch them closely during team drills when they have to work in tandem with other players. How do they respond? Does it appear that they could play within a system or do they struggle? As well, note their effort in drills where they are pressured and have to battle, do they battle hard, or do they shy away, this will measure their character.

 Do they take plays off?

Finally, after practice, meet with your football coaching staff once again and discuss each player individually. Some will stand out immediately while others will have you wondering what they can do. Talk about their strengths and their weaknesses and what they would bring to the football team. In the following practices pick the tempo up and evaluate them once again. You should soon start to see the separation begin and you will start to get a pretty good idea of how the team will shape up.

Keep a log of your players during this process. This will help you in the end with your selections. Also, if you are challenged by a player or parent on your selections you can refer to your log on the player in question.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Football Practice: Eliminate Interceptions and Fumbles

Football statistics are a big part of the game. First downs, penalties, time of possession, yards rushing, yards, receiving, tackles, all are a big factors in the football game and poor statsistics usually results in a loss or a poor performance.

But at the same time great football statistics don't always mean that you will get the win and be successfull on the football field either. The biggest killer in a football game is turnovers, that is, when a football team turns the ball over to the opposing team via a fumble or interception and as a result gives up a quick score. These quick scores can be game breakers no matter how good statistically you are on the football field during that game.

Your team can be playing great, rushing the football, passing the football, and even stopping them with your defence and then "boom" a turn-over happens and worst of all a touchdown results. Not only does it deflate your team but it gives the opposing teams the momentum and confidence and turn around what was a great game statistically into a disaster. So it really is possible to outplay a football team statistically, lead all the categories and despite this lose the game as a result of turn-overs.

For the most part the rule of thumb is that if you turn the ball over a minimum of three times per game your chances of winning that game are diminished severely.So as a coach how do you eliminate turn-overs in a football game? The fairest answer to that question is that you probably will not eliminate turn-overs completely from your game, but if you practice football fundamentals effectively in practice, then you can manage the turn-overs and reduce them significantly. Most turn-overs are mental errors caused by poor fundamentals or poor judgement. For example, your star running back does not hold the ball properly as he runs through the line of scrimmage. An opposing defensive linemen slaps at the ball as he runs by and causes the ball to pop out and create a turn-over.
To sum it up if the running back had good ball carring fundamentals and protected the football then it would have limited the chances of being stripped out by the slap of the defensive linemen. This mistake could have been prevented in practice.
Secondly, your quarterback trys to jam a pass in to your reciever downfield who is running a poor pass pattern. The quarterback  makes a poor throw resulting in an interception. Now, we have two mistakes that occurred which resulted in a turn-over. First of all, a poor route by the reciever as well as a poor decision by the quarterback to throw the football resulted in the interception. Both mistakes are mental errors that can be easily fixed in your football practice. All in all turn-overs can be a big factor in any football game. One of your goals through the football season is to efffectively minimize your turn-overs. This can be done mainly by practicing good football fundamentals as well as working with individual players and groups during your football systems time on either offence or defence and coaching them up to be solid fundamentally as well as to make good football decisions on the field.

Friday, February 4, 2011

High School Football Success with Good Angles

Does this title make any sense? Do good angles bring success on the football field? Absolutely and here's why! When you think of a good downblock or open field block the best ones usually come from the blocker engaging the defender from an angle. Most times the defender is so pre-occupied with the ball carrier that he is less aware of the blocker coming from the angle and so is vulnerable. That why we as coaches always teach our defenders to keep their head on a swivel or in other words be aware of who is in your area as you pursue to the ball so that you do not put yourselve in a vulnerable position and can engage each block as you work towards the football.

Secondly, a lot of teams with an undersized O-line will develope a blocking scheme that has good angles so that the undersized man who is quick and agile can effectively block a much bigger opponent by attacking him from a good angle.

On the defensive side of the ball, teaching your players good angles of attack such as in contain responsibilty where the player with the contain assignment becomes an outside hip player so attacks the ball from the outside in, and forces the ball back inside where theres help. The same can be said for an inside linebacker who attacks the outside hip of the quarterback if he breaks contain to pressure the play as well as force the quarterback back inside. As well, a backside defensive back is taugh their angles of pursuit for each play that is run away from them so that they have a chance to make a game saving tackle should the opposition break for a long gain.

All in all, a team coached up with angles in mind on both sides of the ball are tough to compete against!

High School Football Coach- Football Game Preparation

A High School Football coach for the most part is like a salesman. They have to sell their football systems and motivate their team to perform and make them feel that they are getting the best deal in town. A football coach likes to be in control of the game and if you're in control you usually are having a good day on the grid-iron.

But, what about the uncontrollable? For instance, how talented, big, and good is your next opponent?

How do you prepare your team?

Well, you have to emphasize to your football players the controllable. Like, be disciplined, play the system, limit your mistakes. Don't take bad penalties to give them any extra advantage and most importantly choose to outwork and play hard at all times.

Talented football teams play the game with ease and if you let them have time and space they'll hurt you. But when you force them to work for that time and space it can close the talent gap and keep things close and give your team a chance.
Finally, emphasize to your team, that you cannot control how good the opponent is, or their size, or their team record. You can only control how hard you work, whether or not you choose to execute your assignment, and the fact that hopefully, their talent will challenge your football athletes and will bring the best out of your players.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Football Fundamentals: Blocking and Tackling

Youth Football Coach: Football Fundamentals Blocking and Tackling

As a youth football coach its important that in every practice that you focus in your group work specific fundamentals. More importantly this group work should include drills that cover what we refer to as core fundamentals such footwork, tackling, blocking, and block shedding drills. They are the cornerstones of our game

Plan your practices so that each week you cover all of these core blocking and tackling fundamentals. Include it in your group work and focus on at least 15 minutes per fundamental. Try and keep good flow to your football group so that players don't get distracted or fool around. Don't spend more than 15 minutes per fundamental as youth football players will become bored with it easily. Make sure that their blocking and tackling drills properly. The best approach is to have two football coaches work the group, one football coach runs the drills while the other coach points out mistakes and makes adjustments.

With so much to cover in your youth football practice each week to get ready to play, do not veer away from practicing core fundamentals. They are the center stone of good football. If they have good football fundamentals, it will reflect in your football systems, they will have confidence, and it will show in their performance.

A good block or tackle can spell the difference in any games.


Youth Sports- Coaching a Youth Football Defensive Line

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?

Give your defensive line assignments and responsibilities!

What if you taught your defensive linemen to read their football 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.

And move that line around. In other words the worst thing you can do is keep them in the same look all during the football game. Give them gap assignments and coach them to control their gaps. Either one or two gap assignments based on their alignment. If your front calls for them to line up in the gap then coach them to shoot the gaps as hard as possible and get double teamed all the while trying to penetrate into the heels of the offensive line. If your front calls for them to line up directly over an offensive linemen, have them jam the offensive linemen on the snap using a two point punch technique, and play two gap responsibility while making a read where the ball is going. If the ball is coming into one of your two gap assignments either to the left or right of the offensive linemen your engaged with then shed the linemen and get your head and body into that gap.