Winning Youth Football

Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Football Coaching Tips: Offence and Defence

The game is changing! Football players are bigger, faster and stronger now and are more committed to their sport than ever before. The equipment, the facilities, the weight-rooms and gymnasiums are much better facilities than they were twenty years ago. As well, information regarding proper nutrition, diet, and training plans are much more readily available today than they were in the past. The athlete now trains year round and there is an endless amount of football resources around complimented by spring and summer football leagues and good football systems.

Better athletes with better coaching, and more opportunities to play football, equals a higher brand of football played today than in the past.

With that in mind the challenge for a football coach today is immense. You need to be on top of your game, you need to be organized in both your practice plans and systems and know them inside and out. As a football coach you need to make a commitment to the game, like your football athlete does in the weight room and gym, to be the absolute best that you can be otherwise the game and its evolution will pass you by very quickly.

The players will expect that from you as well as their parents who will be quick to criticize a disorganized practice or poor football systems. It's absolutely necessary for you as a football coach to have everything in place and your football house in order; it will save you a lot of grief! So organize yourself, be better, and attend a local coaching clinic. One of the things you'll notice is that even the most successful coaches still attend coaching clinics; it's just another way despite their on field success for them to stay on top of their game


Monday, March 28, 2011

Linebacker Keys: Effective Block Shedding Technique

To be an effective inside linebacker it's important to get to the ball on every play from the line of scrimmage. For the most part there will be blockers along that path to the ball and it's important that the linebacker has a good block shedding technique in order to take on blockers, shed them, and get to the ball. As important as tackling is in football, it's also very important for linebackers to learn effective block shedding techniques.

One of the most effective block shedding techniques is called the two point punch.

In the two point punch the linebacker when engaging a blocker would strike the blocker with his two hands on the blockers shoulders and fully extend his arms in what we refer to as "locking out". The strike to the shoulder area should be quick and with authority causing the blocker to lose momentum. The extension and locking out of the blocker is another effective technique to keep the blocker off the linebacker and gain separation.

Finally, to complete the block shedding process the linebacker would use a "rip technique" whereby he would disengage his backside arm, push on the play-side shoulder and rip across the front of the blocker with his backside arm and leg to completely shed the blocker and get to the football. The two point punch block shedding technique would be practiced in your group work segment of your practice plan within your linebacker group.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Football Blocking Tips:Man Blocking

Man blocking in football has been around since the early days of football itself and for many years was the main system in football blocking. Man blocking in football today is still being implemented, and with the debate ongoing between man blocking and zone blocking is still an effective blocking system. For those not yet familiar with man blocking the basis of it is that your offensive linemen have a set of blocking rules they follow for their plays and depending where the ball is being run will implement their blocking rules to determine who or what player the block. An example of a set of blocking rules would be: Gap-On-Over. Basically, in these blocking rules the offensive linemen prior to the snap would check first their "Inside Gap", followed by "On" or whether or not there is a down linemen lined up right on them ,and finally " Over" to determine if there is a player over them like a middle linebacker. On each check if there is a player in that area it's their man to block

Another element of man blocking is the trap play. Basically, the trap play is designed to allow a defensive linemen to proceed across the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball untouched only to be blocked out or "trapped" by an offensive linemen that is pulling down the line of scrimmage from the backside. Usually on the play-side there is a double team, taking place as well as one of the linemen down blocking on a middle linebacker. With the backside Offensive Guard pulling to the play side and trapping you are basically out manning the defensive front at the point of attack. This is the basis of a lot of the Double and Single Wing blocking schemes.

Another option in your man blocking scheme would be to have a fullback in your backfield that always attacks into the second level of linebackers. By implementing a fullback in the backfield you can create more double teams on the line of scrimmage without giving up a block into the second level linebackers. As well, a fullback can create a lot of misdirection in the backfield which can compliment your trap blocking scheme.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Football : Zone Blocking versus Man Blocking

There has been a lot of discussion of late on football coaching forums in regards to the running debate of what is the best blocking scheme that is being taught today at the youth football level. The two main blocking schemes of discussion are zone blocking and man blocking.
Zone blocking has taken off the last few seasons and is popular among the newer coaches as it is probably the main blocking scheme that is used at the High School and University levels. Man blocking is the more traditional way of blocking and many old school coaches that are still around prefer man blocking as opposed to zone blocking. Both are effective blocking schemes!

So what's the real difference?

The basis of zone blocking is that on the snap the entire offensive line will step down to play-side, find a double team on a down lineman, and as the linemen is engaged and being what we refer to as " washed down", one of the offensive linemen involved in the double team will " chip off" and go down and get the middle linebacker. The running back will take the hand off to the play side and go with the blocking all the while checking backside for the opportunity for a cutback. When zone blocking is working at its best the running back usually hurts you the most on these cutbacks. The basis of man blocking is that the offensive linemen are given a set of blocking rules that they apply for each play depending on where the defensive front is lined up, and apply these rules to determine who they block. When man blocking is working at its best the running back is running more north/south with offensive linemen getting down into the second level untouched.
Again, both are good blocking schemes. Now the argument from the zone blockers is that it is easier to teach, and less confusing as you always step to the play side compared to man blocking where it can be confusing especially against defenses that like to move around, in applying your blocking rules which can create missed assignments. Now the man blockers will argue that an effective gap attacking defense that uses four man fronts will eliminate the double team and allow the middle linebackers to scrape and flow to the football. As well, they will argue that the slower offensive linemen will struggle in this scheme to "chip off" and get a block on the middle linebacker. Usually, you know that a zone blocking scheme is failing when there is no cut back and that the running back is always trying to take the ball out and around the line of scrimmage and in man blocking, you know the scheme is failing when you are getting stuffed on the line of scrimmage.

So they both have their advantages and disadvantages. I think that when determining your blocking schemes that it depends on your personnel. After considering both arguments, I believe that a zone blocking scheme is more suited to a smaller, more agile and quicker offensive line. The double teams and stepping down play side give the smaller linemen better angles and the double teams create more push with the ability to chip off and get a middle linebackers more suited to a swifter, smaller lineman. Compare this to a man blocking scheme that is better suited for a bigger, stronger, but less mobile offensive line whereby there blocking rules keep them in close proximity to their blocking assignment and they are big enough to move a body by themselves and when they need to block a middle linebacker the linebacker is usually right over them with the ball carrier coming right behind them which puts the middle linebacker in a position that he has no choice but to engage the bigger, stronger, offensive linemen. I think that at times and with the youth football players we coach because of their age that there is going to be confusion. Regardless of the scheme, evaluate your personnel and put them in the best position to be effective blockers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tips on Youth Football Injury Prevention

Conditioning, Football Fundamentals and Body Control are the Keys

Coaching in youth football requires that the coach put his best effort in minimizing football injuries and putting the players in a position whereby the risk of a football injury is minimal. Injuries are a factor in all contact sports at all levels. Even in youth football its part of the game and a football season can be lost with significant injuries to key personnel.
Like a doctor that practices preventative medicine a youth football coach can kind of do the same thing. It all begins in football practice! An effective and proper warm-up, that will stretch out and warm-up the muscles. A solid conditioning routine that places the football athlete in the best possible shape, so that they can play at a high level. Practising fundamentals faithfully so that the youth football player has good technique, and by doing so minimizes the chance of injury.
Another good key is emphasizing body control at all times to the football players. That is on every play, every chance of contact, that the player is in control of his body with good technique and puts his body in a good position on every play to not only be effective fundamentally but also effective in avoiding injuries and at the same time effective in making a good football play! Some of the younger youth football players think they are indestructible and will launch their bodies in a reckless fashion into a ball carrier or on a block. This type of play needs to be addressed immediately by the football coach. Yea, it might be effective at the younger levels but if the habit continues they are setting themselves up for serious injury later on. They must be in control of their bodies at all times and the coach must be on top of it at all times! Effective management by the youth football coach in these areas will minimize injuries!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Youth Football Tackling: High or Low Technique

With bigger kids and better athletes now playing football the game is evolving so that new approaches and ideas are being implemented to deal with the change of body size and ability in our younger youth football players. It's not hard to realize that the average size of a 12 year old is bigger today than it was compared to twenty years ago. But then again there are still smaller athletes playing the game as well.

Form tackling is one area that a lot of youth football coaches discuss on a regular basis.

The traditional way of tackling was to teach our youth football players to tackle below the ball carriers waist with the head back and to contact the ball carrier with their shoulder at the thigh level wrapping the arms around the legs while driving their legs and taking the ball carrier to the ground. The idea being that as a smaller player you attack the lower part of a ball carrier, rather than tackling above the waist and being "run over" by a more bigger and physical athlete. A good philosophy at the time but over the years there were some significant problems with this technique. The biggest problem is that in tackling low the defender more than not would drop their head and leave their feet thus losing control over their bodies and putting themselves in a vulnerable position for a head or neck injury as well as a lot of missed tackles.

I have seen it many times.

The new idea of form tackling that is being implemented is to teach the youth football player to tackle above the waist with the head always back and up, with the point of contact being the chest plate of the tacklers shoulder pads contacting just below the chest plate of the ball carrier driving the arms up under or around the arms of the ball carrier while at the same time driving the legs until the ball carrier is taken to the ground. Again, the head is always back with the neck bulled at the time of contact. The player now never drops his head or loses control of his body by lunging at the thighs and leaving their feet. The players are taught to set up the bodies in a low stance with the knees slightly bent, with the head and arms back prior to impact and on impact like a coiled spring they are trained to drive up and through the ball carrier. The tackler now has more control of his body and the head is never part of the equation.

Now, the argument can be made once again with the smaller football player being run over but I have found that this is not true for the most part. I have noticed that the smaller athlete that once confident in this technique because of his lower stature is more explosive at the time of contact compared to the traditional way of tackling below the waist. A lot of times the smaller tackler will come in with good technique and " stand up" the ball carrier for a couple of strides until help arrives and the ball carrier is taken to the ground. I'd much rather see this take place then watch the tackler drop his head and leave his feet!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Beginner Youth Football Coach

Coaching youth football can be a challenging endeavour even for the most experienced football coach. There are always challenges and hurdles and issues along the way to solve even before you manage to play your first game. Understand that just because of their younger age it is still not an easy assignment. There's a lot of work involved!

The most important thing is that you have to be organized, have a structured practice plan in place that includes emphasis on fundamentals such as blocking and tackling daily! Running plays in practice is the least important when you consider all of what has to be done in order for youth football program to take-off! Your football systems need to be simple but effective and for the most part, the high school offence that you played and thrived in years ago is not suitable for your youth football team. But that doesn't mean you cannot adapt to a simpler more effective offence that your youth players will thrive in! There's certainly a lot of good information on the internet today by credible and experienced coaches and most of its free! The problem with the free information is that you have to spend countless hours poring through information and sorting out the good from the bad for your youth football team.

One of the products that I endorse on this website for the beginner youth football coach is Dave Cisars Winning Youth Football: A step by step plan. Coach Cisar promotes a simple but effective plan through a series of DVD's, CD-Rom, or paperback that can be purchased at a very reasonable cost that will help you effectively manage your youth football program. Coach Cisar has many years of coaching experience at the youth football level and his step by step plan is based on solid football fundamentals complimented with a simple but effective plan!


Friday, March 11, 2011

Youth Football Linebackers: Read the Offensive Guards

Did you ever consider training your inside linebackers to read the offensive guard that they play over? In fact, by learning how to read the guard your linebacker will make quicker decisions, and react better to the ball. Linebackers can lose sight of the football and mis-direction can play havoc with your linebacker. As a youth football coach you need to train them to be readers and not guessers!

The key?

Train your linebackers on how to read the guard and take the guessing out of their game all together! Teach them how to read whether or not it's pass or run by the way the guard moves on the snap of the ball. Most of the time, the guard is in a three point stance. On a run play he will cross the line of scrimmage and block and on pass he will not cross the line of scrimmage and pass block. On a pitch he will usually pull to the play side and on a trap play he will pull to play side. When he down blocks expect a run to that side as well as another linemen down blocking on the middle linebacker from the outside.

By training your linebackers to read the guards it just gives them another tool in the chest towards effective linebacker play.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Free Youth Football Plays

Consider your Personell when Reviewing Free Football Plays

As a youth football coach that has been coaching in football for many seasons one of the things that I like to do is to get on the internet and review free playbooks. The reason being is that I like to kind critique them to see if the average youth football coach would easily be able to interpret these football plays and be able to implement them as part of their own football systems. I think that for the most part the average youth football coach will be able to understand the concepts but for the new youth football coach that is just taking over a program for the first time some of these playbooks can be confusing. As well, they can be too technical at times and really, be too much for your youth football team to really grasp. Basically, the rule of thumb when reviewing free football playbooks is that if you as a football coach don't get it, then you can guarantee that your youth football players won't get it as well.

Personally, I think that less is better!

If you are looking at these free playbooks on line, they have to be suitable to the type of personnel that you have on your youth football team. You cannot ask your players to perform in a system that they don't have the tools to operate in. What you really want is a simple but effective system, something that is easy to teach, and something that your youth football players will thrive in.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Football Drills for Linebackers

Proper Drill Selection will enhance Linebacker Play:

Linebackers are the key tacklers in any youth football defence. They usually are the strongest football players fundamentally in your youth football defence. They are aggressive, read well, athletic, and have a knack for getting to the football, fighting through blocks to get to the ball carrier. When it comes to linebacker drills its important as a youth football coach to select proper drills that will enhance your linebacker's skills as well as eliminate weaknesses.

When you think of the linebacker position you think of stance, step, movement, block-shedding, tackling, pass rush, and pass defence. As well, you think of a football player that is tough enough to withstand a block and still get to the football.

An effective linebacker drill routine would cover all of these aspects. When selecting your linebacker drills, make sure that the drills you choose will cover all of the aspects of linebacker play. Movement drills and change of direction drills are very important towards effective linebacker play. As well, block shedding drills, and tackling drills need to be practiced regularly. As the linebacker position is a multi-task assignment it's important that you cover pass defence drills as well as pass rush type linebacker drills as part of your daily practice plan.