Winning Youth Football

Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

Friday, April 29, 2011

Football Defensive Linemen Keys and Tips

Defensive linemen are often the forgotten group in youth football. For the most they are usually the left over offensive linemen that are too slow to play offensive line and so are thrown out there with the "just hit somebody" philosophy. There are however simple keys and tips that you can give your defensive linemen that will make them effective run stoppers.

The most important key is that they need to know what their role is as a defensive lineman. Depending on your philosophy one of the roles you could implement for then is that above all and everything else they must be effective run stoppers first and foremost and they must take pride in this role and do it well.
The second key is alignment. They must know where to line up either right on the offensive linemen or on his outside or inside shoulder or even just right in the gap. Whatever it is they must know what they are to do, based on their alignment. Do they control an offensive linemen by aligning right over them and therefore have a two gap responsibility on either side of the offensive linemen, or do they control the offensive linemen's outside or inside shoulder and by doing so control that gap? Again, it depends on the defensive system you are running but they need to know what their assignment is on all alignments.
The third key is their eyes. After their alignment they need to know where to look and place their eyes. On a zero technique or straight on alignment, their eyes should be right on the linemen across from them. On the snap they should jam the offensive linemen with a two point punch technique in the arm pit area with thumbs up, lock out the arms to gain separation and then look for the ball. On an outside or inside shade alignment their eyes should be on their shoulder assignment of the offensive linemen and on the snap of the ball they attack the shoulder, with one hand shooting into the mid breast plate and the other hand on the bicep of their shade assignment. Again, they lock out the arms and only them do they lift their eyes up to look for the ball.

By simply giving them their assignment, whatever it may be, it makes it easier for your defensive linemen. By understanding what their role is each and every play it gives them confidence and makes them a more effective football player!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Football Coaching Tips: Roles and Responsibilities

Starting out as a new youth football coach you'll soon realize that there are many responsibilities and roles that you'll need to fulfill while organizing the infrastructure of your football team. Here are a few tips:

Get yourself organized as try-outs will be soon and you want to have all in order prior to your training camp. Surround yourself with good and knowledgeable people. Select yourself a good team manager that is organized and reliable and most of all will have your back. Select somebody that is a good communicator as a lot of their work will be communicating practice times, game dates, tournaments, schedule changes, co-ordinating parent volunteers, etc. Understand that your manager will be as busy as you are coaching so it's important that they are as motivated as you are. A good manager will complete the package as far as what it takes to run a good and successful program and take on a lot of duties that are necessary to run a program. This will free you up to do what you love to do and that's coach football.
Secondly, surround yourself with a dedicated and knowledgeable coaching staff. Explain to them your philosophy and give them their coaching assignments. Allow them to have input within your philosophy and system. No input and they will lose interest! It's important that they offer you another point of view especially when game adjustments are a factor.
My experience with assistant coaches was to let them do what they do best and that was to coach. Challenge them to be better but never in front of the team. Face all challenges as a team, trouble-shoot together, debate scenarios, and support each other. Ultimately, there will be times that you will be challenged as the Head Coach to make the final decisions. But if your coaching staff has input it can be a lot easier.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Football Team Player Evaluations: Key Elements

Try-outs or Training camp can be a complicated process. Football team player evaluations can be tough at times and stressful for both the parents and players involved. But it is part of the process needed in order to choose and shape your team and your practice plan should reflect this as well as cover key elements during the player evaluation process. Meet with your coaching staff and manager prior to the first practice. Assign one or more the job of running the practice sessions. Plan to either sit up in the stands or on the bleachers with your pen and clip-board.

Pay attention closely to the each 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.

Finally, after practice, meet with your 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 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. Usually, o a challenge once you dig out your log this puts an end to any sceptics.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Receiver Route Adjustments versus Zone or Man Defence

One of the rules that I have adopted and it's easy to remember is: "Run away" from man and "Sit down" versus zone coverage. In other words, when adjusting football passing patterns versus a man coverage system, call crossing patterns or passing routes whereby your wide receiver is running away from the defensive back. Look for the mismatches where your wide receiver is basically a better athlete than the defender and is out running them. A lot of teams when up against a man coverage football system will isolate their best athlete versus a weaker defender and let his athletic ability get him open.
Versus zone coverage, the adjustment to make would be to get your players to "sit down" or stop and set up in the seams between the zones. Basically your wide receiver would run his route and look for the opening between zones, stop, set-up, while the quarterback would scan and find him open in the seams.

The key to all your football systems depend a large amount on your personnel that you have to run them. Based on that, you design or adopt a particular football system that your players have the means to thrive in. In other words you don't run a system that your players don't have the tools to operate.
Once you establish that system and your players thrive within it you will be able to make game adjustments within that football system that will be easy for players to adopt. One of the things that you will probably do at some point is to adjust your passing patterns based on what kind of football pass defence that you are up against whether it be man or zone defence.

Rule of thumb: Run away from man and sit down versus zone!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keys to Football Play Selection

Reading the Defence a Key Element

Did you ever notice while watching a professional football game, particularly when one of the teams has an aggressive defence that likes to blitz allot and pressure the quarterback, that eventually the quarterback while under pressure takes a three step drop and fires a bomb deep that goes about ten feet over the wide receiver's head. We cringe and complain as obviously the receiver had the defensive back beat and a well placed passed would have resulted in a touchdown, however, if you read into it more you'll realize that the play was much more than just an overthrown pass, it was a set -up play.
It was never the quarterbacks intention to complete that pass, it was his intention that after getting blitzed and pressured on every play to get the cornerbacks to back off a bit or pay the price of getting burned deep!

The play created the mindset with the defensive backs to loosen up or be beat!

Now the focus will turn to the stacking and blitzing middle linebackers and the inside pressure that probably has resulted in a sack or several hurried throws by the quarterback. Next, you'll notice that there will be a short series of quick passes placed just behind the stacking or blitzing middle linebackers. After a few of these completions you'll notice that the linebackers are backing off now and dropping into their zones.

The set-up continues. Now with linebackers dropping you'll see the play selection include several runs up the middle for reasonable yardage followed by a couple of quick passes to the wide receivers who run a quick slant pattern versus the defensive backs that have been playing loose, followed by another run play up the middle. With the quick slants the corners have tightened up to defend it, with the quick passes behind the linebackers they have loosened up, and with the inside run plays called they are playing safe, dropping cautiously and then coming up for run support!

The defence is now vulnerable!

The offence by selecting the right plays for the situation have forced the defence to back-off and made them vulnerable, they went from an aggressive attacking and sacking defence to one that is now concerned with being more defensive.
Bring in the play-action. Now with the defence on its heels which results in more time and space for the quarterback, chances are you'll see him now run a play-action pass for the kill. The offence will give them a run look, fake the hand-off to the running back as if the play is going up the middle, the defence bites on the run, and the quarterback will drop back and this time throw a strike right on the money to the wide receiver who clearly has beaten the defensive back.

A far cry from that overthrown pass earlier in the game!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Football Offensive Line Tips: Strong Side

Implement a strong side Offensive Line

Coaching in youth football you are sometimes faced with the challenge of not having enough quality offensive linemen in order to have the five interior offensive line positions filled. Sometimes as football coaches, especially in small football programs, you just don't have enough linemen.

With the season upcoming there are options.

One of the things you can consider is to implement when coaching in football is a strong side offensive line. What this consists of is taking your two best offensive linemen and let them play beside each other such as in a Guard/ Tackle Combo and run the majority of your running plays behind this combination of offensive linemen. As well, if you're short at the Center position one of the things you can do is take one of your linebackers and make them into a Center. Now, you have an athletic Center that can move, and likes to be physical. On your backside or your weak side of the offensive line, take a couple of your slower defensive linemen and place them as the weak side Guard/ Tackle combo.

Whereas the majority of the running plays will be called to your strong side, coach these two weak side players to have tight splits and not allow any backside penetration that potentially will kill your strong side run. As well, teach them one inside run play to their side such as a counter play. This will be a play you can use when the defense has adjusted to your strong side. Another play you can teach them is a backside lead just off the outside hip of the tackle. Compliment your inside five offensive linemen with an athletic slot back that can possibly play tight end as well. Take your other inside linebacker and let him play some fullback so you now have another block at the point of attack. No doubt the defense will cheat on your strong side but keep them guessing and moving by flipping your strong side offensive line from left to right.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring Football Agilty Drills

Power, Agility, And Speed Training For Football

With spring finally warming up it gets the football juices flowing and thoughts of football should be running through your head. Spring is a great time to evaluate your football systems and practice plans as well as equipment. Spring is also a great time to put the notice out to your football players that you will begin to run twice week agility drills in the local gym. The main thing regarding football agility drills is that all players and groups can do them together. You don't have to lump them together in groups.

One of the biggest elements of being an effective football player is that you have to be able to move your feet. For the smaller athletic guys it's quite natural for them to be able to do this, however the common problem in the bigger stronger guys, like your linemen, is that they can't move their feet. Yea, they're big and strong but can't move. Imagine if you spend some time with these guys on footwork agility drills and get them to be able to move their feet and become a little faster and confident because of it. Agility drills don't have to be a complicated process and all you really need to have as far as practice equipment is concerned is some flat rectangular bags, some cones, or a rope ladder.

Drills should consist of elements that require them to pick up their feet such as side stepping over the flat bags to change of direction drills such as back peddle and forward weave to rapid foot movement through a rope ladder.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Youth Football Coach: Choosing a Defence

As a youth football coach for many seasons you develop a certain way of doing things and adjusting your systems in order to make them simple but effective as well as to adapt to your player personnel and take advantage of their strengths to put them in the best possible position to be effective football players. Through many seasons of trial and error you develop a sense of what will and what won't work in your football program based on your own experiences coaching in youth football.
As all old football coaches know, your systems and philosophies can be both praised and criticized by parents, players, and fans. It's part of the game. Over time, you develop a sense of pride in your football systems and football philosophies and you have a certain way of teaching that to your youth football team. Like all, coaches I have my playbooks and way of doing things that I have developed over many seasons of coaching. Recently, I was asked by the local minor program if I would provide them with a copy of my defensive playbook and terminology so that they could see exactly what I am coaching and possibly implement my systems as part of their own program. I must admit, I am somewhat nervous in providing this to them as I feel that they might not get it, or understand it, or perhaps because of both try to implement a football system not suited to their player personnel and put them in a position where they are going to fail. I think that prior to giving them this information I make this point to them. I will provide them with two different defenses, the 3-4 defense, which I believe is more suited to an athletic group of football players as well as the 6-2 defense which I believe is more suited to a bigger, slower, and stronger type of football group that has a few athletes and is tough and determined. The character of your players can be another factor to consider in determining your youth football defense. As a football coach it's important that you evaluate your football group properly.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Football Tips: Selecting an Offence

Let's face it, if you're looking for the perfect offence that you can implement for your youth football team, there are points you need to consider. I'm not saying that there aren't any good youth football offence's out there that aren't successful. What I'm saying, and have been saying, is that football player personnel and the coaches' knowledge and ability to teach the offence is the key to any youth football offence. Whether you want to run out of an I-formation, single wing, or double wing offence you need to consider what type of players that you have on your roster and go from there.
As a coach there are a lot of youth football offence systems that you can select from and there is good information available for you to obtain, but in the end, your player personnel will determine what kind of youth football offence you will be able to run successfully.
Things to consider would be your player's athletic ability and the number of athletes you have on your roster, the type of offensive linemen you have, your quarterback's ability, your experience, your size, etc.

These are static factors you cannot change and need to consider in implementing your youth football offence. The main point is don't expect them to flourish in an offence that they don't have the tools to thrive in. Build an offence that takes advantage of their strengths!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Football Tackling Mechanics

Tackling in youth football is one of the key fundamentals that must be practiced and mastered by youth football players in order for them to safely play with confidence, avoid injury, and be effective football players. Teaching tackling mechanics in practice is a key component towards developing football tackling skills. Probably, the biggest key to tackling is teaching proper body position or body mechanics to the youth football player prior to any contact. It's extremely important that the player know and practice these body mechanics at the youth football age level so as to develop solid tackling fundamentals as their bodies grow and they progress to each football level.

1. Stance: prior to contact, the feet should be about shoulder width apart and slightly staggered with one foot slightly ahead of the other. For reference purposes, the toe of the trailing foot should line up with the front arch of the leading foot. Again, feet are shoulder width apart.
2. Knees and Butt: prior to contact the knees should be slightly bent and the butt down. This sets up the body in a coiled fashion ready to explode up and through the ball carrier on impact
3. Back: should be vertical with a slight lean forward with chest out. Again, this puts the body in a position to explode up and through the ball carrier on impact.
4. Neck and Head: should be cocked back with the neck bulled ready for contact. In fact, the most important element of tackling to avoid injury is making sure the players head and neck are always back. Do not let a player have full speed contact if they drop their heads on contact! Practice this element of football tackling until head position is in the right place. The head is never a factor in tackling!
5. Arms; the arms should be cocked back and bent slightly forward at the elbows with hands out and ready to grab the cloth of the ball carrier on impact.

The body now is set into what is referred to as the "breakdown position". The tackler is taught to set up his body into the breakdown position just prior to contact. This puts the body in the right position to safely and effectively tackle. With this in mind it's time to teach the tackler the mechanics of tackling. The tackler is now taught that as he pursues to the ball carrier, that just before impact he is to set in the breakdown position and explode up and through the ball carrier by extending his knees and rotating his hips forward with the point of contact being the chest plate of his shoulder pads just under and up though the chest plate of the ball carrier while the arms explode up and around the torso of the ball carrier and grabbing the jersey. The tackler is taught to keep his feet moving on impact with the head back and the neck bulled until the ball carrier is taken to the ground. Again, the head is never part of the equation when it comes to tackling.

These elements of tackling must be practiced each week and are one of the key fundamentals of playing football. Good tackling fundamentals will give your player confidence and will enhance other areas as well of your football team.