Winning Youth Football

Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chest Plate Tackling in Youth 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, June 9, 2011

Football: Run To Daylight

One of the blocking strategies that came out of the late 60's and into the early 70's was to implement a man blocking scheme by your offensive line that would take advantage of the aggressiveness of the defensive line at the point of attack just by blocking and taking them where they want to go and let the running back read the block and run to the opening or in football terms " run to daylight". This proved to be an effective strategy versus gap attacking defenses of the time, and was the basis of the Green Bay Packer Sweep back in the day, but was more effectively used by the 1972 Miami Dolphins who took a power back in Larry Csonka to a perfect season and super bowl win.

When you think of it, it's also the basis of the zone blocking scheme of today, whereby the offensive line steps down to the play-side, looks for double teams, and washes down the defense while the running back steps to play-side, moves with the flow, all the while looking for a lane for cutback reading the blocks of the offensive line and looks for "daylight" backside.

When he sees it, he cuts back against the flow of the defense!

The strategy was very effective versus gap attacking defenses which led to a change of philosophy at the time and today as well, whereby the defensive strategy became a more gap management system compared to gap attacking. By managing your gap effectively, not penetrating, holding your ground and waiting for the running back to come to you, it became an effective tactic to stop the run to daylight and still is an effective tactic today!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Football System Terminology

Within a coaches football system you will find that there are many names and code words for specific plays, stunts and drills associated with their specific football system. A lot of times a coach's offence or defence can develop a whole new language of its own and to the newcomer coach or player that will work within this system the hardest part is just learning the lingo that is associated with each play. Coaches like to put their own personal stamp on their playbooks and one of the things they like to do is name or number their plays, stunts, and blitz's. One coach will refer to his middle linebacker blitz one way, while another coach will refer to it another way.

Basically, they're the same play but just called different names.

When consulting with other co-ordinators it can be confusing trying to figure out their lingo as they ramble on about their " Mad Dog Blitz" and a lot of times they will talk to you like you should understand what they are talking about, only in the end as they see the confusion on your face, that they need to explain their terminology. Once that's done, and you're on the same page, it becomes a lot easier to grasp.