Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

"Select" Youth Football Teams

“Select” Youth Football teams is somewhat of a controversial subject for some.
If done correctly, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

“Select” youth football teams are just what they say, players are “selected” to play on the team. If some players are being “selected” that would mean others are being “rejected”, which is where the rub is for many.

Many select youth football teams are put together by coaches that actively recruit a “star studded” team. Others are put together by having the coaches try out small groupings of players to see which players have what it takes to play on the team. Most “select” teams have a week of practice and evaluation drills and at the end of that week the coaches decide which players make the team and which don’t. Needless to say there is much angst amoung the football players and the parents at the end of this week.

Many of these teams travel to out of state tournaments and cost aywhere from $150 to over $1,200 to play. They play in youth football leagues made up of other “select” teams. The competitive nature of these football leagues and the fact that only better athletes are usually in them means that in most cases there is less attention paid to getting fair amounts of playing time in for every player.

Advantages of “Select” Teams
1) Put more athletic players in competition with other more athletic players. That’s how you get the highest levels of improvement.
2) Fewer mismatches of highly athletic players versus weak or beginner players.
3) Usually but not always, better coaching.
4) Players are grouped with others with similar committment levels, less conflict amoung players.
5) Puts less athletic players back in the “pool” to play with players closer to their own ability.
6) Often allows first year or smaller players to play against other first year or smaller players.

1) Can be ultra competitive.
2) Can burn players out if they practice 5 nights a week and play 14 games.
3) Cutting players is difficult and can turn some away from football forever.
4) Evaluating players is not an exact science, mistakes can and are usually made.
5) Rarely guaranteed playing time for those at the bottom of the “athleticism” index on the select team.
6) High cost in most cases or heavy fund raising effort required.
7) Envy and jealousy from players and parents not selected for the “select” team.

With my Omaha program we have a process that seems to eliminate a number of the negatives. We have a select team, that plays in a league of other select teams. All other players not selected are put on teams that play in a league made up of players that were not chosen for their respective select teams. We have all the players from an age group practice together for a week. Then the coaches from the select team choose the team that they feel is appropriate for that players level of athleticism, maturity, size and aggressiveness.
Our rural program is not select, we make a team out of whoever signs up in that age group from the fliers we hand out at school.

Here are a few things we do to lessen some of the problems with select teams:
1) All teams in our organization wear the same game and practice equipment, including game jerseys. No preference is given to the select team.
2) Teams are designated by the park they practice at, not “A” or “B”. Screaming Eagles- Spinglake, Screaming Eagles-Smith Park etc
3) We accept everyone that signs up or wants to play, no selective recruiting.
4) Every player is assigned to a team, not one is “cut”.
5) Every player understands that all the teams are just as important as the other and players will be put on the team that gives them the best opportunnity to play.
6) The select teams are limited to 24 players or less, to insure everyone gets to plays.
7) Instead of announcing which players have made the select team, we put the coaches from the 5 teams in 5 different areas of the field. We let the kids know we are going to call out their names in alphabetical order as to what team they are placed on. All determinations as to which player is on which team is made the night before, no heartwretching decisions are made on the field. If a player is not chosen for the selct team , he is placed on the team that practices closest to where he lives. As the players names are called, the player runs over to the team they were assigned to and the coaches and players clap, give high fives, etc and make a big deal out of that player being put on their respective team. Our selection proccess is a situation where everyone is smiling and excited. The football coaches really drill into the kids heads they are excited about having each individual player on their team and they talk up the unique identity of that particular team.
8) Out of town Bowl Trips are awarded to teams based on weekly academic performance via our weekly academic accountability report. Often our best teams do not travel because they lack the academic performance of our other teams.

Select youth football doesn’t have to have any negative connotations around it, if managed properly. Try to eliminate the tension and embarassment amoung the players that are not chosen.

I remember a very long time ago the selection proccess for a youth baseball team I played on. The “coach” just read off the names of the players that made the team first. My stomach wetched as he got down to name 11 on a 12 player roster and my name had not been called yet. I was thinking how embarassing it would be not to make the team, what would my friends on the team or my parents say? The players that didn’t make the team were told to go home, while the rest of us stayed to listen to instructions from the coach. The look and tears in the eyes of those players are something I will never forget and do my best to NEVER allow happen in my organization. It’s the right thing to do and as we all know many of those “B” kids progress to make the “A” team the next year. Don’t be one of those teams that loses players because you don’t manage this task well.

This has been another post into Dave Cisar’s Winning Youth Football Site
Copyright 2007 Cisar Mangement Services

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