Preparing for Your Football Season This Week:
The most successful youth football coaches that use my system get started before the season starts. The biggest sales volume day of the year for us is the day after Fathers Day. Either Dad didn’t hint hard enough for what he really wanted or he figures after all the bad tie gifts, he can buy something useful for himself.
I�m always amazed at how many books and DVDs we sell during the season, every Sunday afternoon and evening from September to November, we get a flood of orders and frantic frustrating calls from coaches that are not having very good seasons. Most of them are probably calling us on game day right after another disappointing effort.
There are some tips and methods from the books and DVDs that coaches can add at that point of their seasons and get some good out of. But for most stuggling teams that are 3 weeks into the season, the best most can hope for is to have some fun and set the table for the following season.
The time to set your offense, defense, special teams and practice methodology is right now.
We always have a coaches meeting and clinic at least 2 weeks before the season starts. If I know the talent and commitment level of the coaches, I assign duties then. If you have a bunch of new guys, wait until the end of the second week of football practice to assign duties, so you can see them coach in person. Just as I do with our parents and players, I set expectations with my football coaches. We do a criminal background check and have them sign a very restrictive Coaches Contract that spells out their role and responsibilities as well as what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
There are no negotiations, the contract is set in stone and my personal teams have had zero problems getting adherence to the code of conduct specified in the Coaches Contract. We have had to remove a handful of coaches within the program on my other teams for minor violations to make sure all the coaching staffs understand the seriousness of the Contract.Our clinics cover ethics, responsibilities, why we run what we run, the reasoning behind our practice methodology as well as all the drills, and X’s and O’s of the offensive football plays, defense and special teams. We have found a combination of White Board Discussion, Film Clips and hands-on Demos are a nice mix to teach groups of youth football coaches. Food, breaks and caffeinated beverages are a must when you put these on.
If you have ever taught or tutored a subject, you know by teaching something it dramatically improves your understanding of the subject matter. By teaching it, you often gain perspectives you wouldn’t have had otherwise. If you don’t feel comfortable teaching , that’s normal, but someone has to teach it and most of our fears in the end are never realized. Most teams just can’t count on the coaches taking the time to do self study, so a coaches clinic is a real plus.
Some Leagues have rules against teams doing any type of activity with their players before a certain date. The
5 Leagues I have coached in with my last 6 youth football teams did not have any rules restricting practice time or start dates. What helped me as a coach the first year I ran the Single Wing was I took 4 kids that I thought would probably be my 4 backfield kids and my center and we got together 4 times before the first day of practice. Without the requirement to teach an entire group of 25 kids, we were able to very quickly put in the offense and our new drills.
The goal of this exercise was to make sure that before we started our first football practice that I knew the football plays and the coaching points and that we had one group of kids that we could use as a “pattern” for the other kids to copy. This is not a “Have To” but it helps.
After going through the base stance and the snap progression drills, we were ready to get started putting in our football plays. On the last snap progression we did the gauntlet drill to help me decide which players went to each of the backfield positions. Then just as we teach in the book, we chalked it, walked it, jogged it, ran it and fit and freezed each play. With an age 8-10 group, by the 4th meeting we had the “Sainted Six” football plays down pat as well as the Wedge Series, Mouse Series and the Full Spinner Series. I also had the kids go through some of the drills I had never used before like the “Splatter Drill”. We used this group as a demo group for the rest of our team, it worked very well for us. Many kids just have a hard time grasping language or even demonstrated coaching points, but they all seem to be able to copy someone their own age.
Don’t be one of those guys that calls 3 weeks into the season when your team is 1-2 and you’ve scored just 14 points and you want me to overnight you the materials. The time to set your program up is now. I have seen Coaches pull it off that have been assigned a youth football team at the very last minute. They have 1 week to digest all the materials, but that takes a big chunk of time in a very short window. Your wife will think you are some kind of hermit that only leaves his basement TV and DVD player for food and water. Plan ahead now, the more you have done now, the more confident and less stressful it will be for you and your youth football team come week 1 of football practice.
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