Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Should The Youth Football Team Run the High School System?

High Schools that Want You to Run “Their System” at the Youth Level.

A small number of Youth Football coaches get pressure from the local High School to run the High Schools offense. The High School coach in these situations often think that by teaching 8 year old kids to run his system, by the time the players are 18 years old, they should be very proficient at running said system.

I am 100% opposed to the High School coach imposing his will on the Youth Program.


For many reasons I am 100% opposed to the High Schools imposing this will upon the youth coach and kids. My first reason has to do with basic control and effort. The often handsomely paid for his time, High School coach is telling a non-paid volunteer of a program not run or paid for by the High School, to run his High School system. Part of the “benefit” of spending money out of your own pocket to coach youth football, is you get to choose what you are going to run and how you are going to run it. If I fail as a coach, I’m going to fail running something I did the research on and believe in, not something shoved down my throat by someone not even involved in my youth football program or by someone that probably never coached a down of Youth Football.

Who is to say this High School coach will even be at the High School 10 years from now, or better yet that he will be running the same offense? One of the local High Schools we feed into has run 3 different Offenses in the last 5 years and had 2 different Head Coaches. So which of the 3 offenses should my teams be running now? Yes lets train 70+ youth coaches a very difficult High School offense every year or two, when almost half of them have no football coaching experience. Most of these offenses had we decided to run them, had zero youth materials or support system available for our coaches. I’m sure we would have failed miserably and lost lots of players had we adopted these systems.

I’ve even seen on some coaching forums where some High School coaches say it doesn’t matter at all if any team wins or loses below the varsity level. The “varsity” is all that matters, even their Junior High, Freshman and JV teams don’t matter. Well, it matters to the kids and parents playing on these teams and isn�t that why we are supposed to be coaching football in the first place? I wonder how that High School coach would feel if a college coach came up to him and said that it didn�t matter if the High School won or lost, all that matters is what happens at the college level and that the High School should run the Colleges offense? Never mind the fact that few of the High School kids will ever play College ball, just as just 25% of youth players will play High School ball. Sound enough reasoning for you? Let’s take it a step further, shouldn’t the pro coaches be telling the College coaches their wins and losses mean nothing, all that matters is that the College kids are running the Pro Offense? This “next level” baloney is just that, baloney. Any coach with even fair coaching skills can develop players for whatever system he choses to run.
Such arrogance is disappointing to see from anyone involved in coaching youth football.

This type of attitude is rarely found among successful coaches, it is most readily seen from excuse making High School coaches that are doing poorly and are looking to lay the blame of their poor performance at someone else�s feet. I’ve actually seen High School coaches blame Jr High coaches for their varsity teams woes, that’s someone desperate to keep a job he probably shouldn’t have had to begin with.

At the big clinics I do for Glazier and Nike, I always sit in on a session or two. In addition to a Darrin Slack session, I like to see what the best High School coaches in the country are doing, teams like Southlake Carrol, Jenks, Union, Hoover, Colton, De LaSalle etc. The guys that coach these teams care little about whether the kid coming into their program can read a 3 technique and can run their offense. They just want a chance to coach the kid, that he goes out for football. They want the youth coach to teach safe basic blocking and tackling and NOT to run the kid off. The good High School coaches are hoping to get a player that has a love for the game and is coachable. These successful High School coaches tell me they are pretty confident they have the coaching ability to teach a player about anything over a 4 year time frame with nearly 4 months of 6 day a week contact along with year round, strength, agility and skills training. On the other hand we youth coaches get the kids for a few months of very abbreviated 2-3 day a week practices, a mere fraction of what the High Schools get and we are supposed to have the biggest technical impact on them?

As stated in other articles, we know that 75% of youth players will never play High School football to begin with. So we are supposed to run the High School system that only a tiny fraction of our players will be using? Remember my study of the main reasons most youth football players quit playing: #1) Poor Coaching #2) Playing on consistently losing teams. Running a system that is often not age appropriate (High School) and losing will often lead to the High School coach getting fewer players than he would otherwise. Most of the great High School coaches could CARE LESS what the youth player runs as long as he�s having fun, playing safely and developing a passion for the game. Developing that passion is hard to do if his youth football team is getting blown out every week or not scoring many points.

What really gets to me are a few of the simply preposterous e-mails I get from a few youth football coaches. One youth coach went 10-1 in 2006 and 11-1 in 2005 and was retaining right at 95% of his players. In that very same time frame, the local High School went 0-9 and 1-8. The High School coach was demanding the youth football program run his offense in spite of the fact the High School offensive football plays never worked at the High School level. Maybe the High School coach should have run the Youth coaches offense, he couldn’t have done any worse. I make it a habit to support the High School programs, by encouraging the kids to go to the High School games and to play High School football. But I have not coached High School ball, so I do not critique the High Schools practice methods or systems, no matter how often I�m asked to offer my opinion. I don’t have the time or expertise to do an in-depth study of the situation and would hope they wouldn�t do the same of my team.

Here are some other reasons the youth program should not run the High School offense:

Not age appropriate
Doesn�t fit the talent level
Doesn�t fit the size level
Does not work well with limited practice time
Does not work with small team sizes where you are not allowed to cut or send players to a JV squad
Does not accommodate minimum play players (I Formation, Spread)
Is beyond the physical abilities of youth players (Spread passing)
Is beyond the mental abilities of youth players (Triple or Midline Option or multiple read passing)
Most High Schools will not take the time to teach the youth coaching staff how to coach their system �correctly� anyway
High School Offenses Change
High School Coaches Change
Techniques Change
Very few youth coaching materials, books, DVDs available for most High School offenses
Many kids change positions as they go through puberty

Youth football players rightfully care about what’s happening to them in the season they are playing in. They want to win and have fun, they are not concerned with developing the knowledge of football plays that 25% of them may or may not use 10 years into the future. They could care less about some technique he won’t remember in the 9th grade or will be taught differently or changed by the time he gets to High School. If you can incorporate some of the High Schools numbering into your system without a big hassle, great, but resist the meddling of the High School into your program if your program is headed in the right direction.

The best High School coaches in the Nation could care less what offense or football plays the youth teams run. You should care that whatever offense you choose fits your kids, scores points, and wins ballgames. Until the High School starts buying your equipment, paying your fees and paying your salary (yeah right), run what makes sense for your kids so they have fun now and make it to play High School football.

In the Single Wing our kids are better prepared to play “at the next level” than kids from nearly any other type of system. Our linemen know how to pull, trap, double team, fold, crab block, drive block, rule block, pass block and work as a team. Our “QB” knows how to ball handle,give handoffs, take shotgun snaps, roll out, drop back,throw, boot,lead a team and run with the ball. Our recievers and backs all know how to take handoffs, block,read holes, read blocks, catch the ball etc, everything any other back or reciever would learn in any other type of offense. Most importantly, the kids have fun and do well, which is what keeps them coming back to play.

Winning and losing are both habits. I’ve seen very average teams with a history of winning win games they have no business competing in. These kids just feel somehow, someway they are going to win the game, even when they are down by 2-3 TDs and time is running out. I’ve seen the most improbable of comebacks and bizzarre plays in the last moments of games where the team of destiny beats the better team. On the other side of the fence, I see teams that expect to lose. Even when these teams are ahead they expect to get snake bit and lose the game, these negative expectations are usually met. I would think the High School teams would want kids that have a winning attitude, it�s contagious.

For more youth football coaching tips please sign up for Dave’s free Football Coaching Newsletter at Football Plays

Copyright 2007 Cisar Management. Republishing allowed if resource links are kept intact

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