Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Turning Around a Perrenial Loser In Youth Football

Can You Turn Around a Perennial Loser In Youth Football in One Year?

Yes, it can be done at the Youth Level, High School and even College Level, but it is easiest to do in Youth Football.


I often see High School football coaches that are taking over teams new to them, saying on these various football forums; �My handprint on the program won�t be felt for 5 years�. Those are the words of a football coach that has very little confidence in his coaching abilities and someone that sounds like they really covet thier head coaching job. Turnarounds do not take that long, they can be immediate.

Don Markham, one of the all-time great High School Coaches coached football at 8 different High Schools and compiled a 303-105-1 record. He won early and often every place he coached at and he coached at places no one had won at previously.
Running an offense very similar to mine (we borrowed a lot of ideas and methods from him), Coach Markham runs just a handful of football plays; trap, power off-tackle, sweep, inside counter and a play action sweep-pass. His 1994 Bloomington High team set a national scoring record of 880 points in that 14-0 season. The interesting thing about the 1994 Bloomington squad was, it went 1-9 the previous season with nearly the same kids, but a different coach. After Coach Markham left Bloomington, they immediately fell on hard times again. I don�t think coach Markham or other successful coaches feel it takes 5 years for their �handprint� to be felt in a program, they all believe they can win right away and often do.

At the college level Lou Holtz has coached all over the place, he has never taken over a football team with a winning record. Yet every team Coach Holtz has coached has gone to a Bowl Game in just the second year at teh school. So much for the 5 year plan. Just last season bottom of the barrel Rice University, fresh from another hapless 1-10 season, had a winning season and went to a Bowl Game under first year Coach Todd Graham. Bob Stoops took over a losing Oklahoma program that had won 3 and 4 games in the 2 seasons before he got there, including a 73-21 loss to Nebraska. In coach Stoops first season they went 7-5 and in his second they went 13-0 and won a National Championship. Over on the Rice Baseball front, Rice had not won a conference title since 1910 until Wayne Graham took over. With Graham as coach Rice won 12 consecutive conference titles, went to the College World Series 7 times and won a National Championship. He did it all with decrepit facilities, extremely high academic standards and just partial scholarships that require the student to pay a huge portion of their own tuition at this expensive small private University. Coach Graham mind you won 5 National Juco Titles before he landed at Rice. Did he win at Rice and San Jacinto right away? Of course, all the good ones do.

At the Youth Level these turnarounds are even easier to engineer. Unlike the College Teams you don�t have to recruit the right kind of kids to fit your system. With the right practice methodology, offensive and defensive scheme and priorities, nearly any youth team can be turned around in the first year. The biggest obstacle to overcome is the lack of confidence the players have due to previous failures and negative expectations.

In youth football, you get new kids added to your team every year and success breeds success. Once your team sees the fruits that the right system and priorities bring, they jump right on the bandwagon. These players however can�t be sold on minor tweaks to the previously unsuccessful system, the changes must be dramatic and across the board. It’s like putting some moisturizer on the face of a 60 year old woman that sunbathed every day of her life and thinking that it will solve all the deep wrinkles and sagging. It may look like you are doing something, but everyone knows the improvements will be minimal at best, what’s needed is major surgery and an end to sunbathing. What blows me away is to see the same losing programs running the very same systems with the same coaches and losing with them year after year after year. Major surgery is needed for programs like these; priorties, practice methodolodgy, offense, defense, game day management and special teams all need to be looked at closely and objectively and given major overhauls. See some of my previous posts on language power, they are needed in these perennial loser situations.

Some recent examples: Jay Smith took an Eagle team of ours that had gone 4-6 and 2-8 the two previous seasons and took them to 10-0 in their first year under him in the most difficult �Select� Division in our Youth Football League. I took over a 3-5 team in 2002 and without the previous years �star� players, won a league title and went 11-1. In 2004 I started a youth football program in a tiny town that�s previous youth teams had won a total of like 5 games in the previous 4 years combined. We went 11-0 that first season and won over 30 games in a row before recording our first loss. I get e-mails all the time from coaches that turned winless youth football teams into league champions in their first year. Larry Lourcey of Plano, Texas took over a weak team in 2006 that had scored just 10 TDs total the previous season. Using our system they scored 44 TDs, won a League Title and went 10-0. There are countless other stories just like these.

Don�t buy into the mantra it takes years to turn teams around, those are the excuses of the excuse maker. Miraculous turnarounds happen in Youth Football every year, engineered by competent youth football coaches with the right vision and priorities.

For other youth football coaching drills and football plays please sign up for Dave’s free football coaching newsletter at: Youth Football

Copyright 2007 Cisar Management and //winningyouthfootball.com republishing allowed if links and this pararagraph are kept intact. Republishing this article without including this paragraph is copyright infringement.

About The Author

Related posts

1 Comment

  1. Sean Claybrook

    One of my all time favorite quotes seems very fitting here “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.”–Jim Rohn


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *