Hand Placement, Weighting and Stance Tips in Youth Football
The stance is paramount in your success as a youth football coach. It sickens me to be in game 3 of the season and seeing opposing players still not in proper stances. My guess is that if the coach cant even teach or hold his players accountable to a perfect stance, he probably isnt coaching other aspects of the game any better.
As in everything we teach, we teach the stance in a progression. Too many coaches like to tell the kids everything they should be doing in their stance all at once, without breaking the stance down and putting it in one simple step at a time. A player cant remember all the coaching points of a proper stance, but he can be taught it if you teach him each step one at a time, give him easly to remember visual cues and add progressions to the previous step.
With the stance we ask the players to put their feet shoulder width apart with toes pointed forward. Any deviation from perfectly straight feet or parallel feet will make our offensive linemen V out in formation and will most likely put us in an illegal formation. We call any feet that are staggered or not perfectly straight “ballerina feet” and stress our players would not make very attractive ballerinas. Many players stagger their feet into almost “track stances” so we do not stagger. If you have righties and lefties mixed around on your line, staggered stances make it very difficult for them to line up properly. When we get into step one we stress “no ballerinas.”
Once we have everyone perfect on step one, we then ask the players to squat down to the point where their thighs are almost parallel to the ground. We ask them to imagine they are in a stadium bathroom where someone has peed on the seat. We tell them to imagine they really have to go, they need to squat but not to touch their butts on the gross and wet seat. Kids like to visualize and this type of vivid boyish imagery helps them visualize and remember. We ask that the players elbows are resting on the knee caps.
The last step in the youth football stance, is to place the dominant hand down. We do not like much weight on this hand at all, maybe 15% of the body weight. You should be able to move the players hand away from the ground and he should not fall. If he falls when you do this, he has way too much weight on his hand. We ask that the player just rests his three middle fingertips on the ground. Too much weight on the hand is tiring and makes it very difficult to get to down blocks or pulling.
There is a slight body lean at this point and the thighs are slightly above a parallel position. The player needs to be just barely on the balls of his feet, not the heels. The heels of his feet should be just slightly off the ground. We want to be able to just barely slip a piece of paper under his heel, use the paper imagery to help the player visualize what you are lookng for.
See the post here on the tips section about “false stepping” to review the slight inward tilt of the knees to discourage false stepping. Do a search here on “False Stepping” a big culprit to slow offensive line play and how most backs waste time in getting to the hole.
Of course in the stance, we want the head up and the other elbow resting on the kneecap. Hold your players accountable to a perfect stance, it is something we require they do perfectly every rep of every practice.
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