Retention Tricks for Youth Football- Partner Questions
Unfortunately over 75% of youth football players will never go on to play High School football per a Michigan State University study. The average dropout rate for youth football players from the first day of practice to the end of season is about 10%.
While football is not for everyone, too many youth football players quit before they have a chance to develop a love for the game and gain some success that helps keep them interested in continuing to play. One of my goals as a coach is player retention, I want to retain every player on my team from the first day of practice until the end of the season. I�ve accomplished that goal just a handful of times and come very close a number of others. There are a number of tips and techniques that can help you accomplish this goal without pandering to the kids or parents.
One of our favorites is the �partner plan.� We assign every football player on our team a partner. The partner is not the players �buddy� he is someone that the player either doesn�t know or doesn�t know well. In rural Nebraska that means kids from different areas of the county, in Omaha that means kids of different racial and economic backgrounds.
Every day the players are required to ask and remember a detail of their partners life. Day 1 would be the players name, day 2 the players school, day 3 how many in the players family, day 4 does the player have a pet, day 5 what is the players best school subject, day 6 the players favorite food, day 7 the players position etc etc etc. We force the kids to interact, with each other and to spend time with each other during the breaks asking the questions.
At the end of breaks the head coach will quiz each player on the question. If the player can not answer the question about the partner correctly, he runs. The quiz is comprehensive every day. If a player misses practice, his partner is responsible for finding out why.
This helps bring our team together and helps us retain some of the shy or socially awkward kids. If a player has someone to talk to, even if it is forced, they feel more a part of something bigger than themselves. While I go out of my way to engage the shy kids or struggling kids, getting them involved with the rest of the team helps with retaining them on the squad. It can also break down some barriers within your team and help build some humility and compassion in some of your more popular kids.
While my book contains a step by step plan for developing a very competitive and competent youth football team, it also is filled with lots of tips and techniques that allow your kids to have fun while they do it. Take the time to develop some ideas to retain your weak and socially awkward players. Seeing them develop a love for the game and excel later in the season is an extremely rewarding experience for any youth football coach.
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