Beware the NFL Youth Football Coach
In youth football your assistant coaches and be a godsend or a pebble in your shoe. One assistant coach I remember once brought me a stack of Linebacker drills he had culled from a very well known NFL coach. He had obviously put some time and effort into getting the materials and writing them down into a presentable format. They were a mix of some agility type drills along with some advanced drills you would expect to see NFL type Linebackers running. After thanking him for the effort and letting him know that at some point we could probably use some of his drills I had to ask where were the base fundamental drills that would get the kids to the point they could do some of the more advanced drills? What I got back was a blank stare.
In youth football you always have to start out with a totally blank canvass. There are kids that have never played before, kids that have played before but played a different position and even kids who have played before, but have not been taught properly. The coach presenting me his Linebacker drills for the camp we were doing didn’t have a single segment on teaching the Linebacker stance or the base Read Step. He didn’t have a single drill for opening the hip to get into pass coverage, he didn’t have any good pursuit angle drills and he didn’t have anything that combined a read step or pursuit angle drill that combined a form tackle fit. The NFL drills he showed me assumed that the player already possessed these skills, which is a poor assumption.
When you are coaching youth football, take each position down to the atomic level, don’t assume anything. When you are looking for drill type information, don’t look to the NFL, look for YOUTH specific sources of information. Have you seen the way NFL Corners “tackle” these days? Do you really want that for your kids? Look to successful football coaches that have actually coached youth football in real life, not NFL guys who do a 2 day youth camp once a year. The NFL guys have no idea what youth players in different age groups are capable of, they have no idea of your practice time constraints and they haven’t a clue as to which offensive schemes you are going to have to stop. The youth guys on the other hand know where the starting point needs to be, which fundamental skills must be taught, how to teach them and where to get the best bang for your practice time investment. Go to a coaches clinics and listen to a YOUTH coach talk about how to teach proper Linebacker play instead of that listening to the NFL guy talk about his 4.4 forty Linebacker who can drop into Tampa 2 Coverage.
Do you think the bare fundamentals are boring and you know them already? Over 70% of the Linebacker stances and first steps are awful in the game tape I see on the internet. I once listened to a very successful football coach speak for 50 minutes on one topic, the importance of the Linebackers first step. Do the simple and ordinary things unordinarily well and your youth football teams are going to be off the charts.
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