Often times I hear from youth football coaches that X or Y can be done with “all” youth football teams. When you do your due diligence, though often times you see those guys are playing with a stacked deck. In “select” youth football teams either selectively recruit players, have tryouts and demote the unworthy to other teams, or do both. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with select football, what I am saying is it is a different equation than the guy who takes every player who signs up, doesn’t selectively recruit, doesn’t cut or run kids off and tries his best to retain everyone .
I’ve coached select and non-select youth football and I can tell you beyond any doubt they are different games. My Omaha teams played in a league where there was a select level and a non-select level. I had 120-150 age 8-10 kids every year to choose from. The best 25 went on the select team, the remainder were divvied out based on the players address.
When you get the best 25 out of 150 you have lots more options. Your teams are older, more athletic, bigger and more experienced. If you divided up the 150 into even teams of 25 kids each and then took the 4 very best players from each team- that would be your select team of 25. Imagine taking the very best 4 players from all the teams you play and making that into a team. That is what select football is. Can your top 4 players do more than your remaining 21? So imagine you have 25 clones of your best 4 kids? Now ALL of our 25 were like those top 4. Our worst player would be the super star of the “B” teams. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that you could do more and be better at what you do do if all your kids were the best?
Say you can’t run a certain offensive or defensive scheme because they require that you have legitimate athletes at every position in order to succeed; well now you can run those schemes. You don’t have to run schemes that minimize the impact of an ultra weak player. Every non select team will have some ultra weak players with poor athleticism, poor size, poor body control and poor strength. In many youth football leagues, those kids are required to play a certain number of plays. I’ve seen many youth football games lost by teams that didn’t manage this play requirement well and didn’t develop these minimum play requirement players well.
Most of the kids that play select football are committed, they play other sports, they have lots of “game” experience. If during evals they rose to the top 15% etc, they have something to offer that your other kids didn’t, that’s why you chose them. When I coached select teams we always had kids with a lot of natural ability. We didn’t have very far to go to develop many of them. We always had kids who could throw the ball, always had 3-4 who could catch it and plenty of just good “football players” inbetween. We threw more, we could play with wider splits and we could play our 4-4 defense and we could gamble more. Our special teams were off the charts because we had athletes at every position. Even the BEST youth, High School and College coaches vary what they do every year based on talent. If we are honest with ourselves and others, when we have more talent, we can do more on all 3 sides of the ball.
I’m not saying that one style of play is better than the other, there is value in both, I enjoy coaching them both. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying coaching select football is a cakewalk, it isn’t. It comes with its own problems and challenges. But you won’t be dealing with any unathletic, young, small and non physical players.
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