Evaluating youth football players accurately and efficiently may be one of the top three things successful youth coaches do well. The guys that do it correctly, quickly get their kids into the correct positions so they can move on to teaching the fundamental skills needed for that position. The unsuccessful guys take forever to do the evals, use the wrong drills, make the wrong decisions and end up moving kids around for most of the season.
Youth Football is all about how quickly a player can burst and change direction in 5-10 yard increments. Then he needs: body control., strength, aggressiveness, coachability, effort and heart. I simply can’t get a read on those components from a 40 yard dash time. And a 40 yard play, with the exception of punts or kickoffs happen on average about 2 times per game in youth football. So why would I want to evaluate a player on what happens on just 2 of 75 snaps, or about 3% of the time?
It also doesn’t matter what a player’s 40 time is, it matters how they stack up against each other. That’s why I use things like: Dummy Relay Races, Deer Hunter, Towel Game, Sumo, Dummy Flip Races and Rabbit Chases to figure out where to put players. I want to evaluate their underlying football playing skills, not how fast they can run in a straight line. It is very rare that I don’t have all my players rated and put into positions after the very first night of non padded practices. This year it took me 2 nights, because I had 18 brand new kids and had to coordinate all 3 teams. Sometimes you will have 80-90% of the kids slotted, but need to take another peek at a few that are on the border.
Where a lot of youth football dad coaches get into trouble is either they favor their own sons to play “skill positions” or they let their own kids start over more deserving players. In any event, youth football has a terrible reputation for doing just that. All a parent wants for their child is to have a fair and honest evaluation. If you use our “competitive eval” process, the best players always rise to the top for not only the coach, but the parents and players and everyone to see. Remember, if you don’t want to alienate your parents you MUST evaluate the players fairly and correctly and the perception must exceed the reality. The only way to do that is to have competitive evaluations where all the kids compete fairly to measure the underlying skills needed to play the various positions.
The drills and process we use to evaluate players are in the book “Winning Youth Football a Step-by-Step Plan”, as well as in the Practice Organization DVD and Practice Organization Cheat Cards.
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