Week 4 of Friday Night Tykes is in the bag, what did you think? Have your youth football parents been asking you about it? We are posting episode by episode what we like and don’t like about each. This is my take on Episode 4.
Again, my comments may seem a bit unfair or harsh, I can only comment on what we see. There are probably a lot of positive things that are happening off camera, but that doesn’t excuse the mistakes we see on camera. No coach is going to look perfect with a camera on them the whole season, it is what it is. Make sure to read my more comprehensive opinion on the show and its production in earlier blog posts. The easiest way to do this critique is take it team by team.
Let’s start with the Outlaws. Again a lot of the football stuff looks pretty good, they play aggressively and gang tackle well. Their backs hit the hole hard and even use a well times and aggressive stiff arm. It’s obvious the coaching staff is passionate about what they do. While I am a fan of getting everyone reasonable but not equal playing time, I like that the Outlaws coaches explained what the kids had to do to earn more playing time. Again I’m a fan of getting everyone playing time and making it a priority.
On the negative side of the equation this team still has players that get their heads into contact. The coaches are coaching against it, but instead of instructing them to get their toes on the toes of the ball carrier and drop their hips, the instruction has all been about getting the helmet to the side and they haven’t been as consistent as they need to be about getting after the kids who are playing too high. During the fracas that happened with the big hit on the kickoff, the Outlaws could have diffused the situation better. While it was a big aggressive hit, it should have been obvious that there was potential for injury, celebrating the hit only inflamed the situation.
When the parent rushed onto the field and accused the Outlaw coaching staff of coaching their kids to play dirty, it obviously hurt the coaches. Having something said like that would upset most anyone. No one from the Outlaws ever coached any of their kids to play dirty, the complete opposite was true. However in order to diffuse what could have been a very volatile situation it would have been much better for the Outlaw coaches to stay on their sidelines, keep quiet or help attend to the injured player. As youth coaches we have to have thick skins when it comes to insults thrown our way by uninformed parents and coaches.
The Outlaws played the Broncos in this weeks episode and again the Broncos were hard to watch at times. They continue to tackle high and practice sloppy. Their practices feature lots of long lines, lots of lectures and lots of standing around. This is game 3 and some of the kids are still in poor stances. The problems with this game started in the lead up to the game. The Broncos coach said the Outlaws were dirty, would punch, spit and curse at them. However we didn’t see any evidence of that in the game film.
Worse yet, the Broncos coach told his players to target the helmets of the Outlaws to the side of the earhole when they were tackling. He said “you hit them like that, they go down, 9,8,7.” So it wasn’t the Outlaws who were being instructed to play dirty, it was the Broncos. There is no place in the game for any teaching or talk like that, the action bordered on being criminal. The Broncos coach also told his kids to “rip the heads off” of the Outlaws. We all realize that is an old school football term, but it has no place in coaching youth football at the 8-9 year old level where kids can and do take you literally.
The Bronco coach obviously is having some issues at home. He eats one meal a week at home and he said he puts football before his family. He in turn said “football is who I am” and he joked about going through a possible divorce. While this coach may have good intentions, he has made a mess of his team, coaches in an unsafe manner and suffers from a total lack of reasonable priorities in his personal life.
On a positive note, give the Broncos coach credit for settling down his parents and sideline after the big hit that put his star Running Back out of the game. Instead of adding fuel to the fire, he diffused the situation by getting the dad off the field and speaking to his parents as a group and calming them down before the game continued. Had he not acted the way he did, the situation could have been much worse.
On a less drama filled page, the Rockets continue to struggle. Their coaches seem like very nice guys with the very best of intentions, they just don’t know how to coach youth football. They fail with some of the very basics of teaching. They fail miserably from basic defensive stances and footwork to trying to help their players understand what adversity means. Their practices look like they are going in slow motion, slow, sloppy and unorganized. Their backs don’t protect the ball well (poor coaching) and they are turnover machines. It’s no surprise that they get blown out by the Predators.
The Predators seem to be designated team in “white hats”. Their coach is very positive and encouraging, but his team also tackles high with too much helmet contact. I also noticed on their first score the coach motioned aggressively toward the opposing teams coaches, he looked right at them and did the triple fist pump thing. Guys, worry about your own team and what you can control, not the other team, especially their coaches. The Colts, the focus of last weeks segment weren’t featured in this week’s show.
This was a tough episode to watch, from the drama of the Outlaw- Bronco big hit to the Broncos coach telling his kids to target helmets. This wasn’t youth football shining bright on the positives it can accomplish in the lives of kids, this was that sliver of bad muck that is the part of many youth football leagues. In your mind try to put yourself into the middle of these situations and strategize how you would have done things differently.
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