Yeah this might be counterintuitive, you want those kids from the youth program to come in to your program with a head start on your scheme right? Maybe not. Did you know that most youth football defenses are 5-2, 5-3, 6-2 or 7 Diamond like? One popular youth defense is called the GAM and it’s an 8-3 type look. In youth football, almost all the Defensive Ends are in 8 or 9 techniques. Do you see that much at the High School level?
The net is the defenses youth teams run are much different than what most High School coaches see, its almost a completely different equation. At the youth level about 85% of leagues have a minimum play rule- where kids have to play a certain number of plays. With squad sizes of 17-26 kids on average, it’s a bit of a different picture than what most High School coaches see with their own teams. Most High Schools have MUCH bigger rosters and no requirement to play everyone. Heck, High School coaches can send down weaker players to JV or even cut them, a much different picture than what most us coaching youth football see.
On offense in youth football, you aren’t going to see many teams being able to consistently move the chains with sophisticated passing attacks. Zone blocking? Well for minimum play rule league like most are, those super weak kids are getting a few snaps every game on the o-line and they aren’t very adept at blocking the other teams fastest, most physical, most aggressive players in space (Linebackers), it’s a different deal for the average youth team.
The youth football guys have small rosters, they play everyone and they have a LOT less practice time to do it. All of their best kids are playing 3 ways, offense, defense and special teams. Does that sound like an equation where your offense or defense which may be PERFECT for your High School equation- makes sense for youth football?
About 3-4 years ago I took the final USA Today High School Football top 20 and called them all to ask if they required their youth football programs to run their scheme. I was able to get ahold of 18 of them, 17 of the coaches were pretty adamant they didn’t give a darn what those kids ran as long as they were having run and coming back to play.
So ask yourself would it be better if the youth kids ran something that wasn’t going to work at the youth level and they went 2-8 and lost 30% of the kids (winning and retention go hand in hand) or would it make more sense they they ran something that works at the youth level that isn’t aligned with the High School and they go 8-2 and only lose 5% of their players? Let’s say these kids are 8 years old, 8 years from now when they are Sophomores, will the High School team still be running the same scheme 8 years from now? Something to think about. Value fundamental blocking, tackling and skill development and the kids will have success and want to continue to play. That’s what almost all of the extremely successful High School football teams in America do.
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