Many failing youth football coaches just jump into the season without a lot of planning. The old adage that those who fail to plan, plan to fail is a true one. Going into a youth football season without a plan is like trying to build a house without any architectural drawings. Sure you can get started and look busy, but the house isn’t going to come together very well. Now this doesn’t mean you need to do weekly meetings starting in January. But you do need to get together face to face to plan our the roles and responsibilities, set priorities and standards and come to an agreement on what the teams mission, football philosophy, basic schemes and overall fundamental approach will be.
You can’t have one man teaching zone blocking with hands and another one teaching a gap scheme with shoulders. You can’t have one coach doing full contact all through individual drills expecting you are going to go fit and freeze or thud in team, when another is doing all form work expecting team to be full contact. If you don’t work out your approach prior to the season starting, you will end up wasting a bunch of time once the season starts and that is time you can’t afford to waste.
Our meeting started off with introductions and the coaches bluntly describing what they felt they could and couldn’t do. I got some feedback from my past years coaches about these guys temperaments and abilities. They were assigned the following duties: one was the Offensive Backs and Defensive Backs coach, another would assist me with the Offensive Line and Defensive Line, another coached the Offensive Backs and Linebackers, I would coach the Offensive Line, Defensive Tackles and Defensive Ends.
With this being an 8-9 year old team with 15 kids new to football, we would base in our Single Wing offense and start out teaching Man in our youth version of the Wide Tackle Six. Although none of the kids we had coming back had started in the backfield, our speed training sessions revealed we would have very good speed, probably in the 75-80th percentile in the league. Something I’ve never had before. Those 3 kids and a possible 4th who had ADHD would have the raw skills to play in the backfield, but none of them had extensive experience or success the previous year. They weren’t big, but they weren’t tiny either and all 4 had very good body control.
At first glance the backs would be the strength of this team. The linemen looked pretty weak to start off with, just 2 kids over the “striper” weight. Only one had started the previous year and the rest were first year players with the exception of one, he had played in the backfield the previous year.
So upfront it looked like the perfect set up, good average sized athletic backs with lots of work to do with the offensive line. The coaches were all good fellas who were a little apprehensive of coaching with me for the first time, but were more than willing to accept whatever role helped the team the most. I encouraged them all to talk to some of the other guys they knew coaching our other teams to get some feedback on how best to work with me.
I have very high expectations for practice pace, precision and being dogmatic about teaching perfect fundamentals. We would go FAST, but be precise but never taking the next step until the underlying foundation had been built well and consistently reinforced. We would also be very disciplined, but make sure to goof when the time was right and schedule some fun drills to do at the end of every practice.
The next post- the first youth football practice of the year.