Why Good Football Minds Often Times Fail In Youth Football
When you are coaching youth football, some guys are intimidated by guys who show off their football knowledge. You know these guys, the fellas who talk about 6 techniques, running option to the 3 technique who rotate coverages, will bend your ear about 4-3 over and under fronts and either know the history of football to the nth degree or will brag about which famous coaches they know or have relationships with.
These guys will try and baffle you with terminology BUT more times than not will fail to acknowledge or understand the youth equation. They either don’t understand the youth game or they are so stuck in their ways, they won’t admit it is a different animal in so many ways. Amazingly- ask these guys how well their own teams did, they will usually side step that question like it is a pile of dog poop or like politicians NOT answering a debate question they want to avoid. Most of these coaches don’t win when they are coaching youth football and will often blurt out excuses like; ‘who cares about winning a youth football game, only High School ball matters.”
I had an interaction with one of these guys lately. He is one of the “Pro Style” football guys who thinks that because the NFL Coaches know more than anyone else, their style of offense is the only one that truly takes advantage of all the opportunities on the field. In a recent “history lesson” he shared some wisdom of the late great Tiger Ellison- the inventor of the Run and Shoot Offense.
This is one of Ellison’s quotes: “One major change we would make … give the offensive unit one hundred of its practice time, and the defensive group the same for defense. We would select the 11 best boys for the offensive unit and the second best from the defensive unit, feeling that in the time the second best boys would be able to do a better job on defense than the number one offensive group with only a fraction spent on defense” – Tiger Ellison“We concluded that fun football leads to optimistic football which proceeds into positive football that gives birth to winning football” – Tiger Ellison. The expert added, Major points for me that I quoted : that can be used for anyone at any level.
REALLY BAD ADVICE
So he said Tiger Ellison’s approach was good for all levels including youth football, this message was trotted out in front of a group of youth football coaches. Let’s look at the average youth football team to see how that works out in real life. It is non select, it has 24 kids and it plays in one of the 83% of youth football leagues that has a minimum play rule. So if you chose to follow Ellison, you are going to put all of your studs on offense and then all the rest of your “best” players, the top 11 are on offense. The 13 who are left over, which include all of your minimum play requirement players will be required to play defense.
So on offense where a missed block or assignment may mean a loss of yardage, will have all of your best players. On defense where a missed tackle can often times result in a TOUCHDOWN, will have all of your weaker players, none of your studs and ALL of your minimum play players. Expect to get rolled- scored on in every possession. Because against average or better teams, that is exactly what will be happening to you. In real life youth football, your offense is going to need to score every time AND that offense will be playing against teams that choose to play kids both ways, or may even be playing some of their better players on defense only, good luck with that. One turnover, a penalty, a negative yardage play that puts you behind the chains and you don’t score? You lose the game. In real life you will lose most of your games by big margins.
It’s a Different Game in MANY Ways
Youth football isn’t Pro, College or even High School football. We don’t have 100+ man rosters, endless amounts of practice time and 11 coaches on staff. It is a TOTALLY different equation. Thank goodness some of the “Renaissance Men” who know so much about the game fail to recognize or acknowledge that. But that should come as an encouragement to most. You don’t have to know the most about the history of the game or even have a volume of knowledge and 100 football books in your library. You need to know what WORKS in youth football and focus your limited time on understanding that priority rather than trying to master knowledge over a subject area that will for the most part do you little good when it comes to coaching youth football and winning games.
This story reminded me of the movie “Cold Mountain” a Civil War film about a rural family enclave making it through the war. Nicole Kidman plays the part of a very smart, extremely well educated lady, trained in the fine arts, French Literature, European Culture and World History. Her character is starving on an abandon plantation until she is rescued by the uneducated, crude and poorly thought of Renee Zwelleger character. The deal was, while Kidman was thought to be far more intelligent and knowledgeable than Zwelleger, Zwelleger had the “applicable knowledge” needed to be successful in that situation. That’s so close to what I see in youth football.
Cool Out You Can Win Anyway
Let me close in saying Tiger Ellison has forgotten more about football than I will ever care to know. However, that does not make him an expert in coaching youth football in 2017. That should give hope to every aspiring youth football coach out there. Back in the 80’s I coached against my former DII College Head Coach. He had coached DI and DII very successfully. Long story short, he is coaching his grandkids team and my team knocked the doors off his team. He had much more knowledge of the game than I did, but I knew what worked in youth football. Remember it doesn’t matter what you know, it matters what your kids know and what your kids know better work in the youth game. Apply what works in youth football- found out from guys who have consistently won in youth football and YOU WILL DO JUST FINE. Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan Book