Drafting Youth Football Players

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So your youth football draft is approaching or maybe its over like mine is for Spring football.  I wanted to highlight a few things that I learned from my last youth football draft.  The main point I learned in this year’s recreational football draft is that actual tackle football experience should trump size and any small difference in speed or quickness.

Our Spring recreational football draft starts with about a two hour grass drill try out.  Here we get to see players that have not been roster frozen (7 players) from previous seasons.  We do not get a lot of time to talk to the players before or after the drills, but I try to ask each youth football player draftee if they have played tackle football before, what position and do they have an older sibling that has played tackle football.  Usually younger brothers of football players are pretty good players.  The players will run a 20 and 40, then off to an agility station and then a quick pass and catch.  Its all pretty quick looking at about 100 youth football players.

I spent a lot of time looking at film and pics of the players during the grass drills.  I calculated their speed to power weight ratio and watched footwork on throwing, catching and agility drills.  We came up with a rating system and rated our top players like it was an NFL draft.  Coaches I think the draft and preparation for the draft is almost as fun as coaching during the season.  Well, I like the prep work.  We thought we factored in experience into our player ratio but we let our eyes for size and speed sway our calculations.

The key to most youth football drafts is knowing all the experienced youth football players before the draft or at least the players you are most interested in picking for your team.  Do not let size fool you in youth football.  Its really all about quickness.  A tough 75 pounder can slash a soft 100 pound lineman, so size might not be the best criteria for ages below 13.  Also, make sure you also check out their practice attendance and game attendance.  You don’t want to pick a top player only to find out they are also playing baseball and soccer and will not make half your practices and games.

Lastly, focus on an experienced draft pick.  If the players are almost equal, always go with experience.

Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!

Coach Parker
Keller, TX

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  1. Coach, the league I coach in goes through a 3 day “combine”, followed by team assignments based on these results. Unfortunately, they do not make the scores available to coaches so I must assess my team’s abilities in the first few practices. My question is 2 part: a) What additional questions & information would you like to ask players that you feel would be relevant to assessing abilities? b) What drills would you suggest I use to best judge the strengths and weaknesses on my athletes? Thanks so much for your input, and good luck to you this season!

    1. I may also ask the players
      Were you the best hitter on your team? Who?
      Were you the best blocker on your team? Who?
      Were you the best tackler on your team? Who?
      Were you one of the best players on your team? Who?
      Did you ever get player of the game? For what?
      Do you like to hit and tackle? Why?
      How many TDs did you score on your last team?
      Would you rather play XBox and win a new Gameboy or play in the Super Bowl?

      Bear Crawls will tell you who has strength
      Z drill or L Drill will tell you who has stop and go quickness speed
      5 and 10 yard dash will tell you a lot about the lineman
      Push ups in 1 minute will tell you who is strong
      Ask everyone to get in a three point stance, the ones that can are good
      Passing and catching will tell you who has hands
      sharks and minnows chase game will tell you who is quick

      1. Thanks coach, great information and ideas! I especially liked the drill suggestions, in the past I’ve evaluated the kids through practice and observation, I think a focused set of evalutations is going to help immensly!!!

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