Your main goal as a youth football coach is to teach youth football players the basic fundamentals of football which are:
- Proper Football Stance
- Rules of the Game
- Position Names
- Offensive Concepts
- Defensive Concepts
- Special Team Concepts
- How to be a Teammate
- How to win and lose like a Champion
- Have Fun Playing Football
Proper Stance, Running, Catching, Blocking and Tackling techniques are very important to teach your young football players. These core fundamentals will carry forward throughout your young football player’s football career. In youth football , Offensive, Defensive and Special Team, plays, schemes and concepts are simplified for the youth football running game and different than many High School Spread passing concepts in vogue today but running, blocking, tackling, and the other core physical skills are all the same in these programs. Yes, even though you may not run your local High School’s offense you are preparing your players for High School football. Unless of course you spend your whole practices implementing the Spread offense and not teaching your players how to block and tackle which is a routine that I’ve seen a few losing coaches practice.
Do not assume your youth football players or even your assistant coaches know the above core fundamentals or even the rules of football. We start out every season reviewing football core fundamentals and rules, even with our most experienced teams. Repletion is a key to learning. To be honest, it is not a bad idea to re-read your league’s youth football rules before each season. Several NFL rules do not apply to High School and Youth Football leagues. Your league may have unique rules like minimum plays per player and number of players in the box for defenses that you need to be aware of before the upcoming season. Many times these unique youth football league rules get tweaked from year to year. So a quick refresher each season is a good idea.
Many of you will want to run your local high school’s offense or defense which is probably based on Spread concepts. Just remember, unless you have a passing prodigy and a receiving prodigy that can catch your QB’s pass, a true passing Spread offensive is not the most effective offense in youth football. Youth football offenses, especially those under the age group of 12U are centered on the sweep and off-tackle run plays. The majority of youth football teams might throw 3 times a game, about 10% of their offensive plays. Youth football offenses are built on offenses from the early days of football that ran power football. So if you are still dead set on implementing a Spread offensive formation for your youth football team I would focus on running the football out of the Spread scheme and also implement a power formation like the Double Wing, Single Wing – Wildcat or Off-Set I formation to get the best of both offenses.
Do not forget to teach your young players how to become young men and to respect the game, teammates, coaches, opponents, parents, teachers, adults, and themselves. Nothing builds character like teamwork and the personal sacrifice of preparing to become a Champion. I do think Coaches need to do a better job of coaching sportsmanship to our players. I see too many College and NFL players acting like 13 year olds.
Lastly, do not forget your players are children. At the end of the day, they want to have fun. Sure winning is funner but a loss is not the end of the world to your players. Running sprints after a loss and constant yelling for missing their assignments is your failure not theirs. Think about it. Your players only know what you have coached them to do. Their mistakes are yours.
Have fun, make practices fun. Smile. You can be firm and a winner all while having fun. Your young players will respond and be motivated by fun.
This is a quick excerpt from the youth football book that I am writing. Let me know what you think. I hope to have it out in the next year. Stay tuned.
Keller, TX / Fort Worth / Dallas