Coaching Youth Football to Lose – #1 Reasons Why – Stop it NOW!


Coaching youth football is not as easy as it sounds or looks. It is like herding cats; pee wee players, their parents, your coaches, the league and fans. So many issues to deal with during a youth football season while coaching youth football teams.

Many youth football coaches make it hard on themselves by doing a few things that can quickly sabotage a youth football tackle season. In this coaching youth football blog post, Coaching Youth Football to Lose – #1 Reasons Why – Stop it NOW!, we will look at a few ways coaches hurt themselves and their little league football teams. (Updated 8/25/2020)

Coaching Youth Football

Over the last 10 years, I have coached three different youth football teams through the 7U to 12U age divisions.  During those many Spring and Fall coaching youth football tackle seasons, our teams consistently beat a few teams that we played each season as our team aged. 

I always think about why our Teams won versus other youth football teams in our Division. Especially since I give a Youth Football Coaching Clinic at the beginning of each season to new coaches and any veteran coaches that would like to attend. Many of the teams coaches we beat consistently attend these clinics. Learn how to avoid these coaching youth football mistakes.

Since I am planning to begin coaching another 7U/8U team this Fall 2017, I began thinking about coaching youth football and planning for this upcoming season. I started writing down the team names we played over the years and why I thought we beat these teams season to season.  What are they doing wrong coaching youth football team? Here is a summary of what I thought about this morning….

Coaching Youth Football Teams to Lose….

  1. Son played QB; “Daddy Ball”
  2. Shotgun snaps inconsistent or QB / Center Exchange
  3. Too many pass plays and low completion rate
  4. Play calling strategy; did not run best plays, wanted to be too fancy or pass
  5. Did not focus on Blocking
  6. Defense was a reading Defense, and did not attack Offense

pre game coaching youth football speech
Daddy Ball – Starting Quarterback

Yes, my two sons have played quarterback over the years but if I had a better QB, my sons played other positions; fullback, guard, wing, tight end, center, and tackle.  As a Coach, you must be able to play the best player at a position, not start your son or someone you like better due to parent politics or a pre-season promise.  When coaching youth football, you must do what is best for the team, not what is best for you and your family.

Bad Snaps / QB – Center Exchange

Each season, I see so many teams force a shotgun snap because they want to run the Spread or Pistol offense.  If your youth Center cannot shotgun snap 14/15 times consistently then you will turn over the football at least twice during the football game.  These turnovers will lose games.  I see it in youth football and at the Junior High and High School levels. 

You can run many of these offenses under Center, maybe not as effective in yardage gained but more effective than fumbling the QB / Center exchange.  The Center snap exchange area of offense must be focused on and practice at every practice.  Once in awhile even I get lazy and lose focus on this QB Center exchange and then it bites me in the bootocky when I am coaching youth football teams.

Low Pass Completion Rate

Look if your team cannot complete more than 50% of your passes then do not focus on the offensive passing game. If you want to focus on your passing game, then play 7on7 and practice there.  But forcing the passing game to learn how to pass for a whole season while you consistently lose more than half your games is no fun for you, your players, parents and fans.  Sorry but many youth football QBs will not start as high school QBs.

Running the football at the youth level will increase your chances to win games.  But hey, if you have the legit passing QB, receiver, blocking etc than pass the crap out of the football. Out of my 20+ season coaching youth football, I’ve seen more teams win by running than passing. Running will win more games on average in youth football.

Play Calling Strategy – Over complicated Plays

Many coaches, want to over complicate youth football offenses. I know I do sometimes. Remember to keep it simple when coaching youth football offenses. Do not force an offense on your talent. Let the Talent tell you what they can do. If you’re trying to run a fancy offense and getting penalties every series or unable to shotgun snap then maybe that offense is not working for your talent. 

If your offense play calling strategy is all over the place and you keep calling pass plays that do not work or Jet Sweeps that are losing big yards, or throwing 2 interceptions a game, maybe you should run that Stud TB down the 5 or 6 hole behind your super large offensive tackle and maybe move to an unbalanced line and just run it down everyone’s throat.  The stats say your averaging 5 yards a carry on that play.  Make it easier on yourself and players.

Boxer formation youth football coaching

I don’t know how many times, I’ve looked over at my Co-Head coach and said thank god they keep passing and not running #20 down our throats.  But hey, keep passing from a shotgun formation and turning the football over on interceptions, downs or bad snaps and give me the win.  I’ll take the easy win.

Little or No Focus on Blocking

It took me a few years to learn to really focus on blocking when coaching youth football teams. Many youth football coaches focus on the running backs and only tell the lineman just block any man in front of you.  Yes, you can win doing that if you have really good running backs. But if you do not have tier 1 running backs then you need to learn to block. You might have a pretty good passing QB, but if you cannot protect him from my 6 very determined pass rushers then it will be a very long day for your team. If your guards are not blocking the inside gap and letting my A gappers crush your QB then it’s hard to hand off. 

coaching youth football offensive line plays

Your linemen will usually be 50% or more of your players on your football team’s roster.  Coach them up on blocking fundamentals to be the reason you’re the best offense in the league. Your players and parents will be happy you focused on all players not just your top 5 running backs. And please do not ask a first year rookie coach / helper dad to coach the o-linemen unless that’s all you have to coach them. Many head coaches will coach the offensive lineman. Yes, it is that important.

Lack of Defense Practice and Focus

Defense wins Championships. I see too many coaches coaching youth football defenses in a 5-3 or 4-4 split defense or even running a 6-2 defense but with reading linebackers and reading defensive ends on the edges in tight to the formation with the Corner Backs set back in a cover three with the Free Safety and losing a ton of games. I see too many “reading” linebacker centric defenses get stomped on by heavy running offenses. 

If most of your youth football defensive players are linebackers and defensive backs reading plays then most experienced offensive coordinators will shred your defense for 4 to 5 yards a carry each play.  It has been my experience that youth football players do not read offensive keys, players, plays, formations very well. These defensive players will wait for the running back to hit them and not attack the offensive player on his key move from the backfield. 

Youth football defenses must attack. When coaching youth football defense as a DC, I use a 5-3 defense or 5-2 Monster as my base pass defense in youth football not my main run defense. If you have legit linebackers that attack then maybe you can run a successful linebacker centric defense at the youth football level.  Make sure to scout opposing offenses and focus on Defense.  Offense is pretty and wins a few games, but your Defense will get you to the playoffs and maybe a chance in the big show.

I know my opinions are a little brash, but this has been my experience over the last 20+ seasons coaching youth football in Texas and Colorado.  Let me know your thoughts.  I would love to hear your opinions on this subject below.

Below is why I thought we beat each team consistently over the years…..

Team 1

  1. Coach played his son at QB, who was not a QB
  2. Too many pass plays and low completion rate
  3. Offense was too easy to Defend, not enough variety
  4. Players not assigned to proper positions
  5. Shotgun snaps inconsistent

Team 2

  1. Ran same play that did not work too many times a game
  2. Coach played his son at QB
  3. Too many pass plays and low completion rate
  4. Did not focus on blocking
  5. Did not adjust Defense to Offensive alignments

Team 3

  1. Coach played his son at QB
  2. Ran wrong offense based on team talent
  3. Shotgun snaps inconsistent
  4. Too many pass plays and low completion rate
  5. Offensive play calling strategy suspect

Team 4

  1. Did not Draft/Recruit well; Poor Planning
  2. Switch Offense week to Week
  3. Switched Players around week to week
  4. Did not listen to other Coaches trying to help
  5. Shotgun snaps inconsistent

Team 5

  1. Promised players positions on Team; QB
  2. Did not play better players at QB
  3. Recruited players they liked vs best players
  4. Did not put players in proper positions
  5. Offensive play calling strategy suspect

Team 6

  1. Over complicated offensive shifts pre-snap
  2. Good motivator but lacked tactical focus
  3. Shotgun snaps inconsistent
  4. Did not run best plays, wanted to be too fancy
  5. Did not adjust Defense to counter Offense alignments

Team 7

  1. Ran too many LBs and did not attack on Defense
  2. Relied on only 1 main RB
  3. Did not focus on blocking
  4. Too many coaches / voices
  5. Easy Offense to Defend

Team 8

  1. Coach played his son at QB
  2. Too many pass plays and low completion rate
  3. Did not run his stud RB more
  4. Defense did not attack Offense
  5. Offensive play calling strategy suspect
coaching youth football coach parker

This blog post hopefully showed you a few ways How to Win Coaching Youth Football through ways that will make it easier for you to lose.

Lastly, Do NOT Forget Special Teams

One last thing, do not forget coaching youth football Special Teams. So many youth football coaches will forget Special Teams. We will average about 1 onside kick recovery a game during many seasons that we have a soccer player kicking off for us. Practice onside kicks, onside kick returns, how to receive a punt and punting. I’ve won and lose so many games due to youth football coaching special teams.

I hope this will help you understand the dynamics of winning and losing youth football games.

Please feel free to contact me anytime, I love to talk about coaching youth football.

Coach Parker
Fort Worth, Texas

For more youth football coaching tips, talk, plays and playbooks you can check out my Coach Parker Youtube channel.

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    1. He graduated HS and is now taking college classes and working. He no longer plays youth football since he is 19. Both my sons are no longer playing youth football. I coach now without any children on the teams, as it probably should be. I started coaching before I had kids.

  1. Coach, I have a question, if you have time to answer.
    I have a fairly talented peewee team (8-9 year olds). All my running backs are pretty fast and with decent open field moves, I have receivers that can catch well and I rotate QB’s who are not bad throwing the few passes we do throw. I also have a good-sized O-line.
    I have spent a lot of time teaching and drilling blocking fundamentals and they look great against a sled and even against each other much of the time.
    But with all that we are 0-5, and for one reason: I can’t motivate the O-line to block during games. We can’t get our back out of the backfield and the QB barely has time to time to pivot and make a handoff before he has D-linemen hanging off him. Teaching blocking is one thing, but how do I get them to actually do it in games? I can’t seem to solve this riddle!

    1. Sorry Coach Larry just saw this comment, but what blocking rules are you using. Many times, when my blocking fails it is because I am not using the right blocking call and or my guys are not protecting the inside gap with an inside step. I use a ton of award stickers and accolades for my OLM to motivate them. I was a OLM and hated blocking and loved Defense. Ice cream also works wonders.

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