Category Archives: coaching youth football

Youth Football Players Talent vs Coaching in Youth Football

Touchdown Talent vs CoachingThis is the age old argument; Talent vs Coaching.  I just read USA Football’s article In high school football, does good coaching trump talent?  by Stephen Spiewak which got me thinking about talented players in pee wee youth football ages 6 to 12.  How much does talented skills players mean to a youth football team?  Well, a ton.  I think youth football is very similar to basketball where you can have one or two stud players out of 12 on the basketball team and be a force in you’re league.  I think in youth football if you have 5 to 6 studs or on your youth football team then any coach can look pretty good especially if they have the fastest experienced running back in the age group.

I agree that coaching is very important to have a winning program.  And that is what good coaches can do for any organization from pros to youth sports.  Good coaches can almost on average guarantee winning seasons, positive experiences for the players and that the athlete will learn the sport’s fundamentals.  But, at the end of the day you still need talent to win consistently in the Playoffs and Championships.  I know here in Texas, High School coaches get fired for not winning playoff games even with above average winning percentages.

So I agree with the article that Coaching is very important but I recently read You still need the hosses to win.  Great coaching alone will not win games consistently in youth football / sports because at these young age levels one or two really fast experienced running backs can devastate an age group with even just a little coaching.

If you ask me if I want my son to play for the team that has great coaches but have not won a Super Bowl lately but still have winning seasons or for the team that has won the last 4 Super Bowls because they have they have the one man-child running back that is dominating the league sweeping Left and Right all day long and an average coaching staff, I would put my son on the great coaching staff team.

So yes, I love great coaching.  But can great coaching in youth football over come talent in youth football.  Yes and no.  Good coaching can keep teams very competitive and in the hunt, but a dominating tier 1 tailback in youth football is very hard to stop especially with an above average team around that running back.  And that team with the stud running back, will usually win the big game.

Even though I know I am a good coach, I always try to recruit the top players in my age division.  I never try to leave winning up to lady luck.  And that is great coaching; being able to find and recruit the best talent for your team.  So I am greedy and want both.  LOL

What do you think?  Can great coaching overcome talent in youth football?

Remember to Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!

~ Coach Parker

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What does on time mean for Youth Football Games and Practices?

WarHawksAs a youth football coach with over 20 plus pee wee football tackle seasons one of my biggest frustrations is players and parents late, especially to games.  Don’t get me started on late to playoff games or Super Bowls.  A recent USA Football article, Always plan to be 15 minutes early’ is true for players and parents by Jon Buzby prompted me to write this article along with my experience from my last playoff game.

Jon is right in his article about being 15 minutes early.  Hall of Fame Coach and Football Legend, Vince Lombardi was very big on the 15 minute rule, If you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late. On time is 15 minutes early so you are ready to go when the meeting or practice starts.  I am a little time sensitive anyway, so every season in my parent meetings I talk about Lombardi time and being 15 minutes early.  Almost every coach that knows me, calls it Parker time now.

Why does every coach want their players to meetings, practices and games early?  So we can take roll of our players and make sure we have time to adjust if there is a player absence or someone is sick or injured.  We also know we can start warm-ups on time and get practice started quickly without waiting for key players to show up.  It is very frustrating when your starting Center, QB and or Running Backs are late or no shows for practice.  Its very courteous in this modern age of cell phones to let the coaches know that you will not be on time, so we can move on and adjust our thoughts to prepare for the practice or game.  I cannot tell you the stress and nerves before the game when players are late.  We are already nervous about the games and the tardiness just adds to our stress.  And really its so simple to help us, be on time.  You can easily support your youth sports team by just being early to every practice and game.  The coaches will notice and greatly appreciate your support, dedication and dependability as Jason Witten recently spoke about.

The Lombardi rules also is also great to use in real life not just in sports.  In over 40 years of my professional career in IT / Internet Services, I’ve met only one manger that did not like people showing up early to meetings.  And that was because he said usually everybody was 15 minutes late and it was a wasted 15 minutes.  Wasted if you did not bring other work to work on while you waited for the selfish employees that decided to be late.  I’ve learned in my 54 years there are people that do not care about being on time unless its their meeting and then maybe its an issue.  I know that sometimes everyone is very busy but a short text to let everyone know your on your way is a simple courteous extra appreciated step.  But maybe you’re too busy already.

On a youth sports team and especially one of my teams, since I communicated that being 15 minutes early is actually on time, I expect our players to be early.  If you are one of these people that are late all the time, just know everyone is waiting on you to get started and we all talk about you behind your back.  LOL  All kidding aside, be courteous.  Be early.  Be on time.  Your coaches will love you for it.

Remember to Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!

~ Coach Parker

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Playing Multiple Sports but not During Same Season

Arvada Pirates Youth Football Team

Arvada Pirates 2006

I am so surprised each season, when parents come up to our coaching staff and explain why their child will not make practice for half the season and miss some games because they are playing another sport which overlaps with our Football season. The parent will let us know that when they signed up their child they were taking a chance and knew this might happen but want us to help them work through the issue as their child misses more than one third practices and games to focus on another Sport. This is the last thing a coach of any Sport wants to hear; “My child will miss practice.” We hate hearing that sentence come out of any parent’s mouth. Your child learns how to play the Sport during Practice not during the game.

I am a big believer in playing multiple sports if the seasons do not overlap by more than a few weeks as one sport winds down their season. I played Football for 10 years as a young athlete and multiple other sports like Baseball, Swimming, Basketball and Racquetball during Pee Wee, Middle School and High School. I know my Football coaches were not very happy with me when I played Basketball my Freshman year in HS during the football off-season but my 40-time improved the next season. My 40 time really improved as I started to play Tournament Racquetball while in High School. In College, I wound up playing Racquetball and Handball for Club Teams.

Most student athletes will not play professional sports. So, making a 10-year-old, only play Baseball or Soccer for 12 months is a little overkill. Plus, there have been so many arm injuries lately that I am not sold on year-round Baseball. I am not trying to give Baseball a bad rap, but playing any sport 12 months out of the year is too much in my opinion. Yes, I coach Football in the Fall and Spring, but I do not get mad at players that want to play Basketball and Baseball in those traditional seasons and Football in the Fall. As a matter of fact, I think it’s good for them to play multiple sports.

I also think young athletes should try multiple sports to see what they like best not just what their parents like. My youngest son took off a football season when he was 9 to play Select Soccer. After that season, he decided to focus on Football even after I tried to get him to continue to play Soccer in the Football off-seasons. He loved Football more and wanted to stick with Football. He now runs Cross Country in High School after playing Football and Weight Lifting his Freshman year.

What is frustrating to Coaches and myself about our players participating in multiple sports are players that play multiple sports at the same time during a season. I completely agree that young athletes should play multiple sports but not one or two sports during the same season especially if one or both sports is a Select sport which requires massive amount of practice and travel time. Playing two Sports during the same season is unfair to both teams. A player cannot focus on two sports and give 110% to each. It just doesn’t work that way.

When a parent signs up their child to play two sports during the same season, you are hurting both Teams not just your child. Your decision to play two sports has effected about 30 to 40 other children not just your child. Parents need to understand that being selfish does not work in Team sports. Team sports require Teamwork and missing practices and games does not benefit the Team only your child.

I agree playing multiple sports is a great way to have fun and cross train. I did it and my two sons did it. Just do not play two or more sports in the same season and expect your child to play more than a few plays on my Teams if they consistently miss practices and games. If the Team cannot count on you as a teammate then you are not part of the Team.

How do you feel about this subject? Would love to hear from Coaches and Parents.

Remember to Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!

Thanks
Coach Parker
Fort Worth, Texas
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Coaching Youth Football to Lose and Why?

Coaching Youth FootballOver 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 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 teams in our Division.  This morning was no exception, since I am planning to begin coaching another 7U/8U team this Fall 2017.  I started writing down the team names we played over the years and why I thought we beat these teams season to season.  Here is a summary of what I thought about this morning….

Why Teams Lost Summary

  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

Yes, my two sons have played quarterback over the years but if I had a better QB, my sons played other positions.  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.  You must do what is best for the team, not what is best for you and your family.

Each season, I see so many teams force a shotgun snap because they want to run the Spread or Pistol offense.  If your 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 these offenses under Center, maybe not as effective but more effective than fumbling the QB / Center exchange.  This area of offense must be focused on and practice at every practice.  Even I get lazy and lose focus on this QB Center exchange and then it bites me in the bootocky.

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.

Many coaches, want to over complicate youth football offenses.  I know I do sometimes.  Remember to keep it simple.  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.  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 it.

It took me a few years to learn to really focus on blocking.  Many youth football coaches focus on the running backs and just 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.  If your guards are not blocking the inside gap and letting my A gappers crush your QB then it’s hard to hand off.  Your linemen will usually be 50% or more of your players on your football team.  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.

Defense wins Championships.  I see too many coaches running 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.  I use a 5-3 defense or 5-2 Monster as my 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.

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

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

Thanks
Coach Parker
Fort Worth, Texas

 

 

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