Coaching Youth Football Basics to Win Key Fundamentals by Coach Parker blog post comes from a book I am working on for general youth football coaching. I am working on it live over at Youth Football Coaching Tips website. I am a tad late with the release but it is a labor of love. In the meantime, you can find a coaching youth football basics video clinic over on Coach Parker.
The upcoming general youth football coaching book is a combination of my youth football playbooks, YouTube videos, playing experience and football research. I hope to have a good general overview digital eBook on coaching youth football basics for sale in the next 12 months or so. In the meantime, stay tuned with this blog post on Coaching Youth Football Basics for a good general overveiw for new pee wee football coaches.
Coaching Youth Football Basics
What is Youth Football vs Middle / High School Football?
I consider youth football age groups 5 to 12 years old. Some states do not have middle school football so that would increase age group to 14U or 15U.
Youth football also includes flag football, 7 on 7 football, Flex 9 Man Football, 8 Man Football and 11 man tackle football. I mainly focus on 11 man tackle football. I have coached all football forms but Flex and 8 Man football. I played 10 years of 11 man tackle football from 8 years old to 18 in Houston, Texas. I have coached youth football since 1994.
So for the purposes of this summary on coaching youth football basics, it is for 11 man tackle football for ages 5 to 14 years old. But, many of the general coaching youth football basics tips can be used for other forms of football.
Do you want to Coach Youth Football?
Why do you want to coach youth football? Is your son about to turn tackle football age? Or do you just want to get into coaching football. Before you jump into coaching a youth football team, do some research about what it takes to be a youth football coach. It is not as easy as you might think. Knowing why you want to coach youth football and if you can coach youth football is the first key in coaching youth football basics.
Coaching youth football is not like coaching in the NFL, High School or the NCAA. Coaching youth football is like herding cats. Youth football players are not professional athletes and their parents think they know football better than you do even when they never played football or watch the game on TV. Coaching youth football is a calling and similar to teaching and the priesthood. You must love coaching football and teaching young men how to become adults. Otherwise it is a tough job dealing with all the headaches involved.
Are you a natural leader and communicator with great management and organization skills? If you answer no to many of the characteristics above then you may not be cut out to be a good youth football coach. Have you played football for a few years? Did you play high school football? You do not have to be a veteran football player but it is easier if you know the sport from a player perspective. Demonstration is a big part of coaching.
To be a good youth football coach, you need to think about the time commitment coaching involves. Usually about 20 players on a team which means around 50 total people you must manage to get to practices and games. Yes, you must manage their parents too due to rides and communication or even discipline. Does your job allow you to leave so you can make practices by 5:30pm or 5:15pm? Do you work on the weekends and the game schedule may interfere with the game. As a Head Coach you cannot miss game or practices, not to mention league meetings. Perfect attendance is a key trait in coaching youth football basics.
When I Head Coach its about 30 hours a week I am focused on coaching. As an assistant I will put in between 15 and 20 hours. How so much time. Lets say you have 3 practices at 2 hours each, that’s 6 hours plus 1 hour prep and drive time so that’s now 9 hours. The game is usually 1 to 2 hours plus maybe warmups and after game meeting or lunch, lets say that’s a 4 hours. Now you are at 13 hours with little to no prep for game, scouting practice organization etc.
So coaching youth football is an easy 20 hours a week. Does you job or family obligations allow you the freedom of 20 hours a week? If you do not have the time then you might fail coaching youth football basics to become a youth football coach.
For more on coaching youth football basics keep reading.
Simple Youth Football Rules
If you are considering coaching youth football, then I assume you know the rules of football. I will summarize a few simple football rules for you just in case you do not understand the game. If you are new to football and need a total immersion then I would suggest you start learning on a computer game like Madden football to get the basics or I thought this article on NFL Rules by The Football Girl was pretty interesting and the Football for Dummies post of learning football. There are also several coaching certifications you can sign up for. I would check with USA Football first.
Football is played by two opposing football teams in different color uniforms on a 120 x 53 yard field. Each scoring end zone is 10 yards at each end of the 100 yard field of play. Each football team can field 11 players on the field for either offense or defense play along with special teams. Usually youth football teams will have 20 players on their rosters and the NFL team has around 55 players on their rosters.
The game is broken up in to 4 quarters and one break called half time. The game is usually 30 to 60 minutes depending on age and league rules.
Each team will have an offensive, defensive and special teams squad. Some players may play on all squads / platoons or just one. On Offense the players block, run, pass, catch and try to score as they move the football down the field in 4 down increments trying to gain 10+ yards for a first on each 4 downs. If the offense stalls during a 4 down series then the offense will usually Punt of 4th down to the opposing defense that is set up for a Punt Return.
Typical player positions on Offense include, Quarterback, Tailback, Fullback, Tight End, Wing Back, Half Back, Split End, Center, Guard and Tackle.
When the offense scores a touchdown by crossing the end zone, they score 6 points. They can either go for 1 or 2 points by kicking an extra point or playing offense from a set field point of the field usually 3 to 7 yards.
As the Offensive team is trying to move down the field, make first downs and try to score, the opposing Defensive team will defend their end zone from the Offense trying to score. On Defense players will make tackles, intercept football and cause fumbles. The Defensive squad is trying to stop the offense from scoring and get the football back as soon as possible so their own offensive squad can take the field and try to score.
Defense has many opportunities to score by intercepting a pass or running a fumble back and crossing the end zone to score 6 points. Also, if the opposing offense is tackled in their own end zone the Defense can score a 2 point safety.
Typical player positions on Defense include, Linebacker, Defensive End D-Tackle, Noseguard, Cornerback, Free Safety, and Strong Safety.
Each teams Special Teams’ squads will Kick-off and or Kick Return, Punt and Return Punts of Kick Extra Points after touchdowns are scored. Special Teams can also kick a field goal from the field of play for 3 points. Field Goals are very difficult in youth football but if you have a kicker then you are a very lucky coach.
For more on football rules, do a Google search, and keep reading for more on coaching youth football basics.
Finding a Youth Football League
So you have decided you want to coach youth football. Now where and how do you start coaching? Finding a good youth football league is a top requirement in coaching youth football basics. Three to four months of your life will be tied to a great experience or a nightmare depending on how well your pee wee football league is operated. It seems simple but choosing the right league is a huge factor in your success as a youth football coach.
An easy way to start coaching is become an assistant coach on a youth football team. That is what I did when I got started. A friend of mine knew a guy with a stud running back that needed a “technical coach” to develop his football team so I became the Assistant Head Coach since the HC had little football experience. I had not coached a youth tackle team yet, I had been coaching adult flag teams and played 10 years as a youth football player.
If I would have had the 1 to 2 years experience coaching another pee wee football team, we might have win the Super Bowl that season, but we did take home the Coaching Staff of the Year for making such a big splash in the league.
I would recommend becoming an Assistant Coach before taking over a team as Head Coach. You should also do this under a few HC to find out what you like and do not like about their styles. You can also start coaching other sports before tackle football to get your feet wet before accepting a tackle team challenge.
When I started coaching my two young sons in Colorado, I signed up at the YMCA for youth flag football and t-ball. Through the YMCA I met a few friends involved in Arvada Youth Football that hooked me up to coach a new tackle team in 2006. So from my coaching reputation in Dallas and Denver I was recommended to the youth tackle leagues by friends. When I came back to Texas after 15 years, I had to search out a league to coach in.
To find local youth football leagues just do a quick Google search. When I moved back to Texas from Arvada / Denver, Colorado that is what I did to find a good area for youth football near Fort Worth, Texas. I cane across some HEB leagues and the Keller Youth Association. We did a little research on KYA and decided on Keller. KYA Football has been great to me and my family. I started assisting for a local team and got back into the the Texas football scene.
For more on youth football Select and Recreational leagues coaching youth football basics keep reading.
Youth Football League Select or Recreational
When making your decision to coach you should consider what type of league you would like to join. You need to consider do you want to coach recreational football through an organized league or a Select travel team league.
A Select travel team league is usually harder on a first year youth football Head Coach. On a Select team you must recruit “Select” your players without much help from the Select / Travel football league you decide join. The league will be in charge of scheduling and fields, and you are in charge of everything else. Below are some of the items you could be responsible for on a Select Travel League Team.
- Collecting Team Fees
- Collecting League Fees
- Collecting Tournament Fees
- Coach / Player / League Paperwork
- Player Birth Certificates / Age Certification
- Coaching Background Checks
- Ordering Uniforms
- Practice Field Fees / Permits
- Practice Equipment / Bags / Footballs
- Team Budget / Bank Account
- Recruiting Players to Your Team
- Usually no Minimum Play Rules
Many Recreational youth football leagues are set up by City, County or region for more rural areas. These Recreational youth football leagues, may be full service leagues that provide:
- Player Registration / Certification
- Players are drafted assigned to Teams from league player pool
- Little to No outside player recruiting
- Practice & Game Fields
- Practice Equipment / Footballs
- Some may provide player equipment / pads / Helemet
- Game Schedule & Referees
- Coach / Parent / Player / League Code of Conduct
- Team games are played within league no outside teams usually
- Many Rec league have Minimum Play Rules
Your youth football league’s Rules will explain how you recruit / draft / assign or acquire players to your team. I’ve played in Select leagues where all players were recruited, in Rec leagues where all players were assigned and in a few Select and Rec leagues that allowed a combination of recruit and assigned from the pool and outside the league registration pool.
For more on player recruiting and drafting coaching youth football basics keep reading.
Drafting & Recruiting Team
This is a fun part of the process. I am not big on recruiting but our league holds a draft similar to a fantasy football draft.
I have had success recruiting by asking current players on my roster who else they know that might want to play football. I have also used flyers to invite players to a try out. My sons would hand out these flyers at his school.
For more on Team Organization and Planning coaching youth football basics keep reading.
Team Organization and Planning
Organization and planning is key to a successful youth football season.
Choosing youth football assistant coaches…
develop your coaching staff – from dads or old friends that know how to coach
Coaching youth football basics includes keeping the parents very happy. This might be your toughest job.
Communication & Parent Meeting
I cannot over emphasize communication and parent communication.
at first of the season make sure you have a parent meeting!
Many experienced youth football coaches know that coaching youth football basics includes managing and coaching the player parents. They are tougher than the kids.
Youth Football Equipment Needed for Practices
You will need bags and other equipment, what is in your coaches backpack? and Truck?
Coaching youth football basics – Equipment needed to coach a youth football team ages 5 to 14.
Coaching Youth Football Blocking and Tackling
Football is two things, blocking and tackling.
Coaching youth football fundamentals – Blocking and Tackling are the two most basics fundamentals of the football game.
Practice Planning and Practices
Make sure everyone understands your practice plan and what you want to accomplish. Veteran team vs a rookie team? Young vs Old team.
Coaching youth football basics – Practice Planning for Youth Football Teams
Youth Football Drills
Make your youth football drills; tackling and blocking, situational that link to your offense and defensive schemes otherwise they will not translate to the games.
Here are my Every Day Drills or EDDs. I try to use these everyday or at least once a week in our youth football practices. I have narrowed these down from hundred of drills to make sure these contribute to our Team’s core fundamentals.
More Coaching youth football basics – Youth Football Drills
Here are some of my top best favorite tackling drills.
Coaching Youth Football Offense Basics & Plays
What are the top youth football offenses. This is a key question in Coaching youth football basics, because the offense you choose will be very important in your pee wee football teams success throughout the season.
Some of the top youth football offensive formations are:
Some of the top youth football plays on a pee wee offense are:
- Wedge / QB Sneak
- FB Blast
- Tailback Dive
- TE Pop Pass
- Power Sweep
- Lead ISO Dive
- Sweep Option Pass
- Jet Sweep
Here is a mega list of youth football plays.
Coaching youth football Defense Basics & Schemes
Coaching youth football basics – Defenses
Here are a few top youth football defenses
- 62 Wide Tackle
- 5-3 Defense
- 70 Umbrella Defense
- 44 Defense
- 33 Stack Defense
- Gap 8 Defense
- 52 Monster Defense
Coaching Special Teams Kick-Off, Kick Return, Punt, PAT
Beware of kicking off deep when your team has no speed to cover a long kick off
Coaching youth football basics – Special Teams
Scouting and Video Taping Games and Scrimmages
Coaching youth football basics – Scouting in youth football
Please leave me a comment below or contact me anytime. I love talking coaching youth football basics. You can also find me on YouTube for more game highlights and coaching youth football how to tutorials.
Remember to Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!
Fort Worth, Texas
PS: Stay Safe!!