Tag Archives: youth football practice

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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Are you blocking and tackling during youth football practice?

I am not sure why, but this season my brain keeps saying to me, “football is just blocking and tackling.”  Yes, I know this comes from Lombardi…

Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things ; blocking and tackling. – Vince Lombardi

In past seasons, I’ve coached more, well talked more.  So far this season, we have been blocking and tackling more in drills. Maybe its because 15 of our 17 youth football players have played in Super Bowls before and our average playing experience level is 3 years.  It is really nice to coach top talent.  What I can’t believe is this is a rec team and not a select team.  The amount of youth football talent is Texas is incredible.

Since we don’t need to teach and coach as much in the past, we’ve added more stations so almost everyone is moving.  No time for horseplay.  We coach with quick bites of info to address mistakes but keep the drills moving at a fast pace.  It is still very early in the season, tomorrow will be our third week and two weeks before our first game.  So we have time to learn our blocking calls and blitz packages.  I must say this is my best hitting, tackling and blocking team in almost 10 years.  We have some great looking talent this year.

I have really kept my drills simple this year using the form and fit drills for both tackling and blocking and our main hitting drill has been variations of the Oklahoma Drill and a blocking drill similar to the Hex knock out blocking drill.  We try to keep these drills compact so the speed is minimal to reduce head impacts.  Our running backs have been doing many walk throughs while the lineman tackle and block.  We are trying to save the RBs for games, so they do a few reps and then off to the lite timing drills.

This week we will lessen the hitting impacts since we have filmed most of our practices and seen who and where players will end up on the depth chart.  I’ve also graded everyone and listed their weaknesses and strengths.  So we can watch for these issues in upcoming scrimmages.

Remember, at the end of the day not a whole lot matters except can your team block and tackle.  I know its maybe not politically correct to say it in today’s safety aware environment but but football is all about hitting.  Make sure you are teaching blocking and tackling so your players will be ready to hit in their first game.

One last thing, I heard this in a movie the other day.  “It’s not about winning or losing but who are we going to scare for our next game.”   So, even if you lose your next game, make sure your next opponents are afraid to play you.

Remember to play for fun and Winning is Funner.

Coach Parker
Keller, Texas / DFW / Fort Worth, TX


Filed under youth football blocking

Are Video Games Hurting your Youth Football Team?

Madden 12 Video Game XBOXLouisville football coach Charlie Strong, blames a key loss to Pittsburgh on one of the most popular video games, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. He says in a NESN.com article, “…we let the video game take control of us.”

Video games may not rot your brain but they can change the way you think, a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America reveals.  http://mashable.com/2011/11/28/violent-video-games-brain-study/

Last Spring I heard a fellow coach tell his team not to play video games on practice days or game days.  I had already limited my two sons XBOX play to 2 hours day and seen an improvement in their grades, social behavior, and focus.  Although I love video games and grew up playing them from the earliest 1976 Radio Shack pong to Angry Birds today, I believe that excessive video game play like anything else done to the extreme hurts our children.  I’ve seen the negative effects of addictive video game behavior in myself and my two sons.

Personally I liked the no video game team rule, because I stopped seriously playing video games several years ago, and I sleep much better now and feel more productive during the day.  So I started telling our players to limit their video game / computer time on game and practice days.  I immediately saw a change in my son on practice days.  He was more focused and wanted to go outside.  He was also ready for practice on time.  Once you institute the no video game rule, you will easily find the video gamers.  The video game junkies look like zombies at practice.  The first hint is their eyes.  Their eyes will be droopy and red.  They will look tired like they just took a nap.  They will also take more time to warm up and become involved with team activities.  Plus they will usually be late or forgot something.  They will also find it hard to focus more than 10 minutes during a team discussion.

I do think video games are rotting our brains.  And there is evidence to prove it!

Here is some raw data on playing video games….  Visit the links for full articles.

How much are our children playing video games? According to the Entertainment Software Association, 67 percent of U.S. households play video games.  Drs. Anderson and Gentile’s research also shows that children are spending increasing amounts of time playing computer/video games – 13 hours per week for boys, on average, and 5 hours per week for girls (Anderson, Gentile, & Buckley, under review; Gentile, Lynch, Linder, & Walsh, 2004). http://www.softforyou.com/articles_tutorials/computer_video_games.html

In the past some studies have said video games had positive impacts and in some instances this is true.  But, “Despite the hype, in reality, there is little solid evidence that games enhance cognition at all,” said Dr. Walter Boot, assistant professor in Florida State University’s department of psychology from http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/09/17/video-games-may-not-enhance-cognitive-skills-after-all/29533.html.

In fact Denison University psychologist Robert Weis recently conducted a study on young boys aged 6-9.  The results showed that males who were granted frequent access to video games are slower learners in the areas of mathematics and reading. From http://www.examiner.com/ny-video-game-community-in-new-york/study-shows-video-game-players-are-slower-learners

Another study conducted in 2007 states “The results suggest that television and computer game exposure affect children’s sleep and deteriorate verbal cognitive performance, which supports the hypothesis of the negative influence of media consumption on children’s sleep, learning, and memory.”  http://www.pediatricsdigest.mobi/content/120/5/978.full

Edward L. Swing and his Iowa State colleagues said they weren’t sure why television and video-game exposure would have any effects, but suggested exploring “rapid scene changes.” Such “exciting” changes in sights and sounds may “harm children’s abilities to sustain focus on tasks that are not inherently attention-grabbing,” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/5/excess-tv-video-games-stunt-focus/?page=all

Most recently the evidence points to effecting cognitive skills and actually effecting brainwaves.  Baroness Greenfield, the former director of the Royal Institution, said spending too much time staring at computer screens can cause physical changes in the brain that lead to attention and behaviour problems.  Technology that plays strongly on the senses – like video games – can literally “blow the mind” by temporarily or permanently deactivating certain nerve connections in the brain, the Baroness said. Another study by Japanese scientists ten years ago warned that because video games only stimulate the brain regions responsible for vision and movement, other parts of the mind responsible for behaviour, emotion and learning could become underdeveloped. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/8825655/Video-games-can-alter-childrens-brains.html

Let’s not forget, Many studies have shown that kids who spend more time watching television [23] and playing video games are at higher risk of becoming overweight.  One in three high school youth do not engage in vigorous physical activity.  Less than 30% attend daily gym class [24]. Sprawling development that discourages physical activity and makes walking and biking difficult or dangerous is also a factor [25]. http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/obesity.htm

Video games are turning our children into Addicts. Gentile analyzed data collected in a January 2007 Harris Poll survey. He compared respondents’ video game play habits to the symptoms established in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for pathological gambling. Gamers were classified as “pathological” if they exhibited at least six of 11 symptoms. The pathological gamers in the study played video games 24 hours per week, about twice as much as non-pathological gamers. They also were more likely to have video game systems in their bedrooms, reported having more trouble paying attention in school, received poorer grades in school, had more health problems, were more likely to feel “addicted,” and even stole to support their habit. The study also found that pathological gamers were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with attention problems such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090420103547.htm

The video games actually rewire the  brain. The researchers do not know whether gaming causes the brain to change, or whether people are born with this brain structure which makes them want to spend hours playing. But they say it is a crucial first step in understanding whether video games could be addictive. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2061983/Teenage-video-game-players-brains-like-gambling-addicts.html#ixzz1jkoBKbhp

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) repeatedly has recommended that children spend no more than two hours a day of watching television and or playing video games.  If you are like our family, limiting screen time is pretty tough to do in the media driven economy, especially with tablets and cell phones driving more screen time.  We limit XBOX to 2 hours a day and it must be shut off by 7pm.

I think the key for parents and coaches is to get our children outdoors more and away from the television, computer screens, cell phones, etc.  Otherwise we are wiring and morphing our children into fat little couch Zombies.

Coaches, if you want to see your practices improve like I saw last Fall, then set a team no video game use policy on game days and practice days.    You might even want to consider a video game curfew on the night before your games.  Don’t let video games take control of your team!

Coach Parker
Keller, TX / Ft Worth Texas / DFW



Filed under Youth Coaching

Too Much and Too Little Time

If you’re like me, you are probably trying to install too many youth offensive plays or defensive stunts & blitzes before your first youth football game.  I always think I have more time, and time is your enemy.  Most youth tackle football coaches only have 2 practice days a week, maybe 3 if you are lucky, and a small percentage select / elite teams practice 4 days a week.  Wow, what would I do with 4 days a week, maybe a trap Kick Return special teams play.  See I like to keep adding information instead of keeping it simple stupid or KISS.  I just watched a video by Michigan State’s Linebacker’s Coach Mike Tressel, and he talks about “paralysis by analysis”.  Information Overload slows a player down.

Maybe you’ve already had your first game or scrimmage or two and thinking why are my players lining up in the wrong positions and not remembering their plays, we have practiced this skill or play over and over.  I am sure you have practice those plays and skills in practice, but can you perform that play or routine 5 times perfectly without corrections?   I’ve read research that says people need 10,000 hours of training to become an expert, 250,000 reps to perfect a skill or a 500 reps a play in practice before running the play in an actual game.  Whatever the hours needed to perfect a skill or a play, I am sure neither of us are approaching 500 reps before running our plays in a game situation. We do not have the time at the youth level.  So what is the solution?

If your players just aren’t getting it, pull back a little on all the information and focus on your core 4 to 8 offensive plays.  My rule of thumb on offense is player’s age = # plays I can successfully coach that season.  So if I am coaching 9 year olds then I might be able to coach 8 to 10 different plays on offense.  On defense don’t set up multiple defenses.  Maybe you should only stunt or blitz one or two players and not involve the whole team.  Let the other 9 players play normal and two blitzers carry out all the special stunts.

How do I know pulling back and keeping it KISS works?  Well in Spring we won our Divisions Super Bowl with only 6 plays for an 8 year old team.  Yes, that’s right, 6 plays and that really was only 3 plays right or left.  So if I can pull back and simplify to win, so can you.

Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!

Coach Parker
Ft. Worth, TX / Keller

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