This is the first post of a multi part Youth Football Coaching Clinic presentation that I developed for KYA Football in Keller, TX. I’ve been giving this presentation for the last several years and its helped our rookie coaches get a jump start to their first few seasons at KYA Football. Much of the presentation is tailored for KYA Football but many youth football leagues run similar to KYA Football. Find Part 2 here. Part Three
KYA Football is a recreational youth football league in Keller, Texas, just North of Ft Worth in the DFW metroplex. We are just South of Denton, TX. KYA Football age Divisions are Mite (5-6), Bantam (7-8), Sophomore (9-10), Juniors (11-12), and Seniors (11-13). Players already in 7th grade are not allowed to play in KYA Football. KYA Football has a 3 event rule in place so normally, 2 practices and a game each week. Each season, veteran Coaches in their age division can bring back 4 to 6 returning players (freezes) to their team and then must draft the remaining players to achieve a 15 to 20 player roster depending upon the size of the age group registrations. New Coaches to the age division can freeze 2 to 3 players and then draft a team. The registered players that are not “frozen” to a team must go through a grass drills similar to a non-padded try out / field day and enter the draft. Coaches evaluate the players then draft them to their team in a draft process. KYA Football has a Spring and a Fall youth football season.
KYA Football is a recreational football league but it is very competitive. KYA Football is just below the talent pool in a Select Youth Football League. Do not think coaching at KYA Football will be easy. Nothing is ever easy, especially in Texas Football. Yes, we are all out here to have fun but the coaching and competition is very competitive at KYA. If you are not ready to dedicate 100% to coaching a youth football team, you might want to consider being an assistant coach before starting off as a HEAD Coach at KYA Football.
Coach Grant is right. Make sure your wife is on board with you coaching a youth football team. The time required to coach a team far exceeds your current expectations. Practices normally start around 5:30 pm and last about 2 hours twice a week and three times a week prior to the game schedule starting. Make sure your schedule is flexible enough to accommodate practice times and make up dates. Also if you travel more than a few days a month a head coaches spot may not be the right fit for your work travel schedule. Your family will give up a ton of time to your new hobby coaching youth football. Make sure everyone including the dog is ready for the time upheaval.
Do you really need a great quarterback in youth football. No, but it certainly helps to have a stud in the backfield.
This is the normal intro section. I’ve coached 20+ seasons and I know how to win. My way is not the only way to a successful season, but this is what has worked for me over the last 20 years. Use or lose it. Your choice.
The Name Game is a name game were the coaches introduce themselves and we go around the room a few times trying to learn everyone’s names. I start my first practice with the name game but at practice we introduce the player and repeat each players name after each introduction so we repeat everyone’s name 20 times or more. At the end of the introductions, I ask for volunteers who remembers everyone’s names. About 2 to 4 players will usually be able to remember everyone. The Name Game tells me who my smartest players are on the roster and helps me learn everyone’s name the first day. Parents love the name game because anyone listening learns about 75% of the player names. We also do the name game at the second practice too.
Coach Bear Bryant is right on the money with his 3 rules for coaching. When you choose your assistant coaches make sure they are just as enthused and committed to coaching as you. If you are wanting to really geek out then do not choose a lukewarm assistant head coach.
Make sure your coaches are also on board with your brand of winning in youth football. If you focus on coaching vs winning games then make sure your assistants are also focused on that too. If you like to win every game then make sure you choose your coaches and team parent accordingly. You must be 110% dedicated to coaching if you expect to win at KYA Football. There are many experienced youth football coaches at KYA.
Also, when you are drafting players identify who the competitive players are in the draft. I like to interview players and talk to them. If you have a rookie football player but has played Select baseball or soccer they usually know how to play competitive sports and what the expectations are to win. I know many people get mad about talking about winning at the youth sports level, but if you are not winning the parents are not happy. Your goal must be to reach the playoffs and win a few games. A big goose egg doesn’t hunt. Look Play for Fun but Winning is Funner!
And probably Coach Bryant’s most important rule, Have a Plan! You must have a plan and be organized to win in KYA Football. KYA Football is not a YMCA type recreational league. KYA Football has many very experienced football coaches with detailed playbooks, practices plans, game plans, draft databases, player highlight film etc. When you decide to become a Head Coach at KYA Football you must have a plan for everything. Your team mom or parent can certainly help out, but if you are not an organized person then you might want to try your hand at becoming an assistant coach. Make sure you have a plan.
After that last paragraph about planning, why do you want to coach? Coaching youth football is very hard. If your team is undefeated then everyone is singing and drinking your kool aid, but as soon as a few losses come around the boo birds sing a sad song. Even when you are winning parents are complaining about something and don’t get me started on missing practices because of band or baseball. Plus, there is always that one parent that is late to every game. Not to mention your assistant head coach thinks his son should be the QB even though he’s 5 lbs over the weight limit to play in the back field. Your boss will most likely ask you about all the copies your making and why your leaving every Tuesday and Thursday at 4pm when you arrived at 9:30 am because you were on a conference call with your coaches about the upcoming game. Then the two most important ladies in your life, your team mom and you wife are now mad at you. Your wife is upset that you canceled her birthday dinner because you rescheduled practice for Friday to prepare for the big game on Saturday against your rival and your team mom has decided her son should now be a two way starter since she is volunteering so much time.
Your answer to why you want to coach, must be more than just I want to coach my son. Coaching youth football must be a passion if you want to be successful. It must be a passion because its hard and 20 players are counting on you every practice and game to teach them just like they were your son. If you are just focused on coaching your son, then please reconsider becoming a head football coach. Parents see “daddy ball” coaches all the time and it never works out. Head Coaches must think about the team before their son. Your son is only part of a bigger team not the focus. I coach because I love the game that was taught to me by my pee wee football coach, John Lewis of Spring Branch Dad’s Club YMCA. I wanted to coach youth football like Coach Lewis. Yes, I coached my two son’s but I started coaching youth football before I had kids and now I still coach without them on my teams.
By this time your hair is gray or falling out, mine started to do both. But after all this, I love coaching youth football. If you decide to become a head coach, I hope you find the fulfillment that I’ve found in coaching.