College Football Teams That Have Never Won A Conference Championship Thinking Outside the Box When Coaching Youth Football

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Thinking Outside the Box When Coaching Youth Football

Now is the time to start evaluating everything you do for next season. You don’t want to wait until July or August to do your research and then run out of time and go back to doing the same thing. In March I broke game film for the second time. I look critically at practice plans, drills and priorities and make sure that what we are doing is not a waste of time and is directly related to our ultimate mission. I now research different methods, techniques, crimes, teaching processes and defenses. I’ve already read about a dozen books and attended countless clinic sessions and still have about 6 books on my stack plus 3-4 DVDs to watch.

turning over new leaves

While our goals will not change, I am always open to new ways to accomplish them. We have had tremendous success, but that doesn’t mean we own the franchise on how to get there, there are still many great ideas to be used to improve our youth football teams. We just have to be open minded to keep looking for them and relentless enough in our search to find them.

Learn from the best

If you haven’t heard of John Gagliardi (GUH-LAR-D). He has been the head coach at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., since 1953, with his teams winning 461 games. I’ve written about him many times and his unique way of approaching football practice.

John Jeanson of Newsday wrote of the coach:

At a school of 1,900, none of whom are on athletic scholarships and therefore not enrolled in music history or any other classes, Gagliardi, 82, will be coaching his 57th season at St. John’s, trying to win a 27th conference title. and fifth national championship – the most recent in 2003. Three years ago, Gagliardi became the first active coach inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Listen to his philosophy: no agility drills, long calisthenics or laps (just one push-up before practice). “When I was in high school, we had a coach who I learned a lot from – all negative. He was a fanatic about calisthenics and drills, grueling things. And laps, laps, laps. We were exhausted before we even started. My memory is that hell must have been like this. Practice. I came within a hair’s breadth of not hanging there. See, I noticed that all the boys who go to intramurals never did all the drills, and I never saw an ambulance go to their field. The ambulances were always. Coming to us. And look, fortunately, I didn’t have a TV. I didn’t know a thing. I knew what I didn’t like.”

He began his coaching career as a high school senior at Trinidad (Colo.) Catholic in 1943, when a real coach was hired. He took the team to the state championship game and, “Geez, amazingly, we won. I must have been 16.”

But his coaching ethics were set. “Our coach used to say, ‘Hit somebody! Hit somebody!’ But I realized that I was the one getting beat. Our coach believed that the answer to everything was drills and conditioning, but the only sad flaw in his system was that when we lined up, we didn’t know what we were doing. I was a tailback. There was – you know, that old single-wing, Notre Dame box stuff – and I noticed when I called the play, there was fear in the linemen’s eyes. ‘Who do I block?’ I thought the first thing we had to do was figure out who to block.”

Beyond diagramming, there is no means of practice at St. John’s. No blocking sleds. No blocking dummies. “I get some kids, when they first come in, ask me, ‘How do I prove I can play? Who do I hit or beat?’ That’s not the way to make a tackle. First you have to line up in the right place. You have to move to the right place. You have to figure out where the ball is. Don’t get blocked. You have to put pressure on the ball. You do all that, eventually you make the tackle. .

Applying it to youth football

Does any of this bother those of us who coach youth football? How many O-Fer youth football teams do you see coach Gags protesting against? In youth football you have to get your kids out of the initial fear of contact and do some hitting, but once that’s done, how much more time is spent on full scale scrimmaging than bird dog or quick fit and freeze reps?

do the math

My teams can fit and freeze reps every 10-12 seconds, while the average “scrimmage” rep takes 90-120 seconds. This means in 40 minutes the “scrimmaging” team will run 20-30 plays if they are lucky. My teams would have done 200-240 reps during the same period. Which team do you think will execute better on game day, 40-60 quality offensive reps that week or a team that gets 400 points -480 quality reps? Multiply that over a 3-month period and you have a partial answer to why so many youth football teams execute so much better than their competition, even when they have less practice.

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