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The Top Ten Things Youth Football Coaches Do to Mess Up Their Teams
I used to drive a lot for business. I often wake up at 3:00am or 4:00am to do several drives, have several meetings, and have the trip drive performance at 10:00-11:00am at most. Needless to say it was hard to stay awake that night so I would channel surf and listen to talk radio, the more outrageous it was the easier it was to stay awake. Dr. There used to be a lady named Laura who I used to catch up on from time to time, she had a somewhat famous book called “Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives”. Although the title of the book may sound harsh, it is right on target, detailing 10 very common but completely avoidable (not common sense) things that women often do to destroy their own lives. I often wish there was a book called “Ten Silly Things Youth Football Coaches Do to Mess Up Their Teams”.
Common threads of failing teams
Unfortunately there are several things that are common to underperforming youth football teams. After coaching for 15 years in 6 different leagues and managing/managing many youth football teams I have seen many bad youth football teams. I took a two-year sabbatical from coaching to study the best and worst youth football programs not only in my immediate area, but across the country. There’s certainly more than one way to skin a cat, yet the teams at the bottom seem to have a lot in common. These are teams that have been consistently in the basement of the position for years and have had a real problem with player retention. It was painful to watch some of these teams practice and play, I really felt for the poor kids that had to play for some of these coaches, unfortunately it was clear that many of the kids were playing their last season of youth football. In many cases these teams had more talent than I imagined, but were so poorly coached that they had no chance of individual success and little chance of any team success. While some coaches were clearly well-meaning and lost, there were many coaches who seemed extremely confident in their abilities and their methods, despite their extremely poor results. While I could write volumes on why these teams did so poorly, I’ll try to give you my version of the top 10.
Top Ten Things Youth Coaches Do to Confuse Their Teams
10) Yelling a lot.
Some of these poor-performing teams floundered for half practice and didn’t do a single fit-and-freeze or bird-dog rep.
9) Too much conditioning.
Most of these teams were spending 25% to 40% of their practice time on non-football related conditioning. It would have been great if these youth football teams had participated in a cross country meet or a push up competition, but when it came to playing football, they were crushed every week.
8) Poor defensive plan-
These teams used defensive schemes designed to stop college football offenses and college or pro football players, not youth football games or offenses and youth football players. Don’t even get me started on those who have minimal game rules and how their defenses rarely accommodate the play of these players in situations where they can execute and provide team value on every snap.
7) Blaming the children.
Coaches blamed kids’ lack of “effort” or lack of talent for teams’ lack of success. Many of these coaches were “grass in the green”. Coaches who think they have the best talent or bigger size to compete. Any lack of success is attributed by ‘Jimmy and Jose’ to a situation where their team was “out-athleted”. Rarely did any of these coaches take personal responsibility for the team’s lack of success, it was always the kids, the refs, the weather. , breaks, players sick, other teams, cheating, dog ate homework blah blah blah
6) Lack of coaching efforts.
While the average youth football coach spends 110-160 hours per season practicing, traveling and playing, many don’t spend even an hour researching how to become a great youth football coach. Less than 15% of youth coaches purchase coaching materials. When these poor performing coaches were asked about coaching materials, most had no idea the materials existed and did not even own them. Other flavors of coaches laugh it off because they know everything they need to know and don’t care about any ownership when their teams aren’t consistently successful.
5) Stupid Playbook.
These coaches’ playbooks often looked like the best 25 plays (or more) the coach saw on TV on Saturdays and Sundays. These crimes had no serial basis, most of the plays stood on their own, and were often connected in various ways. Other offenses were unlikely to succeed unless their team monopolized the best talent in their respective leagues. These offenses do not fit the talent or age groups of these respective teams. The play books were often more than 40-50 plays with not a single play being completed.
4) Non-existent blocking schemes
Blocking schemes non-existent or poorly trained. “Block that guy from you” seems like a basic approach, but of course it’s not a blocking plan or rule. Neither team will pull, down block, double team, trap, or cross block. Blocking was clearly not a priority and was not usually assigned to the head coach.
3) Does not teach using progression.
Many of these coaches had played football, but had no idea how to transfer their knowledge to their players. Ultimately it’s not what the coaches know, it’s what the players know. These coaches had no idea how to teach progression and were often trying to teach techniques that the average youth football player would have little chance of consistently executing well even if taught properly.
2) Teaching age-inappropriate techniques.
Many youth football coaches are ignorant of what average kids of a certain age can and cannot do. Many coaches are frustrated because the average youth player can’t do what they coached in high school at the age of 18 and has 9 years of playing experience under his belt, not to mention the body maturity and year-round practice schedule that most high schoolers do now. Others (very few) underestimate what can be done, yes 8-10 year olds can pull, trap, throw short passes and play zone defense while running, but no they can’t throw 20 yards out or Block 9 cannot reach the defensive end of the technique. .
1) Very poorly “designed” practices/poor prioritization.
Too much standing around and looking like a snail Indy 500 car on race day. The kids are tired and don’t seem to have practiced much, no wonder they waste a huge amount of time between practices, reps, everything. Poorly planned and poorly executed practices that place a premium on time wastage. Focusing and spending valuable time on important non-critical nebulous factors instead of focusing on accomplishing critical success factors for developing youth football teams and players. Instead of perfecting technique, holding players accountable to perfect technique, perfecting plans and developing players, time is spent elsewhere or unnecessarily wasted.
Please don’t be offended if you do any of these things. The reason I know this list so well is not only because I’ve observed poorly performing teams do all of these things, but I’ve been doing them myself until 8 seasons ago.
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