Do They Sing National Anthem Before High School Football Game Youth Football – The Cornerstones of Winning When Coaching Youth Football, is it Football Playbooks?

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Youth Football – The Cornerstones of Winning When Coaching Youth Football, is it Football Playbooks?

Lessons for winning when coaching youth football:

Winning in youth football is not much different than winning in other sports. In fact there may be value in looking at teams and coaches in other sports and see if there is anything you can learn to take into your youth football team.

Learning from John Wooden

I am in the process or reading a book about John Woodens “Pyramid of Success”. Although I am not a huge basketball fan, I thought I could learn a thing or two from this UCLA basketball legend who won 7 straight NCAA National Championships, 88 straight games and 38 straight NCAA Tournaments.

Many of you may not know that the program was a joke when John Wooden took over UCLA. As the dairy manager was Coach Wooden’s main source of income, UCLA rarely drew more than 2,000 fans and during his first 17 years had no space on campus to play or practice. The facilities were among the worst in the conference and perhaps the nation, yet his teams were not only successful, but dominated throughout the year.

What surprised me the most about Coach Wooden’s approach to the game was his disdain for the opposition. While he studied some films, he studied much less than his peers. Coach Wooden was adamant that his teams would do what they did best and spent valuable practice time preparing to implement Coach Wooden’s philosophy.

Don’t fear the opposition, worry about yourself

In this book, player after player reiterated what Coach Wooden had said about the opposition. His players were so consistent in the idea that they didn’t really care who they played against or what style they played. In some games UCLA players didn’t even know the names of the opposing players or the conference the opposing team belonged to. It wasn’t because UCLA didn’t respect the opposition, it was because they really thought, no matter who they were playing against, they were going to execute. The UCLA players were playing against themselves, they were playing against their ability, not against the opposing team. UCLA builds against any philosophy, system or contingency.

These UCLA players had a lot of faith in the team, the coaches and the system, not in their individual abilities. This UCLA team and players had a calmness of confidence and invincibility that served them well in close games and intimidated most teams they played.

I see many youth football coaches taking care of the opposition when their own team is struggling with their own execution. I watched a Louisiana youth coach game film last season. Playing in what they claimed was a “tough league” where all the coaches scouted each other, I found little to scout. The execution and alignment of all the teams in this league was atrocious, something I had never seen even in a local in-house rake level league. All these coaches would have been better served teaching their kids their systems and fundamentals without worrying about the opposition. Scouting time was not wasted.

An example is the Nebraska National Championship

My friend Jerry Tagg said exactly the same thing about the 1970 and 1971 University of Nebraska football teams. They went a combined 24-0-1 and won the National Championship. Jerry was the starting quarterback for both of those teams and a team leader on and off the field. When asked what his most lasting memory was from that 1971 season, in which NU outscored its opposition 507-104 and won the national title game over #2 Alabama 38-6, Jerry didn’t hesitate for a moment to say “We knew we were going to To win every game before we step on the field.

Jerry said he had so much faith in himself, his team, his coach and his system, the only question on his mind was how many wins he was going to win. While many of their games were huge blowouts, they trailed #2

Oklahoma has played multiple times in that game, which is still referred to as the “Game of the Century.” Jerry said he never panicked, he knew somehow, somehow he was going to win, he was very excited and confident throughout the game. He said; “We knew we were going to win”, in his mind and the teams mind, the game was a foregone conclusion.

As a kid, I was at every Jerry home game in 1970 and 1971. We used to go to the games very early and we would go near the field and watch the players warming up. It seems so long ago and all those players seemed so grown up like a 10 year old. We used to go down to the stadium and watch the players come out from behind the ropes for kickoff from the locker room. If you lean in too much and smile too big, many players will quickly slap you. What I remember most was how quiet these guys were and none of them jumped up and down or yelled like we see on TV today and even at youth and high school football games. The NU players were always very quiet, a few with a smile or two, but there was zero stay stuff going on. In those days, the team playing Nebraska often played with an inverse correlation to how much emotion it showed. Oklahoma was one of the rare teams back in the day that could consistently compete with Nebraska, and it wasn’t just that, it was just as calm and confident.

60-3 in the 90s

Nebraska football had an era from 1993-1997 when the team went an amazing 60-3, winning 3 national titles along the way and barely losing another. Teams often fell for Nebraska in those days. What I remember most about those teams was that there was zero fanfare, no players had their faces painted, no one was jumping up and down, no one was yelling, it was just Darth Vader walking down the tunnel. Someone was going to take them out that day, and it certainly wasn’t going to be Nebraska. Often the other team looked like little wide-eyed lambs being led to the slaughter, you could feel it in the air. Sometimes the opposing team would show a bit of false nervous bravado, but in those days most of them had eyes that said “I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, but I doubt it’s going to be good for me. Personally”. By the end of the second quarter they were looking for a “soft spot” to land, to use a boxing term. If you know someone who will be in the stadium at the time, ask them. No offense to the opposition, they were always given a standing ovation by NU fans after a game, win or draw. Perhaps this is our way of showing appreciation to the opponents who survived the carnage.

Were the Nebraska players rude, arrogant or disrespectful? Not at all, he had complete faith in his preparation, plan, coach and team. They had no reason to act like clowns, they were just going to do what they knew they could do, game over, move on to the next goal. Now of course we are in a different day, the man has been seen behind the scenes, the aura is gone, Mike Tyson has been knocked out and the giant has found his feet to be of clay. But those were the times and the same monsters exist in youth football today.

Applicable to youth football

What can we do as youth football coaches to instill that confidence in our youth football players?

I can say with great confidence that it can be done. I have done it under the most ridiculous circumstances. I’ve led teams to situations where we faced great odds: In 2003 my 8-10 team played and convincingly beat two 11-12 league championship teams, one in a 10,000-seat college stadium, down 7-0 and severely underachieving. and outmand. In 2004 I led an all-rookie rural team to an 11-0 season and beat the league champions of a major league where more than half of their guys were veteran players. In 2005 I took a team of non-select boys aged 8-10 (all comers) and beat (30-6) a large inner-city select team who had selected from over 150 boys and had not lost in 3 years. They started at least 5 guys who weighed over 150 pounds and one monster over 210, while on the other hand we only had 2 players over 100 pounds. That same year we beat a team that had not lost in 5 years (Mercy ran) (started our fourth team quarterback in that game) and beat the Omaha Select team (36-6) who were the champions of their league. In 2006 I took an 8-10 age group to a tournament

Kansas City and we fielded a team that started 5-6 guys over 150 pounds with 2 huge defensive tackles over 190, remember our starting center only weighed 71 pounds at the time (always the starter out). In 2007 my age 10-11 team played the Malcolm team in which we had 1 to 8 “striped” players during the national anthem. A stripe means a player weighs more than 128 pounds and must wear a stripe on his helmet. Not only did this team outscore us 8-1 on stripers, but their stripers were huge, with at least 3 starters weighing over 180. Our lone streak player weighed 148 followed by our next biggest players at 115 and 105. Each of these games we were behind but the boys were very confident.

How did we do it? I promise you it has nothing to do with paying too much attention to our opposition. Had we done that, I’m not sure we would have had the same level of success. In practice we don’t waste time on frivolous non-football activities and protect the core offense and defense to perfection against the most known contingencies. We know how to defend against each offense and how to respond to specific tactics used to stop your offense. Our kids trust the scheme, their assignments, their technique, execution and coaches. We expect good performance from them and expect them too. Those of you who have game films know that our kids don’t get too excited about touchdowns or big plays, they expect them to happen, same for the coaching staff, you don’t see them jumping or punching. Air, it is expected, quiet calm confidence. We always talk to the kids in the past tense “Remember our 4th touchdown after we score to XYZ”, “After the game remember the other team came a long way to get here and will be very disappointed, don’t jump and get down and take advantage of the win and Let them feel bad, we expect to play well, it shouldn’t be any kind of surprise” etc. I have been told that our children behave with much more confidence than their outward appearance should justify.

Before the game we are away from the competition and arrive very late, we only do 30 minutes pre-game while our opponents do 60-90 minutes. Our kids seem a little oblivious to who we play with, rural, suburban, inner-city, big, out-of-town, etc. Ignoring the opposition and worrying about ourselves, we’ve created that environment. We are always competing against ourselves, our ability, not the opposing team. Match that with our “easy numbers” play mapping system, adjustments and key identifiers, and the need to figure out each opponent is negated. Do we look for our opposition? Very few, maybe one game a year, but they find the heck out of us, and the movie, book, and trading info between them didn’t help much either.

Once you get it rolling, the aura feeds on itself and can include things like championship banners, trophy displays and other examples that reinforce the inevitability of your team’s success in the minds of your players and their opponents.

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