Many youth football coaches struggle with how much and how to teach football terminology to their kids. What often times happens is they teach too much and in a fashion that leads to fake knowing nods, glazed over eyes and players tugging at grass. Too many youth coaches use this time to show off their knowledge of terminology, terminology that has little to do with your goals and the needs of youth football players. Come on really, do 5-7 year olds need to know what a 3 and 6 technique is? Do they really need to know what boundary, field, odd or even front is?
Or that Center-Guard-Guard=Bear or what an Ace or Duece set is?
No those terms aren’t really hard to grasp, but does a 5-7 or even 8-9 need to know those terms in order for them to have a positive youth football experience or for them to be reasonably successful on the field? In my mind teaching them those concepts is like teaching them algebra before they’ve even learned how to count from 1-10 or to add and subtract. Or worse yet, trying to teach them to do calculus when they are testing for a basic math course and they aren’t proficient at basic math.
While the level of detail will vary based on the age group and experience level of the kids, this is what you might start with for your 5-7s or 7-9 age groups:
For little guys, age 7-9 keep is simple, try and be VERY basic and a little humorous.
Something like this gives them what they need to know in terms THEY can understand and mental pictures they can refer back to.
When we have the ball, what is it called? Offense.
When we have the ball are we blocking or tackling? Blocking.
What happens if we tackle when we are on offense? We get a penalty.
I don’t care about penalties, but it makes Coach Joe angry, his head turns around, actually spins and he will probably throw up. Do we want coach Joe to throw up? No.
What aren’t we going to do, to make sure coach Joe doesn’t throw up? Hold.
Is holding playing fair or cheating? Cheating.
Are we cheaters yes or no? No. That’s right, so we aren’t holding.
When the other team has the ball, are we on offense or defense? Defense.
When the other team has the ball are we blocking or tackling? Tackling.
I kid you not, last week in game 1, I saw a kid blocking one of our Offensive Tackles.
When I’m calling the special teams:
The kickoff receiving team, are we kicking or not kicking? Not kicking.
When we are receiving the kickoff, what just happened? The other team scored.
So if the other team just scored or is on our 1 yard line, what should the receiving team be doing? Getting ready to come out on the field.
After the receiving team is set on the field, what is the most important job of the receiving team? Getting the ball.
What is the second most important job of the receiving team? Don’t hold or block in the back.
If we have to start on with the ball on our own 20 yard line because you decided you wanted to cheat and hold or block in the back and we got a penalty, everyone is going to know it was your fault. Your girlfriend is probably going to leave you for one of my good looking offensive linemen, do you really want that? Do you have the time and energy to go out and find a new girlfriend? No. Then don’t hold or block in the back. Kids that age usually don’t have girlfriends but they will blush and laugh about it and get the general idea, holding and blocking in the back (give demos of both) are bad.
More ideas like that: If Tommy scores on the kickoff and we hold or block in the back, what will happen to that touchdown? It wont count.
Tommy will probably cry and his mom will probably come down out of the stands and yell at the boy who held or blocked in the back, embarrassing stuff. Do we need that? No. We don’t it would be embarrassing for all of us. Someone will probably video it, the police will show up, it will get posted on youtube and Tommy will end up quiting football and taking up balet or soccer. We don’t want any of that to happen do we? No.
So what aren’t we going to do? Hold or block in the back.
On defense, the Defensive Coordinator calls out the formation and calls. We explain why we call Twins twins or trips trips. The kids know where to realign and what to do etc. By seasons end, they can make the call and are right about it most of the time, they don’t even need us making the call, but we do anyways. LATER in the season we MAY talk about- wide side of field-flipping Defensive Ends, 3-4th and long strategy etc, But with the little guys age 7-9 that I’m coaching right now, that’s what we’ve covered so far.
Don’t do all of this together and don’t sit down and talk about it to glazed eyes
Do it during team offense, team defense and special teams. Teaching them the basics of what they need to know, not teaching them terms they won’t understand to show off what you know. When you do this the boys will smile and laugh a bit. The important thing is they will remember, because they have a picture in their mind that they can relate to.
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