Last week in Ft Meyers Florida, I helped a youth football team along with a couple of long time friends, Dan Schalger and Jeff Miret. The coaches we helped kept referring to us as the youth football coaching equivalent to the “Dream Team.” No matter how much we laughed at and tried to move past the term, they wouldn’t stop using it.
Dan is someone I’ve known for about 7 years thanks to working with his program and meeting Kevin Justice at an Orlando Nike clinic. Dan is a very accomplished coach who won a Pop Warner National Championship in 2011. I met Jeff at the Pop Warner National Championships, he uses some of our materials and his teams have played in 4 Pop Warner National Championships, winning 3 of them. Jeff has helped me on a couple of coaching clinics, including both the Panama and Germany clinics. Dan is working with me on several projects and I hope to have him with me next month to help a team in Denver.
While I’ve helped out many youth football programs over the phone, via coaching clinics, film study and even team camps, this was the first time I’ve brought others along. The task was a bit bigger than I could handle alone as this team was struggling with some motivation and team chemistry issues along with significant issues on both offense and defense. Dan was the man for our motivation and team chemistry problems and Jeff and I took the offense and defense.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but after the team got over the level of pace and precision that they would be held accountable to, it went great. The kids were attentive and cooperative. I would have loved to have a couple of those kids play for me, but it was very evident these kids loved their coach. It was obvious he really cares about these boys and most of the players know and appreciate it.
After the kids adapted to the pace and precision intensity, we made good progress. We saw a marked improvement in precision, technique and pace. The results were very noticeable on the offensive line, quickness off the ball with all players, base technique, improvement in defensive recognition and run fits, significant improvement in Defensive End play and much better acceleration into the point of attack by the backs.
While 5 hours of on field practice isn’t enough to make champions out of an average team, the team was well on its way. We started the process with film analysis using Hudl of the teams previous games. Then I had them fill out a detailed questionnaire that helped isolate the strengths and weaknesses. They also provided a detailed description of each player, his skill sets and how he measured against those in their league.
We started each day with a coaches meeting at the coaches house. These were roundtable type meetings that often times evolved into interactive sessions in the living room, working off of a big white board. A few times the conversation evolved into a demo on the back patio. We were very blessed to be the guests of a very good, open minded and accommodating host.
Each practice day started with a small select position group working 1on 1 with Dan, Jeff or myself. The rest of the 2 hours was broken up by position groups. We adhered to a detailed practice plan that I worked out with the existing coaching staff along with Dan and Jeff. The next day we reviewed the previous day and put together another detailed plan of attack.
When we got home, I prepared a detailed report of our findings and an action plan on how to move forward. The teams goal? Pop Warner Disney. While I’ve attended 6 Pop Warner and AYF National Championships, if they make it, I will be there. I kind of reminds me when I made that same promise to a hapless Spirit of Faith Warriors program from Temple Hills, Maryland. That year 3 of their teams made it to Florida. Hopefully Ft Meyers will fall in those same footsteps.
Thanks again to our hosts and as always I got to learn something. It always happens when you work with great coaches like Dan and Jeff. Hopefully we can do a few more of these this year.
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