Outsmarting Yourself as Youth Football Coach

Written by Dave on March 29th, 2016

blocking team

Outsmarting Yourself as Youth Football Coach

What is outsmarting yourself in youth football and does it happen? The answers are yes it happens and outsmarting yourself is: instead of doing what will most likely give your team the best opportunity to succeed, instead they will do something cute, totally out of character or something that has little to no chance of success.

If that sounds like something you’ve done, don’t sweat it, it happens at the college level too and I will give you an egregious example of it later in this article. Some coaches feel like they have to be the “smartest guy in the room” or do something totally off the wall. Why do they do this? Sometimes they feel it’s the only chance they have to succeed even if the odds are long.  Sometimes these coached just want the accolades of doing something totally off the wall and succeeding, if they were by chance lucky enough to pull it off.

What are examples of youth football coaches outsmarting themselves?

Examples

Putting in an entirely new offense in one week to “change it up” in a week 9 game

Running a bunch of trick plays that have never worked in practice

Running the ball consistently 4-5 yards a crack right down the field. With first and goal on the 5, they throw the ball for a pic 6

A core group of plays is consistently working, yet the coach continues to dig deep into the playbook for plays that consistently don’t work

A team onside kicks and pooch kicks all year. They score the go ahead touchdown with 15 seconds left and decide to kick deep, the other team of course returns it for a score.

With one weeks practice a team adds in the true triple option to their playbook

Deep into the season a coach forgoes nearly all of its individual and group practice time in lieu of scout offense and defense team time

The problem often times is that “plays are there” if you count the box or look how teams are aligned, But NONE of that matters if you can’t execute the plays that are “there”.

Don’t feel like you have to use your entire playbook or go away from what is consistently working. Even if you see something that is open, it may be more effective to dance with the one that brung ya, ESPECIALLY if other plays in your playbook haven’t consistently worked in practice.

Do you really want to throw that throwback screen at the opponents five yard line when you’re only completing 3-10 in practice? It doesn’t matter how “OPEN” it is, don’t play smartest guy in the room,

This actually happened to one of the teams in my program. Back in 2010 one of our teams was winning a close game and just took a 2 score lead late in the third quarter. They had onside kicked very effectively all season and the opponent knew that. The opponent had moved their second line in close and their single deep guy was only at the 30. So the deep kick was “open”. You guessed it, we kicked deep, the other teams best player retreated to pick up the ball and viola he returned it for a touchdown. Our kids had never even practiced covering a deep kick. The other team grabbed the momentum from the kick return score and ended up winning the game. It happens.

Share YOUR smartest guy in the room story with us, if you’ve seen a real good one.

Even the College Guys

You don’t have to go any further than my Nebraska Cornhuskers to see these same type of problems at the collegiate level. NU played a very poor Illinois team this season. NU was ahead by 6 with just 51 seconds left to go in the game. NU was on the Illinois 27 and it was 3rd and 7. Illinois had NO timeouts left. All NU had to do was either get the first down, or run 2 plays, or run 1 play and punt it. If the ball had been run on both plays, there would have been just 10 seconds or so left for Illinois and the ball would have been downed inside their 10 with NU’s All American Punter. So they would have had to go 90 yards in just 10 seconds.

Well it didn’t quite end up like that. The NU offensive coordinator was having one of those “smartest guy in the room” moments. Despite it being windy and NU only passing for 10-31 for 105 yards, he called 2 passes in a row. The clock stopped after each play and Illinois got the ball back with 41 seconds instead of 10 and they subsequently completed 3 passes to win the game 14-13.

The “smartest guy in the room” who probably saw a couple of plays that were open on paper, saw his team lose a game that he gave away. He went from Einstein to the biggest goat in the state. Don’t be that guy, don’t overthink things. Do what works, don’t be cute to be cute and end up being the goat.

WYF Book Picture
For more information on how not to fall into that trap- look here: Winning Youth Football

Friday Night Tykes Season Review

Written by Dave on March 23rd, 2016

FNT show pic best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Tykes Season Review

A number of  youth football coaches I know are following the reality television show Friday Night Tykes, this is my take on the season. The goal is to help youth football coaches understand the good and not so good things they see on the show and how they might apply it to their own teams. I was a panelist for the wrap up show.

The Outlaws– It’s been all about their first season in the Snoop League. Snoop Dog the rap star has small leagues in Southern California and Texas. Their league in Chicago went belly up and the league they started in Denver looks to be on life support or finished. In real life there is no real “National Champion” in a league that is in just two states.

Hats off to Snoop filling a need in California and now Texas, but to be a true “National Champion” you have to have representation from all over the US. Great experience for those Texas kids traveling to play in California, but there are lots of National Tournaments that accomplish similar things with much bigger crowds.

The Outlaws were a much different team this year, with many of their players opting out of the extensive travel. Without a true spread Quarterback, they relied almost exclusively on Myziel Miller to carry the team on his back at Running Back. He is a beast and he did a great job, however great teams aren’t one man armys. There was improvement on the offensive line and like Outlaw teams in the past, they tackle well.

A pat on the back goes to Outlaw offensive coordinator Marecus Goodlowe. The starting Quarterback had missed an entire week of practice so like most of us would do, he wasn’t starting the first game back in California. The able, but less talented second teamer was promised the start by Marecus. Just before game time, the Head coach overruled Marecus and required Goodlowe to start the absent player. That sends the wrong message to this youth football team- missing practice has no consequences. Winning this game obviously meant more than teaching life lessons.

Yoakum

The very talented Yoakum Outlawz stumbled against a youth football team they were better than, just as I predicted they would. Several fumbles, poorly executed plays, poor run fits and a team completely unprepared for adversity were the reasons their season ended early. This team that practiced the most effectively, efficiently and had the most fun. Unfortunately their coaching staff was arrogant and poorly prepared for a tight game. All those blowout wins and blaming any deficiencies on the referees set this team up for a big fall. A grab bag guessing approach with no counts, keys or spotters when calling plays didn’t help either.

Mustangs

The RGV Mustangs won their very first TYFA Championship. We didn’t get to see much of how they practiced their fundamentals, probably due to the editing of the show. However they did some nice things in team from a pace, execution and quality control perspective. I liked some of their jet sweep cross fire action running plays that got the ball into the hands of their playmaker at QB. Those are very good youth football plays for any teams age 9 and up, we use many of those same concepts. Some of their play calling was spot on. Unfortunately we also saw lots of very negative coaching.

For those of you who think how the Mustang and Outlaw players and coaches curse is “normal” for youth football, you are 100% wrong. Carpet bombs of F- words are not the norm and are not tolerated by 90+% of the youth teams across America. More on that later this week.

Seahawks and Predators

The Seahawks had a terrible season. But bless that head coach for picking up all those kids and getting them back and forth to practice. He even takes one player in from a willing mom who had to move and get back under her feet. If you’ve coached in the inner-city you know this isn’t a rare occurrence. Had this coach been able to work under and mentored with an open mind by someone who knew what he was doing, he could have been a great coach.

The Predators as predicted continued to fall off and limped to the finish line. You can’t do as much full contact and conditioning work as they did without hurting the team in the long run. Those kids were glad the season came to an end and who could blame them. Again a coach with possibly good intentions who just doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Probably a know it all coaching staff that has never even attended a coaching clinic in the last 10 years. That team practiced like they were in the 1970s or 80s.

The Broncos had a much better season this year. An influx of new talent and some descent coaching helped. I liked quite a bit out of the non-contact, form and team concepts they were using. Unfortunately a parent power play darkened my opinion on the coaching staff. More on that in a post of it’s own next week. The short version- the star quarterbacks parent’s broke the rules. A very loyal and HEAVY time invested parent volunteer intervened just like the rules say to do. The star parents then forced the loyal volunteer family out in a it’s us or them scenario. Since the volunteers son wasn’t a star or even a starter, they were shown the door. Again winning over life lessons and integrity, a sad day for the Broncos.

Thanks for following along, we have had quite a few back and forths on this show on Twitter and Facebook. This show isn’t representative of youth football nationwide, but it does show some of the good and bad you find in many youth football programs. Stay tuned to our reviews on Friday Night Tykes new show shot in Western Pennsylvania.  For more on the Friday Night Tykes season go here: Friday Night Tykes

 

The Boring Way- How Championship Youth Football Teams Are Really Built

Written by Dave on March 21st, 2016

Winning it All in Youth Football

2015 Pee Wees trophy 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This won’t be your typical article about perfecting fundamentals, building team chemistry and using your time efficiently, it will be all about taking your team to a League, State, Regional or National Title.

When you are shooting for the top spot, you have to approach the season a little differently than maybe you’ve done in the past. To be the best, your standard has to be perfection. Will you ever hit it? Goodness no, but parts of your game will need to be near perfect, especially if like most of us, you don’t have the better talent.

That means you sweat the small stuff, every fundamental detail. No longer are 34-6 wins something to be happy with. Sure early on when you are just getting started or are in the process of turning programs around, any lopsided win is great. But perfection has little to do with what is on the scoreboard. When your standard is perfection, you are playing against yourself, not an opponent. To improve your team to be worthy of a championship, you simply can’t be satisfied with scoreboard wins.

The only way to really get to this level is to analyze your play in great detail. That means you have to film your games and use a tool like HUDL to help your kids to learn and get better using film. I’m coaching a 3-4 grade team this season. During our evaluation period I rated one player higher than another at the 2 back spot. During individual drills, the kid on top consistently rated better than the #2 kid. The #2 was efforting, but he was running too high, his head was often times not on the correct side and he wasn’t lowering his hips enough going into contact. We won our first game 48-6 on Sunday and watching the game film shocked me. My very aggressive and dominant starting 2 back had made value adding contact on the correct player just 20% of the time. He ran really well with 70 yards on 5 carries and did a very nice job on defense, but he really struggled to locate and fit on the correct defender on offense. Meanwhile my backup 2 back fitted on the correct defender over 80% of the time. The backup #2, doesn’t run as smooth, isn’t as aggressive, but he was the more effective player.

The film also exposed a number of problems with my Offensive Line. My Left Guard who is very big and strong and does very well in individual 1 on 1 drills. However his backup played much more effectively, efficiently and consistently aggressively than did our starter. We also saw a good number of instances where our linemen were having success, but they weren’t stepping with the correct first step or at the correct angle. Pad level and aggression were good and we weren’t false stepping, but correcting that initial footwork problem is going to be huge for us. Yes, lots of problems to work on and this in a game where we had 418 yards of total offense, ran 32 offensive plays in the first half (only 10 plays in the second half due to running clock) and were pretty mistake free.

If we didn’t have game film I wouldn’t have known any of this. You beat a team 48-6, you think you played really well. Well we have a ton of room for improvement and if we expect to win a 41 team age grouping we are going to have to get much better than we are now. We also did some amazing things, no bad snaps, pulled and fitted correctly on almost 85% of those pulls. We had no turnovers and just 1 penalty. When you use a tool like HUDL- where you are able to distribute the game film via the internet with your drawings and comments over the film, you need to point out both the positives and negatives to your kids. If all you do is point out the mistakes, the kids tune it out and won’t watch. I try to lean to 2-3 positives for 1 negative, so yes sometimes you look real hard for the positives. But when your goal is a championships, you have to look real hard for those negatives too. I’m not sure you can do that without filming your games and using something like HUDL. All of the National Championship coaches I know from Pop Warner and AYF film their games. All of the top teams in my league film and many of the best ones use HUDL as well.

For more info on HUDL go here:

http://www.winningyouthfootball.com/Hudl-editing-youth-football.php

 

 

http://www.winningyouthfootball.com/wp-blog/

 

Denver Coaches Clinic

Written by Dave on March 3rd, 2016

Denver guys

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much Denver- we had an awesome time at the clinic with right at 200 youth coaches in attendance. Such an attentive and interactive group. We were able to do a lot of demos on the oline and defensive segments and we even ran a few plays and adjustments on offense.  When you bring your whole staff or even parts of it, you can all get on the same page and plan your season out right in the car or inbetween sessions.

Special thanks to these guys, the Colorado Springs Vikings

Here’s our story.  My older son (now about to enter high school) started playing park & rec tackle football in 3rd grade.  He joined a team that happened to be running your WYF system.  It was a great introduction to the game, with one of the best staffs he was has worked with at any level.  I was hooked when I saw 3rd & 4th graders bringing 4 people to the point of attack on 16 power.  He still has his “Attitude” character rock displayed proudly amongst his many trophies.

3 years later my younger son started playing as a 3rd grader for the Colorado Springs Vikings in the Pikes Peak Pop Warner league.   The team only had 2 coaches, and 1/2 way through the season they asked for help and Al and I signed up.  I implemented your wide tackle 6 on D and that immediately helped make games closer, but we still ended up with a losing season.  The following Spring, Al and I took over coaching and implemented more of your system, especially around practice organization and player evals.  But we still used our own wishbone O.  Our O did great against less experienced teams, but struggled against larger more experienced ones.  Still, we had 3 winning seasons in a row.  Finally this last fall season we went all in with the WYF system in all aspects.  Our offensive productivity and consistency went up.  We out scored opponents 20-5 on average, and went to the DIII state championship where we lost to the eventual regional champions 6-13. This despite fielding a team of just the 26 players that signed up, often competing against teams that had created “select” teams from pools of as many as 80 players.

We love the system because it is one of the few that is tailored to the youth game.  And the reference materials are complete – I can build a practice plan with references to videos and drills, and our staff can study that before practice and come in fully up to speed.  It enables the entire staff, even those new to coaching, to hit the ground running from day 1.

 

Thanks for all you’ve done for the game!

Coach Brian Becker

Colorado Springs Vikings

 

For more clinic dates-look here: Clinic dates and locations

 

Friday Night Tykes Review Episode 6

Written by Dave on March 3rd, 2016

FNT show pic best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those youth football coaches following the reality television show Friday Night Tykes, this is my take on Episode 6. The goal is to help youth football coaches understand the good and not so good things they see on the show and how they might apply it to their own teams. I was a panelist for the wrap up show.

Predators

Once again the Predators focus on “being physical” in practice during the week. We see lots of one on one tackling drills from long distance. These aren’t even open field tackling drills where tacklers can learn how to break down, pursue and track, these are mindless hitting drills where the runner has to run straight ahead from 7-10 yards right at the tackler. What a waste of a youth football practice.

The Predators lose to a much better Yoakum team. The Predators play Yoakum close in the first half, but fall apart in the second half after a bit of adversity comes their way. The game day coaching from the Predators non instructions instructions are “hit em, get em, hit someone”, the mantra of all poorly coached youth football teams. The coaching staff is laying the blame for their ineptness at poor officiating, other teams cheating and kids “not wanting it enough.” The usual suspects for poorly coached teams.

Yoakum

Yoakum continues to practice well, but like I’ve said before, they are setting themselves up to fail. I really like how they practice. Lots of technique progressions, fast pace, lots of thud, efficient multi skill development drills and non-contact technique work. They have the size and athleticism to go really far in this youth football league.

Unfortunately the arrogance and immaturity of their coaching staff is setting this team up to fail. They don’t like the officiating and have adopted this poor ol me against the world mindset. The coaches feel since they are new to the league, are from a rural area and they are winning most of their games big, that the referees are conspiring against them.

I’m not sure that’s the case. In this weeks game #74 the big athletic 180 lb Yoakum player gets called for unnecessary roughness twice and threatened with getting tossed out. The problem is he WAS tackling in a way that deserved the penalty and the Yoakum coaching staff refused to coach the player up to tackle properly or to take responsibility for the penalty. All they wanted to do was rant, rave and argue with the officials. The rule states ““No player or non-player shall make any contact with an opponent, including a defenseless player, which is deemed unnecessary or excessive and which incites roughness.” The Yoakum player was called on this because he would grab the Running Back by the bottom part of his jersey, then WWE style slam them to the ground using the momentum and torque generated by using the jersey and catapulting the Back to the ground. This isn’t how tackling should be taught, it isn’t safe and it isn’t how they will be able to tackle when they face better competition.

This isn’t a proper tackle, it’s dangerous and by rule is unnecessary. The officials did a great job of controlling this game and coaching the player up to tackle safely. You can hear them calmly instruct him and warn him, then congratulate him when he finally makes a proper tackle. Well done refs, that’s how you referee a youth football game. Instead the Yoakum coaches stomp up and down the sidelines and even their kids have picked up on it. One of the players says” Are the refs getting paid by the other team?”

Shame on the Yoakum staff all they do is complain and get more indignant instead of listening and learning from the referees. Instead of coaching their kids up, they tell them to “keep slamming them down.” That type of attitude never gets you anywhere with the refs and just ends up hurting your own attitude and your team. The Yoakum staff kind of panics a bit in their first kind of close game- expect them to blow it once they face good competition. They are all over the field on any call they don’t like, they are setting themselves up to fail. I like the way they coach practice, I really dislike the way they coach on game days. Their arrogance and immaturity will catch up to them, just watch.

Outlaws

The Snoop League Outlaws get into a dogfight and barely come out on top, thanks to a well executed 4th quarter onside kick recovery. The Outlaws have a beast of a Back in Myzell Miller, but their line play is atrocious. Miller is carrying the ball 75% of the snaps and he’s making most of the yardage and big plays almost single handedly. He’s breaking 3-4 tackles on most plays, cutting against the grain and outrunning defenders. There aren’t many holes and defenders are consistently playing on the Outlaws side of the line of scrimmage.

This Outlaws team isn’t as talented as the teams they’ve had in the past. How far can the Outlaws ride on Millers back? He’s a one man show at this point. While he is an amazing player, few one man teams can lead a team to a championship in high competition leagues. You have to ask yourself, where would the Outlaws be without Miller on offense and defense? Not in the picture.

 

For more youth football coaching tips, over 500 of them on our blog: youth football coaching tips

 

 

 

Friday Night Tykes Episode 5 Review

Written by Dave on February 17th, 2016

FNT show pic best

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Tykes Episode 5

For those youth football coaches following the reality television show Friday Night Tykes, this is my take on Episode 5. The goal is to help youth football coaches understand the good and not so good things they see on the show and how they might apply it to their own teams. I was a panelist for the wrap up show.

Predators

Once again the Predators focus on “being physical” in practice during the week. We see lots of one on one tackling drills from long distance. These aren’t even open field tackling drills where tacklers can learn how to break down, pursue and track, these are mindless hitting drills where the runner has to run straight ahead from 7-10 yards right at the tackler. What a waste of a youth football practice.

The Predators are physical enough to win games in this league and they have the talent to compete, however their blocking and base execution is very poor. They have a real hard time with the basics. In game 6 they are still not lining up correctly on offense, they have kids on wrong side of their formations. They don’t snap or gather the snap well and they don’t come off hard on the ball. They should invest their precious practice time on that instead of all the mindless and endless full contact hitting drills.

The Predators lose to a Storm team that they are evenly matched against. The game day coaching from the Predators non instructions instructions are “hit em, get em, hit someone”, the mantra of all poorly coached youth football teams.

While the Storm coaching staff isn’t winning any coach of the year awards, they outcoach the Predators in this one to pick up the win. The Storm are so predictable. When the Head Coaches son is under center, it’s usually a roll out pass, QB sweep or run pass option. EVERY TIME, when they are close and are under center, the Head Coaches son is getting it on the sneak. This team would be simple to defend, they are more predictable than knowing that 4 comes after 3 when counting to 10.

Storm

This team takes daddy ball to a whole new level. The son is a good smart youth football player, but he isn’t good enough to carry a whole team. When the son is in the backfield, you can count on the ball going to him on a sweep or counter. I was able to call most of the plays out before they were ran, nothing special though, anyone could after getting film of one of the Storms games. On a positive note we do see how much work it takes to start a new program and Coach Hurt is logging some major hours- where are his kids when it’s time to mow grass? If you do decide to do something like that and are in charge, expect to be cutting grass for 5 hours on game days on a really nasty looking field with zero amenities. We do see some improvement in some of the Storm fundamentals as well, something we caught a glimpse of a couple of weeks ago.

Yoakum

Yoakum continues to practice well, but like I’ve said before, they are setting themselves up to fail. I really like how they practice. Lots of technique progressions, fast pace, lots of thud, efficient multi skill development drills and non-contact technique work. They have the size and athleticism to go really far in this youth football league.

Unfortunately the arrogance and immaturity of their coaching staff is setting this team up to fail. They don’t like the officiating and have adopted this poor ol me against the world mindset. The coaches feel since they are new to the league, are from a rural area and they are winning most of their games big, that the referees are conspiring against them.

I’m not sure that’s the case. In this weeks game #74 the big athletic 180 lb Yoakum player gets called for unnecessary roughness twice and threatened with getting tossed out. The problem is he WAS tackling in a way that deserved the penalty and the Yoakum coaching staff refused to coach the player up to tackle properly or to take responsibility for the penalty. All they wanted to do was rant, rave and argue with the officials. The rule states ““No player or non-player shall make any contact with an opponent, including a defenseless player, which is deemed unnecessary or excessive and which incites roughness.” The Yoakum player was called on this because he would grab the Running Back by the bottom part of his jersey, then WWE style slam them to the ground using the momentum and torque generated by using the jersey and catapulting the Back to the ground.

This isn’t a proper tackle, it’s dangerous and by rule is unnecessary. The officials did a great job of controlling this game and coaching the player up to tackle safely. You can hear them calmly instruct him and warn him, then congratulate him when he finally makes a proper tackle. Well done refs, that’s how you referee a youth football game. Instead the Yoakum coaches stomp up and down the sidelines and even their kids have picked up on it. One of the players says” Are the refs getting paid by the other team?”

Shame on the Yoakum staff all they do is complain and get more indignant instead of listening and learning from the referees. That type of attitude never gets you anywhere with the refs and just ends up hurting your own attitude and team. The Yoakum staff kind of panics a bit in their first kind of close game- expect them to blow it once they face good competition. I like the way they coach practice, I really dislike the way they coach on game days. Their arrogance and immaturity will catch up to them, just watch.

In this episode we don’t see much from the Outlaws, Jr Broncos, Seahawks or Jr Rockets.  Again for those of you coaching youth football, take what you can from the positives and make sure to avoid the negatives. It can be a bit humbling to see your own actions in the actions of some of these coaches. Understand that the first step to changing how you coach is to recognize what you are doing is wrong, so if you’re feeling a bit down because of your mistakes, that’s a good thing. Some guys never even get to that level, they won’t even recognize what they are doing is wrong.

For more youth football coaching tips, over 500 of them on our blog: Youth Football Coaching Tips

 

Game 1 Youth Football Practice and Results a How-To

Written by Dave on February 15th, 2016

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That last practice before game one is filled with a few last minute details that can help your youth football team or cost you dearly.  As we review my 2015 season PLEASE STEAL as many ideas as you can. The goal of this exercise is to help you become a more effective youth football coach.2015 Pee Wees trophy 1

Last Practice Before Game One

With the exception of the 6 minute dynamic warm up and about 15 minutes of group tackling, we jumped right into team, something we NEVER DO, with the exception of game one. The league we are in mandates that we have to play a league game after just 3 weeks of practice. I’m not a fan of this, but I don’t make the rules.

We could have had a Saturday practice but I don’t like to go more than 4 days a week, this Thursday practice would be in before Game 1 on Sunday. We started with putting the wrist coaches on and teaching the system used to relay the plays in and how to align after a play. Yes it is that simple, it doesn’t take more than one practice to teach. Then we ran fit and freeze plays on air with coaches at the point of attack. We did this on a real field, with a coach acting as a referee and putting the ball in play about 10 yards up the field after each play. On every play instead of subbing in 11 new players every snap like we normally do, we only subbed one or two and sometimes none, simulating a real game.

We also practiced our “poison call” which is used once a back or receiver is safely in the clear. When a player hears the word “poison” he puts his hands in the air and stops blocking and stops running towards the play. How many times have you seen a touchdown in a youth football game called back because of a totally unneeded block in the back? Referees today are also calling unnecessary roughness on blocks away from the play when the action is more than 15-20 yards away. I know- I’m WITH YOU, our kids should be able to block to the whistle, but it is a new point of emphasis at every level of football and it is being called. The poison call needs to be taught and drilled just like anything else.

We spent at least 30 minutes on team Defensive Recognition and team pursuit drills with coaches at the backfield spots. Special teams also got about 40 minutes of practice time. You can steal or blow these early youth football games due to special teams snafus.

The Game

We played against a very experienced coach, who has been coaching youth football for more than 20 years. He has no kids playing but is one of those great guys who always fields competitive teams, is on the Board and knows his stuff. I used to coach with this guy in my program in Omaha back in the late 90s. I’ve coached against him in our present league 6-7 times. He has my book and DVDs and knows our system inside and out, as always it would be a tough game against him.

We started off with an onside kick that wasn’t well executed but got a 3 and out on defense. Right out of the gate their offense tried to outflank us with a trips alignment to the wide side that our kids aligned on perfectly. Then they came back off-tackle with twins to the short side where we were set up right. On third down they went trips and unbalanced, again we lined up right and shut them down. All those Defensive Recognition drills payed off- see how we do that here: Defensive DVD/e-book

On offense of course they aligned perfectly to our unbalanced alignment and held us to two short gains. No luck on getting them to jump on the hard count, but we were able to squeak out a first down off-tackle strong. We came right back with an off-tackle strong play and were able to score from about 60 yards out. Our PAT kicks had been pretty poor, so we went for 1 and got it to make the score 7-0.

We missed again on our onside kick and they went another 3 and out. Off-tackle, Dive and sweep, basic plays, nothing there. We were aligning, block destructing, pursuing, reading and gang tackling just like in practice. On offense this series we were trying to establish our wedge play. The wedge blocking was pretty good, especially for a first game, but our 3 back, the player running the ball, was stopping on contact. This was a second year player playing Running Back for the first time in a real game. A good athlete who practiced well, but who went into statue mode once into contact. Once that contact was made, then he would start to fight for yardage, but after losing his momentum, he couldn’t break any tackles or get much additional yardage.

We bogged down due to this issue and gave it up on downs. Now our opponent was trying to make something happen by going deeper into their playbook. They started out in trips but ran a reverse away from strength, we stopped it for a big loss. Then they went play action and missed, we almost got the sack. On third and long they went with a double reverse and we got them for another big loss. Our backside Defensive Ends and Corners slow play everything, so reverses usually are a pretty poor play against our defense.

On offense we were now in a bit of a bind. Like 85% of youth leagues out there we have a minimum play rule. This game had gone REALLY slowly. In game ones MOST referees are going to be a bit forgiving with the 25 second clock. While we were no-huddle and aligning quickly, our opponent was taking forever getting in and out of the huddle on offense AND the referees were not allowing us to play as quickly as we could. In most games I would ask the referees to adhere to the rules, but I’m not pushing it in a game one with kids at the youngest age group, 3&4 grade. Doing that won’t make you any friends, for game one, I get where they are coming from.

Since we had run just a handful of plays and  we had already gone through the first quarter, I had to start getting my MPRs some of their mandatory plays. With a roster of 23 kids of which 15-16 were brand new to football, that can be a challenge. With our struggling 3 back hurting our wedge play and having to get our MPRs in, we bogged down again after picking up just 2 first downs. Thankfully we were consistently getting 3 and outs on defense.

Back on offense we subbed in for the statue 3 back and his replacement fumbled the ball. Defensively we held, but when we got the ball back we didn’t have enough time to get another score as we struggled to make sure all of our MPRs got their required first half snaps. In this league at this age group in non mercy rule games we had averaged about 62 offensive snaps a game, but in the first half of this one we had just 20, it is what it is.

I kept positive at halftime, we talked about the game being filmed and reminded the players that they would be watching the game later that day on Hudl, to make sure to effort to the whistle. The other team started off with a well executed on-side kick and recovered. They finally got a couple of first downs, but we held.

Going back to just running off-tackle, reading the Defensive End, then running Sweep and a few weak Power/Counters we put together a long drive and scored to make it 13-0. That is how it would end. The other team couldn’t establish their base plays and ended up in full panic mode, going to their passing and misdirection game which didn’t work at all. The other team had aligned really well, tackled extremely well and pursued great. They were a very well coached team. We had given up 2 turnovers and got none ourselves.

We were fortunate to win this one. There was lots to work on, I had invested all of my own practice time with the Offensive and Defensive Linemen. Our backs were attacking at correct angles, but our Running Skills with the ball needed a lot of work. Losing the turnover battle was a big red flag too. We were happy with week one win, but we would need to get a lot better to win this “Top Gun” 17 team age bracket. More on how we addressed these issues this week.

1 Comment | Posted In: 2015 Season

Baltimore- GREAT TEMPLATE for Greatness- Youth Football Coaches Clinic

Written by Dave on February 12th, 2016

Baltimore clinic- from behind  Baltimore Aaron 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Baltimore for the great clinic we had there last weekend. I’ve done over 200 coaches clinics all over the world, but it’s always such a treat to get back to Baltimore. If you aren’t a clinic guy you are really missing out. Books and DVDs are great but working with fellow very successful coaches in a group environment, can’t be beat. We saw staffs coming together and putting together plans for dominating the 2016 Fall Season.

Why is Baltimore so great?

 

 

Coaches that CARE- we had over 220 different coaches in attendance during the day.

Maryland- Northern Virginia has excellent youth and High School football. Very competitive football coached by guys who know what they are doing and put their time in.

Great participation- we always had 10-15 guys at the ready to do demos. Guys who followed directives extremely well.

Willing to cooperate. The interactions and noise between coaches was off the charts. So many new friends, mentors and peer relationships being formed. Lots of phone number and e-mail exchanges going on. Baltimore guys, really want to help each other get better.

This picture is of our room at 8:15 for our first 8:30 session. By 10:00 we had at least 15-20 guys sitting on the floor and another 20-30 standing out the door. It has been like this the last 4-5 times we’ve come.

Special thanks to Glazier, all the guys who helped on the demos and all the ultra successful Winning Youth Football System coaches in the area like Tony Holland, Jarvis Thomas, Aaron Smith and others who helped make the clinic such a success.

We also love the seafood, friendly accommodating people and the clinic location on the inner-harbor.

For more info on our clinic schedule go here. We are adding dates all the time. Public clinics in Nashville, Atlanta and Salt Lake City being added soon. Also private clinics added in Dallas and Niagara NY. If you are looking for a Private or Sponsored clinic, the dates are filling up fast.  Coaching Clinic Schedule

 

Friday Night Tykes Season 3 Episode 4

Written by Dave on February 10th, 2016

FNT show pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those youth football coaches following the reality television show Friday Night Tykes, this is my take on this weeks show. The goal is to help youth football coaches understand the good and not so good things they see on the show and how they might apply it to their own teams. I was a panelist for the wrap up show.

This week was a bit of a surprise when it came to the Predators. In the two previous seasons, I picked the teams that were going to do well and not so well right from the start and they all ran true to form.  After seeing the Predators first game, I thought they would be one of the better teams, that won’t be the case by a long shot.

The problem was we saw so little of their practices and the first game they played was against a really bad team. I said then that I wasn’t a big fan of all the full speed contact we saw at every practice or the coaching. There was little form work, no fit and freeze work and no group work. They have some talent, but the coach is so preoccupied with “playing and practicing physical” that they seem to be missing out on some of the very basic things like snaps, ball exchanges and ball security. They were down two starters for this game, but we all have to expect that, adjust and overcome. Their problems go beyond kids not showing up to games. The head coach also seems to be playing a little daddy ball as well.

Jr Broncos

The Jr Broncos have improved quite a bit. I said after Episode One that they had upgraded their talent and had ok size. We also got to see some glimpses of some proactive detailed coaching and slower form and group work going on. I like the Head Coach’s positive and encouraging attitude with the kids. His kids seem to be responding, making progress, are having some fun and want to be there. The Jr Broncos blew out the Predators.

Seahawks

The Seahawks are in the opposite boat, trying to paddle upstream with just one oar against a raging current. Again I like the Head Coach, he is putting in the time, he loves the kids, he wants them to do well, but he doesn’t know how to do it. They have lost every game and are 0-4 now. From the looks of it, the kids and parents have given up. Bless this poor guy, he is picking up two carloads of kids to bring to practice every day. The parents have thrown the towel in, as coach is picking up kids from pretty nice houses, with cars in the driveway. You get the picture, it’s a very bleak one.

About half of his coaching staff have abandoned ship and it looks like about a third of the players have too. I don’t see anyone having fun, no smiles. While I’m just fine with a loud 180 attitude adjustment period, he has had too many of these and he’s lost the team. There is a time and place for everything, but beating down a team with no success or confidence won’t yield good results. He has an excellent Running Back and a few big kids, but they really struggle with the very basics. He lost this team with his poor priorities. It’s a real shame because he seems to be a nice guy doing this for the right reasons.

Outlaws

The Outlaws get back on track with a blowout win over the U. Instead of force feeding the Spread onto this team, they went back to running the football. We saw a lot of offensive implementation in team rather than in indys and group, which is a huge time waster. It’s really tough to stop all 22 out there and go into the bits and bytes of how bad the QBS footwork is, or how low his elbow is or how poorly a route is being run. Instead of making corrections to all these mistakes in team, they just move on to the next play. We don’t know if they worked on it in indys or group, if they did, then it looks pretty poor.

While the blocking and tackling have improved some, athletically this team isn’t as deep as they were last season. I see talent at the three Running Back spots with just an adequate Quarterback instead of the beast Dabo or the legit spread QB Anthony Coley they had last year. Again, their line is smaller and less physical and they have a lot of less athletic smaller kids that I’ve never seen on an Outlaw roster in the past.

The Outlaws scored 5-6 touchdowns in their game and they were all by one player, Miller. Miller is big, athletic and runs very hard. Most of his touchdown runs are long ones where he breaks 2-3 tackles. I did see some improvement with the Oline, stopping the initial penetration better, but this was still a one man show game. We have only seen two of the teams in their league, so we don’t know how much better they will have to be to get into contention.

I’m still blown away by how much this coaching staff curses in front of and to their players and parents. It’s a carpet bombing of F-bombs and various expletives. As to this being a regional or cultural thing- I lived in Texas for 6 years and I’ve done over 200 youth football coaches clinics and team camps including at least a dozen in Texas. I’ve never seen anything remotely close to the language from this coaching staff. It lowers the bar of civility which is dangerous when coaching youth football and trying to help kids succeed later in life.

Yoakum

Just like I predicted, Yoakum is setting themselves up to fail. Of all the teams we saw, this team in TYFA was the best coached and had the most talent. They are seen scouting a game from the field level, which is almost always a terrible idea. If you are forced to scout a game with no stands, get a pole attachment for your camera or bring a ladder. It’s almost better (IF you have a system) to go to paper rather than film from ground level. The Yoakum coaches were there to “see who the best players were on the other team.” Scouting reports that concentrate on who the other teams best players are don’t help much. Those are the type of scouting reports I get from parents and coaches who consistently lose, they do little good.

That metric is so obvious, what you want to look for are: offensive formations, plays out of those formations (tells and tendencies) , offensive tendencies by formation-down/distance-field position-spacing and personnel groupings. On defense you are evaluating: strengths AND weaknesses, alignment, assignment, reads, coverage and tendencies. Lets not leave out special teams: where do they like to kickoff, how well do they onside kick, how deep can they kick, how strong is their PAT? Same for punting, can we block it, how good are their gunners, how strong is their return game and more. To see how we scout, go to our Game Day Management DVD: Game Day Management DVD

Yoakum, while I like how their coaching staff manages their time and works with the kids, they’re the only one I see doing a lot of non-contact form and group work, they are arrogant. When you play better teams you have to be on and prepared for all the if-thens. They’ve won so many games by blowout scores, let’s see how they react once they get into a tight one.

Nothing this week from the Jr Rockets or the Storm. Lets see how things end up next week.

Week Three Youth Football Practice- How Championship Teams Are Built

Written by Dave on February 8th, 2016

2015 Pee Wees trophy 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is how week 3 went for us. As we proceed through my 2015 season, week by week, game by game, PLEASE STEAL as many ideas as you can. The goal of this exercise is to help you become a more effective youth football coach. 2015 Pee Wees trophy 1With the weekend off- the down time went to putting together our revised depth charts for offense and defense. That depth chart was e-mailed to all the coaches for their feedback and input. There wasn’t a lot of movement as far as positions went, we had done a very good job during our single evaluation day.

Practice 1

This was about offense, we were able to build our offensive playbook up to 6 plays now. Not all of the backups were hitting on all cylinders, but our top 15 out of 23 were doing a pretty good job. We were still at 50 minutes for indys, 20 for group and 45 for team.

Our approach of 11 in and 11 out on every team rep was starting to pay some dividends in building depth, but more of a standpoint of having our 2 back also competent at the 3 spot. We finally went 11 on 11 live for about 20 minutes and it wasn’t nearly as ugly as we had anticipated. Our snaps were consistent, who was pretty competent and how wasn’t terrible. Our 3 back wasn’t running well through contact and our starting Wingback wasn’t consistent on who or how.

Practice 2

Practice 2 for the week was about defense. We only spent 30 minutes in indys we spent about 80 minutes in team. Team consisted of 40 minutes of tackling circuits, team tackling drills like dummy tackling relays, 3 on 1 dummy tackles and 3 level Oklahoma. We finally progressed to having a small group of 5-6 kids who could handle it doing open field tackling as part of the circuit.

The rest was team pursuit drills and defensive recognition concentrating on just a few base formations: double tight full house, double tight with a wing, twins and double twins/double wing. We had no clue what our first opponent would run, so we drilled the basics. While we prefer zone and teach man first, we wouldn’t have enough time to put zone in for game 1. For looks, we simulated with cones and 4 coaches in the backfield. All fit and freeze on the following plays: sweep, power, dive, crossbuck, counter, bootleg, power pass, bootleg pass and hard count.

Practice 3

This was an offensive day. We would be going into game 1 with just 8 youth football plays, 6 running plays and 2 pass plays. If you count our hard count plays we would have a 9 play youth football playbook we could call in game 1. My philosophy has always been to perfect a handful of integrated plays in a series before moving on to the next series. With 15 rookie players, 4 new starters in the backfield and just 12 practices under our belt before game 1, that made sense.

To firm up our Wing position I cross trained our VERY bright starting 2 back at the 4 spot. He was more consistent on who and how on the block and was adequate at running the Counter. Our backup 2 was small and not very physical, but was consistent.

We spent just 30 minutes in indy drills and 80 minutes in team. We were 11 in and 11 out for most of practice. Almost all in fit and freeze mode. Just 10 minutes of live 11 on 11 work. Every snap saw our Center with pressure on him, a coach with a shield or a live defensive player.

While we could have done an unpadded practice on the day before the game, we chose to just wrap things up on Thursday with our 12th practice and call it a week. More on the last practice before game 1 and the game 1 results in the next post.

For more info on our daily minute by minute practice plans, drills, offense and defense, you can start here: Winning Youth Football Book

WYF Book Picture