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 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.

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. 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 good size. We also got to see some glimpses of some 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 making progress, are having some fun and want to be there. The Jr Broncos blew out the Predators.


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 0-5 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 up to bring to practice every day.

About half of his coaching staff has 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. 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 guy doing this for the right reasons.


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 do 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. 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. 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.

The Outlaws scored 5-6 touchdowns and they were all by one player, Miller. Miller is big, athletic and runs 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.


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 always a terrible idea. They were there to “see who the best players were on the other team.” While someone was filming it, the scouting reports that concentrate on who the other teams best players are don’t help much.

That metric is so obvious, what you want to look for are: offensive formations, plays out of those formations, offensive tendencies by formation, down/distance, field position 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 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

Friday Night Tykes Episode 3 Review

Written by Dave on February 3rd, 2016

FNT show pic









Friday Night Tykes Episode 3

If you are following the “reality” youth football show Friday Night Tykes or have heard of it, we do a review of each episode. Our goal is to point out what makes sense and what doesn’t and maybe some work arounds for some of the mistakes these coaches make.

This weeks episode focused on the Seahawks, Storm, Outlaws and Yoakum. Again before we start let me say from the experience I had of being filmed for an entire season in my “Worst to First” Worst to First Season television pilot show, that being on camera 24X7 is TOUGH. The producers can have a narrative that is just partially true and focus what they show to support that narrow narrative. Let’s be fair to the producers too, it’s only a one hour show every week, they can’t show everyones life story.


The Seahawks, like I predicted are going down the tube. It’s a shame because I kind of like this Head Coach and I’m rooting for him. He has good intentions, he wants the kids to have a good experience, he wants them to grow up to be productive young men. Unfortunately his good intentions get sidetracked by his anger and negativity.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for letting a team know they aren’t paying attention or efforting for a quick reboot. BUT, you can’t do it every day or it loses it’s effectiveness. Coach has lost this team, they are tuning him out and just going through the motions at this point. There are no smiles, no fun, no progress and little encouragement at these practices.

You get what you coach and their base fundamentals and execution of the basics, ball get offs, blocking, tacking, even the snaps are horrific. I didn’t see anyone working on coaching up the snap/gather or any set aside reps being devoted to that. Nothing happens if the snap isn’t perfect. The Center and QB should have been working on that together before and after practice and EVERY drill the Center does in O-line fundamentals should have a snap component added to HIS rep.

I like that Coach had a get together Madden tournament the night before the game at someones home to try and rebuild some relationships and insert some fun into his team. On game day, Coach makes a huge mistake of getting the kids food just 15 minutes before the game. Hats off on his intentions. When I coached in the inner-city I would pick up 8-9 kids to take to the game. Even when I picked them up at 11:00, many hadn’t had anything to eat for the day and this was for a 1:00 game. Some had just woken up. It is what it is, I fed them all, but we would go through the drive through and eat on the way to the field 80-90 minutes before the game, not 15 minutes before game time.

Some of the kids got sick, as you might expect. Again, good intentions, poor execution. The Seahawks lose to the Storm, another bottom dweller and fall to 0-4. The playcalling is sporadic, with several coaches calling plays which is little more than slapping slop against the wall and hoping something sticks. There are no keys being watched, no if-thens being gone through, it’s all guesswork. Coach loses his cool and unravels during the game. He needs to be an assistant coach to someone that will reel him in every time he starts to go off the tracks.


The feared San Antonio Outlaws lose their first game in the new Snoop League 24-0 to a HUGE and very athletic select team from Houston. They play on a real sketchy field in a league that probably has a very short lifespan.

It looks like many of the Outlaws players decided not to follow them over to the new league. Not everyone wants to have to travel 2-3-4 hours one way every weekend to play games and then play in a league with just 4-5 teams per age bracket and have to play the same teams twice. If they win, then the parents are on the hook for traveling expenses to play in California. Very few people want to sign up for that equation.

The Outlaws were never a huge team size wise, but now they are small compared to their competitors. They obviously lost some linemen. When you play select teams, they are going to be huge, the Outlaws aren’t. They can’t even get out of their own backfield, their line is small and poorly coached. They are bad at both how AND who. You don’t have to be big to consistently win in youth football, BUT when you are playing select teams every week, it’s tough to compete if you are outsized to the degree the Outlaws are.

The Outlaws have gone away from their bully ball Power I and gone to Marecous Goodlowes spread. That might make sense, the Outlaws have a bunch of very athletic backs and small linemen. They arent going to be able to just pound it with up the middle football plays every down. Unfortunately no youth football offense or youth football playbook is going to work without well coached offensive linemen. Their base execution, the snap and even the simple hitch screen are disasters.

I still can’t get over how much these Outlaw coaches curse in front of their players and the parents let them get away with it. This isn’t a I hit my thumb with a hammer slip up, these are continuous, deliberate cursing including lots of F words, continuously put into sentences for effect. There is no need and no place for this type of language, especially for 11 year olds.

Junior Rockets, Junior Broncos and Predators

Nothing on any of these teams this week. I’m curious what happened to Tadion Lott, maybe the show isn’t going to focus on the Junior Rockets this season?


What hits you when you watch Yoakum practice the one day they do every week? The kids are smiling, the kids are having fun and they don’t do a bunch of full contact to the ground work. You see lots of indy and group drills, lots of fit and thud work. Sound familiar if you’ve followed my blog and book?

They are efficient, they have fun and I like most of the technique and drills I see. What I don’t like, the coaches are arrogant and proud to admit it. They know what they are doing, they run good practices and they have size and some athleticism, but the arrogance may be what trips them up in the end. The four coaches are buddies, get along well, but they seem to all be the same guy. A great coaching staff has variety or guys, these guys are carbon copies of each other. More on a post of it’s own later this week.


The Storm finally get a win this week thanks to playing the Seahawks, the bottom team in the league. The Storm’s featured player is the program heads son, the Quarterback. He is small and fairly athletic, so nearly all of his pass plays come off roll outs or run pass options to the edge. This would be a very simple team to defend and their offensive line play continues to be poor. The Storm will have a tough time beating any competently coached team.

After the win all mom and dad can talk about is how well their son played, it’s all about him. Little to nothing about the team is discussed. Again, great that they love their son, but youth football is a team sport and as coaches we need to be there for all the kids, not just our own.

Hopefully for those watching, they don’t think that this is how all youth football teams are coached or worse yet- that this is what youth football coaching should look like. For more information on what effective youth football coaching should look like go here.  How to Consistently Win the RIGHT Way in Youth Football

WYF Book PictureFNT show pic

Friday Night Tykes Review Youth Football Show Review

Written by Dave on February 2nd, 2016



FNT show pic












Many of you have watched or are watching the third season of the youth football “reality” show called Friday Night Tykes. Shot in San Antonio, Texas the show follows 4-5 youth teams in the competitive TYFA league. As many of you know I was on the show at the conclusion of Season One as a panelist along with NFL Coach Mike Martz and NFLer Clinton Portis. In season one we also interviewed all of the main characters and we met them when we went to Hollywood to shoot the show.

As we did in the past two seasons we will review each show in an attempt to help youth football coaches learn what they see on the show makes sense and doesn’t. Before we start let me say from my own experience of shooting the “Worst to First” show last year, NO ONE is perfect. When a camera crew is following you around 24×7 for every practice and every game, your smallest of mistakes are going to come out and may even be amplified. Friday Night Tykes is out to build an audience and what makes the show and is left on the cutting room floor is left to the producers. It is what it is, a one hour episode can’t cover all the good or bad things all of the coaches did that week.

So season three focuses on the Predators, Junior Rockets, Junior Broncos, Yoakum, Storm and Sea Hawks, all from TYFA and then the Outlaws in the new Snoop Dog league. I’m going to go through each team and my thoughts on the first two episodes in this post.


The Predators are coached by a former military man who suffers from PTSD. The show focuses on that problem and the coach’s personal life in his blended family. The Predators stress physicality and all the shots of the Predators practicing shows them with helmets on doing full contact work with lots of space in-between players. Not a big fan of what I see during practice- lots of hitting, little fit, form or detailed coaching going on.

It’s hard to judge where this team is at coaching wise, there wasn’t enough film. From what little I did see, the Predators are very big, athletic and very deep. They will be one of the better teams. I don’t respect the coaching staff at all based on what they did in game one. Up by 45-0 they still had starters in and to put the game into mercy rule and end it, their first team Running Back scored the final touchdown. The Head Coach was intent on getting to the 50 point threshold and ending the game. That makes so little sense. This is game one, why not get your backups a bunch of playing time and experience by keeping the score under the 50?? Getting teams in mercy rule so the game ends is all about the coach’s ego, it does nothing for his kids or the other team. That’s bush league and one of the things that’s wrong with youth football coaching. My predicton- thanks to a boatload of talent, they should be one of the top teams.

Junior Rockets- Tadion Lott

The Junior Rockets are a proud legacy program that feeds into San Antonio Judson a long time power in Texas High School football. Keith, the Athletic Director seems to be a very calm, smart guy with his head and heart in the right place. The Rockets don’t play a game, the show focuses on Tadion Lott, a very good Running Back, one of the top 2-3 in the entire league, who played last year for the Colts.

Tadion’s parents are actually shopping him around to several teams and weighing their “offers.” I kid you not, mom and dad take him to different teams practices and await the ogling and begging of teams that want Tadion’s services. There is no doubt in my mind they are trying to get a desperate coach to pony up money. Guaranteed if Tadion makes it to college, dad will be the reincarnation of Cam Newtons dad with his hand out. They are all about Tadion and nothing for the team, not a fan. GUARANTEED, whoever ends up with Tadion- he WILL LET YOU DOWN. He isn’t worth the drama from the parents, they could care less about the team. Hats off to Keith for saying he could care less if Tadion plays on their team or not. Let’s see if the Jr Rocket coaches feel the same way.

Junior Broncos

Charles Chavarria is still banished and in his absence the Jr Broncos slid from 3 wins to 1 win. They have some reasonable talent and descent size for a youth football team of that age. But the coaching is still very questionable. I doubt they have a very good season in spite of the talent he has in the backfield and the size. Charles is attending the Broncos games in an attempt to recruit kids for the team he will be coaching in 2017, awkward and silly. My prediction, they will probably be better than last year due to roster improvements. but doubtful they win more than 3 games.


Yoakum is the team I’m the most impressed with so far. They only practice ONE day a week. The other teams are practicing 5-6 days a week. Yoakum is the only team I see doing a lot of group and non-tackle to the group drills and team. Yes, they are big and they do have probably the best player in the league with big Tight End #74. But they are more than a one man team.

Yoakum seems to be having fun during practice and they open their first game with a fun for the kids Swinging Gate play. Their backfield action seems pretty tight and their kids get off the ball well. They must be investing their practice time in the right areas. What I DIDN’T like was the coaching staff woo wooing and on the field after every big play. Really? You’re undefeated in your league for last 3 years and you go bananas when up 35-0 over a really bad team? Very lame, that ego may end up biting them in the end. My prediction- I like what I see practice wise so far, that’s good, good talent, but flaws in the mindset of the coaching staff may cost them. They are in the top two-three.


The Storm are the Daddy ball team of TYFA. Justice Hurt, the head coach’s son is the QB of this new program. Dad runs his son left, right and then run pass option off those QB sweeps. That seems to be most of their offense. Their Offensive Line and tackling Fundamentals are poor. Even in their team event- they don’t know how to control their kids. All that time, effort and money are going to waste on a group of people that don’t understand the basics of how to manage a team or program.

They play the Broncos and get beat on the last play of the game in game one. In game two they get blown out by 40 to Yoakum. Their defensive linemen are all in 2 point stances and stand straight up- that “radar” defense NEVER works.

The head coach and his wife give NO CREDIT to Yoakum, even though the game was a blowout. They claim they got beat by one player, they didn’t, take #74 out and Yoakum wins by 30 instead of 40. Worse yet, they claim the Swinging Gate is illegal and “set the momentum for the game.” What a joke, Yoakum had a much better team. One play meant nothing and just shows how out of touch they both are. My prediction- the Storm win 1-2 games. They will fail miserably.

Sea Hawks

The Sea Hawks start out looking pretty good. Their head coach is a nice guy, seems pretty bright with good motivations. He works hard and seems to connect with the kids. However as the show proceeds, things start falling apart. All of his coaches rarely attend practice. He has 6 there one day and 2 the next. When they do get together they seem to be at odds on how to do things. They don’t handle disagreements very well at all. When I hear “it all about the kids” it rarely is. The more I hear it, the less I believe it. That is the case here as one coach who feels he is being “disrespected” gets in the face and threatens another coach in front of the kids. This coach hadn’t even attended a practice that week, how did he feel he could come in on game day and take charge?

The Head Coach should have sent him on his way and if the “disrespected” coach couldn’t respond like an adult, he should have been let go on the spot. Kids see everything and when coaches argue or even get physical with each other before a game or in practice it tears a team apart. The Sea Hawks looked awful, they had major problems with snaps and penalties and ended up losing to a team with less talent. This team has poor fundamentals, weak practices, is poorly managed and will implode. Their head man has great intentions but he doesn’t lead as a aggressively as he should AND he is a poor coach. My prediction- in spite of good talent, this team implodes, wins 2-3 games and loses a bunch of kids and players.

When you’re coaching youth football, it doesn’t matter how well intentioned you are or how many great youth football plays you have drawn up in the off-season. Can you coach YOUTH FOOTBALL? Can you manage a team, the coaches, parents and kids? If so you can have a great season, if not, then probably the implosions you are going to see. Tonight’s show is episode 3 so come back later this week for my take on it.

The Gable Method to Coaching Youth Football- Learning From an All-Time Great

Written by Dave on January 26th, 2016

Dan Gable








As a youth football coach or in business, most successful people take the time to learn from other people who have succeeded doing a similar task. That makes total sense, find someone who has done what you would like to do and copy them. The problem is many times we walk right by people who might be great at a task that is very similar to yours but might be an aisle over. Dan Gable the greatest wrestling coach of all time would fit that bill.

Let’s take a look at Gables Record:

181-1 as a High School and Collegiate Wrestler

Olympic Gold Medalist

355-21-5 As a Coach at the University of Iowa

15 NCAA National Championships

25 Consecutive Big 10 League Championships

I’ve studied this man, just like I’ve studied guys like John Wooden, Tom Osborne, John Calipari, John Cook and Augie Garrido. What is Gable’s “secret”? Very simple and he tells this to anyone that asks. Gables “secret” is. “If it is important, do it every day. If it’s not important, don’t do it at all.”

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? The problem is most youth football coaches either don’t know that it is that is really important, they think everything is important or they don’t bother to stick to the script over the long haul.

What do you think are the three things every youth football teams need to do well in order to consistently win?

Of me it is:



Ball Security

Once you get set on what is important, then you have to make sure that your COACHES and PLAYERs understand it and that you commit to and practice it every day. Does this mean you have to do the same monotonous drills every day? Yes and no.

All the great coaches I’ve studied understood the critical success factors in their respective sports. They then became masters or teaching to those critical success factors. There’s a reason all the all-time greats did EDDs- every day drills, because they were important to the players and teams success.

The key for the youth coach is do you really know how to teach these skills? Most think they do, some do. But do you really understand how to intricacies of effectively, then efficiently teaching those skills to 9 year old kids? Do you know how to break down the macro skills needed to succeed, then teach those skills? How about the actual applied skills? Can you trouble shoot when a kid is struggling? How about addressing an issue when kids are too heavy or have little body control or are very slight?

Then if you get to the point where you can effectively teach, can you do it efficiently? Can you maximize the learning in the kids who are making progress without leaving the kids in the middle or back of the pack behind- and in most youth football leagues, those kids will be required to play and impact the game at some point.

At the end of the day, coaching youth football is a competition between coaches. Whoever is the most effective and efficient teacher, over the long haul will consistently win. My next post will go in greater detail about how to vary Every Day Drills so the kids won’t get bored.

For more information on how to effectively and efficiently coach youth football and what and how you should be focusing on including daily minute by minute practice plans and teaching methods, go to : Book Picture

Week 2 Youth Football Practice

Written by Dave on January 26th, 2016

2015 Pee Wees trophy 1
















This is how week 2 went for us. As we proceed through my 2015 season, week by week, game by game, PLEASE BORROW as many ideas as you can. The goal of this exercise is to help you become a more effective youth football coach.

With the weekend off- the down time went to putting together our depth charts for offense and defense. That depth chart was e-mailed to all the coaches for their feedback and input. When you do the evals effectively as weve described in the posts and book, there isn’t a lot of movement from position to position. Yes, just like anyone we steal from Peter to pay Paul in order to maximize the team equation, but there shouldn’t be a lot of wholesale changes after week 1.

We were on the fence about 2 players. We needed a 3 back, our version of the H back. We also needed a Power Tackle, for us our second most mobile and athletic lineman. One player was very athletic, but was hesitant about playing in the backfield. When I talked to him about carrying the ball, he replied it “wasn’t his thing.” The other player wanted to play in the backfield, was a very aggressive wrestler, but didn’t have the body control or explosiveness of the other player. We had 2 kids that were either or for both spots. I got input via email from all 4 assistants on this wone.

Day 1 of week 2 we went back to offense. That meant we now had the kids divided into the following groups:


2 and 3 backs- Our H style back and Halfback

Receivers- For now just our Wingbacks. Later on we would add time with our Tight Ends.


Practice was now starting to hit its stride. Our dynamic warm-ups were now down to about 9 minutes, thanks to getting a couple of kids in who had missed week 1 due to out of town vacations. More on how to work through that on a post later this week. 50 Minutes of this practice was devoted to individual drills, then 20 minutes of group work. The final 30 minutes would end up with us repping 2 plays we had installed in group work. As always we ended up with 10 minutes of fun “game time” hidden conditioning, Hawaiian Rules football.

Day 2 of week 2 was back to defense. Yes almost everyone loves scoring a lot of points and thinks that offense is more difficult and important than defense. I’m not one of those guys. Indys were 50 minutes worth. This was focused on base technique and block destruction in the position groups. Team was 50 minutes, but 30 minutes of that was doing individual, group and team tackling drills. The last 30 minutes was base defensive recognition with helmets off. For more info on how we do this go to: Of course the final 10 minutes was fun “game time” hidden conditioning, Zombie Sharks and Minnows.

Day 3 of week 2 was back to offense. We were down to 6 minutes for our dynamic warm ups and angle form fit tackling. Individuals were 50 minutes worth, group was 15 minutes. Group and Indys is where our full contact took place. Team was 40 minutes. We had “perfected” our first 2 plays. “Perfect” to us at this point meant the first group was aligned correctly, in correct stances, running at the correct angles, at full speed, blocking the correct players and gathering and controlling the ball securely 9 out of 10 times.

We were able to add in 2 additional plays after seeing how well the kids retained the 2 plays we had put in during week 1.  It became VERY obvious while we had an able group of 3 starting backs, but our very athletic 4th back was struggling with information retention and consistency. After those 4, there was a HUGE drop-off in ability. So with this team the 3 starting backs that were consistently “getting it” were cross trained at 1 additional Running Back position. The final 10 minutes was fun game time hidden conditioning, Deer Hunter game.

Day 4 of week 2 was a combination day. We started in Defensive Indys, but this time just 30 minutes worth. The next 20 minutes was defensive group work, then 20 minutes of defensive recognition with helmets off. Then we moved on to special teams, 45 minutes worth. We were still struggling to find both PAT and Kickoff kickers. Even at this early date we invested 20 minutes into returning/covering onside kicks.

The end of week 2 found me going through the third stage every youth coach goes through- more on those stages in another post.

That was it for week 2. Every one of our daily by the minute practice plans for the entire season are here:

Week One Youth Football Practice End of Week One

Written by Dave on January 11th, 2016

2015 Pee Wees trophy 1

Youth Football Practice Week 1 in 2015

As we walk through my 2015 season, week by week, game by game, PLEASE STEAL/BORROW as many ideas as you can. The goal is to help you become a more effective youth football coach.

Day 3 also included an e-mail to the other coaches asking for feedback and questions again about a couple of kids we weren’t quite sure about. Day 3 was about offense. Our position groups on Day 3 were just Line and Backs. On Day 1 of week 2 it would be broken down into Quarterbacks, Line, Running Backs and Receivers. Day 3 was 80% Individual time, teaching the absolute basics using progressions, doing a near final wrap up of futher assessing and assigning positions within the position groups. The last 20 minutes of practice again would just be getting into a full team alignment with rapid subbing, with the final 10 minutes as game/team building/hidden conditioning time.

Day 4 was defense and special teams. Still without pads the first 15 minutes were about tackling fit fundamentals. The next 40 minutes were Defensive Indys in their position groups. The next 20 minutes focused on team pursuit drills. The next 20 minutes were base Defensive Recognition drills- which is about aligning properly and a 2 step read. We moved a couple kids around too. One didn’t have the body control for Linebacker so we moved him to Defensive End. Another didn’t have the speed or body control for Corner, so we moved him to Linebacker. The last 30 minutes were spent doing special teams tryouts for kicking and receiving.

Week 1 ended with our traditional water balloon wars commemorating everyone getting through week 1. While we could have had a Day 5 practice this week, we feel we can accomplish what we need in week 1 without having to go the full 5. You want to end that first week of your youth football practice on a high note and that’s always the case when kids are throwing hundreds of water balloons at each other.

Every one of our daily by the minute practice plans for the entire season are here:

Again I can’t stress this enough. You can do the same if you focus on the big P’s:

Priorities- Where you invest your practice time.

Progressions- The ability to teach effectively and efficiently.

Precision- The Quality Control factor.

Pace- How fast you can go.


At the end of the day the coaches who master the four Ps- are the ones who will consistently win and retain players.

Youth Football Practice Week One

Written by Dave on January 8th, 2016










To help youth football coaches understand how to consistently put together championship seasons, the 2015 SEASON blog posts give coaches details on how a season worth of those practices look like. Games are rarely won by a great adjustment on game days, they are won on the practice fields in the weeks leading up to the games.

This is a template you might try to copy and some insights.  This info isn’t fluffy theory, it’s exactly what my own 8-9 year old team did this year, winning a league championship in a 17 team highest competition “A” bracket. After the first practice which is also detailed in this blog, I took all the ratings sheets our coaches had filled out and started assigning positions. Every one of the eval drills like Sumo, Hawaiian Rules Football, Towel Game, Deer Hunter, Dummy Relays, Pro Agility. Pass Catching Relay game, map into macro football playing skills like: explosiveness, body control, football speed, power, aggressiveness, ball skills and leverage that help determine which position groups every player is assigned to on day 2. The drills are very good at exposing talent and weaknesses and its fairly hard to fudge or miss out on which player is a 9 and who a 5 is.  The nice thing about the sheets are that with 20 coaches ( 4 teams 5 coaches each team)  if a player has a dad on the staff, his rating is only 1 of the 20 sheets.

Night 1, like most of you youth coaches night 1 is always a combination of hope and despair. Rarely do non select youth football teams have all the pieces in place that you want. It’s ALWAYS going to be a game of robbing Peter to pay Paul to get the most efficient and effective aggregate of kids on the field. Yes, that means you may have a player who is better suited at Corner playing Linebacker or the like. Or sometimes it may even be panic, you only have a single “striped” big kid player or no obvious Quarterback or a real shortage of “skill” position kids. It is what it is, you have to make compromises. This isn’t the NFL., College or even High School where you can send kids down or cut them.

So the initial breakdown into position groups of: Linebackers, Defensive Backs, Defensive Ends, Defensive Tackles and Nose Tackles was underway. With detailed position descriptions of those positions for our defense already written down and agreed to, some of the selections were no-brainers. Others were fairly obvious and others were still a bit up in the air.

With a full week in no pads to start with, we were still very open to any position changes. The stake in the ground was nailed in loose spoil and only down about 6 inches. While our no pad Day 1 position assignments based on this eval approach is usually about 80% accurate to the last game position assignment, we are always open to making changes based on a players progress or team needs.

The problem MANY youth coaches get into, is they take 2 weeks doing evals, evals that don’t really measure real football playing skills or they look at a kid and place him based on he “looks” like a Fullback etc. If you pigeon hole based on looks rather than the true needs of the position, you are going to have a less than optimized team. Most guys coaching youth football don’t even have their position descriptions written down or agreed to, let alone having them mapped to specific quantifiable drills or competitive games.

Once the initial list was compiled I e-mailed it out to my coaching staff for their input. After the first practice I asked them about a couple of kids I was a little unsure about. Sometimes they were able to share useful info about a player they may have coached in basketball or baseball. We were still on the fence about a couple of kids and whoa we were short linemen. With just 1 kid that looked like a striper and 2 returning starters on the line things looked shaky. One of those kids I was moving into the backfield and a lot of first year 3rd graders on a 3-4 grade team assigned as linemen so the line would need a ton of work.

Day 2 was all about defensive indys. The dynamic warm ups took 12 minutes instead of the end season goal of 7. The initial all team one and two step tackle fits and angle form tackle fit drills gobbled up another 20 minutes. Individual drills for position groups would take up all but 20 minutes of Practice 2. Ten minutes of that last 20 minutes was for a defensive team alignment and the last 10 minutes was for our game time/team development/conditioning module. More on our Defensive including our daily minute my minute written practice plans, defensive indy and group drills, defensive scheme and defensive implementation here:

DEFENSIVE DVD E-Book Combination

All youth coaches can consistently succeed if they focus on the big P’s:

Priorities- Where you invest your practice time.

Progressions- The ability to teach effectively and efficiently.

Precision- The Quality Control factor.

Pace- How fast you can go.

At the end of the day the coaches who master the four Ps- are the ones who will consistently win and retain players.

First Day of Youth Football Practice 2015

Written by Dave on December 29th, 2015

2015 Pee Wees Banner









What should your first youth football practice of the year look like? Should it be all about conditioning? Should you break down into positions? Should you start teaching fundamentals or plays? Or maybe you could go based on theory of what a High School or College coach says you should do or a guy who last coached 10 years ago and never won when he did coach.

I’m going to tell you what we actually did in real life. A team that went 9-1, won a Leauge Championship in the toughest classification in a 31 team bracket and a 17 team division and from a coach who has won 177 of his last 202 games in 5 different leagues.

The goal of the first youth football practice of the year should be about:

Setting Expectations

Setting a Standard

Evaluating Players

Getting Kids Excited About Playing Football- Having Fun

Starting the Teaching of Very Basic Fundamentals- Stance, Form Running, Cadence, Base Tackle Fit

As the kids were arriving we had several stations set up for each age group, greeting them with a big smile and putting a piece of tape on the front of their shirt with their name on it. Team Moms were doing this as us coaches were reviewing which coaches had which stations. This was a non-padded practice.

Start off with a mandatory parent meeting as a requirement for Junior to participate.  The exact words to that meeting is in the “Winning Youth Football Book” as well as the free Book on “How to Start a Football Program” found on this site. Without that meeting you will consistently have parents and players causing problems because they won’t understand what your mission statement is, what boundaries are in place, why the boundaries exist, how you are going to coach their kids, how positions and playing time is earned and how discipline is handled.

You can choose to do death by a thousand cuts and explain yourself over and over and over again. Or you can tear the bandaid off all at once and be done with it. Personally, I don’t like the hundreds of phone calls, e-mails and coach what about this, what about that stuff. Most of us don’t have enough time in the day to go the thousand cuts route, but many do so anyways and end up hating coaching.

After that 20 minute meeting we broke down with all 95 of my kids facing face to face, standing next to kids in their same age bracket. For us, that was 4 teams, kids in 3-4 grade, 2 teams of 5-6 graders and a 7-8 grade team. Each team had 2 kids in the middle, doing the demo. We demoed every movement first with the 2 center kids.

We started with 5 jumping jacks, then got right into stance, cadence and ball get offs. Each coach was assigned 5 players and the stance was broken down into 4 progressions, each perfected before the next progression was added. Then we worked ball get offs- making sure the stance and cadence were perfect. Still in the 2 lines facing each other and everyone going at the same time, we did ball get offs with high knees, then the same with butt kickers.

The next step are 1 step tackle fits and 2 step tackle fits, again everyone at once, with 2 lines facing each other. The last progression are angle form tackle fits, with each coach working with 5 players. After 2 weeks this entire warm up will be done in 7 minutes. Day 1, it is going to take about 15 minutes as we had about 20 rookie players. For the first day only- we moved the angle form tackle to it’s own station so our best coaches could teach it and so we wouldn’t waste so much time.

These are all described in the book and on the Practice Organization DVD. What we are combining is a dynamic warm up with FOOTBALL FUNDAMENTALS. You don’t have time to waste. The guys who consistently win youth football games are the guys who are the most effective and EFFICIENT teachers.

Next step are the evaluations. Today we had 6 stations each measuring a bit of a different macro football skill. Football is about football speed, strength, explosiveness, body control, smarts, aggressiveness and attitude. I don’t care who can run a lap the fastest or even a 40 yard dash. What I care about is who can accelerate, decelerate, accelerate again and change direction in 5 and 10 yard bursts.

We had 8 stations set up with an experienced coach at each station. That the 8 groups of kids were in their own age groups. Each coach at each station had a clip board and a roster by age and last name. Each group were arranged alphabetically and by age. So all the 3rd graders in one group of 10, the 13  4th graders were together and the 20 5th graders were divided up into first group of the alphabet first, the rest in the second group. The rest of the teams were divided up the same.

The players would be rated on a scale of 1-9 with 1 being in the lowest 10th percentile, 9 being of the 90th percentile in that age grouping. So your least athletic kids are 1s, 5 is the middle and 9 is the top. As you might guess you may have to make a few adjustments as you get to see the entire age group.  Make sure to go back to back, so all the 5th graders follow each other in groups.

These were the 8 stations we had set up. Each movement lasted 10 minutes.

Hawaiian Rules Football

Towel Game

Pro Agility Run

Deer Hunter


Pass Catching Relay Game

Pass Throwing Eval Station

Snap Progression Ball Carry

Practice ended with a very spirited game of Sharks and Minnows. So as you can see, what we do day 1 is very different than what most do. You DON’T want to waste an entire week of doing evaluations. If you measure the right things, the right way, they map right to the macro skills you need at every position on your youth football team.

For more info on these drills, teaching methods and daily practice plans- see the “Winning Youth Football” book or Practice Organization DVD.





Zone Coverage in Youth Football

Written by Dave on December 21st, 2015

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Lots of youth football coaches are unsure if they should play man or zone coverage for their youth football teams. While man coverage is the ultimate accountability tool and is fairly easy to teach, zone has its advantages as well. This post is going to talk about zone coverage.

The biggest advantage to zone is your defenders can start with their eyes into the backfield instead of their “man” like they have to do in man coverage schemes. You can get 11 players with eyes looking at the ball instead of 6 or 8.

Zone is great when you are playing run heavy teams or teams that have a dangerous runner at Quarterback. I remember a big tournament game a few years back where my 5-6 grade kids played a team that had a man child playing Running Back. He was an amazing older player who for whatever reason was cleared to play. Tall, fast, elusive and several years older than most of my team, he was a man among boys. Every time this team got behind the chains, they would put this kid at QB and split out 5 Receivers.

The 5 receivers would just run off my man coverage players and this kid would only have to beat 1 kid to score. They had us by 2 scores at halftime. After we switched to zone in the second half and added more pressure we held them to a single score and were able to squeeze out the win.

Zone also allows you to defend all areas of the field. You don’t have problems with picks/rubs nearly as much as in man. Youth football plays like slant/wheel and slant/arrow are usually easier to defend. If some of the offenses you match up against don’t have good spacing on their pass routes, sometimes you can even cover 2 players with just one of your own. In zone I’ve also found kids rally to the ball better.

So should we all switch to playing zone defense for our youth football teams? Not so fast everyone. In zone if you have a weak player in your scheme, they are easy to exploit. All a team has to do is run their best player to the area your weak player is playing. In man you can match up your best to their best. In zone you are stuck defending an area, if that stud runs into the area defended by your weaker player, you are at a disadvantage.

If you decide to play zone, expect teams to flood your zones with formation nuances, shifts and motion. When you play better coached teams, they will come at you with numbers. You can also run a combination of man and zone with something like man free. Man free has man coverage under a deep safety playing zone.

Like all things in youth football, everything is a trade-off. What fits the unique equation your youth football team will be next year? In 2015 I started in man and was able to move to zone by midseason, by design. Once the ball is in the air or if a team consistently runs a set grouping of pattern concepts you are going to be in man coverage. If you can play both, you have a lot of flexibility in addressing the variety of teams you’ll face.