I’ve gotten a few e-mails recently from frustrated youth football coaches that are struggling in poorly run organizations with inept coaches. Some of these dads just moved into new communities and were shocked to learned they landed in the youth football coaches version of the “Twilight Zone”. Maybe that could be part of the multiple listing service realtors offer to their clients. Maybe something like this; “This lovely 4 bedroom 3 bath home features a neighborhood that has a youth football program that has won 10 league titles in the last 12 years and is coached by open minded (about football).
Responsible, competent youth football coaches that attend football clinics and have real blocking schemes as part of their offenses". Maybe there could be some kind of check box thing in the Real Estate Guide like: real football blocking scheme/backyard block the guy in front of you “scheme", organized written practice plans and goals/seat of the pants chaos, true integrated football offense/grab bag flavor of the week, open minded accountable coaching staff/closed minded blame the players coaching staff, etc etc.
There are many fine youth football organizations around the country but unfortunately there are plenty of poor ones as well. When I say poor, I mean organizations that continue to perform poorly and do absolutely nothing to change the poor performing status quo.
One particular situation stood out. The organizations teams averaged less than 10 points per game on offense and I believe one team didn’t score a single point the entire season. Yep lets keep doing the same thing, it really worked well last year guys, that's the ticket. Their blocking scheme was the infamous and clueless; “Block the Guy Across From You”.
They had 50-60 plays in their “playbook”.
Their “playbook” consists of a dive play to every hole, some sweeps and a few pass plays. Their teams run a “new offense” every week because the defenses in the league “figure it out”.
They think they are running the Veer and Wishbone Offenses, in reality they are running a mishmash of plays out of these formations. The leadership does not understand the difference between an offense and a formation. Even at the upper age groups, no options, traps, counters. The organizations members don’t think they have a problem and will continue on running the same thing.
One of the coaches answer to improving the team is “Running the Kids until they drop” for 30 minutes every practice. They scoffed at having written practice plans SOMETHING MY RESEARCH SHOWED WAS COMMON TO EVERY POORLY COACHED LOSING TEAM I OBSERVED.
Hearing these stories made me sick to my stomach. These poor kids will only win games when they clearly have overwhelming talent but will lose to most average teams and get blown out by well coached teams. The poor kids will not be fundamentally sound and my guess is many will not play beyond the next season or two. No wonder less than 25% of youth football players end up playing High School ball. Instead of actually learning how to coach the game and learn something new, it's easier to just run the kids, anyone can do that. A very brilliant footbal coach once told me, “Coaches that don't know how to practice, scrimmage and condition, that's all they know". My guess is these are the same kind of guys that after a loss say something like " the kids didn't want it enough" , when the real answer is the team got outcoached and the coach was either too lazy or arrogant to learn something new.
Coaching Youth Football well is not about having the best conditioned team, seeing how much you can torture the kids, or making the kids “tough” it isn’t even about having 60 different plays out of 6 different “offenses”. It is about having a sound philosophy and perfecting a handful of complementary football plays. It’s about understanding what the critical success factors are in youth football and setting the practice priorities to address those factors.
Unfortunately one can’t solve a problem if the powers at be don’t think there is a problem. Closed minded people are difficult to reach and as the saying goes “a man convinced against his will is still of the same opinion”. Maybe some coaches don’t know what a well designed offense is supposed to look like. Maybe some coaches don’t realize you can score 35 points a game with average kids. Film doesn’t lie, if you are a believer show these “coaches” film of their team and then film of a team with a well designed offense with real blocking rules. Show them practice footage of a well run practice and compare it to the chaos they prefer. Let them convince themselves, if they won’t admit there is significant room for improvement, run don’t walk to another team and save yourself and your son the frustration. Your son will in most cases develop a love or dislike for the game in his first season or two, it’s up to the parent to decide if he’s willing to risk his sons football future to close minded people like this. If it was my son, I would go across the street to another team, put in a real system, run real football plays with a real blocking system and put up 40 points on them before allowing them a mercy score.
My personal team scored 3 Touchdowns in the first quarter of 9 games last year, and so do many well coached youth football teams. The “Multiple Offense" Twilight zone team we have been describing didn’t have a team that scored 3 touchdowns in a single game and they think they don’t have a problem? Run, don't walk to the exits if you are stuck in a situation like this, life is too short.
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Copyright 2007 Cisar Management Services
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Dave Cisar- Dave has developed a detailed systematic approach to developing youth players and teams that has enabled his personal teams to win 97% of their games in 5 Different Leagues.
His book “Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan” was endorsed by Tom Osborne and Dave Rimington. His web site is Football Plays