While there are many great youth football coaches out there, I see some very poor ones as well. The poor ones do not hold the players accountable to a perfect standard in football practice on something as basic as a football stance or formation alignment, yet they seem to be frustrated and amazed when their kids are in poor stances or alignments during games.
The old adage “Practice Makes Perfect” is baloney; you can practice the wrong technique or with no technique 6 days a week 3 hours a day and never get any better. The correct adage should be; ”Perfect Practice Makes Perfect”. This is one of the facts revealed in the 2 year study I did of youth football programs, there WAS NO CORRELATION TO AMOUNT OF PRACTICE TIME AND WINS. Some of the worst teams I studied practiced more than the great teams I studied. Why? Practice Priorities, Technique and Holding the kids responsible to a perfect standard.
Some things EVERY youth football player should be held accountable to:
Listening with complete focus when asked to do so
Attending practice and games
Hustling when on the field at all times
Respect for themselves, the coaches, their team mates, officials and opponents
Proper care of football equipment issued
Obedience to the coaches on field requests
Perfect Pre-Snap Alignment
Correct identification of responsibilities on all offensive and defensive snaps for their particular position
Correct first step for their position on all offensive and defensive snaps
Perfect Crab Block
Perfect fit on form tackle
Perfect fit on base block
Ball Fakes must be carried out 20 yards downfield
Correct ball security (Fumbling is OK as long as they are holding the ball correctly)
Knowledge of what special teams, offense and defensive teams they are on
Knowing the play naming conventions
It is extremely important to make sure this accountability is communicated and enforced day 1. If you try and enforce a perfect standard once a lower standard has been allowed (which is an endorsement of the lower standard in the kids minds), the battle will have already been lost. Youth football players and people for that matter will only perform to the level you expect or hold them accountable to. If you have low or no standards, low performance is the result you will get every time.
An example: One of my pet peeves is the running back stance in my offense, it is very specific and very easy for anyone to do. It is a key reason why my offense works and is so deceptive and there are just a handful of coaching points to it. Yet every year I get film of teams with kids not getting down correctly into that stance.
In my own practices, if we see our backs not in the correct stance we just have him go to the end of the line, he does not get the ball on that practice rep. If we are running our football plays out on air and I catch one of our backs not in the correct stance, I call his name out, say “Bad stance” and shout the name of another back to take his place in the rep. We never snap the ball if any of the backs are in a bad stance. In games we may make mistakes, but we will always be in good stances and in perfect alignment. You can do the same if you hold your players accountable.
Hold players accountable to things they can choose to do or choose not to do. Then praise and reward positive choices and provide them incentives or disincentives to make the right choices. Perfection for many if not most coaching points are choices that require little to no athleticism on the part of your players. Success in youth football is really a choice for most youth football players and teams.
For 150 free youth football coaching tips please stop here: Football Plays
Dave has a passion for developing youth coaches so they can in turn develop teams that are competitive and well organized. He is a Nike “Coach of the Year" Designate and speaks nationwide at Coaches Clinics. His book “Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan” was endorsed by Tom Osborne and Dave Rimington.
With over 15 years of hands-on experience as a youth coach, Dave has developed a detailed systematic approach to developing youth players and teams. His personal teams to using this system to date have won 97% of their games in 5 Different Leagues.
His web site is: Football Plays