General Youth Football Coaching Tips
Getting a good pre-snap read of the defense is vital for calling the correct offensive play. In youth football, you cannot afford to waste plays.
Say you call an off tackle power play, your team comes out of the huddle and gets down in their three point stance . After calling the play you right away look to the defensive alignment and see that they are aligned perfect to stop this play, now what? Must coaches just call plays and hope they work. What I would suggest is having a no huddle scheme-the no huddle will allow the play caller to see how the defense is lined up and call the right play. Do not guess and call plays- see how the defense is aligned and make the proper play call.
Have checkouts-meaning if you call a play and the defense is aligned to stop it, make sure you have a verbal word that will check out of the play and into a play that will work. For example, if I call heavy right 36 power (off tackle play) and the defensive is aligned to stop it I will check out of it. If I see that they are strong inside but weak on the outside then I will check out of the power play into a sweep- I will yell RIP Nasa then my QB will say it to the offense at the line of scrimmage. RIP Nase (have a few different code words) is just code word for heavy right 38 rocket sweep-which is a play that attacks the edge of the defense. Long Story short if you want to call the right play every time create a no huddle scheme and create check out calls. You can also just do a “check with coach” and use a verbal or vision signal to call a play from the sidelines.
Adjusting Your Youth Football Offense to Your Talent
Adjusting your offense to your team’s talent level is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of coaching. Time after time I see coaches running plays that they seen on TV or at a local college football game-they might work on the college level but sometimes it will not get it done on the youth football level.
To be a successful youth football offense you must be able to attack all areas of the field. You have to be able to pound the ball inside, attack the edge, or pass on a defense-do not be one dimensional. You need to have a series based scheme. If you lack the real explosive athletes you better have a series based scheme. A series based offense will have plays that set up one another. Making a defense look instead of reacting will neutralize the defense’s physical advantage.
I will also hear that “my team is too slow I cannot get outside”. Well there are things you can do to allow your team to attack the edge of the defense without having super fast athletes. In my Jet Wing T Series the jet motion not only attacks the edge of the defense quickly, it uses the motion for misdirection plays. If a team is physically dominate up front- then implement a double team blocking scheme or widen the line splits to create natural running lanes and space. If you are having problems getting outside use a jet or rocket Sweep.
- Coaches, be upbeat and intense- or you WILL lose the children’s focus.
- All coaches on the same page-need smoothly operated practices-if your practices aren’t organized and scripted the parents and players will see that disorganization and you WILL lose the children’s focus.
- Productive- do not waste time, keep things moving-no walking on the field, and make sure no kids are standing around. Every player should be participating in practice.
- Be friendly with parents-take a minute or two to socialize with them. You want the parents buying into you and the other coaches.
- Coach with enthusiasm-it will rub off on the players. Be excited.
The Most Overlooked Coaching Points
Here are some mid-week offensive youth football tips:
- Give sufficient reps to backup players, all linemen and running backs. A player getting hurt is not an excuse why the offense falls apart-give backups a lot of reps. Football is a contact sport, kids will get banged up. Suggestion, make sure you have at least 3 players that are capable replacements for each position.
- Have your coach watch the opposing team’s defensive ends. When the ball is snapped, what are these youth football players doing? Is the D-end slanting inside or hard outside? When the defensive ends are slanting outside then run inside of them. If the defensive end is slanting hard inside- run outside. Simple right?
- Count the amount of defenders outside of the box, if you outnumber them- run there. Run where you have the numbers and blocking angles advantage. That is why I run no huddle-I call the right play every time.
- When working with the running backs solely, get a line mat or cone set and set them up as the offensive linemen. The distance between each cone should be the distance between each linemen. When practicing on air (no linemen or defense) the line splits and alignment must be proper.
- Scouting your opponents-This will give you tendencies of your opponent. This will also allow you to know what they are going to attack you with- knowing is half the battle. Knowing what is coming will help your team prepare for their attack during the practice week. You will also learn and notice different tells they give away on the film. There is an old saying “The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.