ABC Kickoff

Like many youth coaches, unless we have a commanding lead we prefer to onside kick rather than put the ball in the hands of one of the opposing team’s best players in space.  Below is our take on the “ABC” kickoff which is combination of an onside kick we learned from winningyouthfootball.com and Ted Seay’s “ABC” kickoff.  Some of the advantages are:

- We don’t put the ball in the hands of the opposing team’s best athletes.
– Because we kick towards the sidelines instead of the middle of the field, it allows us to cut the field in half.
– We have the option of kicking to the left (“A” kick) or the right (“B” and “C” kicks).
– We can get some of our weaker players on the field.

This does require the use of 2 kickers, but since we are mostly looking for “ugly” kicks this has not posed an issue for us.

We designate the kick once everyone lines up by using a word that starts with either “A”, “B”, or “C”.  For example,  “A”rkansas, “B”aylor, “C”alifornia”.  When everyone is ready the “A” kicker always signals to the referee that we are ready whether he is the kicker or not.

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Meet the Parents

2010-10-10-StAthanasius-004With the new season only a few months away, hopefully you are getting prepared for those first days of practice and one of the first things that you will want to do is conduct a parents meeting. As an inexperienced coach, I questioned if this was really necessary, but with experience I learned that it most definitely is. If nothing else, the exercise of putting a meeting agenda together forces you to think about things like:

– How do I want parents to contact me?
– How am I going to conduct practice?
– What are my expectations for practice attendance?
– What is my philosophy concerning playing time?
– How do I expect players to act towards opponents, teammates, and coaches?
– How will I communicate schedule updates and changes to the parents?
– What is our practice schedule going to look like?
– What is the process for parents to voice complaints?
– When do I expect players to arrive on game day?
– What equipment do I expect players to have with them on game day?
– How would I like parents to conduct themselves in the stands?
– What is the process for parents to voice complaints?
– What are my intentions concerning the discussion of schemes and strategies?
– What parent volunteers do I need?
– What Key/Event dates will we have?
– What key Website links do I need to share?

I would suggest that prior to the parents meeting you email the parents with a copy of the agenda and most importantly take attendance at the meeting. It has been my experience that some of my worst critics and complainers have come from parents who did not attend the meeting. Even if all of your parents attend, there is no guarantee that you won’t have issues, but it will guarantee that you will experience fewer issues had you chosen not to take the time to do this. Below is a link to a sample agenda that might help you get jumpstarted.

 

Parents Meeting Agenda:  Parents

Play my best 11 or risk sacrificing wins in youth football?

DSC_0118On many of the coaching forums I frequent a question similar to “Should I play my best 11 or risk sacrificing wins by involving more players?” comes up often and always sparks quite a bit of discussion.  Before sharing my thoughts on this question, I should provide a little background on my coaching experiences.  For the past seven seasons (6 as 5/6th grade, 1 as 7/8th grade) I have coached in a league that does not have any type of minimum play rules.  The first two of those seven seasons I coached on staffs where the philosophy was to always have our best players on the field until the game was no longer in doubt.  At the end of season two and after our team finished with another subpar record, I started to question our approach.  During this time, I kept thinking about two brothers that I coached as part of our backfield.  They were always at practice.  They always tried to do what was asked of them and they always did it with a great attitude.  In short, they were great kids.  The problem was that they were small and just weren’t as gifted athletically as some of the other running backs.  Keeping with our philosophy of always having our best players on the field, these two young men got little to no playing time in games.  How discouraging that must have been for them to put their game uniform on every game day knowing that they would probably not see the field.  The more I thought about it the more I was embarrassed that we allowed this to happen.  Though it wasn’t our intent, we were discouraging these boys, as well as others from playing football by the way we were coaching.  We were doing this while not improving our results in the Win column.  As I continued to evaluate our situation, I came to the conclusion that it just didn’t make sense to continue with our strategy if we weren’t winning games.  Ultimately I began to ask myself the question, if you win and don’t involve all of your players, are you really winning?

If your goal isn’t to create the best experience you can for your players while striving to find areas where all of your player can contribute, I don’t believe you are winning despite what the scoreboard says. I would go further to say this type of approach is as equally damaging to youth football as the recent concussion scare.  Keep in mind I am not part of “everyone gets a trophy crowd”.  I believe that players earn the right to play and if they are coming to practice, listening to coaches, and trying to do what the coaches ask, they have earned time on the field whether you have minimum play rules or not.   With a little work, offensive and defensive schemes can be employed to maximize player involvement while still being competitive.  If you agree with this point of view, but just don’t know where to start, shoot me an email using the form below and I will be glad to share with you some of things that we have used the past couple of years.

No Huddle

With so much talk about No Huddle, I thought it might be worthwhile to explain how we have used the winningyouthfootball.com wrist coach system and a couple minor tweaks we have come up with.

After coaching on No Huddle teams the past 5 season, I can’t imagine playing any other way. To me there are just so many advantages:

  1. No struggles getting the players in and out of the huddle efficiently.
  2. Huge time saver when executing plays on air which results in more play reps.
  3. The ability to read the defense prior to the play call allowing you to get your team into the best possible play.
  4. No need to teach hurry up.

However, there are some negatives as well associated with wrist coaches:

  1. Cost of the wrist coaches as well as some method of getting the inserts laminated.
  2. Weekly changes to the inserts.
  3. Distributing and collecting during practice and on game day.
  4. Cleaning

With all of that said, I feel that advantages far outweigh the negatives.

As mentioned earlier we have used the winningyouthfooball.com No Huddle system so our wrist coach would look something like:

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The offense lines up in the Base formation and then the Offensive Coordinator calls the play by using the following nomenclature:

 

<Formation> <Color> <3 Digit Play Code>

 

Assuming the last number is live:

  1. GREEN 214 = 16 Power
  2. Double RED 123 = Double Mouse 22 Wedge
  3. Rocket RED 532 = Rocket 32 Wedge

One of the things that you may have noticed is that we put the name of the color within the color.

NoHuddleColors

We started doing that as a result of us having a player who was color blind but was too self-conscious to tell us.

One of the things I like to do to keep the defense honest is to be able to call the same play using different colors. Early in the season before we have gone too deep into the playbook this is easy to do as you just place the same play on the insert multiple times in different columns. However as you continue to expand your offensive attack during the season, those play slots soon fill up. To accommodate this we just simply added another row of colors.

NoHuddle2

So now both GREEN 214 and GOLD 974 are both 16 Power from the Base formation. It’s not rocket science, but I do feel it adds a bit of a challenge for the opponent if they are trying to determine the play call without adding any needless complexity for our players.

Why do I Coach?


Coaching

I thought as my first blog, I would examine a question that I ask myself several times during a long season. Dealing with parent issues, players missing practices, injuries, competing for player’s attention all the while trying to take care of my highest priority that is my family, I often question why do I coach? Well as a youth coach it certainly isn’t for the long hours and lack of pay. Is it to replace the competition I miss not being a player? While I do love the competition and the challenges it provides, it is not just that. For me it gets down to the relationships that I have been able to create as a result of coaching. During my 17 years of youth coaching, I have come in contact and have become close to some of my dearest friends. Without coaching I most likely would not have been able to form these relationships. So I guess the answer to my question is that coaching enriches my life. Do I have to be reminded from time to time of this? You bet! Shamefully I must admit that very few seasons have gone by where I wasn’t convinced that this season would be the last. Often it’s about that time I receive a nice note from a player or parent or in the case recently when I received a text from a parent after the loss of a big game telling me that while her son was disappointed that our team lost, he was most disappointed because he wanted to win for me. It’s those types of moments that bring me back and help me remember why I coach.

How about you? Why do you coach? Whether it football, basketball, baseball, or any other sport I would love to hear your answer. If you are willing to share, shoot me an email by using the form below.