Great Youth Football Coaches
Make no mistake, there are thousands of good youth football coaches across the country. But, there are only so many great youth football coaches. The majority of these youth football coaches volunteer their time and effort.. ask any coach, coaching youth football is like another job. Coaches commit the majority of their evenings to football. The majority of the coaches across the country are good coaches that have the best intention of kids- with that said, I believe there are bad coaches, good coaches, and GREAT coaches. Below I have outlined a list of traits that every great coach has.
Integrity starts with honesty. Be honest with your players, parents, and other coaches. Play within the rules of the game and always be positive and professional in defeat. Let’s not forgot to be professional in victory and never run up the score. The image below says it all…
Every great coach in the history of every sport, is organized. Organized coaches plan practices and assign coaching responsibility to other coaches. GREAT coaches operate upbeat, PRODUCTIVE practices. Great coaches script practices, and implement the practice plan. Have a game plan for every game. Game day warm-ups and in game organization is vital. Coaches that aren’t organized stick out like a sore thumb.
(see Also) Practice Planning
Compete at a High Level
Every single GREAT coach I know is a competitor. You always want to go into the game with the mentality that your team will win the game. Forget football, every single successful person I know has a high competitive level. I will be the first person to say that youth football isn’t completely about winning, but it should always be the goal.
For me, our coaches & players compete level is everything. Our goal is to win the game, but above all, we want to maintain a high compete level throughout. Win, lose, or draw, I always value our team’s compete level above all. Funny thing is, if coaches & players have a consistent compete level you will end up winning games. Coaches and players with a high compete level understand the importance of every other trait on this list.
Rewards Hard Work & Commitment
In youth football, players that are committed and work hard should play. It’s that simple. As youth football coaches it is our job to teach these children life lessons. Kids need to learn that when you work hard and stay commitment to something there will be positive results (most of the time). Also, if a player isn’t committed and isn’t coachable they do not deserve playing time beyond their minimum play requirements. Playing time should be earned.
Over and over you will see coaches fall apart in tough situations. When their team is getting blown out they stop coaching. When teams are struggling in a game they will begin to use excuses. If a coach loses his cool or gives up, the players will lose their cool and give up. Pride yourself on coaching your best when things are at their worst.
Is Fundamentally Sound
Every great coach is fundamentally sound in every aspect of the game. GREAT youth football coaches are well rounded. Great youth football coaches are knowledgeable in every phase of football- offense, defense, & special teams. Great coaches understand proper techniques like tackling and blocking. Great coaches are able to coach proper technique at any position. If you want to be a great coach, you need to be well rounded and always willing to learn. Great coaches go to coaching clinics, surround themselves with other great coaches, and just are always willing to learn and share ideas.
Fundamental Articles of Interest:
Every GREAT coach puts a high value on discipline. Teams that are disciplined will execute their assignments and not take any stupid penalties. Disciplined teams will be able to handle adversity and will thrive in difficult situations. Discipline is not just “not jumping off-sides”, it is about doing the little things at home. It is important that players get enough sleeps, get their homework done, hydrate, study game plans, and prepare mentally for practices and games. Much of the preparation has to be done away from the football field. Push your players and parents to not just be disciplined on the field, but at home as well.
High Enthusiasm Level
Great coaches love coaching! In order to be great you have enjoy and take pride in your coaching craft. Kids in general react very well to enthusiasm. If the coaches are upbeat and excited- the kids will be upbeat and excited. Great coaches encourage their players to play with passion and enthusiasm. When a player makes a big play, get excited about it. When the players look good in practice, get excited about it. Enthusiasm makes practice and games fun! Begin practice/warm up with enthusiasm and end practice with a high energy level.
Youth Football is Training for Life
Great coaches have great communication skills. I think the first step to successful communication comes down to organization and preparation. It is a heck of a lot easier operating and coaching kids in practice when you have a plan. The second aspect of communication comes down to demeanor. Body language, voice level, and confidence all play a part in successful communication. We all know that kids have a short attention span. This makes verbal communication sometimes difficult. It is vital that you talk clearly, loudly (tone), and with enthusiasm. Communication with the parents is just as important. Make sure the parents have all your contact information. Assure that all the parents know the practice/game schedule and any other relevant news and/or information regarding the team.
Series Based Scheme
All the great coaches in history are tied to certain schemes. In youth football, it is vital that you have a series based playbook. This applies for offense, defense, and special teams. On offense you need a playbook that has a series of plays that all work off of one another. You will need to run inside, outside, and be able to pass, regardless of your team’s skill set. Implement a playbook that has plays that set each other up. Defensively, you will need a playbook that will allow you to attack the offense in a couple different ways. You will need blitz/stunt plays that defend inside, outside, and passing plays. Special teams, you will need a simple scheme that can be implemented quickly.
Here are some excellent playbook series: