The goal of this article is to explore and discuss the relationship between the local High School and the local youth programs. What is exactly the role of the local Youth program in regards to the local High School program? What is exactly the role of the area’s High School coach in relationship with the local youth program?
Youth and High School Integration
These are questions that are quite common when a school hires a new Head Coach and/or a Youth Program brings in a new program director or coaches. I have been on a few interviews for Head Coaching vacancies and the questions of working with the local youth program is always on the list. I have worked on high school staffs where we were quite involved in the local youth program and other times where there was no relationship between any of the programs. How is this supposed to work? How can both help each other? Why is it the youth program is winning but the high school team isn’t good with the same kids? These are all great questions and having both the local youth organization and High School program on the same page will only help everyone involved but most importantly the kids.
It all boils down to meaningful relationships and building those from the ground up. The Head Coach of the High School must facilitate these relationships and being willing to reach out and work out with the local youth organizations. Here are some ideas that have helped with creating that positive relationships and creating a one family atmosphere.
I am going to outline the responsibilities of both the Youth and High School programs that will only benefit your players.
- Main Goal: Keep kids playing football! We need to grow our game and kids quitting football at a young age has become a big problem.
- Teach Fundamentals – blocking & tackling safely.
- Teach Competitiveness – teach them how to compete.
- Teach Football – stances, techniques, basics of the game
- Stress academics – too many players come up to high school not ready that grades matter
- Stress showing up = playing time. Too many times in my career, coaches at the youth level are worried about winning and play kids on game day regardless if they came to practice or not during the week.
- Winning should not be the first priority – however if you take care of 1 – 6, you will win a lot of football games.
High School Program
- Pick up the phone and talk to the people involved in the youth program.
- Do NOT dictate scheme – let the coaches’ coach. Advise them if they ask but do not demand anything. If the players come up with football fundamentals, a love of the game, and a good work ethic – they will be fine in your schemes.
- Attend youth practices and games. Observe talk to kids, parents, and coaches. Just be there.
- Hold a FREE Youth Camp – let your older kids and coaches instruct the youth players. Give away free stuff – like old jerseys.
- Hold a Youth Football Night at one of your home games. Announced the youth teams at halftime.
- Have youth players be ball boys at your games.
- Meet with Youth coaches during the off-season and just talk football. Order some pizza as food never hurts.
- Hold a joint fundraiser.
A successful Youth and High School program equals a positive feeling around town and brings good fortune to the local schools and overall vibe of the community. It is easy to allow egos to get in the way or to pound our chests because we feel that we could do a better job. Remember it’s about the kids and a unified front on all levels with only help those who need it the most and build a football community.
A.P. Schalick High School, New Jersey
Email: [email protected]