By: Coach Jim Page
It is time to dust off the dry erase board. Dig the Fox 40 whistle out of the junk drawer. It is time to start reviewing film and writing in tongues with X’s and O’s. Football season is only 5 months away. That is the way it is today in youth football. Anyone who reads this has, like me, probably never put the films away.
Youth football has become a phenomenon unlike any other sport. Baseball and basketball has year round leagues. Soccer has become the favorite sport of the minivan. And yet, youth football reigns supreme. No other sport can boast the dedication of players and coaches. I know people who live for this. People from 8 to 80. There are 25-year-old rivalries between organizations whose participants range in age from 8 to 15. Records are kept and broken. Traditions are passed from father to son. I have a player that is solely motivated to break his father’s TD record in our league.
deny the power of football. More than any other sport it brings communities
together. The physical and emotional demands of the game surpass by
far that of any other sport. Last season I handed out a worksheet to
each of my players asking them simple questions about their experiences
with football. The last two questions were:
This dedication that we see from our kids has to be met with a similar dedication from those of us who choose to coach them. Our kids are a lot smarter and more knowledgeable about football today than we were at their age. When I played youth football 127,462 years ago, we did not do defense. We put our best 11 on the field, gave them a formation, and told to make a tackle. When they didn’t, we would scold them for being out of position. This made for some great offensive games, however, being an old LB/SS a 6-0 victory is much more emotionally exciting to me.
Defense. Defense. Defense. We owe it to today’s youth football players to teach them real defensive schemes. They can do it. I have had 8 year olds running an effective 44 with a 62 and 53 mixed in. My 12 and 13 year olds run a defense that most high schools couldn’t run. I played and coached with this same defense in a semi-pro league. We use multiple fronts, automatic’s, audible’s, multiple blitzes, zones, line technique, reads, integrated coverage’s, we throw it all at them. They get it. Our defensive statistics and the fact that I actually have kids that want to play defensive line speak to our success.
These kids today are thirsty for knowledge at an early age. Give it to them. If you don’t have it, get it. The resources today are limitless. This web site, books, videos, and conversation with more experienced coaches. The resources are almost limitless. Football has moved on. We as coaches must also move with it or get left behind.