Ask any football coach at any point, and they’ll all tell you the same thing: great youth coaches are critical to the game’s future.
The value of a solid young football experience is recognised by high school, college, and NFL groups. That is why leagues and colleges devote so much time and effort to summer camps and development programmes every year to teach the basics and instil a passion for the game.
We’ve put together a list of eight recommendations for effective young football coaches if you’re taking the field this year.
Make a practice schedule.
As the team’s leader, you must be prepared. Being structured and comprehensive in your routine provides structure and discipline to players, families, and your staff, allowing them to learn the game safely and have fun.
Make a plan for each practice, then adhere to it by creating a timed timetable from start to finish.
Call a parent meeting as soon as possible.
The coach-parent relationship is critical to your program’s success. Early in the season, having a meeting helps build healthy, respectful connections.
Asking parents and players to attend 15 minutes early or stay 15 minutes after your first practice will help. Set up a lengthier, more formal meeting or even a Zoom call if you want to.
Regardless of the format, it’s critical to establish the tone with behavioural expectations, the season’s practice schedule and hours, and your team’s season goals.
A three-step meeting agenda is suggested:
Every parent, as well as you and your employees, should introduce themselves.
It’s not necessary to know everyone’s first name. Having everyone engaged on the first day, on the other hand, helps to establish channels of communication and foster a more inclusive environment.
Make a list of your season’s objectives.
Remember, this isn’t a discussion about victories and losses. Perhaps your goal is for each player to lead a drill to improve their communication skills or for each athlete to play quarterback at least once during the season. Whatever you choose, state your objectives clearly and expect to be held accountable.
Give your contact information and specify how and when you want to be contacted.
Some coaches have an open-door policy, while others prefer to communicate via text. Whatever method you use, make sure you tell your family and give them a time frame for when you’ll answer. After 9 p.m., you don’t want to be bothered? Make sure everyone is aware of the situation and provide a timeline for when they can expect a response.
Train Your Employees
You must delegate appropriately, whether you have a team assembled or find a group of eager parents (think back to tip no. 1). Allow each member of your team to specialise in one area. Have a coach on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. One might focus on footwork, while another might focus on the offensive line.
They’re the experts when it comes to working on those drills. Allow them to take the initiative.
Conduct drills in small groups.
Are you organizing a drill with a group of 25 seven-year-olds?
It’s a no.
Break up into smaller groups instead. These teams can move from drill to drill or from station to station. Smaller groups imply more personalised attention for the players and a less stressful experience for you.
You’ll also be able to keep their attention longer and provide more direct tutoring on fundamental skills.
Make use of video
When your players step out of the car for practice, they’ve probably just completed watching something on their phone or tablet. Why don’t you make the most of it?
Kids nowadays are used to learning from videos. If you come across a drill on the internet, share it with them so they can watch it before practising. You may also use a site like Hudl to submit recordings showcasing talents and techniques and overlay notes or drawings to share with individual players, small groups, or the entire squad.
Allowing players to view drills before attempting them in practice can help you save time and keep everyone safe.
Have a good time
Isn’t this very self-evident? Being active and part of a team should be enjoyable. The real measure of your performance as a youth coach is how many players return the following year.
It’s critical to find methods to appreciate both the big and small things during the season.
Is it true that everyone arrived on time for the game? To the next practice, bring a cooler full of sports drinks. Is it possible that someone made a fantastic play? Make a highlight film for them or offer them public kudos.
Have you won your most recent game? Pizza Party, in a nutshell.
You’re an excellent coach if your players enjoy themselves, and that’s all there is to it.
Ignore making running a form of punishment.
Running as a punishment may be effective for older children, but what about younger athletes? It’s most likely ineffective.
Kids have an endless supply of energy. They want to run around and have a good time. You’ll injure yourself if you use that against them.
How much time does the player spend jogging in the game? Almost anything. Running as a kind of negative reinforcement encourages children to dislike one of the most important aspects of football.
Even the Patriots’ Mac Jones had to perform pushups instead of running as a punishment.
Parents and Guardians Should Be Involved
All of the traditions that come with football are a big part of what we enjoy about it. Incorporating such practices into your squad is one way to keep parents interested while also providing a great experience for the players.
You might make a list of activities or ask parents to develop ideas for team activities.
Set up a pregame tailgate or take them to a Friday night high school game where every player wears their jersey.
Make sure that everyone is invited, no matter what traditions you bring to the table.
It all comes down to three things at the end of the day: speak properly, keep organised, and have fun.
Consider your past experiences. What did your favourite coaches do to make sports more enjoyable for you? What didn’t you like about it?
No coach sets out to perform a weak job or create an unpleasant experience for their students. However, keeping these pointers in mind as you begin your season can help you succeed.