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The Spread Offense For Youth Football? Not If You Are Coaching Non-Select Kids
Make sure your data is real when deciding on an offensive direction
I have been attending a “youth football” session at a coaching clinic for the last 3 months which still confuses me. We won’t go into where the clinic was or who the speaker was, that’s not important, what’s important is the question of how we as coaches interpret the data that we are presented. In this clinic, the data was completely wrong and flawed, leading speakers to assume that “ALL” youth football teams could perform his system incorrectly.
There are many very talented youth football coaches who know their stuff. They may have been coaching youth ball for decades and clearly understand what average kids can and can’t do. They understand that even with the best trainers on the planet and even 4-5 training days a week, there are some things that most averagely skilled kids just can’t do.
Ah, make decisions
On the other hand, there are also a lot of dads who are in a rush to coach youth football and don’t know what they should be able to get out of the typical group of uncapped football players. Some members of this group sell the kids short and don’t get as advanced as they should, but many others think their kids are mini NFL players and put them in patterns and techniques with which the average player has very little chance of succeeding. Good coaches with all the experience usually fall in the middle of these two extremes and put their kids in a system that works for them.
Clinic Sales Job
Back at the coaching clinic, the speaker seemed like a very articulate, well-educated, well-meaning person who knew the game well. He played Division I football and had a pretty well-organized presentation, he had credibility . His topic was the spread passing game for youth football. Its premise was that anyone could organize a spread out passing game up to age 9 and be successful at it, all it took was commitment and lots of practice. He was preaching it and the first time the 9 year old head coach sat in front of me he was nodding his head and buying a hook line and sinker.
The presenter demonstrated some thoughtful basics for young quarterbacks and even had a good flick of an impressive 10-year-old passer. The coach admitted that he has coached the player since he was 7 years old, including extensive one-on-one training off-site during the off-season. Now, I don’t know about your teams, but I just don’t have access to my players year-round or the time to individually coach my kids aggressively year-round.
Here’s where it gets tricky
The presenter also showed numerous clips from team films which not only showed very well executed passing plays, but also some very nice zone blocking runs. The unusual thing about these clips was that each player wore a different colored helmet.
Not a fair comparison
When I asked him politely why the helmets were different colors, he said because it was an all-star team and each player used their own team helmet. They were also 13-14 year old clips. Come and find out, the players for this all-star team had been chosen from a cast of thousands.
He had no minimum game players to find playing time, he had the best player in over 40 teams. Imagine what you could do if YOU had the best player on every team in your region. Or imagine if you could clone your best player and make 40 more. What could you run then? What 13-14 year olds can do is also a bit different from what 9 year old rookies can do
The Real World Not Fantasy Lan
Not only does the average youth coach have to find playing time for every player on our teams, but we probably have to start several kids on our offensive line who would best be described as minimum game players. In zone blocking, one of the key elements is for your offensive linemen to move into a double team, out of the double team, and block the near linebacker into space.
Now, I don’t know about your league, but in the 6 I’ve coached on other teams, the best, fastest, and most athletic play linebackers. In the zone blocking my minimum game player (least athletic player on the team), the offensive lineman will block the best player on the other team, in space, in motion after obtaining movement in a dual team? Really, in real life, not in some well-meaning imaginary parallel universe? Not on your typical unselected youth football team on planet Earth. Do we have children who can do this block? Sure, but not many who can do it consistently and none of my minimum game players, even the most aggressively trained.
Pay attention to the data you use to determine what you should and shouldn’t run in youth football. Don’t be in love with clips of some well-executed football games by a hand-picked bunch of “studs”. All-star teams selected from thousands of people are not the example that most youth coaches can look up to. I only coached ‘select’ football for one year, in 2003, it’s a different animal, but even then we only picked from around 150 kids, not thousands.
Almost anyone can pull off a highlight streak if they train long enough. That’s why we sell full season DVDs of my teams. Unselected kids, every shot of every game of the season so you can see for yourself what average kids (and minimum game players) with average amounts of practice time can do in a entire season.
Let me just say I don’t think this coach is evil or meant to intentionally trick coaches into doing something that was unlikely to succeed he just doesn’t clearly understand the boat that most of us lie. Please don’t misquote me, I’m a big fan of passing, my teams have often led the league in touchdown passes. Heck my 7-9 team threw for 11 touchdowns last season in just 9 games. What I’m saying is that it’s extremely rare for unselected youth teams to move the ball consistently using zone blocking and spreading passes without an “abnormal” group of players.
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#Spread #Offense #Youth #Football #Coaching #NonSelect #Kids