The following content is provided by Glazier Drive
Coach Adam Mathieson is a football coach and athletic director. We believe that his message is applicable to all programs and all sports.
The following content is provided by Glazier Drive
Coach Adam Mathieson is a football coach and athletic director. We believe that his message is applicable to all programs and all sports.
This article was written by Coach Jason Hahnstadt of Pro Style Spread Offense. It is republished with his permission. The original article appears at How To Win Every Youth Football Game (8 Terrible Tactics),
A few years back I had the opportunity to be the head football coach of a Freshman team. As a young head coach I was pretty pumped with the opportunity to mold my team into something that was going to be incredible and prove to others how great a coach I was.
That year we had a large enough team to fill all the positions on both sides of the ball with decent players. I also had an assistant coach who was able to fully take over our defensive game planning allowing me to focus solely on offense.
I had just enough knowledge at that time to make myself dangerous so early in the season I already had a good bank of plays we ran quite well. I felt we could step it up a notch and really give defenses some trouble by going hurry-up no huddle.
So we put some plays in as one word play calls and were ready to try it out on our next opponent!
Little did I know what was going to happen.
When they rolled off the bus my first thought was…oh my, they are big and there sure are a lot of them!
But boy was I wrong. In our first two possessions we scored in only 3 to 4 plays per drive.
What I didn’t know at that time was that at the younger levels of football, teams that can execute at a no huddle tempo have a huge advantage over opposing defenses.
Defenses are not at all prepared to handle that kind of up-tempo attack, especially without any kind of preparation or film study, which is pretty much guaranteed to not be possible at that level.
But did I stop? Foolishly no. We were up by almost 50 at half-time.
The entire second half was me trying to save face.
Never have I had a worse time shaking a coaches hand at the end of the game.
Because I’m not so sure this was a good thing I did.
Here’s a few reasons why it wasn’t such a good idea to deprive my developing team of young players the opportunities they needed:
• They don’t get a chance to practice blocking against a prepared defender.
• They don’t get to practice their blocking schemes because the defense never really gets lined up.
• They don’t get to experience how to stick with a series of offensive plays and drive down the field and get a rhythm going.
• They don’t get to practice a variety of play-calls all from which they can learn to execute better.
It all came down to my own EGO and wanting to win more then anything else. I stopped seeing youth football as a way to grow the game, care for players, and develop players for the future.
I have been guilty of this one early on in my coaching career, but especially with youth football, only playing those top 11 players and no one else is a big sign of a coach who only wants to win.
When they get to Varsity High School…I totally agree, the best players play.
But in youth football, when you have the coach who basically takes the stars and then plays them offense and defense all the way (except for a few spots on special teams), all those other players never get a chance to even begin to develop their abilities.
They might get a little chance when they have to rest up the starters who are so fatigued to the point they can’t possibly play any more.
Once they have the score run up on much weaker opponents, then they can take the “risk” of finally putting in a weaker player to rest him up a few plays until he can go back in.
Just make sure to give all your players a fair amount of time on the field to actually get experience. NOTE: I didn’t say they get to pick where they play all the time. But remember, kids notice every little thing you do and if you never share the opportunities, resentment starts building even if you don’t see it.
I will have starters and a clear rotation at each position so that every player gets an opportunity to develop when I coach the youth levels. My goal is to stick with a set rotation until the end of the game when we may need to have certain players playing to give us the best opportunity to win only at the end of the game.
Most youth teams don’t have the luxury of multiple Wide receivers and a gun-slinging and elite running QB.
And even fewer teams can actually block against a “kitchen sink” blitz package.
So you call the blitz every time and either their RB gets stuffed or the QB gets sacked and the fans go nuts about how great their defense is.
Only problem is actual defense has little to do with it. Defenders are not at all learning to read their keys and play with proper defensive technique!
And instead it becomes a ridiculous battle of the “Jimmies and Joes” again with one (early maturing) top athlete pitted against another just trying to outrun each other.
Because most youth players aren’t strong or accurate enough to pass the ball dropping back from the gun to all over the field, teams can cheat by playing man coverage on the perimeter and packing everyone else in the box.
Now coaches are not giving players the opportunity to practice block destruction, reading their keys, pursuing the football, playing pass coverage, learning zone passing principles, etc.
Youth football teams should as much as possible run a modern defense that balances numbers inside and outside the box like upper level teams are forced to do.
Go ahead and run the 50 defense or 4-4 or whatever they call it, but at least they need to teach proper adjustments to spread formations. You should know better then to keep all 8 guys in the box against a spread 2 x 2 or 3 x 1 formation. No defensive coordinator in their right mind can run that way against a legitimate spread team in HS ball and not get killed with screens and the quick passing game.
Plus, a secondary that only knows how to man up is depriving all those DB’s of learning from the many Zone defenses that are critical to learn and execute at the next levels of football.
If you don’t know how to run a legitimate defense, go to my good friend Joe Daniel here and learn his 4-2-5. Not only will you be a better coach for it, but your players will also be far more prepared for the next level.
When I first started running hurry up no huddle at the lower level of football, I couldn’t stop myself from the excitement knowing that there was no way the defense could line up in time or have a prayer of a chance of stopping us from running even our base offense at full speed.
The problem with this strategy is that Hurry-up no huddle flat-out works in youth football.
And it may be causing our players to miss a critical part of development.
Youth football players are just beginning to grasp the game.
Just to stop a hurry up no huddle offense you have to know what you are doing AND get ready quickly to read the play AND get off blocks to make the tackle or cover the WRs.
With a low football IQ in the youth levels, the offense doesn’t have to worry about defenses being ready for it so they easily run the plays without needing much blocking up front.
Now there are a lot of easy scores in what amounts to a blow out which just discourages defensive players from trying to understand what is going on.
I see it now and wish I could have taken that game back. We ended up really having to try to speed up the game to save face from embarrassing the other team, which is still embarrassing because it mean putting the ball in the hands of guys who had no business ever carrying the football. (ouch and more ouch)
EDITORS NOTE: I got some criticism on this point and I do agree that playing against a worthy opponent, this can be an acceptable strategy. I even strongly advocate practicing no-huddle so that you can speed up your practice reps and get more players good reps (provided that they know what to do!)
But going Hurry-Up No Huddle in games often not a good thing for youth football development.
At least at the beginning of the game or as soon as it’s obvious they other team can’t handle it, run a base tempo and use huddling to get everybody on the same page and give defenses half a chance to line up correctly.
Now the offensive team and defensive team can work on running and passing fundamentals that are going to help them develop.
This one hits close to home to me for multiple reasons.
First, when you look at all the recruited football athletes in top D1 programs, a very high percentage of them played multiple sports. (Track, Baseball, Wrestling, Basketball, etc.)
So if a coach ever tells you that you need to do that, run away as fast as you can. They probably have their pocketbook in mind far more then your child or they just want to get the good athletes to commit 100% to their sport.
They think it leads to more wins and may even tell parents their child will get left behind and not be able to catch up.
Not only is this wrong, it has been proven time and time again.
I guarantee that an athlete that spends his time with a trainer in a weight room or doing off-season drills will not come close to achieving the potential he could have achieved had he joined another sport and truly dedicated himself to his development as a total athlete. Not to mention in football you have the entire summer to dedicate to getting ready for football season!
You also miss out on competition, being coached as part of a team, developing your athleticism in a complimentary way and most of all camaraderie.
Stop telling your kids to just do it because it will make them better at football. No coach in their right mind wants a player to join their team to get better at another sport. Instead, tell them to go expand their interests and find ways to compete everywhere and most of all, have fun.
Playing another sport helps them develop into a better all-around athlete.
I was a basketball junkie in H.S. but it just didn’t work out. Had I not also played football and ran track I would have never had the incredible joy of playing collegiate football and then later on now in life loving my opportunity to coach both football and track.
Not only that…just look at the example you are setting!
If you didn’t know it, being a referee is not an easy job.
It’s much easier to help out a coach you are intimidated by as a referee then to call the game honestly.
In College summers, I was a baseball umpire to earn a few extra bucks. Most coaches were pretty cool but there were a few who just made the job miserable. Not only was it hard to keep calling it fair, but it made me second guess myself and I wasn’t as focused on calling the game well.
If you have to do this to get a few calls all game you’re just sinking to a level that doesn’t help the game or your players very much.
PLUS, now the players think every call should go their way and lose respect for the integrity of the game as well.
Focus on your team and set a proper example for your players to respect officials.
You are not a perfect coach and your players aren’t perfect blockers and tacklers.
I’ve seen plenty of coaches telling weaker players to just stay deep on defense while the better players on the team get to play up tight.
Or on offense, I’ve seen coaches tell players to just keep both hands on the ball and let them tackle you.
Players will not develop if all they get to do is jog backwards every play and never come up to attempt a tackle. Or if they never get a chance to run the ball?
Coach every player the same and try to help them make the right football play even if they are outmatched. At the very least they can force players one direction or another.
When we get a comfortable lead I make a conscious effort to get the players that don’t usually carry the ball more opportunities.
Coaches instruct these players to be only in these key roles. You want to win right?
So they get to be the ones running and throwing the ball only right? “We can’t have anybody else do it.”
So in practice all they do is run and throw and nobody else gets to do it.
Now when these “bigger” (or just early maturing) players advance to the next level and are no longer the biggest, baddest and fastest, now they get thrown into a role they have never learned or played.
Moreover, they think football is all about just them getting the ball and they usually end up not getting the complete picture about football and being selfish players.
Don’t teach some players exclusively that football is only about running and passing and catching when we all know it’s about running, blocking, and tackling. You just don’t know how they are going to grow and develop in the future.
Create multiposition players.
I made the mistake early on of locking players into certain positions and it’s one I won’t make again. From day one I talk to kids about playing multiple positions. It makes them better players all around. And sometimes I’m even surprised at the results! Who knew that kid could iso block like that? Or who knew this other one had a knack for getting off blocks!
Plus doing it from day one keeps the ego of the position out of their heads. Everybody has to learn to block and tackle. Even on the line everybody learns both sides of the ball and multiple positions. Sometimes this has saved games for me when I have to go to Center or QB #3!
Worried about the numbers on the jersey? Just bring an extra lineman or eligible # jersey to swap….if the officials are super picky about it!
I believe that the reason a coach should not be doing this is because you are robbing your QB from the opportunity to develop decision making skills himself.
And if he’s not ready to make those decisions yet, then you need to simplify or figure out why.
It’s just a coaching shortcut that hurts him in the long run because the QB is the coach on the field and the next guy who gets him may not be as willing to do the same.
So teach him why he should do something and then ask him why he did it that way. It may actually make more sense sometimes and now he has confidence in his own decisions.
Introduce decision making slowly and with very simple, clear rules. Also have a rule for the “grey” areas. For example…if you’re not sure…give it on option. This way you can at least avoid the drive stopping play.
My favorite youth football offense is any offense that has a good combination of running, passing, and some option.
The future of modern football today is all about making decisions in the flow of the game after the snap. That’s why football is dominated by Option and RPO’s.
Remember the Run and Shoot? It is all based on decisions after the snap.
Teach pass plays with a full progression. Teach them how to make decisions and discuss why they made the decision they did.
I am tired of seeing hotshot freshman QB’s show up who have never made a simple flat read in their playing career before and trying to reteach them to follow a progression and read green grass.
Or they think progression is a joke because all they look for is the guy they think gives them the least chance to get intercepted.
So if you’ve ever committed any one of these strategies above, it’s ok to feel a little guilty. I still do and every time I re-read this it stirs it up in me again.
Most of these I didn’t even think about until recently so I honestly had no intention of doing something that would not help youth love football more. It’s also very difficult sometimes to put the future of all the players best interests in mind when you have the clock running and lots of people telling you what they think you should do.
If something came to light in this article that helps you grow as a coach, then I will be satisfied to have spent the time writing it. (Even if I catch flak for putting it out there).
In the end, let’s teach our kids to play hard, play together and most of all “Have Fun”!
This article was written by Björn Galjaardt and republished with permission. The original article appears at Approach for Success.
The golden egg? Shortcut in becoming successful? A proven model everyone can use?Actually, a little bit of all. The sceptics will stop reading now, however I have to elaborate on the above. It’s an approach that is applied by successful coaches and businessmen in various ways, perhaps some without knowing. It’s called the 4Cs approach.
COMPETENCE in sport can be seen as a high level of achievement, performance or athletic ability. One could break this down in 3 domains, namely; technical, tactical and physical skills. Each skill has its own definition. In that way a model can be created and adapted to each sport specifically. To define skills under each domain it is advisable to create a soundboard to test the understanding of each skill. This is important to certain age groups, further developed drills and most important a rating system. In the sport water polo, what does ‘eggbeater kick mean’ and how does a really good ‘eggbeater’ kick look like? Working with a rating system (known as RPE), it could develop a clear understanding that not every ‘eggbeater kick’ is a good kick. For younger age groups, a poor technique could be compared with a beginning athlete, new to the sport, while a perfect technique could be compared with, for them, a well-known athlete. In summary; define skills and make the athlete understand how the execute them. Here lies the basis in how to teach the specific skill and later on combine this skill to move into game based drills. “Any fool can know. The point is to understand” – Albert Einstein
CONFIDENCE in sport could be ‘the degree of certainty individuals possess about their ability to be successful’. Although there is still ongoing research about the measurements of confidence and performance, many measuring tools are commonly used daily. Evaluation forms, one-on-one conversations and self-reflection. A research in 2012 amongst professional athletes, showed an increase of confidence that was equivalent with the increase of their performance. Arguably process and product (in results) could improve through various methods like coach relationship, team mates, competition, feedback from externals, etc. The 4Cs could be connected to one and another and perhaps a balance would see improvement in confidence as it could do in competence. A coach should be aware of the athletes confidence and their strengths or weaknesses during training. Mistakes in a game are actually made in training and can affect the confidence of the athlete. “When you have confidence, you have fun. When you have fun, you can do amazing things” – Joe Namath
CONNECTION in sport is the quality of interaction with peers and staff to promote and engage meaningful and positive relationships. In a coach-athlete relationship you could ask the following question: do you trust the coach and what does trust mean? Instead of specific interaction styles or behaviours, the coach and athlete could target the perceived quality of coach-athlete relationships. Is there room for emotions, cognitions like commitment and behaviours in sport context? In a peer-to-peer relationship what is the social impact and social preference. Passing the ball to a peer because of a strong connection between the two athletes, instead of passing to someone else. Some data shows that a positive social environment with an effective coach would lead to an increase of positive engagement in the entire team. Meaning that there are more or stronger connections between athletes. Even in individual sports, an athlete interacts with their support group (e.g. trainer, coach, strength and conditioning coach, peer-training-partners, etc.). Coaches play a vital role in getting the ‘person beyond the player’. “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life” – John Wooden
CHARACTER in sport can be defined by moral development and sportspersonship. It’s the engagement in prosocial behaviours and avoidance of antisocial behaviours. Mostly voluntary positive actions in order to help, add value or benefit others. There actually is a tool to measure character, called the ‘Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviour in Sport Scale’. A famous coach had to announce the team for the Olympics. With the last spot available it was character over ability that helped making the final decision. For all athletes there is a certain expectation, even in business we see leaders instead of managers. It doesn’t mean they cannot manage, but we expect more positive shaped characteristics together with traits of (working towards) excellence in ability. Even though we all have formed a certain character, game-based practice situations will show a true persons’ self. “Sports do not build character, they reveal it”. – John Wooden and Heywood Hale Broun.
The using the 4Cs is a suggestion for high performance frameworks that can lead to success. It’s used to optimise coach and athlete development in defining ‘effective’ coaching and performance. Interdisciplinary frameworks using the 4Cs have led to many international successes. Nevertheless, it’s up to the coach, athlete and the support staff to deal with implementing the aspects of competence, confidence, connection and character. Tailoring to the needs of the training cycle, culture, level and performance goals. By starting with the 4Cs, no matter what age, gender or influence (e.g. equipment, financial blackening, etc.) by making a start and creating clear lines of communication in expectation and interaction, it will change your and the athletes’ performances.
PS I highly recommend reading ‘Coaching better every season’ and ‘Routledge Handbook of Sports Coaching’.
Learn how video and analytics fit into the 2018 football state champs’ winning workflow.
More than 400 state champion football teams used Hudl for video analysis in 2018. They all deserve a huge congratulations on their amazing seasons!
Every one of these teams took advantage of film review, and some took their game to the next level with all of Hudl’s tools for football. Ninety-eight percent of the state champ teams we talked to also used Assist, 70 percent used Play Tools and 41 percent used Sideline.
But using the same toolkit doesn’t mean these coaches have the same workflow. Every coach’s process is unique — which is why we asked a few coaches to share how Hudl helped them go on to take state.
— SS Diggers Football (@ssdiggersfb) February 26, 2019
SCOUT THE COMPETITION
Reviewing your team’s plays is critical, but the best coaches know their opponents as well as they do themselves.
Aaron Kiser, Pioneer Jr./Sr. High School (Ind.) uses Hudl to plan his team’s practices and anticipate their rivals’ plays.
“On Saturday mornings we review our Friday night film as a team, then coaches stay after to break down the complete self-scout and opponent scout by entering our own data and run reports. Sunday, we meet in the afternoon to go over the reports as a staff and develop the game plan for the next opponent, which we then build into the practice scripts for the week.”
— Thurston Football (@thurstoncoltsfb) March 8, 2019
Kris Alge, McComb High School (Ohio) also relies on playlists to help his players quickly size up the competition.
“We make cutups of other team’s favorite plays and show them to the team every day for 10 minutes before practice starts.”
EMPOWER COACHING STAFF
The winningest coaches utilize every player on the team — and that includes their staff. Video gives assistants, position coaches and managers more ways to support the team.
Dave Jenson, Lourdes High School (Minn.) relies on video to guide in-game decisions, uncover tendencies and celebrate his team’s success.
“As an assistant coach on both sides of the ball for the varsity and the head coach of the JV, I used Hudl in many different ways during and after the season. In season, I grade out position groups using traditional film usage (sideline and end zone camera angles). During games, I use Hudl Sideline to evaluate QB decision-making and use the information for corrective in-game adjustments. For practice, we utilize practice scripts for defensive reps and the playbook in conjunction with Go Rout to have uptempo, efficient offensive sessions. For out-of-season usage, we look for tendencies in ourselves and opponents, and make highlights for our season as a team and for individual players.”
— SA Football (@sabearsfootball) March 7, 2019
Acel Copeland, Bishop Miege High (Kan.) makes immediate adjustments during games or practice with instant replay.
“I am a manager for my team and we use Hudl almost every single day during football season. Hudl Sideline is super convenient and easy to use for practice, and being able to use instant replay at our games is amazing — the coaches love it.”
— Brad Bradley (@hhspioneersfb) March 11, 2019
LEVEL UP PLAYERS
The state champ coaches aren’t just focused on getting wins. They also prioritize improving their players.
Mike Norris, Cathedral Catholic High School (Calif.) has his team review their playbook to develop their game intelligence.
“I use the messaging to communicate with my position group. We also share the playbooks with the guys and break down film. It’s very helpful to see how much time each player is on Hudl and how many play cards they have viewed.”
Aaron Kiser, Pioneer Jr./Sr. High School (Ind.) helped one of his best players get noticed with video.
“The past two seasons we did have a player being highly recruited by DI schools and thus used our recruiting tools more extensively. He is now an early enrollee at the University of Notre Dame.”
— kirtlandfootball (@kirtlandFB) March 5, 2019
Ready to start thinking about next season? Check out all of Hudl’s solutions for football.
As coaches, we all strive for the ideal situation where upperclassmen, not coaches, are basically guiding our football program. The leadership isn’t coming from the coaches but rather the returning players, while we sit back and let the machine run. While I’m personally still trying to get to that dynamic (despite coming off a successful 10-2 season), I’ve found that an identity of competition among players has contributed to some of the more successful cultures in high school football. So, at X&O Labs, we researched how various programs are finding ways to motivate players during a long offseason and keep them interested in football. In doing so, we have found some common denominators in the form of developing competition. These are outlined in several areas below.
Implementation of a Leadership Council
Some of the best ideas that we’ve come across have taken shape through the process of developing a leadership council among current players. While there is no set requirement for the number, we’ve found the majority of programs will break up into five to eight teams.
For example, Berne Union High School (OH) will break seniors up into three to four teams (depending on numbers) and hold a team draft at the school or at the head coach’s house. “We always have food, and hang out together for a while, then we let the players get into their groups and talk strategy for their draft,” coach Tony Hurps told us. “We don’t give them any guidelines when drafting their team from our expected roster for the coming year. Once all of our expected team members are drafted, we allow them to choose any “free agents” or players that they think might play and would be helpful to our team.” According to Coach Hurps, this puts the responsibility on their seniors and creates healthy competition.
Granite Hills High School (CA) engineered a complete turnaround the last several years by employing an off-season leadership council that promotes competition. “We have our seniors draft teams, usually about six, and they compete in everything we do,” said head coach Kellan Cobbs. “We will reward the winners for anything you can think of — team attendance at a basketball game during the offseason, overall team GPA for each grading period, etc. The team with the most strength gains after a six-week cycle will be given rewards ranging from Gatorade, food, shirts, hats, to team points.”
Creating Competition in the Weight Room
In order to produce an element of competition in the weight room, it’s important to have coaches in the facility to challenge players. Because many student-athletes are playing other sports, we’ve found that many coaches are resorting to early morning workouts to get as many players together at once. At Opelika High School (AL) head coach, Brian Blackmon will infuse competition among players by keeping tabs on their numbers. “We challenge them in the weight room to not only compete with the guys they lift with but with the weight they are lifting,” said Coach Blackmon. “We chart PR’s (personal records) and challenge athletes to break them.”
We’ve implemented other tiered rewards systems in the weight room program. At Ricori High School (MN) former head coach — and now superintendent, Mike Rowe — rewarded athletes for attendance and meeting their required goals for lifting. “We give the lifter of the month a $10 gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings,” said Coach Rowe. “The lifter of the month is decided by attendance points and percentage of gains in the three core lifts — bench, squat, and clean.”
Even after the lifting session is complete, River Rouge High School (MN) head coach Corey Parker holds a discipline and mental toughness competition before players exit the weight room. ““For example, we will have all of our student-athletes hug a 45-pound plate and then have them go through several sets of squats, lunges and upright rows,” he told us. “We also have our stereo blasting loud music in the weight room to attempt to disrupt their focus and counting. If any of the young men lose the count or forget what number we are on, we go back to zero with the count of repetitions we have done. The objective is to help them focus when they are tired and stay together through a tough experience.”
This can be one of the more challenging facets of competition. Coaches, particularly those that don’t work in the building, can chase their tails tracking player’s academic standings. While many coaches keep a constant stream of communication between guidance staff and parents, some coaches are placing the impetus on struggling students’ peers to pull them through.
Coach Cobbs has found a way to create team accountability by giving team points in the offseason for good grades. “Kids put pressure on each other to get grades up to try and have the highest team GPA,” said Coach Cobbs. “I will also put emails up on our board that shows coaches looking for kids with a 3.0 or higher or only a certain test score. Having them see it in an email from actual college coaches has held a little more weight than just me nagging at them to get their grades up.”
At Union High School, the biggest competition that is emphasized is grade point average. Since players need extra motivation to do well in school, they utilize the drafted teams to make it a competition. Each team will get points based on grade point average and test scores. “We will also pair two players up with comparable cumulative GPAs for individual competition,” said Coach Hurps. “At the end of each grading period, we reward the individual competition winners with pizza and glow in the dark dodgeball, or chicken wings and a video game tournament”.
These are just some ideas of what coaches are doing this offseason to produce a better product in the fall. But remember, each program is different; what works for some of these coaches may not work for your program. The idea is to take some of these ideas and formulate your own system of offseason competition. The earlier these players understand the importance of competition, the harder they will compete during the season. You can find more information on all disciplines relative to football at https://www.xandolabs.com.