I'm in charge of our community house league program this year and my goal, along with improving numbers, is to help build a better development environment for our players such that they are learning to master X fundamentals in a progression from ages 6-12.
I have never coached at these age groups before (13 is as low as I go lol). Can I get recommendations from coaches who have experience at this age level on what would be considered fundamentals for each age group? Yes, I know the game is all about tackling, making blocks, getting off blocks, etc but what kids are capable of or need to know at that age surely differs from the high school aged kid?
Post by coachrobpsl on Jan 23, 2016 9:36:50 GMT -6
You would be surprised at what younger kids are capable of. Start with stance and get the core muscles developed. Young kids have an issue with staying in a stance and not standing up as their first movement because their core strength is undeveloped. I think that is the biggest difference with the younger kids from a physical perspective.
Kids also need to understand the importance of footwork and how it ties into power and balance. They truly don't understand the relationship and demonstrating that relationship will help the light bulb turn on. Once they see that they are more willing to do footwork and body position drills.
For the oline, it's hard to say because scheme and style of blocking(many youth coaches will use shoulder/flipper blocking) so the hand and arm fundies may change but the footwork should be relatively the same. First two steps and hand placement is something kids struggle with. They just want to hit the guy in front of them but don't understand the reasons why we want them to step a certain way or place a hand here or there.
For the skill positions the kids need to learn how to handle a football. Simple things like taking a handoff, catching with the hands in a triangle and having soft hands(they won't know what you mean by that btw so explain it), basic throwing mechanics for qb and how to deliver a handoff. Again footwork, footwork, footwork.
So work like that with each group. Blocking and tackling of course is where we earn our wins and losses. Tackling has to be brought in slowly in a progression. Younger kids are rarely inclined to want full contact so acclimate them with progressive drills. In fact, start without pads for the basics of breaking down, feet, head palcements, hands. Work to bringing to the ground later in pads or if you have a crash mat you can do it without pads at half speed. A similar approach with blocking will work.
This all probably sounds like what you do with the older kids because it is really. The little guys just need simpler explanations with a language they can understand. Not only will they not know what a 3 tech is they might not know what a dt is. You will be surprised at what they can learn and physically accomplish. Just remember that they may know next to nothing about the game and that the field is much bigger for them so things need to be adjusted with that in mind. Hope this helps some. It's is no different than what you are already doing, just a little more basic with more explanation andless(almost none with the really little guys) coaches speek.
Post by coachrobpsl on Jan 23, 2016 9:42:39 GMT -6
Oh, and if you are not familiar with dumcoach.com, it is website that is more geared for the youth game. There is some great hs stuff there as well but most of the coaches on there are youth coaches with a knowledge level that rivals many hs coaches and hs coaches that have coached youth successfully. Not the run of the mill youth coaches for sure.
Along with absolutely everything Coachrobpsl mentioned, you have to be very aware of the learning environment that you are providing for your players. There is a world of difference between a 12yr old player and a 6yr old. However, some things can still be taught together. It really depends a lot on your practice setup.
But, with the 8u players you really want to stress teaching them how to be receptive to being taught. This is the true first fundamental! Teaching a player a position or, even how to block and tackle before teaching them how to respond and execute to your instructions- any instructions- is like trying to teach a student algebra before teaching basic addition and subtraction. It has to be a fun environment. But, it also has to be strict, no nonsense. If you're a good youth coach you'll be surprised at how much practice time is lost due to your inability to herd kittens. If you're a bad youth coach you won't be surprised by it. In fact, you won't even notice it, meanwhile your winless team is down 35-0 and on a running clock or, just got mercy-ruled... again. Make sure that your coaches know how to keep the players' attention and how to herd kittens from drill to drill. Keep practice upbeat and uptempo as much as possible.
Oh, yeah. Learn to speak and translate bobblehead.
Examples of things that can make a youth coach's life easier. Use some. Use none. Your mileage may vary.
Garden hose(fire hose is even better)- Make it 10yrds long. Mark it with tape at 3yrds and 5yrds. Why? Kids at that age don't know how far 10inches or even 10ft are; let alone 10yrds. They won't understand the actual distance a RB has to travel from behind the LOS just to get to 3yrds. Punts are rare- to unheard of- in youth football. You use all 4 plays. 4 x 3 = 1st down. You keep the ball. 4 x 2 = 8yrds. Turn the ball over. Your players will need to see and understand that.
BTW, sustained drives are rare in youth football, also. The very upper tier teams can usually get off about 13 consecutive plays, according to an extremely knowledgeable youth coach(Dumcoach). Be prepared to never actually achieving that.
Wrist-coaches- Very important to youth ball, also- and, not just to the offense. Get your players used to them.
Video- Taping your practices really shows you a lot. No need to break down film like you would a HS team. But, we got a lot of mileage out of showing our players what they were doing wrong; even when they thought they were doing it right.
Clock management- Youth games go by fast. Keep track of mmp(minimum must play)players. Make your practice tempo echo that fact, also. I once had an OC that probably wanted to knife me in the face because at the end of 1hr, offense practice was over. And, I didn't care what he still wanted to install, or whatever. He learned to keep up.
Terms or devices that youth players can relate to- Youth O-line may have trouble remembering to take 6in steps. But, they do know what money is. Lay a dollar bill- which is exactly 6in long- between their feet, lined up with their toes. Have them take steps to where their heel lands at the far tip of the dollar and no farther. Now, you can just refer to them as "money steps". You can have them practice that without the need of dollars in later practices. They can even practice that at home. You can also use discs, instead. They're now called "disc steps".
Post by coachrobpsl on Jan 26, 2016 8:15:12 GMT -6
One thing coaches of older kids don't get is the concept that you are herding kittens for sure. They will see a butterfly and that is the coolest thing in the world, way cooler than what you are saying. Kids have short attention spans. Keeping verbal instructions to an absolute minimum is very important. When it comes to coaching younger kids how you approach them is much more important than what you coach them. we all agree that they need to learn the fundies. Just do it without talking a whole bunch. Tiget makes a good point with being no nonsense, just don't expect them to not shut down if you are too stern. Strict but friendly if that makes sense. The kids around 11-12 are closer to the 13-14yos so they can handle a bit more rattling. Those little dudes, the 6yos, will try your patience if you show any weakness but man they are fun. Take a deep breath and smile with those guys.