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10 Tips for Youth Football Coaches for a Winning Season

While the official football season is still a few months away, those in the game know that now is a crucial time to plan and prepare so that you can make the most of the time with your team this fall. If you’re a youth football coach working with a new team or holding the clipboard for the first time, it can be difficult to know where to start or what questions to ask your league administrators.  In addition to the equipment your players need to perform at their best on the field, there are many off-field factors to consider - your playbook, communication tools, practice schedules, and logistics – just to name a few.  

At Xenith, we strive to elevate the game of all athletes and coaches, and we’re here to help youth coaches do the same this fall.  Proper planning is key to improving player protection and performance, so, we’ve sourced some of the top tips from veteran coaches and Xenith team members to get you started.   

 

 

Mervin Brookins, Grant Union Junior Pacers, Sacramento, CA 
8 Years Coaching Experience 
  1. Communication: Create a Facebook group for your team or utilize your association’s page to build out calendar that clearly shows dates, times, and locations for practice schedules, meetings, and club events. 
  1. Create a Buddy System: If you are a new coach, find an experienced coach within your league or the local high school program that you can go to for advice throughout the season. 
  1. Consistent Terminology: Make sure you are using the same terminology as the other teams in your program, and if possible, align with the language used by your local high school program 
Cedar Rihani, Xenith Chief Revenue Officer, Detroit, MI 
6 Years Coaching Experience 
  1. Practice Schedule:  Set the tone from Day 1 by developing a regimented practice schedule.  This should include time limits on specific drills and which coach is leading the players through those exercises.  Without this, your practice can quickly turn into chaos 
  1. Equipment Check Out: Confirm the equipment checkout process with your league, both for season-long needs like helmets and pads and things you might need for specific drills at practice. For example, are blocking shields assigned to each team or do you need to request to check these out from the league for practice? Are practice pinnies and cones included in the coaches' bags? 
  1. Have a Sideline Tool Set/Kit: You will inevitably need to replace lost mouth pieces, provide water for those who forgot their own bottle, or make on-field adjustments to equipment.  Having some of these quick-fix items on hand will keep the focus on your team’s improvement on the field.  
Andy Wiziarde, Grafton Gladiators Youth Football, Grafton, WI  
12 Years Coaching Experience 
  1. Audit the Player Experience: It is vital to remember that what you’re doing as a coach is all about the kids – this is not for Mom; this is not for Dad.  Prior to the beginning of each season sit down with your coaching staff and talk about what decisions you made last year that were affected by parents, administrators etc.  Consider ways that you can approach similar situations with a focus on the players in the upcoming season.  
  1. Don’t Correct Your Own Child: Your son/daughter won’t look at you like a coach.  They’ll always look at you as a parent.  In our program we do not allow coaches to provide corrective feedback to their own child.  If my son is playing on my team, I have another coach on my staff deliver those messages.  This is non-negotiable in our organization and has helped us to reduce conflict and ultimately focus on the kids and their experience. 
  1. Meet Regularly with Your Staff: I meet with my staff 3 times per week and we talk through concerns and our plans for upcoming practices.  As the head coach, I am not the dictator, and I take the time to listen to their needs and concerns.   We also use this time to outline practice plans so position coaches can prepare their drills for the time allottedMy guys get the practice plan for the next week the Friday before. By giving them prep time, they can stay committed to developing the appropriate drills for their positions.  Our rule is no segment lasts longer than 10 minutes.  Kids attention spans don’t last longer than that, and you must give your staff enough heads up to plan for that. 
  1. Check Your Ego at the Door: Stay humble, listen to your assistants, and as always – make sure it’s all about the kids.  You can’t do the same drills you ran in practice as a high school or college player.  Playing and coaching are completely different animals and nearly all the drills I did in high school or college aren’t safe or allowed in today’s youth game.  

Coaching a youth football team can be a big commitment, but with the proper game plan, you can minimize distractions and prepare your players for success on and off the field.  For additional insights on the specific equipment your players need for the season visit our Comprehensive Youth Football Gear Check List and sign up below to receive additional coaching resources, webinars, and product announcements from Xenith. 

 

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