Back in the day, I used to drive a lot for judi bola. I would often have to do a number of drives where I got up at 3:00 or 4:00 am, do a number of meetings and in order to maximize the efficiency of the trip drive to 10:00-11:00 pm that same night. Needless to say it was tough trying to stay awake so I would channel surf and listen to talk radio, the more outrageous it was, the easier it was to stay awake listening to it. There used to be a woman named Dr Laura that was on that I would catch from time to time, who had a somewhat famous book published called ” Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives”. While the book title seems pretty harsh, it was right on target, detailing 10 very common but absolutely preventable (non common sense) things women often did to destroy their own lives. I often thought there ought to be a book out entitled “Ten Silly Things Youth Football Coaches Do to Mess Up Their Teams”
Unfortunately there are a number of things that are often common threads to poor performing youth football teams. After coaching for 15 years in 6 different leagues and fouding/managing several youth football teams I’ve seen a bunch of bad youth football teams. I even took two years off of coaching to study the best and worst youth football programs not only in my immediate area but nationwide. While there certainly is more than one way to skin a cat, there seemed to be a lot of commonality in the teams that were consistent bottom dwellers. These are teams that were consistently year after year in the basement of the standings and having a real problem with retaining players.
It was painful watching some of these teams practice and play games, I really felt for the poor kids that had to play for some of these coaches, unfortunately it was obvious many of the kids were playing what would be their last youth football season . In many cases these teams had plenty of talent, more than I had imagined, but they were being coached so poorly they had no chance at having much individual success and little if any team success. While some of the coaches were obviously well meaning but lost, there were also plenty of coaches that looked like they were very confident in the abilities and their approach, in spite of their overwhelmingly poor results. While I could write volumes on why these teams did so poorly, I’m going to attempt to give you my version of the top 10.
10) Scrimmaging too much. Some of these poor performing teams were scrimmaging for half of the practice and did not do a single fit-and-freeze or bird-dog rep.
9) Too much conditioning. Most of these teams were spending from 25% to 40% of their practice time doing non-football related conditioning type drills. These youth football teams would have been great had they been competing in a cross country meet or push up contest, but when it came to playing football, they were getting crushed every week.
8) Poor Defensive schemes- These teams used defensive schemes that were designed to stop college football offenses and college or pro football players, not youth football plays or offenses and youth football players. Let’s not even get started about those that have minimum play rules and how their defenses rarely accommodate the playing of these players on defense in situations where they can execute and provide team value on each snap.
7) Blaming the kids. The coaches blamed the kids lack of “effort” or lack of talent for the teams lack of success. Many of these coaches were “the grass in greener” guys. Coaches that think they had to have the best talent or big size to compete. Any lack of success was attributed to being a ‘Jimmies and Joes” situation where their team got “out athleted”. Rarely did any of these coaches take personal responsibility for the teams lack of success, it’s always the kids, the refs, the weather, the breaks, player sick, the other team, cheating, the dog ate the homework blah blah blah
6) Lack of coaching effort. While the typical youth football coach will put in between 110-160 hours per season in practice, travel and game time alone, many don’t put a single hour into doing research about becoming a better youth football coach. Fewer than 15% of youth coaches ever purchase coaching materials. When these poor performing coaches were asked about coaching materials, most had no idea these materials existed and didn’t own any. The other flavor of coaches kind of laughed it off like they knew everything they needed to know and didn’t bother to own any either, in spite of their teams consistent lack of success.