Number One High School Football Team In The Nation Is "Select" Youth Football Destroying America?

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Is "Select" Youth Football Destroying America?

Choice youth soccer teams are somewhat of a controversial topic for some. If done right, it might not be a bad idea.

“Select” youth soccer teams are exactly what they say, players are “selected” to play on the team. If some players are “selected”, it means that others are “rejected”, which is the case for many.

Many youth soccer teams are assembled by coaches who actively recruit the “star” team. Others are put together where coaches test small groups of players to see which players have what it takes to play on the team. Most “selected” teams have a week of practice sessions and evaluations, and at the end of that week, the coaches decide which players will make the team and which won’t. Needless to say, there is a lot of discontent among football players and parents this weekend.

Many of these teams travel to out-of-state tournaments and cost between $150 and $1,200 to play. They play in youth soccer leagues made up of other “select” teams. The competitive nature of these football leagues, and the fact that there are usually only the best athletes in them, means that in most cases there is less emphasis on getting a fair amount of playing time for each player.

Advantages of “Choice” teams

1) Place more sports players in competition with other sports players. That’s how you get the highest level of improvement.

2) Less compatibility of highly athletic players and weak or novice players.

3) Usually, but not always, a better coach.

4) Players are grouped with others with the same commitment level, there is less conflict between players.

5) Brings less athletic players back into the “pool” to play with players closer to their ability.

6) Often allows first-year or younger players to play against other first-year or younger players.

Cons

1) Can be very competitive.

2) Can players be burned out if they practice 5 nights a week and play 14 games.

3) Cutting players is difficult and can put some away from football forever.

4) Player evaluation is not an exact science, mistakes can and usually are made.

5) There is little guarantee of playing time for those selected at the bottom of the “athletic” index on the selected team.

6) In most cases, high costs or efforts are required to raise funds.

7) Jealousy and envy from players and parents for not being selected for the “selected” team.

With my Omaha program, we have a process that seems to eliminate a number of negatives. We have a select team that plays in a league of other select teams. All other undrafted players are included in teams that play in a league made up of players who were not selected for their selected teams. We have all the players from the age group train together for a week. Then, the coaches of the selected team select the team that they believe best matches the level of athleticism, maturity, size and aggressiveness of the players.

Our rural program is not selective, we make a team from everyone who registers in this age group from the forms we hand out at school.

Here are some things we’re doing to minimize some of the problems with select teams:

1) All teams in our organization wear the same game and practice equipment, including jerseys. No preference is given to the selected team.

2) Teams are designated by the park they practice in, not “A” or “B”. Screaming Eagles – Spinlake, Smith Park Eagles and more

3) We accept all who are registered or want to play, no selective recruitment.

4) Each player is assigned to a team, not one “cut”.

5) Each player understands that all teams are just as important as any other and that players are assigned to the team that gives them the best chance to play.

6) Select teams are limited to 24 players or less to ensure everyone has access to the game.

7) Instead of announcing which players are the selected team, we will place the coaches of the 5 teams in 5 different areas of the field. We inform the children that we will call their names in alphabetical order of which team they are placed in. All deciding which player will be on which team the night before, no boring decisions are made on the field. If the player is not selected for the selected team, he will be assigned to the team that practices closest to his place of residence. When the players’ names are called, the player runs to the assigned team and the coaches and players clap, give high fives, etc., and make a big deal out of that player being placed on their appropriate team. Our selection process is a situation where everyone is smiling and excited. Football coaches really drill into the kids that they are excited to have each individual player on their team and they talk about the unique personality of that team.

8) Out of town trips are awarded to teams based on weekly academic performance through our weekly academic report. Often our top teams don’t travel because they lack the academic performance of our other teams.

Choosing youth football should not have any negative connotations around it if managed properly. Try to eliminate tension and embarrassment among unselected players.

I remember the long selection process for a youth baseball team I played on. “The coach” read only the names of the football players who made the team first. When he was 11th on the 12-man roster, I was sick to my stomach and my name hadn’t been called yet. I thought how embarrassing it would be if we didn’t make the team, what would my friends in the team or my parents say? Players who didn’t make the team were told to go home, while others stayed to listen to the coach’s instructions. The look and tears in the eyes of those players is something I will never forget and will do my best to NEVER let that happen in my organization. It’s the right thing to do, and as we all know, many of those “B” kids will make the “A” team next year. Don’t be one of those teams that lose players because you can’t do the job well.

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