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Coaching Youth Football – Lessons Learned from Other Sports
A lesson learned from other sports
Some of the lessons learned coaching youth soccer have really helped me in coaching other sports that I know very little about.
In 2002 the Screaming Eagles Youth Football Program decided that we would start a baseball program. The problem was that I had never played baseball before and over 90% of our kids had never put on a glove because the popularity of inner-city baseball had drastically declined.
Since we were able to bring our football program back from the bottom of the league to the top through intensive coaching training and system development with heavy research, I decided to do the same for baseball:
My experience with baseball as a coach was non-existent. I only played until my junior year of high school and was average on a pretty good day. I felt that my little experience in the subject matter was minimal and that I did not have the authority or confidence to implement a new system throughout the Screaming Eagle program. The baseball program I posted was just for my own team.
He began the project like any other by researching the videos and books available for teaching youth baseball coaches. I bought a video by Marty Shupak on organizing baseball drills. I went to the local indoor baseball training facility and bought some books and videos, all aimed specifically at youth coaches. I asked around and found out that the best coaches consistently win. Many of them train in an indoor training facility, so I went and watched some of the top youth teams get instruction inside during the year.
Then I asked some of the best youth baseball coaches in the area for advice. If you’re going to learn from someone, why go to the guy with the most success? Here in Omaha is a guy named Bill Olsen. Coach Olsen has coached national championship teams at the youth level. He is an experienced High School coach and has also been an assistant coach for one of the US Pan American Games and Olympic teams. Coach Olsen knows his stuff and has a passion for the development of young baseball players and loves coaching the players.
I was fortunate enough to attend 4 major clinics that Coach Olsen put on, and while I played competitive baseball for 9 years, I learned:
1) I knew nothing about coaching baseball
2) My previous baseball coaches didn’t know anything either, they had replaced me as a player.
I am committed to not letting the same thing happen to these children.
Coach Olsen showed us the proper fundamentals, but more importantly, how to break down and learn each move. He gave us a lot of detailed progressions to learn how to bat, field, throw and even bat. I was amazed at how his methods taught our children how to play youth soccer.
I then observed some of the top trainers “selective” and the level of repetition during their training. I learned how to train the moves and how to get tons of time out of my workouts. Back in the days when I played, batting practice consisted of 1 player hitting while 11 players were on the field hitting the ball, how boring. Rarely were any coaching points awarded, we had to improve through practice. I learned how to get a lot done in a lot less time. I also got a chance to observe Mike Evans perform some of his own experiments. Coaching several National Youth Championship teams and now a Junior College team. I learned some really cool games from him that keep kids interested, like fun team building drills and our evaluations for our youth soccer teams.
To make a long story short, I came up with a plan and implemented it based on the experiences of these men, not what I knew from my own experience. My first team could be described as “Land of Misfit Toys” from the movie Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Our first few practices had to show most of the kids how to put on gloves and about 1/3 of the kids didn’t even have gloves on, they were TERRIBLE. I went down to the Salvation Army Store and bought some used gloves, oiled them up and got them ready for practice two. The kids would come and we would improve with each exercise as we slowly progressed towards our goal. Just like in youth football, we worked on the critical success factors, nothing else, no wasted time and no movement. We used many of the tricks we use in football, such as progressions, “preparation focus”, group instruction, trickery and freezing, limited live kicking, player contracts, the discipline model and more. able to train each player for 16 minutes in each of our 2 hours of practice. We didn’t even “live” until week 3 because we did a lot of instruction and “hitting” drills with no bat and no ball, then went to tees, then soft-toss, then hard-hitting. 5 column device that hurts my hands a lot.
We didn’t “recruit” or do a lot of on-court and off-court work, we did a lot of off-the-ball and ball-to-bucket drills. We weren’t playing catch, that would have been a total waste of time (playing, not catching) we were working on the mechanics of the frozen throw (yes, matching and freezing). I did everything 100% as suggested by Bill Olsen.
We went into our first game not knowing how to play well, but we were making good progress on the basics. We won that game and all 14 games we played that year, to EVERYONE’s surprise. Every single one of my kids hit the ball, even a very heavy 190 pounder who hit about every ball off the tee in the first practice! We always had 1-2-3 and so on in defense. For the next two years I stayed at this age group as this original group moved on to other teams. The next year my team won all 12 of their games and the next year we won all 14 again, went undefeated as the dominant team in the league for that age group for three years, and we moved up to Little League one year, winning consecutive games. produced. State champions. We never played in any major tournaments because unfortunately we didn’t have the money to do so, and we generally took a much lower approach to baseball than we did to football. Baseball was just “filler” for us until football season came around.
The moral of the story is; Priorities are important, advanced learning of the most important details is essential for any sport, “guts” are overrated, and good training organization using time saving tricks is essential. Taking some time to learn from the experts has allowed me to teach children the right way so they can have more fun. Just like in football, kids have more fun if they don’t lose every game, in baseball they don’t have as much fun if they never get hit or lose every game. The funny thing was that in all three years that I was the coach, we were so much better than the other teams that we could play and compete in the same age group. A lot of the coaches I coached against went to the same Bill Olsen clinic that I did, but I could tell during the warm-up that they weren’t doing what coach Olsen suggested during the warm-up, or how they kept their gloves or how inside their defenders. their position or how their hitters got into their position. Either these coaches were asleep when Coach Olsen spoke, or they just decided to do it the “better” way. I decided to do it Coach Olsens way and if it didn’t work I would do more research and make changes. In my opinion, these young coaches really changed their players, our coaches were much healthier, it looked like we were training 5 days a week, when in fact we were training much less than any other team in the league, and most teams had other children. with experience in their teams.
Go watch other teams practice in your sport, go to clinics that teach youth topics, ask a very successful coach to be your coach, most people are excited that someone cares enough to coach them. wants to learn and thinks enough of them to want to learn from them. . Your kids will benefit in the end, no matter the sport, coaching is coaching.
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