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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations By Jim Oddo www.jimoddo.com

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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_____________________________________________________________________ Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Copyright 2009, Jim Oddo All rights reserved. Published by Mega Media Depot P.O. Box 945 Prospect Heights, Il 60070 Manufactured in the United States of America For other items by Jim Oddo, please visit: www.jimoddo.com

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Disclaimer IMPORTANT: Any use of information and recommendations provided by this book is to be used at a buyer’s sole discretion the owner nor this book are liable for any losses or damages incurred either directly or indirectly.

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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About the Author I am a proud father of two wonderful children. I have been married to my wonderful wife for 20+ years. I have four siblings and great parents. When I was 19 years old, I went to work for my dad who owned an insurance agency. I worked there as an employee and purchased the agency from my Dad in 1998. The Insurance Agency is still going strong to this day. I am currently the sole owner. Approximately 10 years ago, I moved the insurance agency from an office building to my house. This was a very smart business move to make at the time as the Internet has changed the way of doing business. I have been working at home for over a decade. In my personal time, I enjoy coaching youth sports. Since I was 17 years old, I have been involved in coaching either a basketball or football at the grade school level. When I was in high school, I coached my first basketball team, which happened to be at the grade school I attended. I had over 20 years of coaching experience before I had the pleasure of coaching my own two sons. In 2001, I founded Mega Media Depot, which has been a book publishing, printing, marketing and media sales company. Some of the highlights for this company include listing over 1,000,000 items on EBay at one time as well as achieving a current feedback rating of over 100,000 stars. In my free time, I like to speculate on horseracing and the money-management angle of gambling and speculation. This has been a nice release from the daily grind of work. One of my passions has been watching and trading the stock and futures market. I traded commodities exclusively until three years ago when I changed to trading nothing but the Forex market.

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Special Thanks to: Diane Oddo, Guy Brumley and my parents. To all assistant coaches who have helped me over the years. Without their help and dedication I would have never have lasted as long.

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Table of Contents Overview..................................................13 Chapter 1 - Evaluating Personnel .........15 Evaluating Speed .......................................................................................................... 15 The 40 Yard Dash ..................................................................................................... 16 The 100 Yard Dash ................................................................................................... 16 20 yd competitive speed races .................................................................................. 16 Impact Speed............................................................................................................. 19 Evaluating Quickness.................................................................................................... 19 Ability Test for Player Coordination in youth football............................................. 20 Pass Blocking............................................................................................................ 20 Evaluating Toughness................................................................................................... 21 Iron Man drill............................................................................................................ 21 Bloody Alley............................................................................................................. 23 Evaluating Run Drive Blocking.................................................................................... 24 Pad Blocking to test Drive Blocking Ability ............................................................ 24 Blocking with your Hands or Shoulder pads ............................................................ 24 Team Blocking in West Point or Oklahoma Drill .................................................... 25 Evaluating Pass Blocking ............................................................................................. 25 Pass Blocking............................................................................................................ 25 Evaluating Tackling ...................................................................................................... 26 Teaching proper tackling form on the pads .............................................................. 26 Angle Tackling Drill ................................................................................................. 28 Open Field Tackling ................................................................................................. 29 Evaluating Football IQ.................................................................................................. 30 Football IQ - West Point & Oklahoma Drill............................................................. 30 Evaluating Listening Skills ........................................................................................... 31 Evaluating Agility Skills............................................................................................... 32 Agility Drills for Youth Football Using the Hand Pads ............................................... 32 Evaluating Competitiveness.......................................................................................... 34 Fumble Drill for youth Football................................................................................ 35 Evaluating Passing Skills.............................................................................................. 36 Looking for the Live Arm......................................................................................... 36 Evaluating Receiving Skills.......................................................................................... 37 Evaluating Running Skills ............................................................................................ 37 Evaluating Kicking Skills ............................................................................................. 37 _____________________________________________________________________ Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Chapter 2 - Parent & Player Pre Evaluations..............................................39 Zero Tolerance Policy................................................................................................... 39 Set the Ground Rules at the Youth Football Parent Meeting........................................ 40 Acceptable Behavior................................................................................................. 40 Expectations.............................................................................................................. 41 Set Playing Time Criteria Up Front .............................................................................. 41 Pre Screen the Parents and the Players ......................................................................... 42 Communication with the Parents and the Players......................................................... 42

Chapter 3 – The Youth Football Tryouts ..................................................................43 Have enough help for the Youth Football Tryouts ....................................................... 43 The First Three Days of Tryouts................................................................................... 44 Youth Football Equipment Check ................................................................................ 45 Dividing the Players during the Youth Football Tryouts.............................................. 45

Chapter 4 - Organizing Tryouts .............47 Breaking the Large Group into Smaller Groups ........................................................... 47 3 Days No Contact ........................................................................................................ 49 1st Contact Day for New and Flag Players.................................................................... 50 Youth Football Tryouts and Evaluations Cut Down Day............................................. 50 Keep Tryouts Moving and Organized........................................................................... 51 The Power Ranking Tryout Grading System................................................................ 52 Keeping Track of the Players during the Youth Football Tryouts................................ 53 Evaluations versus Coaching ........................................................................................ 53 Addressing the Parents.................................................................................................. 54 Keep Attendance during the Youth Football Try-outs ................................................. 54 Proper Stance for Blocking and Proper Tackling Form................................................ 55 Complete Equipment check of your Youth Football Team .......................................... 55 General Parent Announcement at the Beginning of the Tryouts .................................. 56

Chapter 5 - Power Ranking Spreadsheet ..................................................................57 Skills and Drills Evaluated............................................................................................ 58 Age of the Players..................................................................................................... 58 Experience of the Players.......................................................................................... 59 Weight of the Players................................................................................................ 60 Speed of the Players.................................................................................................. 61 Sumo Power .............................................................................................................. 64 Run Drive Blocking .................................................................................................. 65 Pass Blocking............................................................................................................ 66 Open Field Tackling ................................................................................................. 67 _____________________________________________________________________ 10 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Skills Tested for but not rated on Spreadsheet.............................................................. 69 Passing ...................................................................................................................... 69 Receiving .................................................................................................................. 69 Punting ...................................................................................................................... 70 Kick Off .................................................................................................................... 70 Kicking the Extra Point............................................................................................. 70 Long Snapper ............................................................................................................ 70 Direct Snap................................................................................................................ 71 Angle Tackling Drill Revisited................................................................................. 71 Oklahoma or West Point Drill used as a final confirmation......................................... 72

Chapter 6 – Sample Spreadsheet..........73 Player Data.................................................................................................................... 73 Finishing Group Data.................................................................................................... 75 Skills Data..................................................................................................................... 77 Player Power Ranking Data .......................................................................................... 79 Grand Total ................................................................................................................... 81

Chapter 7 - Tryout Week Schedule Sample .....................................................83 Chapter 8 – Coaches Player Evaluation Form.........................................................85 Chapter 9 – Cut Down Day.....................87 Cut down Day ............................................................................................................... 87 Parent Requests regarding Team Placement................................................................. 88 Parent Requests regarding Position Placement............................................................. 88 Coaching Youth Football Making it Fun ...................................................................... 88

Chapter 10 - Closing Remarks...............89 Index ........................................................91

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Overview I wrote this book for the head coach who needs a way to evaluate the players he will be coaching in the upcoming youth football season. With over 25 years experience, coaching youth sports, I can share some insight. This book helps a coach evaluate the major skills. I provide a simple non-subjective system to assign each player with a “power ranking number”. This book will also benefit the coach running the youth football tryouts. This is a large undertaking and my system will help make it simple, effective and stress free. This book has a detailed complete system of evaluating and selecting the best group of players. I have an 80%+ winning percentage over my coaching career that has included both undefeated teams and teams with only two wins. I have been through it all. I refuse to make any wild claims or guarantees that you will win regardless of your talent level or experience coaching. These are just wild claims made by individuals trying to sell products, and are pure nonsense. I will give you an organized plan that will make your coaching experience realistic and more enjoyable.

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Chapter 1 - Evaluating Personnel There are generally two types of teams that you will coach. They are a cut team (also called a select or A team) and a set team (also known as a B team). The set team may use a draft to divide the players evenly. The first team is a cut team, made up of the “cream of the crop”. You will need to make sure to run the proper drills to get a good look at every candidate. The second team will be all the kids who did not make the cut. You may be assigned players or draft them to fill in the rosters. Either way you want to make sure, you get a good look at each player. The skills and drills presented in the book have stood the test of time and are to this day. I still use everything in this book to this day. I find it effective to use a standard system you can depend on to evaluate this year’s team and talent. I will break this book down by the different evaluation skills, and then show the drills I use to evaluate them. The last part of the book will show you how to organize a specific number of the drills and organize them into a spreadsheet that will compute an unbiased power ranking number for each player. This number gives you a non-subjective ranking order for each player. I recommend using this list as a tool in selecting the teams. Please read the entire book to have a better understanding on how to evaluate your players

Evaluating Speed This is the big one. You cannot coach or teach this. You need speed to compete at every age level. You can win without speed, but it is much harder. Below is a list of different ways to evaluate your players speed.

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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The 40 Yard Dash This is one of the most famous and popular ways of evaluating speed. That statement alone should tip you off about how wrong it is. When is a player ever running against a stopwatch? Remember we are evaluating 4-14 year old kids, not college or pro athletes. I see too many coaches following the crap they see at the NFL combine. This is a pure waste of time. Most of my problems with the 40-yard dash include • • • •

It is not a relative distance for youth football The measurement is not the same. Unless you are at the track, it is hard to have the distance precise every time. Most youth programs use a different location for practices so the surface is different for testing players who arrive late. Not every stopwatch is started equally at the same time for each player and each race.

You will hear some nonsense that it gives each player an equal evaluation number. No, it does not. All the reasons above are why I developed my own method for evaluating speed..

The 100 Yard Dash The 100-yard dash is just as useless as the 40-yard dash. When does a youth football player ever run 100 yards? Please review the reasons above on why I do not like the forty-yard dash and apply the same reasons to the 100-yard dash.

20 yd competitive speed races Speed kills at the youth football level. My definition of speed is, the kid who can out run the entire defense to the sideline. He is the rare player that can take a pitch and go the distance for a touchdown.

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Please note I am not referring to the fastest kid on your team or the fastest kid at the local school. I am talking about the fastest kid in the league. The kids that can out run every team in the league. In my twenty years of youth football coaching, I have had that kind of speed only twice. Think about that for a minute. In over twenty years and more than 30 teams, only two times our speed was the best in the league. The first was a 14-year-old travel team, who won the championship, and had only one loss. The talent was so deep that many of those kids went on to the local High School and won the first state championship, in the school’s history. The one loss occurred, during the last week in the regular season versus an opponent who was on a 6 year undefeated winning streak. The weather was miserable that late October day with a driving rainstorm that had started the night before and continued throughout the entire game. It was a rain soaked game with no footing on the field. The loss was on an offensive turnover we had early on our first drive that was returned for a touchdown. The rest of the game was a standstill, and we lost a close game. The second team was an in-house (not cut), flag football team made up of five, six, seven and eight-year-olds. This team went undefeated, and there were no playoffs. We were fortunate enough to have the fastest 8 year olds in the “In House” flag league and had our entire offense return from a 7-2 campaign the previous year. These two teams came over a decade apart. The point I am driving home is that most often you will have average talent and you will need to prepare. If blessed with the best speed in the league, go to church and thank God. Please do not over think your season or play calling, just enjoy the good fortune. Again, it is not rare to have good speed, just great speed. The best test to evaluate the speed of your players is to let them compete versus their teammates in 20 yards sprints. This is as easy as it sounds. Set up two cones at a twentyyard distance. Divide the team into at least three groups and have the winners move to the group on the right and the losers move to the other group on the left. There is a diagram on the next page showing the set up.

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Group C

Group B

Group A

1 X X X

1 X X X

1 X X X

2

2

2

Have a coach stand 20 yards away where I have the label for each Group. Set one cone there with a coach behind it. Set the second cone in between each player 1 and 2 in each group. Have the balance of the players stand in line behind player one. The coach should straddle the cone and extend each arm straight out. On the “Go” command each player is to race to the coach, and the first one to touch his hand is the winner. Player 1 needs to touch the coach’s right hand while player 2 must touch his left hand. Each player must run straight in a line and will lose by forfeit if they interfere with the other runner. You should run all three lines continuously, and each group can run independent of the other groups. To keep it simple if you are in Group C and lose you stay in Group C and go to the end of the line. If you win in Group C, you move over into Group B. If you are in Group B and lose, you go to Group C. If you win in Group B you move up to Group A. Group A winners stay and the losers go to Group B. You can run this drill for about twenty minutes and you will have all the fast kids in A or B. Your fastest kids will continue to be showing up in Group A. There is no stopwatch, bad timers, poorly measured distances or changes in field conditions when you use this method. _____________________________________________________________________ 18 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Too many coaches used the 40-yard dash as the barometer of testing speed. This is a joke at the youth football level. You cannot use a stopwatch to judge speed. Remember this is not even High School let alone the Pros. This is youth football and we need to keep it real and fun for the kids. You will see I use this three or more line evaluation system repeatedly. There really are two different kinds of running speed. There is open field speed that once a player is in the clear he runs like a gazelle. Once that player breaks free from the initial 10 or 20 yards run, he is off to the races. The other kind of speed is what I refer to as “Impact” speed. Impact speed is the time it takes a player to get going from the moment he touches the ball.

Impact Speed Impact speed is different for the different positions. Below is a list of positions and the type of speed I associate to it. Running backs – How fast they hit the hole. If you are running a standard QB Exchange, Impact Speed is the time between the ball hitting the running back’s belly and the time he hits the hole. Quarterbacks – While passing it is his ability to tuck and run. While carrying the ball it would be his ability to hit the corner while running the option, bootleg or sweep. Direct Snap Backs – The time from the direct snap to the hole. Receivers – Impact Speed is the time from catching the ball in FULL STRIDE to turn and cut up into the secondary. When evaluating your football team please keep these different positions in mind when looking at the speed of each player by position.

Evaluating Quickness Quickness is different from speed. I define quickness as the time it takes a player to “get going” from a stance. By stance, I mean it can be a three-point stance or standing twopoint stance.

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Ability Test for Player Coordination in youth football When coaching youth football you will want to evaluate your players for quickness. One of the better drills I have used requires the competing players to lie down on the ground with their eyes looking skyward. They lay flat on their back with both arms at their sides. Coach then blows the whistle and the players must turnover, get up, sprint 5 yards, block a bag held by the coach, spin again and run five more yards. This is an excellent way to find out the coordination of each player. I will run this again in the Three Line Evaluation race format. It is always better to run each of these as a little competition. You will start to see the same players succeeding in the various drills and that is what helps you decide who will play where. The Three Line Drill for youth football is shown again below for your convenience.

Pass Blocking This drill is a favorite of the players. The players have fun and the competitive nature of each player will come out strong. This drill starts with the competing players lying on their backs helmet to helmet. A cone with a ball placed on top is placed five yards behind the “blocker” or player 1. On the whistle, both players spin around getting up to their feet as quickly as possible. The blocker (player 1) has to run “interference” or keep player 2 from getting to the cone and knocking the ball over within 4 seconds. Once again, I would use the groups that the players finished in from the Run Drive Blocking groups as a starting point. Please see the picture on the next page.

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Ball on Cone Coach XXXXXX Player 1 Player 2 XXXXXX

Please remember that the player start out lying on their backs facing the sky with arms straight at their sides and legs flat. The two helmets should be touching each other before the drill starts. This drill will also give you potential defensive lineman. I will review this drill later in in the spreadsheet section of the book.

Evaluating Toughness This is a biggie. I want tough players on my team. You may not be fast or quick, but if you are tough, I will find a spot for you on my team. There is one crazy drill I run, that shows how tough each player really is. You will not want to run this early or often.

Iron Man drill If you really want to know the football toughness of each of your players then the Iron Man drill will fit the bill. Many youth football players may not be the fastest or the biggest but they just might be the toughest. This is my favorite drill to check the toughness level of each player. This drill will check not only the physical but also the mental toughness. This is an extremely physical drill, which I strongly suggest you run only a few times a year. You will instantly find out from his drill, which players have the “it factor” both in mental and physical toughness. _____________________________________________________________________ 21 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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The Iron Man drill is a very basic drill but the coaches need to keep a close eye on this one. It is very important that the players realize they must go hard to avoid injury. I know that sounds strange but the player that hesitates or slows down just before contact is more likely to get hurt than if he goes full speed. This drill is one man versus the team. You run this drill at the goal line and set your tackler (the “Iron Man”) at the 2-yard line in a two-point stance. Then you line up the entire team at the 10-yard line in a single file line. You then use the sideline as out of bounds and cones for the other boundary. You want to make the width of the drill no more than 2 yards. You form a very tight alley for the running back to run at the defender. Each teammate takes turns and carries the ball directly at the Iron Man trying to score while the Iron man must tackle him or push them out of bounds. The running back moves up to the six or five-yard line to start the drill, since we are not looking to kill anyone. We want to make sure there is good contact. The drill starts on the coach’s whistle. The goal of the tight lane is to make sure there is no way a running back can go around the Iron man. The running backs must go through him, and not run away. You will instantly see which players want no part of being the Iron Man and which ones strive to defeat the entire team. It is very important that you do your duty as a coach and DO NOT force anyone to continue in this drill. All drills need to be in a positive reinforcement manner. You should never insult, belittle or guilt any youth football player into this or any drill. You also should never consider running this drill until mid to late season. By that time, you will have a handle on your team. You will also know which players you need to protect. The only reason you should ever be coaching youth football is for the kids. When running the high intensity or heavy contract drills please pay attention to your weaker players and look out for them. I have noticed that most of the time they will take themselves out of the drill, so please be supportive of them. You will definitely see players rise to the challenge, and again, please be a coach and make sure they are not over doing it. It is a great drill to give your players self-esteem and push them to a new level.

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I love this drill, and to put it in perspective, two seasons ago, I ran it for the first time the week before our first playoff game. I believe it helped motivate the team’s confidence, and helped propel us into the Title game. Last year I did not run it at all. The make up of the football team did not warrant it. We went to the youth football playoffs but I knew this team was a bit fragile and this intense of a drill would not be a positive.

Bloody Alley Do not worry there is no blood. Bloody Alley encourages contact and is another great way to evaluate who is tough. Please read again the section above on the Iron Man since all of the warnings are the same. Please make sure that no player is forced to participate in Bloody Alley. Setting up the drill is simple. You want to continue to keep the players facing each other and keep the alley tight. Most important have the players keep their head up. This drill teaches your players to stay low. First, split the team in half and have the players face each other with no more than a twoyard distance between them. One line is the ball carrier and the other side is the tackler. On the whistle, the ball carrier runs behind the ball carrier line and enters the alley. The tackler does the same thing behind the line of tacklers. As both enter the alley, they meet straight up in the alley where either the ball carrier or the tackler will win. This drill has very heavy contact so please run it sparingly. Below is a diagram of Bloody Alley. Runners

Runner

X X X X X X

Tacklers

2 yd max Alley

X Tackler X X X X X

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Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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Evaluating Run Drive Blocking Blocking and tackling is the key to football. If you want to move the ball then you had better be able to block. If you want to control the clock, you had better be able to run block. I use a very simple process to see who my best blockers are. It is my personal belief that any player willing to learn and put in the effort, can be taught to block.

Pad Blocking to test Drive Blocking Ability When I try to figure out who my blockers are, I run this drill. Actually, I have the Line Coaches run this drill. It is a simple drill where you have each player block against the coach while holding a dummy. The players start in a three-point stance right in front of the pad. On the whistle, or snap, the player hits the pad as hard as he can and drive blocks the coach. The coach should give resistance but let the player move him. The coach gives out a number giving that player a rating. We use a scale of one (weak) to 10 (strong). The players then go to the end of the line and wait their turn to try it again. You will notice very fast that a competition will start among the players and they start asking each other “What was your score?” They all start trying to out do each other. Similar to the Iron Man drill, you will quickly realize which players constantly tried to improve on their grade and which players shy away. You read repeatedly that you are a coach of youth football, not High School or the Pros. You need to make sure that the weaker players do not get lost in the shuffle. You will have to keep great records and make sure you do not put these kids in bad situations for themselves or the team. You will want to make sure the kids are always in the proper three-point stance when they start this drill. If you are not sure what a proper three-point stance is please go to that section on the website

www.jimoddo.com for a complete description with illustrations.

Blocking with your Hands or Shoulder pads The other question that is always asked is should the players be taught to block with their hands or their shoulder pads. I believe the answer lies in which type of block your play needs at that time. Both techniques should be shown, since certain situations would require different ways to block. Different kids may also feel more comfortable with one method over another so it is good ideas to have your players try both ways. _____________________________________________________________________ 24 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


Coaching Youth Football – Tryouts and Evaluations

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If you need more details on these different blocking techniques, please check the website. You will notice that in youth football, the same kids seem to be your best runners, throwers and blockers. That is great since they will all have to block at some point on certain plays. Also depending on the offense you run, many of the backs and ends have to make the key blocks. All of your key offensive players need to be great blockers.

Team Blocking in West Point or Oklahoma Drill Another great drill, we call West Point, which is also known as Oklahoma, has three defensive lineman against three offensive lineman. There is one tailback and one linebacker lined up behind their respective lines. The coach stands behind the linebacker and points to an offensive lineman to show where the play should be run. This lineman becomes the “hole” and the running back runs to that spot. The coach holds up a number of fingers, which represents the snap count. The coach now barks out the signal and the play is run with full contact. We run this drill, intensely the first week of contact to find out who is a football player who is not. I will go into more details in the spreadsheet section of the book.

Evaluating Pass Blocking You will want to make sure the line can pass block, especially if you are coaching an older age group. Below is the drill I use as it accomplishes the task of running interference long enough for the passer to release the ball.

Pass Blocking I will repeat this section later in the spreadsheet section of the book. This drill is used in the power ranking of the players. The drill starts with the competing players lying on their backs helmet to helmet. A cone with a ball placed on top is placed five yards behind the “blocker” or player 1. On the whistle, both players spin around getting up to their feet as quickly as possible. The blocker (player 1) has to run “interference” or keep player 2 from getting to the cone and knocking the ball over while the coach counts 4 seconds (i.e. one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four thousand), and then blows the whistle to end the drill. Please see the picture on the next page. .

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Ball on Cone Coach XXXXXX Player 1 Player 2 XXXXXX

Evaluating Tackling Teaching proper tackling form on the pads I am a big believer in using the hand held pads throughout the entire practice. The pads are especially effective early in the season to make sure the kids are learning the proper techniques. Football is a game that is all about blocking and tackling. The team that blocks and tackles well will have a clear advantage. I believe that all kids, who want to learn, can be taught to block and tackle with the proper techniques. These are youth football players and it does not matter if they are your studs or a weaker player, they all should be coached properly. I have always used the line that Basketball is a contact sport and Football is a collision sport. You need to make sure that all the players know the proper way of blocking and tackling to help avoid any potential injuries. I feel the best way to teach the proper technique is by using the pads. It also gives the kids a chance to be involved in both the drill and holding the pads to help their teammates. I split the squad in half and have them face each other. One side will be holding the pads while the other side will perform the drill. _____________________________________________________________________ 26 Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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We are talking about tackling so the tackling line of players will come out of a “ready tackle or breakdown position” or a three-point stance and on the coaches whistle they drive into the player holding the pad across from him. The tacklers are supposed to make contact and wrap up the pad. By wrapping up, we mean hug. That is right, try to teach the kids to get as big a hug as possible and try to clasp their hands together around the player and the pad. In reality, you want them to wrap their arms around the opponent and grab onto any part of them whether it is a jersey or their legs. They are only supposed to make contact and wrap, not tackle the player holding the pad. Make it clear that you are looking for proper tackling form, not an actual tackle. What you need to look for is a straight back, head up and arms wrapping around the pads/player. You must make sure that they do not arch their backs or lower their helmets. This is a sure way to get hurt. I use a little saying “See what you hit”. This is where the NFL does us absolutely no good. You will see repeatedly players tackling leading with their helmet down. Please make sure to advise the players how dangerous this is and when you see a player doing this blow the whistle immediately. Make sure a coach goes over and completely explains to the player and all players what was done wrong. The coach then needs to show the proper technique. There needs to be zero tolerance for lowering your helmet while tackling. On a much lesser level, we have not wrapping up when you tackle. The NFL once again does not do us ant favors. The NFL loves to show big collisions. If I see a player try this stuff, the whistle goes off and a very stern voice expresses my disapproval. Not wrapping up is not a safety issue but a team issue. If you do not wrap up, I guarantee you will miss the majority of tackles. A little reminder I have seen a previous coach use, was to have a player who missed a tackle in practice during a drill go and hug a tree. It was common to see the park full of youth football players hugging all the trees in the park. While this is an extreme example, it seemed to work because only a few weeks later there was no body hugging any trees. The kids got the message. It is amazing us how many coaches ignore working on form and refuse to use pads. I have had many years of success with weaker players with better form, outperforming talented kids with bad form.

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Angle Tackling Drill This is an oldie but goodie. I think every team in youth football regardless if it is flag or tackle football runs some form of the Angle Tackling drill. There are many different ways to run the drill but we line it up as per the diagram below. Cone

Tackling Line XXXXX X X Running Line XXXXX

You want to set up this drill per the diagram above. What I like to do is have a 5-7 yard distance between the tackling line and the running back line. Then you want to back up the running line 2-5 yards further away from the cone than the tackling line. The cone is straight down the field 20-25 yards. Please notice the straight sideline along the right hand side. The tackler looks to make the tackle or at least be able to knock the runner out of bounds. On the whistle, each player takes off. The running back runs as fast as he can in a straight line towards the cone. He cannot stop, weave or change speeds. He must go all out to the cone that represents the goal line. The tacklers must take the proper pursuit angle and make the tackle or push the runner out of bounds. If you are coaching a flag team then you want your tacklers grabbing flags. _____________________________________________________________________ 28 Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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The coaching tips for your defenders are you want them to get their helmet in front of the ball carrier. You also want them to stay low. They need to drive through the ball carrier with their helmet in front, back straight and wrapping the runner up. It is important that the tacklers learn all three things in unison. You need to make sure the tacklers do not leave their feet when making a tackle. They need to see what they tackle, wrap their arms around the carrier and drive him to the ground. This is one of the many tackling drills; I will run on a regular basis. It teaches the kids how to take the proper angle when running down a kid who is sprinting down the sidelines. We will show many other techniques for tackling in the open field and trying to contain speed backs by forcing them back to the middle of the defense where support is.

Open Field Tackling I run this different during the season than I do during tryouts. In the spreadsheet section, you will get the details on how I run it during tryouts. This is the regular season version that I run almost every practice. It is very important that your players know how to tackle the opponent one on one in the open field. This is the most basic and simple of all the drills. I make a “lane” of cones (or use the pads or sidelines) 6-8 yards apart. Each player stands ten yards away facing each other. Player 1 carries the ball straight at player 2 who tries to tackle him. When the whistle blows, the ball carrier tries to get by the tackler. The ball carrier can nuke, juke, cut back, stiff-arm, and out run using speed or Bull Run the defender over. We need the runners to challenge the defenders. Both players need to go full speed since we really need to test our tacklers. This drill will look UGLY early but gets better as the season progresses. Please see the diagram on the next page.

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Player 1

Coach

Player 2

Evaluating Football IQ I want to have the smartest players on the field. I need players who know the game and will not make stupid mistakes. An aggressive player who holds all the time is of no use to me.

Football IQ - West Point & Oklahoma Drill There is no substitute for the smart ballplayer. Certain players will be able to use their brains to gain an advantage over the other players. This will become very apparent during drills like West Point, where you will continue to see the smarter players outshine the other kids. During West Point, you will also find certain kids that start to emerge as leaders. Take note there is a big difference between a leader and a know it all. West Point, also known as Oklahoma, sets up with three defensive linemen, versus three offensive linemen. There is one tailback behind the offensive line and one linebacker behind the defensive line. The coach stands behind the linebacker and points to an offensive lineman, which becomes the “hole”. The hole is the area the running back is to run at. Then the coach holds up between 1-3 fingers making this the snap count to start on. The coach them barks out the snap count and the players execute the run. This drill helps every aspect of coaching youth football. It is the equivalent of running a mini scrimmage. The big advantage here is with only four players involved at a time the coaches get a good look.

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It is also nice to have a drill where eight players are involved at one time. West Point can be expanded to 10 by adding a full back and another linebacker. You can also add another offensive and defensive lineman. We run this drill, intensely the first week of contact to find out who is a football player, and who is not. The football IQ of the players will be tested. You will see which players can take instruction and listen. Below is a Diagram of West Point Coach Line Backer DL OL

DL OL

DL OL

Running Back

West Point will always be a big part of my practices. I even run this when coaching a flag team. You need to have a tough line and this “heavy” contact drill fits the bill.

Evaluating Listening Skills Listening skills are very important. I will pick a player who may not have as much skill who is a great listener over a talented player who does not listen. Players that do not listen will not only mess up your game plans, but are usually a distraction during practice. Please avoid these players since they will be a nuisance and a constant source of aggravation throughout the entire year. The old saying “the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree” usually runs true here and the parent is a problem as well. Listening skills can be observed when you are addressing the team, instructing drills and during the sprint conditioning at the end of practice. Early in the year, explain to your players that you expect all eyes on you when you are speaking. It is easy to see who listens and who is distracted. _____________________________________________________________________ 31 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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When you explain a drill to the team watch closely who is listening. I guarantee the player who is looking down or at another practice will not know what to do and you will be wasting time explaining it again. At the end of practice, we might have the team run sprints, so we constantly change the snap count to see who jumps. Every year the same player continues to jump. West Point is another great drill where you change the snap count on every play. You start to see the same players not getting off quick or jumping offside.

Evaluating Agility Skills My definition of agility drills is basic athletic ability. How a player runs, shuffles and quick steps can help me see whom the better athletes are.

Agility Drills for Youth Football Using the Hand Pads I believe as a youth football coach, it is your responsibility, to prepare the players basic football fundamental skills. Players will need basic fundamental skills as they progress through the sport. The old saying “football is all about blocking and tackling” is as true today as it was over 100 years ago. I run a quick agility drill every day, starting with the first tryouts and through my last practice of the year. All coaches are amazed at the progress the players make through the repetition of this drill. In the beginning of the year, this drill looks like a train wreck. Our daily routine is to put the players through a quick agility run through the five hand blocking pads that we will lay on the ground in a horizontal row, approximately two feet from each other. See figure 1 on the next page.

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Figure 1 You will be amazed at the improvement your team makes in this simple agility throughout the year. First, we have the player’s line up in a single file line and high step over each of the five pads, running straightforward. We make sure the entire team goes through the pads in one direction, then turns around and comes back through using high steps each time, and making sure both feet land between the spaces between each pads. Next, we have the player’s shuffle sideways through each of the set of five pads again with high knees and making sure each foot lands between the pads with out crossing their feet. You want to make sure the players stay horizontal facing the coaches, use high knees, while looking forward and not looking down at the ground or their feet. I will let a coach throw a football to the players to make sure they are looking forward. The third and final agility is a zigzag through the pads. The players start sideways and shuffle left to right. After the pass the first pad, they sprint forward towards the coach. When they reach the top of the pads, they shuffle again left to right. When passing the next pad the player now backpedals between the next rows of pads, and continues this motion until the player is through the line. It is very important that the players keep their head up. I do not care how slow a player does these drills. I only care that they are done right. The speed will come through repetition. Please refer to figure 2 on the next page.

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Figure 2

xxxx

COACH

As the season progress, you will be amazed at the team fluency through the pads. I will run this at all levels including flag football. When we are finished doing the agility runs through the pads, we go into our blocking and tackling form and technique drills using the hand pads. I will give a detailed description of all I do under the Blocking and Tackling portions of this book.

Evaluating Competitiveness I want player that want to compete, not quitters. I have had some wonderful athletes that were great as long as things were going well. As soon as the tide turned on us and things started to go bad, these wonderful athletes became quitters. Do everything you can to identify who these players are. As long as they are not a cancer to the other players, you may have a reason to keep them on a select team. You need to be aware as the coach that in crunch time, you will have to rely on other players or take them out of the game. These are kids, people, so do not condemn the kid, just try to work around the issue. The Fumble Drill is our favorite drill to test for the competitiveness of the players.

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Fumble Drill for youth Football Here is a favorite youth football drill that the players as well as the coaches enjoy. It brings out the competitive nature of your players and allows them to react naturally to a loose ball. You start with four or five players facing the coach, approximately three yards apart from each other. The drill is: When Coach does this Run Towards the players like a running back Drops back like he is going to throw the ball

Shuffles to HIS left Shuffles to HIS right

The Players do This Run at the coach forward simulating the approach to making a tackle Backpedal Straight Back to Simulate Dropping into zone pass coverage Shuffle to the RIGHT, staying in front of the coach Shuffle to the LEFT, staying in front of the coach

And Players yell out this RUN

PASS

RIGHT

LEFT

The youth football coach continues these random directions and then the coach will spike the ball on the ground and all the players must run to recover the “fumble”. It is common for this to turn into a small wrestling match, where we will while the players to go at it, as long as they have a hand on the ball. In addition, we have the coach quickly remove any player who has dropped the ball or taken as hands-off. You have to really watch and make sure no player has an arm twisted in the pile up. Each group continues until you have a winner, and we will continue until we end up with one fumble drill champion. Most important, make sure that the proper form is used for shuffling left, right as well as sprinting forward and backwards. _____________________________________________________________________ 35 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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It does not matter if I am coaching a 4-year-old flag youth football team or 14-year-old tackle youth football; this is always one of the player’s favorite drills.

Evaluating Passing Skills The first half of my youth coaching career, I ran the Run and Shoot offense. You need to have a quarterback and my philosophy is I can turn just about any player with a live arm into a workable quarterback. I plan to write an entire book on the development of the youth quarterback. These teams were all 13 and 14 year olds. Recent years have seen me coaching four-eight year old flag football and seven-nine year old tackle player teams. Not quite, Run and Shoot friendly. I have run a more basic offense including the Power I, Wing T, Single Wing and some Spread. (Yeah I just cannot shake the Run and Shoot bug). Regardless of the age level you are coaching, your primary passer must have a “live arm”.

Looking for the Live Arm When you are evaluating the passing abilities of each player, you want to see a live arm. You will not be able to improve arm strength over the course of one youth football season, so you need to have a player who can fling the pigskin. I can improve accuracy, footwork and IQ, but not strength. My definition of a live arm is a passer with an extreme fast release and a lot of velocity and zip on the pass. There will always be at least a few players, who can whip the ball hard. You will want to take a hard look at these players along with any kid who pitches on the local baseball team. There is much more to deciding who will be throwing the majority of the passes on your team than just having a live arm.

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Evaluating Receiving Skills You can run just about any drill to see if a player can catch. The only requirement I have is that he catches with his hands. I need to know that when he catches the ball in stride he will be able to keep going. I will not consider a player who catches the ball with his body.

Evaluating Running Skills Running skills are evaluated during just about every drill we run. You will know who can run and how fast they are from the above drills. Depending on the positions you are looking at, a different kind of Impact Speed must be taken into consideration. If you are evaluating ball carrier’s running skills, look no further than West Point. You will find the players who have the natural ability to cut back and follow their blockers. It is important that the ball carrier learn how to run to the hole, follow their lead blockers and break away further downfield. Unless you have that God given greased lightning speed, any of your players trying to cut each play to the outside will be disastrous for the team.

Evaluating Kicking Skills The only way I have found to evaluate a kicker is to let them kick. There is usually only one, maybe two players, which even have the leg strength to kick. I believe you need to let your potential punters, punt so you can see how they do. If you are looking for a PAT or field goal kicker, let them kick PAT’s for you. I would make them kick with a snap and a holder. Do not underestimate the importance of having a kicker. Whether it is better field position on a kick off or punt, or a 2-point conversion from a kicked PAT, many times the kicker is the difference between a win and a loss.

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Chapter 2 - Parent & Player Pre Evaluations It is sad but true; I quit coaching for about five years because I could no longer stand the parents. Unfortunately, 90% of the parents are great, but the 10% that are bad, can make it unbearable. There are some legitimate parent complaints, but over my career they are far and few between. Most parents do not give a damn about the team, and only care about their kid. So many of these parents live vicariously through their kids, it makes me sick to my stomach. Here are a few pointers I have picked up over the years that can help you. I always suggest you keep your administration appraised of any parent problem developments and do not play ostrich by sticking your head in the sand if a parent is acting up.

Zero Tolerance Policy I believe in adopting a zero tolerance policy for bad behavior for the youth football team. I am writing in the parent section of the book so let me explain what I mean by zero tolerance. If you have done what I suggest, and set the ground rules early, and again at the parent meeting, then I do not believe in second chances. There are not a lot of rules and most of them are just common courtesy. There is no tolerance for any parent to question or complain to you in public. Coaching youth football is a voluntary position and everyone, including the parents, should respect you. If a parent has a question, make sure, you have a way and a time for them to approach you. In a private manner, it is fine to ask any questions they may have, but not in front of an audience. Please check with your youth football administration regarding your zero tolerance policy and have their approval before the season starts. Your youth football administration will applaud your efforts to keep things under control. _____________________________________________________________________ 39 Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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The penalties I have used for noncompliant parents have ranged from suspending them from games, suspending them from our youth football practices or kicking them out of the league.

Set the Ground Rules at the Youth Football Parent Meeting. I believe you need to communicate in every way possible with the parents, but under your terms. I will continue to preach this at the beginning of the youth football year, have your parent meeting. At this meeting, you must explain exactly what you will and will not tolerate. Most of the parents are great or neutral, but you need to have some rules for the few jerks you will get. I always cover these key points • When they can ask questions • When they can’t talk to you • Sideline behavior in games and practice • Do not question the Coaches in public I let them know I am there to answer all questions, but there is a time and a place. While coaching youth football, I do not want parents interrupting games or practices. I make sure I make myself available before practice starts. I get on the field about 45 minutes before practice starts, so that gives them about 30 minutes. The parents can let me know what practices they will miss, or any other questions they may have. I do ask that the 10 minutes before practice starts, I get a chance to talk to my coaches. I am available after coaching youth football practice, when I am taking the field down and loading up the van.

Acceptable Behavior I then like to go over acceptable behavior on the sidelines. It is great to cheer as loud as you want. Do not question the officials, game play or the coaches, especially DURING THE FOOTBALL GAME, under any circumstances. The game and practice time is for the kids and you do not need a jerk taking time away from them. The same goes for questioning a coach’s decision. I do not care if it is a play called, playing time, or the particular defense used. Unless the parent was involved during the entire week setting up the game plan, they have no idea of your objectives at that time during the youth football game. Most parents will not question the game plan to your face, but on occasion, you will get a jerk that pipes up. Please read the “Zero Tolerance” section to see how I handle this situation. _____________________________________________________________________ 40 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Most complaints are about playing time, or what position the player is playing on your youth football team. I make it clear both of these topics are off the table. I will not start justifying to the parents who is playing where and the amount of playing time each player gets. Your youth football administration will set the playing time rules, just make sure to follow them. If someone questions you, refer him or her to the board. When a parent questions why their kid plays a certain position I explain to them I have many years of experience and at the youth level it is good for the kids to play many different positions. If they do not stop and keep pushing the issue I simply state, “Listen, you blame me and I blame genetics. Your kid’s DNA is just not good enough.” This ends the conversation 100% of the time. I know it sounds like coaching youth football is a challenge and it is. Over the course of a season, you will run into a variety of situations and I am trying to give you an example of all and the way I handle them.

Expectations Do not be shy about letting the team, both players and parents know, what your expectations are. I believe in communication so let them know what will happen if the miss practices or arrive late. Tell them what the consequences will be if they do not follow the rules. If there is a candy sale, or raffle sale, let them know what is expected. If you are allowing refreshments, need help with the chains, or videotaping let them know right up front.

Set Playing Time Criteria Up Front This subject is always a tricky one unless the rules are set in stone by your youth football league. Many leagues have the playing time requirements all set. Please make sure that when coaching youth football that you give the parents the full details regarding playing time. Most “B” level teams have an equal playing time rule and I cannot emphasize enough that you should follow these rules exactly. There is no reason why you would need to break this rule, unless you penalize players for missing practices or misbehaving. You will need to check with your youth football administration regarding playing time. _____________________________________________________________________ 41 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Things will be a little bit trickier if you are a traveling youth football coach. Many times, there are no playing time restrictions. You want to remember you are coaching kids and you want them to all have a fun experience. We all want to win, but remember most young kids will by finished with sports by the time they are 13. I believe you should try to make their year as much fun as possible. It is hard enough, especially at the younger levels, since everyone wants to be a running back and you need lineman.

Pre Screen the Parents and the Players This is as simple as it sounds. Keep your ears and eyes open. Most of us are involved in the community with other sports or recreational activities, and the problem parents and kids are usually well known. Do not make a decision or condemn a parent or a child based on one person’s opinion. I would recommend asking around for confirmation. Ask people from around the school because usually these jerks are a pain everywhere including the school. I always ask the previous coach of all the potential players about how the parents and players were. I always feel it is better to be safe than sorry and it is worth my time before the team is cut to know as much as I can about every player and parent.

Communication with the Parents and the Players Most of the problems in youth sports result in a lack of communication. Yes, there will be the jerks out there that no matter what you do they will complain and try to make your life a living hell. My advice is to ignore them, unless they are affecting other players or other parents. If the problem is severe, approach the administration and see what actions they will take. Our league kicks the problem people out. It is important to keep a great line of communication open with the parents and the players. I have never received a complaint for too much communication. I believe you also need to have an open door policy, but it must be private. Do not allow parents or players make a scene in front of others. Do not let these issues take valuable practice time away from the other players. Most parent problems are an emotional response from some “wrong” they feel was done to their child. Most of the time an explanation, and the occasional apology, from the coach will solve these issues. _____________________________________________________________________ 42 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Chapter 3 – The Youth Football Tryouts It is time! The summer is 2/3 over and it is finally time to get the players together for a full evaluation. Youth football tryouts can be a stressful time, unless you are properly prepared. The goal of this book is to make sure you are prepared. I always go into the tryouts with an open mind and no pre determinations. It is important to remember this is a new year and all players are to be given an equal chance. Do not automatically think just because a player was a lineman last year he is an automatic lineman this year. Some of my best running backs were lineman before and after I coached them. I saw something in those players that the other coaches did not. I will start buy telling you what you need to do to get ready for the tryouts.

Have enough help for the Youth Football Tryouts Please make sure that your tryouts are organized and run smooth. There is nothing worse than an unorganized time wasting tryout for parents to see. The parents will be standing on the side watching your every move. This will be the first impression for many of the parents, so get organized. It is imperative that you have enough help for every single drill station and event that you plan to use during the tryouts. Make sure you have the entire tryout planned on a schedule and follow that schedule to a tee. You can make adjustments for the next day but stick to the schedule you have set for the day. I write out the entire plan and give copies to all of the parents and coaches that will be helping. Please make sure they all understand what you are looking for during the evaluations. I use a stopwatch for each station of the tryouts and give many water breaks in the hot July heat. Make sure each station or drill has the purpose that will help you evaluate the players. You need to make sure that each child gets a fair chance. This will avoid any potential _____________________________________________________________________ 43 Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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parent problems complaining the tryouts were not fair. I run almost exclusive head on head drills or competitions with the winners and losers each moving to different groups. I like to use the competition in drills versus using a stopwatch for many different reasons including

• • • •

Any “running time” will not be exact since the field may not be set up the same from day to day. In addition, you have the issue of start and stopping the watch at the same time for each kid. When John races Joe and beats him John is faster. Competing Head to Head brings out the best in some kids. Others will fold under the pressure. You want to know this before the first game. The kids will love it. The parents will realize that their kid winds up in the group they belong.

I will give the complete list and details of all the things I run the first week of evaluations later in the book. I will also give a sample tryout schedule I have used in the past. I will leave on one note and that is these are evaluations, so try to keep the coaching to a minimum. Each player should be evaluated on his skill level. Make sure all are players are instructed on the proper techniques so there is less risk of injury. Encourage all players to ask as many questions as they need to. The youth football evaluations are a very exciting time since you are getting your first look at this year’s talent.

The First Three Days of Tryouts Most programs have the first three days of the youth football tryouts with no equipment or contact allowed. It is very important that you follow these rules to make sure all players are eligible. Attendance is important so all players that arrive late, due to vacations and travel baseball, get the required three days as required by your league. Make sure they get the correct number of no contact days that your youth football league administration requires. Unorganized coaches get completely frustrated during these three days, where I like to take advantage of the situation. Many things you can do are productive during these three days. The main goal is to have all non-contact evaluations complete when contact day arrives. I do not want to waste any time, once contact days arrive. Football is a collision sport, and you need to have the players assigned to the correct skill levels, during the contact drills. You want to make sure all players get a fair chance and not in over their heads. You will only get two days to evaluate the contact so I cannot emphasize enough how you need to have all other aspects of the tryouts done so you can get a good look at the players in full contact. _____________________________________________________________________ 44 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Please read the chapters on the Evaluating Personal for a detailed list of all the drills and details of what I run. I do look for a strong arm, catching abilities, power and most of all speed. This is also a great time to try each kid as a kicker, punter and long snapper. These are key positions and many times, we have chosen a player for our top-level teams based on his kicking or snapping abilities.

Youth Football Equipment Check On your third day of no contact, a complete equipment check on each youth football player is mandatory. This is extremely important for the first year tackle players, whether they are five or 14 years old. You must make sure that all players are properly equipped before the first day of contact. Please do not take this day lightly. When the players are first year tackle players, I make sure the parents are involved since they will be the ones dressing the players. I have seen far too many youth football coaches take for granted that their players or the player's parents know how fit the equipment. This is a big assumption and usually a big mistake since most players and parents have no clue how to put the equipment on correct. It is very important to take the time to check every player and make sure they are properly equipped. I strongly suggest you check with your youth football league equipment manager for the proper setting of helmet, shoulder pads, girdle and any other equipment. Your league will be able to instruct you on all the equipment that the players are required to play with.

Dividing the Players during the Youth Football Tryouts If you are in charge of cutting a squad of youth football player's, I have found this simple method to work best. I suggest you split the group into three groups based on age, experience and expected new players. The first group is your experience youth football players, which includes players that have played at this level, returning players and the upcoming stars from the younger level. The second group consists of first year youth football players, and if this is a tackle team, it will include the flag players who are all older. _____________________________________________________________________ 45 Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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The third group is the younger youth football players, players with no experience and first-time football players. It is very important to give each youth football player a fair chance at making the cut squad. Therefore, I have these three groups compete based on speed, agility and eventually West Point drills. I will move the players that excel in each group up to the next group and the players that perform poorly down to the lower group. I will run each test for about 20 minutes. Please read the entire section on Evaluating Players and Tryouts for a detailed description on all drills and evaluations that I use. You will be amazed that in a matter of a few days how each of these groups will find their way to balance out. I usually have 65 to 80 youth football players trying out for each level, and make teams comprising of approximately 15 kids per team. The top 15 performers will be our “A” team with the balance of players split equally to form the “B” teams. All youth football players get a rating of one, two or three. We divide these players evenly on the remaining “B” teams. The goal of our youth football league is to make the three remaining teams as equal as possible. Therefore, we will split up the three-rated one, two and three players equally by talent age and potential positions.

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Chapter 4 - Organizing Tryouts Breaking the Large Group into Smaller Groups Youth football evaluations or tryouts by an organization have the goal to split the players into different teams. We divide players on the different teams based on • • • • •

Age of the players Talent Level Experience Geographical reasons Any combination of the above

I believe that the tryouts need to be fair and unbiased. Each player deserves a new look each year. In youth football, years of experience can change player’s ability greatly. I think it is best to have different coaches look at the players each year. A new set of eyes may find something in a player that another coach misses, and this way any old biases will not matter. The youth football organization you are coaching for may have a complete agenda for you to follow during the evaluations, but if they do not, then please read how I do it. I believe that the youth football evaluations need as little individual coaching as possible. The players all need equal treatment, so the evaluation is fair. The only exception I make is for the first year tackle players. These players are in separate groups until they prove they are ready to move to a more experienced group of players. Please understand what I am saying, each drill needs to be fully explained and demonstrated in detail before the players are to try it. Once it has been explained to the group then the coaches become evaluators and need to see which players excel in the drills as well as who listened to the instructions. I make most of the youth football evaluations competitive among the players. I first take the entire group and break them into smaller groups for each evaluation. Please look at figure 4-1 to see how many smaller groups I will use based on the entire number of players. _____________________________________________________________________ 47 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Number of Total Players 1-40 41-80 81-120 120+

Number of Players/Group 10 12 15 15

Number of smaller groups 1-4 3-6 5-8 9 or more

Figure 4-1

I believe the more groups you have, the better the evaluation will be. The players will get more opportunities, hence a better evaluation. Look at figure 4-2 and I will explain below the process I use. I use a simple example of 40 players that will be broke down into four small groups of 10 each.

Group D Group C Group B Group A Figure 4-2

I have a youth football coach in charge of each group. I will use as an example the test I use for speed. I do not believe in using the 40-yard dash like most coaches. There are too many variances including the actual measurement, place of race and field conditions. I prefer to have two players race against each other. I know they are both trying and there is a competitive reason to try to win. This will also show the players that “rise to the occasion” or “fold under pressure”. I break the players up differently depending on the test. For the speed test, I will break the players in groups by alphabetical order. Since this is youth football, I will test the speed for a 20-yard distance. I will have the coach in charge of each group stand 20 yard down field and have two players at a time race to the coach. I have found it easier for the coach to hold both arms above his head, and when he drops them, the race begins. After the coach drops his arms, he then holds them straight out, instructing the players to touch the hand on the side they are running. This makes it easier for the youth football coach to declare the winner. The movement of player could not be easier. If you win, you go to the group on the RIGHT. If you lose, you move to the group on the LEFT. If you win while in Group A, you stay. If you lose while in Group D, you stay. The coaches keep the races going, one after another, until the head coach blows the whistle signaling the end of the drill. I like to run each youth football drill for a minimum of 20 minutes. Usually after about ten minutes, you start to get a great idea of which group the players will wind up in. All your speed is in groups A & B. I will run this a few times throughout the evaluations to make sure all the players get a good solid look. When I blow the whistle to end the drill I have all the players in that group go to the coach of that group where the coach marks his name with a letter. I give each coach a clipboard and roster list with the blank template. Look at figure 4-3 for an example. _____________________________________________________________________ 48 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Player Name Adams, Joe Burns, Mike Oddo, Jim Wells, Matt

Speed Test

Sumo Test

Receiving

Figure 4-3

The coach just marks the group letter he was running next to the player’s name. This is a fast, effective and fair way to judge your youth football players.

3 Days No Contact If your youth football league is like most others, there will be a waiting period for each player before he can participate in full contact. It is very important that you obey this rule. Do not let any player participate in any contact until he has practiced the required amount of “no contact” practices. The club's insurance, usually only covers claims based on the rules of your organization. If you break this rule and a player gets hurt, there may possibly be a liability claim against you and the league that insurance will not cover. Please make sure you have the youth football administration explain all the details to you. The question is during the 3 days of no contact, what I should do. I always make sure I fill these days with as many non-contact youth football drills and tests that I can. A few of the youth football skills I look for without contact include • • • • • • • •

Speed races Power contests Agility skills Passing skills Receiving skills Kicking skills Holder skills Snapping skills

For complete details and all the specifics I run please, refer to the book. I want to make sure I have all these skills tested for since I know when contact starts I need to check toughness, tackling and blocking. I will only get two days of contact before I need to cut the squad so there is not much time for any non-contact drills. _____________________________________________________________________ 49 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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1st Contact Day for New and Flag Players As a youth football coach, one of your many responsibilities is the safety all of the players. It still amazes me how many parents still make their kids play football when the kid clearly has no desire to play. There is soccer, basketball and many other noncollision sports you can place your child. Regardless of the reason why it is your responsibility to make sure all new players and flag players joining tackle football for the first time get the proper additional instruction, attention and care they need. When I split the team into groups during the tryouts, I make sure that on contact days the players are in the appropriate groups by experience. The new and flag players start out together. It is easy to move the player who excels at contact up a level. If he continues to succeed there, then move him to the stud group. Make sure that any players struggling, or afraid of contact, are not forced to participate in any drill. You do not want any player participating in any drills where he may get hurt. I do not now, never have and never will believe in the “military” approach to coaching youth football. Nothing turns my stomach quicker than watching some goon scream and yell, antagonizing players into “hitting harder”. There should be a law against these brainless idiots. If you are coaching a young youth football team there will probably be many parents around the practice. If the player feels the need to go by his parents, let him go. These are tryouts and you want to make sure the assignment of players groups are set on the player's skill level.

Youth Football Tryouts and Evaluations Cut Down Day One of the most difficult days during the youth football tryouts is the cut down days. I always make sure to keep this day very positive and let the players know as a group that we are splitting them up to make sure they are competing at the appropriate skill level. At the young ages, it is vital that no kid is starting out his tackle career overmatched. It is hard for seven, eight and nine year olds to understand the entire cut concept and sometimes-even worse for the parents. I will take all the time a parent needs to explain why a certain player is placed at the level he is. During the youth football tryout and evaluations, I keep an updated power ranking of each player, which includes every skill and drill we have tested. All of the drills are performance related, with no subjectivity allowed. This makes it very easy when you need to have a back up. I have found by using this system it also makes the cutting job clear cut. _____________________________________________________________________ 50 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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I start the youth football cut day by addressing and thanking all the parents while the players are warming up. I let the parents know that we will be telling the kids where they will be playing. After we do one last group warm up together I pull all of the players together in a group, thank them for their hard work and let them know we are ready to split them up. I like to split the group up by announcing the youth football player’s full name and calling each player out, one at a time and ask them to go in a group by their new coach. In the past I have cut just the select team and allow for the rest of the players to have another day or so practicing alone, allowing the coaches a chance for even further review. I will also take MORE kids on the first cut, making sure I get a good look at any question marks. I let all the players know in advance that I am taking a few extra players that will go to the “B” teams. This is a nice surprise for those teams. I make sure the players sent down evenly split so no one team is stacked on the “B” level. We want to make these teams as even as possible. Our “B” youth football teams will be competing against other teams of similar skill levels.

Keep Tryouts Moving and Organized Organize tryouts just like your practices. They must be organized, well run and on time. I account for every minute of the tryout. In the league I am currently coaching, I am in charge of the seven, eight and nine year olds. This group consists of mostly first and second year tackle players. In the past I was in charge of 13 and 14 year old travel teams. Both of these tryouts have difference, but the similarities are that both were efficient. The preferred tools of the trade I use are an organized practice plan, whistle, clipboard, roster, pen and a stopwatch with a clock. I keep the whistle and stopwatch around my neck and everything else on the clipboard. I am organized and ready to go. Our league gives you the first five full days, two hours apiece to evaluate the talent. If you can get the squad cut, that leaves two weeks to get ready for your first game. This is not a lot of time so you must be prepared. You will have to deal with the following situations the first week • • • • • • •

Hot weather Travel Baseball Family Vacations 3 days with no contact 2 days of contact Keeping track of players required time Organizing the data

I have written earlier that it is important to have help with the tryouts. You want to make sure there are no mistakes when you cut the squad. I personally make sure that I keep _____________________________________________________________________ 51 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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any question marks with me for another day or so. I also get a look at any new players that show up. The biggest difference between running a practice and the tryouts are the time breakdowns. During a practice, I usually limit each drill to ten minutes maximum, while I will limit stations to about 20 minutes. When I am running tryouts 20 minutes is the minimum time I will allow for each of the skill evaluations. I will usually make it 30 minutes but it depends on the amount of players and helpers that I have. The weather is always hot so we break for water every 20 minutes, or sooner as needed. You need to allow time to run all the evaluations, log all the data, explain all drills and allow for water breaks. You will be on display for all the parents so it is important to be organized, and not waste any time. You also want to make sure all players are treated fairly, and get an equal shot in each drill. You should explain to the parents that the dividing of the teams is based on their son’s ability.

The Power Ranking Tryout Grading System I believe that you need to keep the youth football tryouts simple yet productive. When evaluating players you want to make sure all players get a fair look. If you are in charge of evaluating the players for a draft, I have used a very simple and effective system. If there will be an “A” team, and the rest of the players will be drafted or split up evenly, I suggest the following method. I use the power ranking method for ALL of the players. I have developed a system that uses the skills and drills, and sets a value for each group, that each player finishes. I use a weighted system I have perfected over the years and it includes many factors including • • • • • • •

Age Weight Experience Speed Agility Power Tackling

I use a different weighted factor for each the different categories. Everything we do during the tryouts gets a number assigned to it. I enter that number in the power ranking spreadsheet. When the tryouts are completed, you have an unbiased power ranking number for each of the players. I run each of the main drills many times to make sure all players receive the correct scores. _____________________________________________________________________ 52 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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When it is time to split the teams, I have a completed spreadsheet with an accurate power ranking number based on the weeklong evaluations. If you do not get a chance to draft a team or your league uses a different drafting method I would use the same spreadsheet to evaluate my players and place them in the proper positions. Over the years, I have tweaked the system, and I feel it is the best way to give everyone an accurate tryout. If you are interested in the complete Power Ranking Spreadsheet with all the skills and drills I use detailed, please refer to my Youth Football Tryouts and Evaluations book.

Keeping Track of the Players during the Youth Football Tryouts There are many different ways to keep track of the players during the youth football tryouts. I have seen many coaches use a variety of methods before equipment including • • •

Wearing tee shirts with name on the back Marking a number on their hands Pinning a paper number on their shirt

Once the youth football team is practicing in full equipment the standard method of identifying the players is by taping their names to the helmets. The tape remains on the helmet until the first game or all the coaches know the player’s names. I have found it useful to put the names on both the front and the back of the helmets. I have a better way of keeping track of the players during the youth football tryouts. If you follow my tryouts plan, the players are broken into smaller groups. The players will continue to move to different groups as they compete against the other players. When the predetermined time for that drill has ended, I have each coach running that station mark down the players on his Tryout Evaluation Sheet. I find it easier to use a roster sheet with all players listed alphabetically. I keep a master sheet where I take the attendance of all the players trying out. I keep tack of how many total days they have been in attendance as well as the amount of no equipment days of practice. I use the individual Tryout Evaluation Sheets to update all the groups into my Master Power Rank Spreadsheet and each night I have an updated status on each player.

Evaluations versus Coaching I have written about this elsewhere but it bears repeating here. You need to clear it with your youth football administration of what the objective of the tryouts is. If the tryouts _____________________________________________________________________ 53 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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are to evaluate the players fairly and split them up by skill, then please understand this section. I want to make sure each player has a fair chance during the tryouts. You are trying to get a fair assessment of each player’s ability. To make sure this is what happens you need to keep the individual coaching to a minimum. The last thing you need is a parent screaming “foul” thinking some other player received special treatment during the tryouts. You need to run the tryouts giving complete instructions to the group, but I would keep the individual coaching to a minimum. I always make sure there are no questions after we explain the drill, but even then use your head and do not let any confused player get hurt.

Addressing the Parents It is important to keep a good line of communication open with the parents. This is especially important with the younger youth football players. I have never been accused or criticized for too much communication. You want to make a great first impression the first time you address the parents as a whole. I let my assistant coaches and tryout helpers start the youth football drills while I address the parents. I introduce myself and let them know that then can ask any questions. I do give them some guidelines on when I am available to answer their questions. I usually tell them I am available one hour before the practice starts or immediately after the practice. I ask that they please do not interrupt the practice unless it is an emergency. I have been in charge of the younger seven through nine year olds, first year youth football tackle players. I have coached the select “A” team, but I am in charge of making sure the evaluations are fair and accurate. I also make sure the dividing of players is even among the remaining teams. I explain to the parents, my goal is to make sure that each player is at the correct level, based on his individual talent and current skill level. I let them know the evaluations and tryouts will be fair, and since I do not have a child, there will be no favoritism. I give a brief summary of what we will be doing over the first week. I let them know it is youth football evaluation, so there will be minimal coaching. I let them know we will be explaining all directions in detail, but we are getting a fair evaluation on each player. As the head coach of a youth football team you need to make a good first impression and keep the line of communications open the entire year.

Keep Attendance during the Youth Football Try-outs _____________________________________________________________________ 54 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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You must keep attendance throughout the entire youth football evaluations. This will make sure all kids get a fair chance. In addition, most leagues have a minimum day rule. The first is the players must participate three days of a non-contact practice before they can put on their equipment and hit. The second minimum rule we have is a player must participate in 12 contact practices before he can play in the first game. Please check with your youth football administration for any special rules they may have. It is very important when coaching youth football that you are organized and do not put any player or your league in any jeopardy. Not only should you be concerned with not breaking any rules, but also with the safety for each player. I keep it very simple, during the youth football tryouts I make sure every player checks in with me before the practice starts. I explain the importance of making sure I mark them as present at the practice. If they come late I tell they it is their responsibility to let me know. I keep a master roster, which is a list of all the players alphabetically, by last name.

Proper Stance for Blocking and Proper Tackling Form It does not matter the age levels of the players on your youth football team, you must make sure each one of them can get in the proper stance and tackle with the proper form. The difference between the younger and older kids in that you will have many more players who need work when they are younger. Both tackling and blocking are not hard to teach. The players will pick it up quick, but will need a lot of reinforcement. As they get older, some players get lazy so it is important to keep reinforcing the proper techniques and form. Please read the section on the website showing the proper three-point stance. I believe it is the most detailed and accurate description on how to teach the proper three-point stance. The same goes for the tackling technique. You will learn exactly how we have taught and reinforced this over my 22 plus years of coaching youth football. You will not only keep your players safe, but also teach them the basic skills they will need the rest of their playing career.

Complete Equipment check of your Youth Football Team This is one of the most important things you need to make sure is done correctly and completely. It is your responsibility to make sure all of the players are properly equipped. All players regardless of their age or experience should have their equipment _____________________________________________________________________ 55 Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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checked by the coaches. I know that the younger players usually have at least one part of their equipment on wrong. The parents try their best, but you still need to recheck their work. Please make sure you know what you are doing when checking the equipment on your youth football players. You will do far more damage if you do not know what you are doing. Each youth football administration should have an equipment manger, and he is the person to start with. Ask him to go over a complete dressing of a player. Another good idea is to have a representative from one of the companies come out and give your youth football organization a demonstration. We have Riddell come to a meeting every year showing everyone in attendance, how to properly fit a helmet. We make it mandatory for all coaches in the program. Youth football is a great sport, and we need to make sure we take all safety measures. Properly checking the equipment is a vital step in this process

General Parent Announcement at the Beginning of the Tryouts I am going to recap a few main points since I feel that your first communication with the players and parents is vital. It is true that you will get only one chance to make a first impression, so do not blow it. You want to be firm, but fair and friendly. I give the same speech each year on the first day of youth football tryouts to all of the parents. I always let my assistant coaches run the skills and evaluations while I address the parents. It is very important to be parents friendly and keep the lines of communications open. You need to set the guidelines on what will and will not be acceptable behavior. If there are any fundraisers or responsibilities for each individual youth football player, this is a good time to give the parents a heads up. I think it is wise to set the boundaries on when is a good time for the parents to reach you with any questions they may have. I explain, in detail what we are going to be testing for the first week of youth football tryouts. I make them aware that we will be giving limited instruction to make sure the youth football tryouts are as fair as possible. I assure the parents we will not be putting their players in any danger, and if I am coaching a younger team, we will take our time on all drills, especially before we start any contact.

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Chapter 5 - Power Ranking Spreadsheet This spreadsheet alone is the reason many coaches buy this book. This simple way of evaluating the players keeps your tryouts organized and fair. Please read this entire chapter in full for a complete understanding on how I use it to maximum value. This is a fair way of getting a true ranking on each player with no subjective input. I will give detailed tables showing what I do at the different age levels. I will then show examples of the spreadsheet I use, and supply all the formulas you need to create your own spreadsheet using your favorite program. I developed the spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel. I will show all formulas and examples in Excel. The syntax and formulas are very basic so anyone with a basic understanding in Excel will have no problems. If you do not use a computer, or are not familiar with Excel, please seek help. Anyone with familiarity in Excel can teach this quickly, as it is basic stuff. This spreadsheet works for all youth football ages and levels. What I am accomplishing is a power ranking that will give you the coach a raw unbiased number you can use to help split or even out players. You will still need to address certain skills when making your final splits, but have no fear I will show you exactly what I do. Let us get to it!

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Skills and Drills Evaluated We will put on our spreadsheet this list items. I will explain each of them in detail, but I just wanted to list them here first. • • • • • • • •

Age Experience Weight Speed Sumo Power Run Drive Blocking Pass Blocking Open Field Tackling

This is the other Drills or Skills we will evaluate but not give a rating to on our spreadsheet. They are: • • • • • • • • •

Angle Tackling Passing Receiving Punting Kick Off Kick PAT Long Snap Direct Snap (if using the Single Wing) Oklahoma Drill

I will now go over each of these in detail.

Age of the Players Without a doubt, this is the one of most important factors and goes to the top of the sheet. Well, God given greased lighting speed is most important, but I will get to that in a little bit. The way most leagues breakdown the players are by age and weight. Most of the age groups can have a three-year difference. Think about it; you can have a seven-year old versus a ten-year old. Eleven year olds versus 14-year olds are an extreme disadvantage. Expose this extreme advantage at every opportunity. If your league has an older lighter rule, you should take full advantage. _____________________________________________________________________ 58 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Below is the chart and point value I use regarding age. Points 16 12 8 4 2 0

Age Criteria Older Lighter Players Main Oldest Age Main Youngest Age Youngest Exception Younger Heaviest NA

Older Lighter Players – This rule is in many leagues and can give you a three to four year age advantage against your opponents. The rule usually states that an extremely light player can play with a younger age group. A lighter player usually means faster players.

Main Oldest Age – This is the oldest age of the majority players on the team. For example for an eight and nine year old tackle team, nine-year olds will get a higher grade. Main Youngest Age – This is the youngest age of the majority of the players. Using the example above this would be the eight year olds. If you are splitting the team into a “select” or “A” team, you will want to have as many older players as possible. Youngest Exception – This is for the youngest age group of players trying out for your age level that is not heavy. Many parents want their kids to play “up” so I have created a special rating for them. Many of the kids will be great in the future, but for now the get and deserve a lower rating. Using the above example a seven year old trying out for the above team, would be rated here. Younger Heaviest – This is the most unfortunate situation with the age and weight breakdown of teams. There are some very heavy young players. These players are above all striper’s weights, which require them to play with much older players. I have seen eight-year olds forced to play with 12 year olds due to their weight. This is flat out wrong. I believe the safety for these players is most important. Please talk to the parents and see if there is a flag team, they can play on. If they must play tackle make sure the coach is aware of the age difference so he can protect the player as much as possible.

Experience of the Players This is important, especially at the younger levels. I always will prefer to have players that have some tackle experience, over a first year tackle player. My personal experience is that the biggest improvement for players comes from the second year tackle player between the first and second year. The first year in tackle players are just trying to figure _____________________________________________________________________ 59 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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out what they are doing. There can be a fear factor of contact and I believe it takes a full year of hits for a player to feel comfortable. As a player gets more years of experience, his techniques improve making him an even more valuable player. Below is the chart and point value I use. Points 10 8 6 4 2 0

Experience Criteria Returning Player Max Tackle Years Experience One Year of Tackle Experience Multiple Years Flag Football One Year of Flag Football Never Played Football

Returning Player – This is simply a returning player to your select or “A” team at the same level. This is a rare one. Max Tackle Years Experience – This is simply a player who has been involved in tackle football for as many years as allowed to participate in tackle football. One Year of Tackle Experience – This is Self-explanatory. The player has played only one year of tackle football. Please note that if you are doing a very young team, one year of football may be the maximum any one could have played. If that is the case, use the HIGHEST grade possible. A second year tackle player would get 8 points if it was only possible to play tackle for one prior year and he did not play on the select team. Any returning player to a select team gets s10 points. Multiple Years Flag Football – This is for the players whom have played Flag football many years, and this is the first year they will play tackle football. One Year of Flag Football – This is self-explanatory. Never Played Football - This is self-explanatory.

Weight of the Players I do not put as much “weight” on the weight of the players. If the player is on the extreme end by either being too heavy or too light I will make an adjustment. Heavy younger players are not what I want, but I love the older lighter players. The weight factor will come in to play when you have equal ability players and one is a bigger player. If I can have a team that all players’ right at the weight limit and all the players are skilled, I will have a definite advantage. _____________________________________________________________________ 60 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Below is the chart and point value I use. Points 5 4 3 2 1 0

Weight Criteria NA Non Striper Single Striper Double Striper All other weights

My reasoning for downgrading stripers and double stripers is that most of theses players are younger heavier players. There are limited positions stripers can play and if you have too many stripers, then playing time can be an issue.

Speed of the Players Here it is! The crème de le crème, the big Kahuna, the big cheese. I am talking about God given, greased lightning speed. When these players get in the open field, it is six points. You want to make sure that your “select” or “A” team is loaded with speed. Speed is the great un-equalizer. By that, I mean great speed can off set bad coaching; smaller players and make an average team a contender. This is the first of the competition drills I run during the tryouts. I like to have the players compete head to head with the winners moving to one group and the losers moving to a different group. I start by taking the total amount of players at the level I am in charge of evaluating, and breaking them into a bunch of smaller groups. I aim to keep the smaller groups to around ten to fifteen players per group. I will always have at least four groups. The tables and point values I give are good for four to five groups, which are approximately 50-75 players. If your group is much larger, add more groups and give the point values in the tables to two groups instead of one. For example, if I have 100 players to evaluate I would use 10 groups of ten players each. I would assign the top two groups the highest point value, groups three and four the second point value and so on. Once you have the smaller groups you spread them out in a straight line and run each drill. As the players win or lose each competition, they will move from group to group. _____________________________________________________________________ 61 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Please see the figure below for a visual of what I set up. I have duplicated this drill from the speed evaluation portion of this book. The best test I have found to evaluate the speed of your players is to let them compete versus their teammates 20 yards sprint races. This is as easy as it sounds. Set up two cones at a twenty-yard distance. Run all groups at the same time and have the winners move to the group on the right and the losers move left to the other group. The set looks like this with only a three-group set

Group C

Group B

Group A

1 X X X

1 X X X

1 X X X

2

2

2

Have a coach stand 20 yards away where I have the label at for each Group. Set one cone there with a coach behind it. Set the second cone in between each player 1 and 2 in each group. Have the balance of the players stand in line behind player one. The coach should straddle the cone and extend each arm straight out explaining that on the “Go” command, each player is to run the race and the first one to touch his hand is the winner. Player 1 needs to touch the coach’s right hand while player 2 must touch his left hand. Each player must run straight in a line and will lose by forfeit if they interfere in the runner’s lane. You should run all three lines continuous and they do not have to be on the same count. To keep it simple if you are in Group C and lose you stay in Group C and go to the end of the line. If you win in Group C, you move over into Group B. If you are in Group B and lose, you go to Group C. If you win in Group B you move up to Group A. _____________________________________________________________________ 62 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Group A winners stay and the losers go to Group B. You can run this drill for about twenty minutes and you will have all the fast kids in A or B. Your fastest kids will continue to be showing up in Group A. There is no stopwatch, bad timers, poorly measured distances or changes in field conditions when you use this method. Too many coaches used the 40-yard dash as the barometer of testing speed. This is a joke at the youth football level. You cannot use a stopwatch to judge speed. Remember this is not High School let alone the Pros. This is youth football and we need to keep it real and fun for the kids. I use this same format for all of the competition drills I run during the tryouts. It does not matter what group any of the kids start in for the no equipment drills. When I go into the competitive drills with full equipment, I will start the players in groups based on their experience. The great part about this evaluation system is that very quick players wind up in the group they belong. Please refer to the sample tryout schedule in this book to know how often and which day I run each drill. You will have some players miss certain drills due to travel baseball or vacation so I will re-run some drills later in the week if time permits. If time does not permit then I will keep them with the “select” team for a few days to make sure they get a good, fair and honest look. There is no harm in keeping a handful of players for further evaluation, as long as you communicate with the players. Let the parents know that their kids may be assigned to another team. I like to run the speed drill for about 20 minutes then break for water, and run it again for another twenty minutes. I like to run this drill on the first day since it is easy and a good icebreaker for all of the players. Each coach or helper running a group has a Player Tryout Evaluation Form, clipboard and pen from me at the beginning of the day. After the second 20-minute session has completed, I blow the whistle and have each coach check off the names of the players in his group. Each coach has the Letter of the group the run, so group “A” will have only the players who finished in Group “A” checked off. The same follows for all the other groups. It is very important to make sure the players understand that they must make sure the coach checks their name off at the end of the drill. I always have the coaches’ do a quick head count to make sure if he ended the drill with 10 players, 10 names are checked off. At the end of the practice, I collect all the Player tryout Evaluation forms and enter the names into my spreadsheet. _____________________________________________________________________ 63 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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I assign each Group a point value based on the table below. Points 12 9 6 3 0 0

Speed Group Criteria Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F

As I explained earlier if you have a large groups of players break then up into 12 smaller groups and give 10 points to the players in group A & B, eight points to the players in group C & D and so on. I type in the actual point value in the column marked speed, next to the player’s last name. A quick check for accuracy in Excel is accomplished, by sorting the list by speed grade first and players’ last name second. I will explain how to do this later.

Sumo Power This is the second competitive drill I run without the equipment on. You need to make sure the players do not get over zealous during this one. This drill is just as it name implies. I have the two players face each other and start from a standing position. Each player reaches across and places both arms on his opponent’s shoulders. At the blow of the whistle, they each try to push the other one straight back. I look for a quick whistle, blown as soon as a player gains an advantage over his opponent. This drill is without equipment so make sure the whistles are fast. You blow the whistle as soon as one player is pushed backwards. Again, the winners move to the group on the right and the loser move to the group on the left. Just like the speed competition, you see very quickly, where each player belongs. I run this drill on day one ass well and usually after the speed testing. This is a good drill to run at the end of the tryout day since you will see who shows heart.

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I will run this drill for 15 minutes, then break for water and run it again for 15 minutes. Please make sure the players return to the group they left for on their water break. Once this competitive drill is over for the second time I again have the coaches’ log in who is in his group on the Player Tryout Evaluation Form. I always have the same coach running the same letter group for that entire day. I enter the data for the group in the Sumo Power column on the spreadsheet using the following table. Points 5 4 3 2 1 0

Sumo Power Group Criteria NA Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E

This sumo power skill is not as relevant as speed so we assign a lesser value for the top group.

Run Drive Blocking Now we start to find our football players! This drill is with full equipment. I run a basic man versus man straight head blocking scheme to test power, strength and drive blocking ability. I have two lines facing each other and have the first person in each line step up. Each players gets into a 3 point stance about one yard about and on the whistle try to drive block their opponent straight back I have a cone placed three yards behind each player and tell them their goal is to drive their opponent past the cone. Please see the figure on the following page.

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XXXXXXX Cone

Player 1 Coach Player 2 Cone

XXXXXX

Like the other competitive drills, the winners move to the right group and the losers move to the left groups. The players at the end of the drill will again make sure the coach running his group checks his name on the list. Please make sure that when you set up the initial groups for any of the full contact drills do so by experience. You need to make sure the players are in an even skill group to start. The cream will rise fast as well as the weaker players will fade. This is the first drill I run with full equipment, usually on the fourth day of tryouts. I will again use the 15 minutes, water break then 15 minutes again format. Below is the point chart for Run Drive Blocking. It is important so it gets high rankings.

Points 8 6 4 2 1 0

Run Drive Blocking Group Criteria Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F

Pass Blocking This drill is a favorite of the players. The players have fun and the competitive nature of each player will come out strong. This drill starts with the competing players lying on their backs helmet to helmet. A cone with a ball placed on top is five yards behind the “blocker” or player 1. On the whistle, both players spin around getting up to their feet as _____________________________________________________________________ 66 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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quickly as possible. The blocker (player 1) has to run “interference” or keep player 2 from getting to the cone and knocking the ball over within 4 seconds. Please see the picture below. Once again, I would use the groups that the players finished in from the Run Drive Blocking groups as a starting point.

Ball on Cone Coach XXXXXX Player 1 Player 2 XXXXXX

Please remember that the player start out lying on their backs facing the sky with arms straight at their sides and legs flat. The two helmets should be touching each other before the drill starts. The points chart for Pass Blocking is below. Points 8 6 4 2 1 0

Pass Blocking Group Criteria Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F

Open Field Tackling This is the last of the competitive drills that I run during tryout week. I believe football is blocking and tackling. I need to have players that can tackle, especially in the open field. This drill will show me who can do this best. _____________________________________________________________________ 67 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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I would again have the players remain in groups they were in from the last contact drill, either the Run Drive Block or Pass Block Drill. What I want to see during this drill is proper form, wrapping up and making the tackling without dropping your head or to your knees. I am not looking for thunder crashing tackles! This is the most basic and simple of all the drills. I make a “lane” of cones (or use the pads or sidelines) three yards apart. Each player stands only five yards apart facing each other. Player 1 carries the ball straight at player 2 when the whistle blows trying to get past him. The players need to go full speed, but I am not looking for a collision. If the “pops” are too hard, make the players facing each other stand even closer than the five yards apart. Please review the diagram below. Please reinforce to the players that we are encouraging contact. Make sure the ball carrier does not stop or run out of bounds trying to avoid contact. Make sure both players stay in the lane Player 1

Coach

Player 2

Like the other competitive drills, the winners move to the right group and the losers move to the left groups. The players at the end of the drill will again make sure the coach running his group checks his name on the list.

The points chart for Open field Tackling is shown below. Points 16 12 8 4 0 0

Pass Blocking Group Criteria Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F

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Skills Tested for but not rated on Spreadsheet The following skills need to evaluation, during the week of tryouts. I do not include any of these skills in the power ranking. I use a simple yes or no if the player can complete the task. You should evaluate the first seven skills during the first three days, when no contact or full equipment is on. I will explain exactly how I run each test in the paragraphs below. I use the same Player Tryout Evaluation Form and have each coach put a “y” for yes or an “n” for no in the column next to the player’s last name. I continue to use the same format of smaller groups evaluated by the assistant coaches. These groups can be alphabetical or in any order, you prefer. Please remember you are evaluating the players so try to keep the instructions to a minimum. There will be plenty of time for coaching after dividing the teams. The goal of the evaluations is to keep it as fair as possible.

Passing This is a very easy skill to test. I have watched some of the most absurd tests, run by coaches, to see who can throw the football. I have the coach stand 10 yards away for the players. Each player steps up one at a time and the coach throws him three balls and instructs the player to fire the ball back at him. The coach gives him a target at chest level and plays catch. After the three throws, coach gets the player’s last name and gives him a “y” or “n”. This is not rocket science, he can throw or he cannot. I always have the coaches ask their group if anyone has played quarterback in the past. I also ask if anyone is a pitcher on the baseball team. Start with these kids and you will have a gauge.

Receiving This is the just about the same as the Passing evaluation. I have the coach stand 10 yards away for the players. Each player steps up one at a time and the coach throws him three balls and instructs the player to catch the ball. The coach looks for a player that catches with his hands, not his body. After the three catches, coach gets the player’s last name and gives him a “y” or “n”. Again it is straight forward, either the player can catch or he cannot. _____________________________________________________________________ 69 Copyright © 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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Punting I continue to break the kids up into smaller groups. Each coach will give each player two attempts to punt the ball. I let the rest of the players spread out downfield to field the punt and return it to the punter. I am looking for a strong leg. I ask if any player has any previous experience.

Kick Off Keeping the players in the same small groups, I will then test for Kick off Ability. I use the same format as Punting and give each kid a chance. The only players who get a second chance are the players who graded as a yes for punting. I do make sure everyone gets at least one attempt.

Kicking the Extra Point It is important to have a place kicker. It is a priority at every level. Experience has taught me that the first year tackle teams rarely have a kicker since the player’s legs are just not strong enough. It is usually a no rush kick, meaning the defense just stands there. I have had luck only about half the time finding a consistent kicker at the nine-year old and younger age groups. I do not waste a lot of time evaluating all the players for this job. I do not even test for this with the first year tackle teams. When the first year tackle teams are divided, I then look at these players and see if I have a kicker. For the older kids I do check for an extra point kicker during the tryouts but I only let the kids marked as yes for punting and kick offs get a try. Each of these players gets three kicks. All the other players stand behind the goal post and retrieve balls. If by any chance you have more than one player who can consistently make the extra point, I keep backing it up to see whom has the longer distance. I again mark this on the sheet.

Long Snapper I use the smaller groups and make this evaluation similar to the passing evaluation. I have the coach stand 10 yards away for the players. Each player steps up one at a time and long snaps between his legs to the coach. Each player gets two attempts. The coach gives him a target at chest level. _____________________________________________________________________ 70 Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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After the snaps, coach gets the player’s last name and gives him a “y” or “n”. I always have the coaches ask their group if anyone has long snapped in the past. Start with these kids and you will have a gauge.

Direct Snap With the rebirth of the Single Wing in youth football and now the ‘Wildcat” formation in the NFL the direct snap is a skill worth testing for. All teams will use this formation or a shotgun. This is a completely different snap than the long snap. The long snap for the punter, needs to be chest high about 10 yards back. The direct snap will be as close as two yards away and as far as only five yards. I always use separate players for each of these snaps since they are so different. The direct snap is short and needs to be low between the player’s knees and ankles. The long snap needs to be chest high, and travel at least 10 yards. I use the smaller groups and make this evaluation similar to the Long Snapper evaluation. I have the coach stand two, then four yards away for the players. Each player steps up one at a time and direct snaps between his legs to the coach. Each player gets two attempts. One attempt will come from two yards and one from four yards. After the snaps, coach gets the player’s last name and gives him a “y” or “n”. I always have the coaches ask their group if anyone has direct snapped in the past. Start with these kids and you will have a gauge. The last two drills I run are full contact drills and need to run the last few days or tryouts. Both do not get grades for the spreadsheet but the Oklahoma Drill will have a major impact on which players go on which team.

Angle Tackling Drill Revisited Please review the chapter regarding the Angle Tackling Drill to see how I run it. I always try to run some angle tackling drill to make sure I did not miss any studs from the previous player evaluation drills. I will take a close look at the “question mark” players to find a definitive answer. If I am running low on time, I will skip this drill all together. I will run this drill frequently during the season so I am not too concerned if I do not run it during evaluations.

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If I do get a chance to run the Angle Tackling Drill, please make sure to divide the players into groups, based on their skill level. I use the final group rating from the Run Drive Blocking, Pass Blocking and Open Field Tackling Drills.

Oklahoma or West Point Drill used as a final confirmation Please review the chapter regarding the Oklahoma or West Point Drill to see how I run it. This is the main contact drill I will run for a good portion of the last two days of tryouts. This drill is all about football. You will learn how the players react and perform in a miniature football setting. Oklahoma or West Point is all about contact and basic football fundamentals. Players who exceed at blocking and tackling will shine during this drill. This drill will separate the players rather quickly. I will take a close look at the “question mark” players to find a definitive answer. I will start with the groups broken down from the carry over from the open field tackling drill.

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Chapter 6 – Sample Spreadsheet In this chapter, I will show examples of the spreadsheet broken down into the sections listed below. • • • • •

Player Data Finishing Groups Skills Player Power Rankings Grand Total

I will show a copy of a section of the actual spreadsheet I use and explain all of the rows and formulas for you.

Player Data This is the first six columns of the spreadsheet. I enter all of this data, into the sheet, before the tryouts begin. Please look at the sheet and then follow along on my descriptions.

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I will give the letter for each column and then the description of formula as needed. • • • • •

A – First Name B – Last Name C – Birth Date D – Age E – Experience – here is where I put the players experience based on the chart in the power ranking section. In this example you can see I abbreviate Ret for returning player, Max for maximum tackle years played, Fl for flag only experience and 1st for a first year player F - Weight

All of these columns are self-explanatory.

Finishing Group Data This is simply taken from the Coaches Tryout Evaluations Form and entered into here for the following columns • • • • •

G – Speed Group H – Sumo Group I – Run Blocking Group J – Pass Blocking Group K – Open Field Tackling Group

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Skills Data This is the “y” or yes, indicating that the player can do the skill tested. The columns are self-explanatory. • • • • • • •

L – Passing M – Receiving N – Punting O – Kick Off P – Point After Touchdown Kick Q – Long Snap R – Direct Snap

On the next page, show an example of this part of the spreadsheet. Please note I keep it simple, by marking a “y” for yes they can complete the skill or I leave it blank

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Player Power Ranking Data This is the “meat” of the spreadsheet. Here is where you have all of the ratings based on the player’s performance. I enter this data each night after the practice as it gives me an updated status on each player on how they are doing so far. In Excel, you can sort the entire spreadsheet by any row or column. To make it easy to enter this data I will sort the spreadsheet by the column I want to update. For example if I am updating the Age Power Ranking Column, I will sort excel by the Age column under the Player Data first, then by highest to lowest number. Then using the chart in this book I put in values. This part is easy, since the spreadsheet is sorted by the player’s age, so all of the nine year olds get 12 points; all of the eight year olds get eight points, etc. If this explanation is beyond you please ask someone who has a basic understanding in Excel. This is very basic stuff. You will be able to learn this quickly with the proper instructor. The columns for the Power Rankings are • • • • • • • •

S – Age Power Ranking T – Experience Power Ranking U – Weight Power Ranking V – Speed Power Ranking W – Sumo Power Ranking X – Run Blocking Power Ranking Y – Pass Blocking Power Ranking Z – Open Field Tackling Power Ranking

A sample is on the next page.

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Please review the sections under the spreadsheet for all of the proper values to assign per group.

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Grand Total This is exactly what it says it is. It is the grand total of all the Power Rankings. The formula for this in Excel is • •

AA - Grand Total Formula for each row (substitute row number) is as follows =Sum( S [row number] : Z [row number])

The formula is adding the values from all of the Power Rankings columns for a certain row. Each row represents a player. This is what the Grand Total column looks like.

That is all there is to it. I will show a sample of the entire sheet on the next page. I had to compress it so it would fit.

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Chapter 7 - Tryout Week Schedule Sample It is important to have the tryouts organized and running efficient. I will give you a sample of the schedule I use. Please note there is room for changes, this is just what works for me. With an older group, I would do less Sumo Relays and start on the Skills evaluations of passing, receiving, etc. The key again is not to miss anything. If there are many players missing due to vacation or baseball I use the last day to run more of the power Ranking Evaluations. If it is only a few players and it is questionable if they are “A” team material, take them with you for a few days after the initial cut down day, just to make sure. The sample schedule is on the next page. I use Excel to make this schedule

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Chapter 8 – Coaches Player Evaluation Form Here is a sample of the evaluation form I give to each coach (along with a pen and clipboard) who is running a group. Each group has one coach in charge and at the end of the time, each player must check in with the coach of his group. I make two rows for each player. The top row is for the Group Finishing letter and the bottom row is for the Skill evaluation. The next page has a sample of this sheet. I use Excel to make up this sheet.

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Chapter 9 – Cut Down Day Cut down Day This is always the hardest day for the players. Please remember these are kids, and this can be a devastating day for them. As a coach, you can make it easier, depending on how you handle it. I always start this day with the parents and players together. I thank them as a group for all the time and support during this long week. I reiterate the criteria we use for splitting the teams the way we do. I make a general statement to all the players telling them we only have their best interest and safety in mind. I then read off the names of the players for the “A” team. I usually select the “select” or “A” team by day five and take a few more if they need further evaluations. I also get a look at any late arrivals (vacation and baseball). I let the players and parents know this is only the first round one and I will be sending a few of the players to other teams. The reason I do it this way is I feel the coaches of the other teams may want a day or so to make their own notes and it is much easier with the top kids out of the way. You start to see leadership out of some of these players when they are now the “big dog”. I usually only allow for a maximum of two days for this then we hold the draft to split the remaining players. Our league’s philosophy is to divide the remaining players up into equal teams. I always go to the local establishment with the head coaches of these teams and over see the draft. We all look at the spreadsheet and use that as a guide to help keep things even. At the next practice, we divide the players in the beginning to their teams and coaches.

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Parent Requests regarding Team Placement I wish I could tell you I ignore them, but that would not be true. I do ask all the parents that if there is a request due to carpool considerations, to please advise me during the first week of the evaluations. In my address to the parents, I let them know we will not make accommodations for the select or “A” team, but we will do our best with the rest of the teams. I know the kids want to play with their friends, but that is just not a realistic thing to accommodate, especially as the players get older. You have to remember your goal as the coach is to divide the teams as even as possible, and as long as you communicate this to the parents there should be minimal concerns.

Parent Requests regarding Position Placement No way, never ever, not in one trillion years will I let a parent dictate where his kid will play. I wish I could go on but there is nothing more to say about this. If a parent starts complaining about why there kid is not the running back or quarterback, refer to the zero tolerance section of this book.

Coaching Youth Football Making it Fun This could easily be the first and last chapter of this book. Please make it fun for all the players and coaches involved. The parents will fall in line if they see that their kids are having fun. Please remember most of these kids will not go on to play high school sports. It is very important that you give them a memorable experience while you are coaching them. We have seen too many coaches use the military approach, which we strongly disagree with for youth football. There is a big difference between running a strict disciplined team versus a military operation. Useless conditioning and exercises prove that the coach does not know what he is doing and covers it by running these ridiculous "boot camps." Please remember to keep it light, and have fun. The same thing goes for your coaches. You need to make sure it is fun for all. You will be dedicating many hours over the course of a season so you should make it fun for all. I am so close to my coaches that we socially get together with the wives on a regular basis.

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Chapter 10 - Closing Remarks I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. There is a lot of information, and this should be a reference book for years to come. I hope it will help you whether you are running tryouts with a large number of kids, or you just want to evaluate your own team. I do want to emphasize there are many different ways of running tryouts, but this is just my personal method. I keep most of it the same, but do make occasional changes and tweaks. For you experienced coaches I hope you can get a few new ideas. If you are a new coach feel free to follow the book as is. Good luck in your tryouts and evaluations.

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Index 100-yard dash.................................................................................................................... 16 20 yards sprints ................................................................................................................. 17 40-yard dash.................................................................................................... 16, 19, 48, 63 A team............................................................................................................................... 15 acceptable behavior..................................................................................................... 40, 56 administration ......................................................................... 39, 41, 42, 44, 49, 53, 55, 56 Age...................................................................................................... 47, 52, 58, 59, 75, 79 agility .............................................................................................................. 32, 33, 34, 46 angle.................................................................................................................................... 5 Angle Tackling................................................................................................ 28, 58, 71, 72 B team ............................................................................................................................... 15 bad behavior...................................................................................................................... 39 blocking............................................................................. 25, 26, 32, 34, 49, 55, 65, 67, 72 Bloody Alley..................................................................................................................... 23 coaches................................................................................................................................ 7 coaching .............................................................................................................................. 5 coaching youth football................................................................. 20, 22, 30, 40, 41, 50, 55 communication...................................................................................................... 41, 42, 54 Competitiveness................................................................................................................ 34 defensive lineman ................................................................................................. 21, 25, 31 direct snap ................................................................................................................... 19, 71 Direct Snap Backs............................................................................................................. 19 draft ................................................................................................................. 15, 52, 53, 87 equipment check ............................................................................................................... 45 evaluation........................................................ 16, 19, 43, 47, 48, 54, 62, 63, 69, 70, 71, 85 Excel ................................................................................................... 57, 64, 79, 81, 83, 85 expectations....................................................................................................................... 41 experience ........................................................................................................................... 5 Experience............................................................................... 47, 52, 58, 59, 60, 70, 75, 79 Finishing Groups............................................................................................................... 73 flag football........................................................................................................... 17, 34, 36 Football IQ ........................................................................................................................ 30 football toughness ............................................................................................................. 21 fumble ............................................................................................................................... 35 Fumble Drill................................................................................................................ 34, 35 Grand Total ................................................................................................................. 73, 81 head coach............................................................................................................. 13, 48, 54 _____________________________________________________________________ 91 Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. All rights reserved.


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High School .................................................................................................... 17, 19, 24, 63 Holder ............................................................................................................................... 49 Iron Man drill........................................................................................................ 21, 22, 24 Kicking Skills.................................................................................................................... 37 Line Coaches..................................................................................................................... 24 linebacker.............................................................................................................. 25, 30, 31 live arm ............................................................................................................................. 36 offensive lineman.............................................................................................................. 25 Oklahoma.................................................................................................. 25, 30, 58, 71, 72 Older Lighter................................................................................................................... 59 Open Field Tackling ........................................................................... 29, 58, 67, 72, 75, 79 Pad Blocking..................................................................................................................... 24 parent meeting............................................................................................................. 39, 40 parents ............................. 5, 7, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 50, 51, 52, 54, 56, 59, 63, 87, 88 Pass Blocking.................................................................... 20, 25, 58, 66, 67, 68, 72, 75, 79 Player Data.................................................................................................................. 73, 79 Player Power Rankings ..................................................................................................... 73 playing time rule ............................................................................................................... 41 playoffs ................................................................................................................. 17, 23, 54 Power I .............................................................................................................................. 36 power ranking number .................................................................................... 13, 15, 52, 53 proper stance ..................................................................................................................... 55 Quarterbacks ..................................................................................................................... 19 Quickness.......................................................................................................................... 19 Receivers........................................................................................................................... 19 Receiving Skills ................................................................................................................ 37 returning player........................................................................................................... 60, 75 Run and Shoot................................................................................................................... 36 Run Drive Blocking ...................................................................... 20, 24, 58, 65, 66, 67, 72 Running backs................................................................................................................... 19 Running Skills................................................................................................................... 37 schedule........................................................................................................... 43, 44, 63, 83 Single Wing ................................................................................................................ 36, 58 skills ................................................................ 13, 15, 31, 32, 37, 49, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 69 Skills ....................................................................................... 31, 32, 36, 58, 69, 73, 77, 83 snaps............................................................................................................................ 70, 71 speed ........................... 15, 16, 17, 19, 22, 29, 33, 37, 45, 46, 48, 58, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68 Speed..................................................................... 15, 16, 19, 37, 49, 52, 58, 61, 64, 75, 79 Spread ............................................................................................................................... 36 spreadsheet.............................. 15, 21, 25, 29, 52, 53, 57, 58, 63, 65, 71, 73, 77, 79, 80, 87 Sumo ............................................................................................. 49, 58, 64, 65, 75, 79, 83 tackling...................................................... 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 34, 49, 55, 67, 68, 71, 72 tailback........................................................................................................................ 25, 30 Three Line Evaluation....................................................................................................... 20 three-point stance .................................................................................................. 19, 24, 55 Toughness ......................................................................................................................... 21 _____________________________________________________________________ 92 Copyright Š 2009 Mega Media Depot. 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Tryout Evaluation Sheet ................................................................................................... 53 tryouts . 29, 32, 43, 44, 47, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, 61, 63, 66, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 83, 89 two-point stance ................................................................................................................ 19 Weight................................................................................................. 52, 58, 60, 61, 75, 79 West Point..................................................................................... 25, 30, 31, 32, 37, 46, 72 Wildcat.............................................................................................................................. 71 Wing T .............................................................................................................................. 36 youth football season. ....................................................................................................... 13 youth football tryouts.................................................................... 13, 44, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56 zero tolerance ........................................................................................................ 27, 39, 88

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SPECIAL BONUS Overtime Strategy I Use The secret to winning an overtime game in youth football is not to over think it! All the leagues I have coached in use the Kansas City Overtime rule where each team gets a chance to score from the 10-yard line as a first & goal. Make sure you are ready to run the plays that have been the most successful throughout the game for you up to this point. You then want to follow what I do as described below: First & Goal – Run the “no play” where you just continue to bark out the snap count. Usually the opposing teams are so excited and will jump offsides and give you a 1st & 5. Now you have the defense guessing what you are doing and they are back on their heels. 1st & Goal – Now from the five yard line you run your best plays that goes straight ahead or 1 man over. This can be a QB sneak, Iso or Dive play. The key here is to run this play on SILENT SNAP. By running on silent snap, you are playing into the defensive coach who is screaming watch the ball. More than 80% of the time, you will have scored by now. If not, run the following: 2nd & Goal – Now from 1-3 yard line run your best double team blocking play. You can use any snap count but I prefer to go on your second sound. 3rd & Goal – Run an unbalanced line, using the single wing formation, and run the power sweep. Make sure the entire line crab blocks. 4th & Goal – Make sure your best player runs behind your best double team blockers against the WEAK side of the defense.

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What you have now is the exact overtime method I have used for over 20 years of youth football coaching. Good Luck!

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