Playing “Up” to Improve Your Youth Football Team:
Do you have a “bully” team in your youth football league or a year end playoff?
Playing “Up” an age level or classification in a controlled scrimmage may be what your youth football team needs to gain an edge in these games.In 2002 I had an age 8-10 “B” team that was running the Single Wing Offense for the first time. We had the youngest and smallest team in our division, but slowly and surely we developed into a very dominant team. By mid season surprisingly, we were naming the score in about every game. Our kids got pretty confident as did our parents and coaches. Unfortunately the schedule for our youth football league had us playing the two weakest teams in our last 2 games. In the last game to wrap up a League Title and undefeated season, we had a 5 TD lead at the half.
During the 2 weeks leading up to our last games our football team made little progress. It was evident that based on comparative scores it was going to take a miracle for us not to win the league title. In the football practices leading up to this game, our players were not running out our football plays well, our fakes weren’t going 20 yards downfield, our wedge plays weren’t as tight as usual, even our warmups and breaks weren’t as crisp as normal. The only thing the kids seemed to be fired up about was trophies, the pizza party immediately following our last game and the new trick football plays we put in. บ้านผลบอล
At seasons end, we were able to locate another team of similar abilities to play in an extra “Bowl” game. This other team had played a few of the same teams we had played in the regular season and our comparative scores were about the same. Our kids came into the game very confident and were a bit surprised when our first drive got stopped on the opponent’s 6 yard line, as we had scored on every opening drive that season. To make a long story short, we lost 46-6. Our kids never gave up, they played hard, but not crisp or well. In our teams defense, as coaches we had yet to devise the various adjustments we use that are detailed in chapter 13 of the book. But what our youth football team suffered from had little to do with adjustments to a few youth football plays.
Our team needed a challenge, a goal, a close game and adversity. Coaching youth football well means you have to supply some of these on your own, if these things are not being readily supplied by your schedule and the opposition.
In 2003 I coached a different team, a “Select” team that was very talented. Much different than the 2002 team, this group of 9-10 year olds ( 90% 10s) saw us with 5 players over 180 pounds and all but one could move very well. I got to choose from about 150 kids to put together this team. We had it all, size, speed and a good pass/catch combination. This was my most difficult coaching job ever, as many of the kids could get by on natural ability rather than using proper technique. It was a real chore holding them accountable to perfect technique when their own way often yielded positive results. As the season unfolded we were naming the score in every game and just dominating the games. We could have won every league game by 50 points and our first team defense had just 1 TDs scored on it all season. I was not going to let what happened in 2002 happen to this team.
To make sure the problem from 2002 didn’t rear its ugly head on this team, I scheduled several controlled scrimmages against age 11-12 youth football teams in mid season to keep our kids focused. Our football team learned that they had to be perfect with their technique and with our schemes in order to compete with these older teams. We even went so far as to schedule extra games verses age 11-12 teams that had byes in an Iowa league across the river from us. At the end of our regular season, we played the league champion of this league under the lights at a big college stadium, the big time. They lead early on us, but we fought back and ended up dominating the game, but won by just 2 touchdowns.
The net result is we continued to improve all season because we knew we had very tough scrimmages and exrtra games schedueld along the way. We knew we had a real tough game at seasons end to look forward to. Rather than just blowing out every similar aged team in our league, the challenge of playing older teams made this team much better. Our kids were on a mission to do what no one but them and us coaches thought they could do. It made them better players and gave them a great sense of accomplishment. As to our regular league rivals, the games against them were a cake walk compared to the games and scrimmages against the 11-12 year old teams we played. We won our league championship game 46-12 after leading 46-0 in the third quarter. We all agreed it was better to play an older tough team and lose than have an undefeated season with few challenges. We really are believers in, even with my rural team of playing anyone, anytime, any place (within reasonable traveling distance).