5 Tips for Coaching Youth Basketball

5 Tips for Coaching Youth Basketball

 

Coaching Youth BasketballFor our first ever Basketball Blog post we thought we should share 5 Tips that we have learned over the years coaching youth basketball.

  1.  It’s not the X’s and the O’s – It is important to understand and always keep in mind that you may be the greatest basketball mind since the Wizard of Westwood, but it isn’t what you know that is important, but what your players know.  Don’t ever expect your players to execute a skill you have not taught them and allowed them to adequately practice through drills.
  2. Be the Great Communicator – One of the easiest ways to keep your player’s parents happy is to keep them informed.  Another way is to manage their expectations and the best way to do that is to conduct a Parents Meeting as close to the first practice as possible.
  3. Organizing is Coaching – As a youth basketball coach we often don’t have all of the practice time we would like.  Because of this fact practice time is precious and should not be wasted.  Consequently we feel one of the most important things you can do as a youth coach is have a written plan for every practice.
  4. Games are won on the Practice Court – Having a plan is not enough without proper execution.  Below are some key points to follow when conducting your youth basketball practices:
    • Be positive and enthusiastically encourage your players.
    • Be consistent and set parameters you won’t allow to be crossed.
    • Encourage teamwork
    • Don’t use abusive language and be careful when touching a player.
    • Keep practice moving at a rapid pace and prevent players from standing around.
    • If a drill isn’t working, move on to the next one and revisit it at a later time.
    • Sweat the small stuff and remember what you allow is what you teach.
    • Be confident in what you are doing and why you are doing it.
    • Don’t take yourself to seriously and always find ways to show your players you care.
    • End on time and on a positive note.
  5. “The Hay is in the Barn” – Anonymous – This  is one of our favorite quotes when it comes to game day and stands to remind us our work is done and it is time for some fun.  It also reminds us at this point we are who we are and to resist the temptation to try and add any special adjustments/plays we haven’t practiced.

If your are interested in learning more, we encourage you to take a look at our Youth Basketball – Coaching Guide eBook below:


Youth Football Drills – Linebackers

Youth Football Drills

(Linebackers)

 

In our previous Youth Football Drills blog post we shared a Defensive Line Swim Move Progression Drill that we have used in past seasons to help our Defensive Lineman.  In this post we are going to share a Drill we call Fill the Alley that we use with our Linebackers to help them execute their run fits.

Youth Football Drills - Linebackers

Youth Football Drills – Fill the Alley Setup

Drill Setup

  • Plenty of Cones to define Alleys.
  • Blocking Dummies to define Line of Scrimmage and “A” and “B” Gaps.
  • 1 Football
  • 1 Line for Runners
  • 1 Line for Linebackers

 

 

 

Youth Football Drills - Linebackers

Youth Football Drills – Fill the Alley Execution

Drill Execution

  1. Linebacker aligns at his proper depth to the line of scrimmage and alignment relative to the “A” and “B” gaps.
  2. Coach designates Alley 1, 2, or 3 for the Runner.
  3. On “Go”, the Runner will run through his designated Alley.
  4. The Linebacker should take his read step and attempt to tackle the Runner.

Note:  To make the drill more difficult you can add a Blocker on the line of scrimmage so that the Linebacker must shed a block and then attempt to make the tackle.

For additional drill ideas for your team, we encourage you to download the CLYFL Youth Football Drill Book, as well as visit our YouTube library of football drills.  Our library includes drills for Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.  We have even included some Flag Football drills.

Youth Football Drills – Defensive Line

Youth Football Drills

(Defensive Line)

 

 

In our previous Youth Football Drills blog post we shared a Defensive End Box Drill we developed several years back to help teach our Defensive Ends how to properly box.  In this post we are going to share a Defensive Line Swim Move Progression Drill that we have used in past seasons to help our Defensive Lineman.  Below is an example of a Swim Move:

 

 

Youth Football Drills - Defensive Line

Youth Football Drills – Defensive Line

Drill Setup

  • 2 half round dummies.
  • 1 Ball
  • 1 Cone
  • 2 lines facing the coaches with 1 player standing upright 3 yards behind the ball.

 

Drill Execution

  1. Demonstrate Swim Technique:
    • 3 Point Stance
    • First step with inside foot.
    • Outside arm to midsection of the dummy.
    • Inside arm comes over the top and propel past the dummy.
  2. The Defense gets into a 3 point stance and on ball movement, executes their first step, then brings their outside arm to the midsection of the dummy, then bring their inside arm over the top and propel themselves to the offensive player where they execute a form tackle.  Note:  All movements are half speed until the coach is satisfied with the players form.
  3. Once satisfied with Step #2, repeat going full speed.  Note:  Switch out the player in the backfield every 5 to 6 reps.

For additional drill ideas for your team, we encourage you to download the CLYFL Youth Football Drill Book, as well as visit our YouTube library of football drills.  Our library includes drills for Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.  We have even included some Flag Football drills.

Are Youth Sports Dying?

Are Youth Sports Dying?

 

Youth Football CoachAs a Youth Football Coach, I have been fighting dwindling numbers for the past 5 years.  Upon seeing a recent Article from USA Football highlighting a CBS report concerning Doctors speaking out against how concussions are being portrayed in the media, I was motivated to do a little research myself concerning the Athletic Association (Louisville, KY) where I coach both Football and Basketball.  I was curious to see if our local decline in sports participation mirrored the national statistics (2008 – 2012) reported by the Sports and Fitness Injury Association/Physical Activity Council cited in the CBS report.

Sports and Fitness Injury Association/Physical Activity Council

Sport Participation
Football -5.4%
Basketball -8.3%
Soccer -7.1%
Baseball -7.2%

Unfortunately I was only able to gather data for 2011 – 2014, but I believe it tells an interesting story nonetheless:

Athletic Association (Louisville, KY)

Sport Participation
Football -18.43%
Basketball -9.74%
Soccer -1.64%
Baseball +3.73%

Note:  Though the Baseball numbers are up the total number of participants are typically only 1/4 of the other sports listed and many schools in the Association failed to field teams.  Overall participation of the 13 Sports that our Association offers fell 9.04% in the same time frame where the number of potential participants stayed flat.

Though the numbers don’t match they do confirm a downward trend.  As I studied the numbers, I questioned why this is happening and remembered a Youth Sports Study published by Michigan State University in late 2004.  In this report it named the following reasons for Youth athletes discontinuing participation:

  1. No longer interested.
  2. It was no longer fun.
  3. The Coach played favorites or was a poor teacher.
  4. Wanted to participate in other activities.

I suspect that if that study were updated today, fear of concussions would rank high on the list.  As a Youth Coach, I believe I can address the first 3 items with how I manage my practices and game days, as well as continuing to strive to be a better teacher of the sports I coach.  Wanting to participate in other activities on the other hand is a little tougher.  Today children have so many more options than in years past from sports that have gone from being seasonal like Basketball and Baseball to year around to video games.  One of the more disturbing statistics for me personally mentioned in the Sports and Fitness Injury Association/Physical Activity Council research is that youth involved in no physical activities over a 12 month period rose from 16% for 6 – 12 year-olds and 17% for 13 – 17 year-olds in 2007 to 20% and 19% respectively in 2012.  Though I feel confident that the recent concussion scare has had an impact on these figures it can’t be the only reason based on the fact that Sports and Fitness Injury Association/Physical Activity Council study also shows an increase in participation of 158% and 64% for Lacrosse and Hockey respectively.  According to statistics published by Head Case these sports rank near the top for risk of concussion.

So what does all of this tell me?  Though I don’t have all of the answers, I don’t think it is one single factor:

  • Kids are moving away from the more traditional sports of Football, Basketball, and Baseball to others like Lacrosse and Hockey.
  • Kids are specializing.
  • The concussion scare is both a real and sometimes convenient excuse for children choosing not to participate in sports at all.

As mentioned above, not participating in any sports is the most bothersome for me.  I feel the benefits of Youth Sports far outweigh any risks.  That is not to make light of the risks, but as good Youth Coaches we can mitigate the risks with education and improved teaching techniques.  Looking back I can’t imagine trying to navigate my professional career without the lessons of teamwork, accountability, and facing adversity that my involvement in Youth Sports taught me.  I’m worried that today’s youth will not have those same experiences and wonder how well prepared they will be when entering adulthood.

If you have any thoughts and are willing to share, please shoot me an email by using the form below.

Youth Football Drills – Defensive Ends

Youth Football Drills

(Defensive Ends)

 

In our previous Youth Football Drills blog post we turned our attention to the defensive side of the ball with the DB Read and React Drill.  In this post we are going to share a Defensive End Box drill we developed several years back to help teach our Defensive Ends how to properly box.  If you are not a fan of boxing your Defensive Ends and prefer the Spill and Kill technique, we highly recommend you take a look at Coach Wilkins’ X’s and O’s of “Spill and Kill” Contain clinic.

 

 

Youth Football Drills - Defense End Box Drill

Youth Football Drills – Defense End Box Drill Setup

Drill Setup

  • 8 Cones
  • 1 Ball
  • Setup up cones and players to represent a Double Tight, 2 Back Split Formation.
  • Setup up cones to designate the Sweep Alley/Spot on each side of the ball.

Drill Execution

  1. Defensive End turns their back.
    • Coach tells the blocker and runner which hole to run to (Off-Tackle or Sweep) and snap count.  Note:  Run away from the Defensive End from time to time to make sure that they are pursuing through the backfield properly.
  2. On the snap count the blocker and runner run to the designated hole with the Coach handing or pitching the ball to the runner.
    • The runner must stay between the cones (Off-Tackle or Sweep).
  3. The Defensive End gets to the Sweep Spot, meeting the lead blocker, shedding the block, and tackling the runner.
    • They need to fight to force the runner deeper than the “Sweep Alley” or squeeze him inside the Off-Tackle hole.
    • When shedding the block, they position themselves where their outside arm is kept free to make a tackle and their inside foot is splitting the feet of the blocker.
  4. After cycling through several reps, switch to the other side.

For additional drill ideas for your team, we encourage you to download the CLYFL Youth Football Drill Book, as well as visit our YouTube library of football drills.  Our library includes drills for Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.  We have even included some Flag Football drills.

 

Youth Football Drills – Defensive Backs

Youth Football Drills

(Defensive Backs)

 

In our previous Blog posts we shared a couple of youth football drills that we like to use with our Offensive Line and Running Backs and Receivers.  In this post we are going to turn our attention to the Defensive side of the ball with a drill we call DB Read and React.  The purpose of this drill is to teach the Defensive Backs how to read the play to determine whether to execute their run fit or to defend the pass.

Youth Football Drills - DB Read and React

Youth Football Drills – DB Read and React Setup

Drill Setup – Tight End

  • 6 Cones
  • 1 Ball
  • Use 4 cones as Offensive Guards and Tackles.
  • Designate 1 cone as a Defensive End and another as a Defensive Tackle.

Note:  The Drill is setup for a defense that uses boxing Defensive Ends and the Defensive Back is playing Off Man coverage with their run fit being inside the Defense End.  However it can be adapted to other Defensive Systems.

Drill Execution

  • With the Defensive Player’s head turned the Coach instructs the Tight End to either Down Block on the Defensive Tackle cone, Stalk Block the Defensive Player, or run a pass route.
  • On “Go”, the Tight End executes the Coach’s instruction:
    1. If Down Block, the Defensive Player executes his Run Fit between the Defensive End and Tackle.
    2. If Stalk Blocked, the Defensive Player uses his hands to make a Swim Move keeping outside leverage and executes his Run Fit between the Defensive End and Tackle.
    3. If Pass Route, the Defensive Player covers the Tight End trying to break up the pass from the Coach.
  • After several reps, flip to the other side.
Youth Football Drills - DB Read and React

Youth Football Drills – DB Read and React Setup

Drill Setup – Split End

  • Designate 1 cone as a Defensive End and 1 cone as a Defensive Tackle.
  • Offensive Player lines up as a Split End.
  • Defensive Player aligns on the Split End per their alignment rules.

 

Drill Execution

  • With the Defensive Player’s head turned the Coach instructs the Split End to either Stalk Block the Defensive Player or run a pass route.
  • On “Go”, the Split End executes the Coach’s instruction:
    1. If Stalk Blocked, the Defensive Player uses his hands to make a Swim Move keeping outside leverage and executes his Run Fit between the Defensive End and Tackle.
    2. If Pass Route, the Defensive Player covers the Split End trying to break up the pass from the Coach.
  • After several reps, flip to the other side.

If you are looking for additional Defensive Back drills for your youth football team, we highly recommend, that you take a look at Coach Mahoney’s  Less is More Approach to Defense and Training up your Cornerbacks clinic.

For additional drill ideas for your team, we encourage you to download the CLYFL Youth Football Drill Book, as well as visit our YouTube library of football drills.  Our library includes drills for Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.  We have even included some Flag Football drills.

Youth Football Drills – Offensive Line

Youth Football Drills

(Offensive Line)

 

In our last blog post we shared a drill we call Slow Stalk Block that we are planning to use this coming season to help teach our Running Backs and Receivers how to properly execute a Stalk Block.  In this post we are going to share an Offensive Line drill we like to use for our Power Plays called Block the Backer.  The purpose of this drill is to make sure that our Pullers are finding Linebackers and making contact.

Youth Football Drills - Blocking the Backer

Youth Football Drills – Blocking the Backer Setup

Drill Setup

  • 6 Cones
  • 1 Stand-up Blocking Dummy.
  • Line 4 cones slightly angled downfield with a lineman in front of each. Place two cones 3 yards deep in front of center representing a Linebacker. The Linebacker stands in between the cones.
  • 1 Line. Rotate LB to Drill Line. Drill Line to Center. O-Line shifts one position to the right with PT becoming the LB.

Note: This drill is setup for an unbalanced line with the playside Guard pulling.  It can easily be adapted to a balanced line with the backside Guard pulling.

 

 

Youth Football Drills - Block the Backer

Youth Football Drills – Block the Backer Execution

Drill Execution

  • At the snap of the ball the Puller (G) must pull down the line.
  • The linebacker must try and tackle the dummy and the Puller (G) must get around the corner to block the Linebacker.

    Coaching Points for Puller

  • 6 inch first step with right foot at 2 o’clock.
  • Good rip with outside arm.
  • Low sprinter stance finish.
  • Spy the linebacker getting head to touchdown (outside) side.

If you are looking for additional Offensive Line Drills for your youth football team, we highly recommend, that you take a look at Coach O’Gorman’s How to be the Coach Your O-line Deserves clinic.

For additional drill ideas for your team, we encourage you to download the CLYFL Youth Football Drill Book, as well as visit our YouTube library of football drills.  Our library includes drills for Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.  We have even included some Flag Football drills.

Youth Football Drills – Running Backs

Youth Football Drills

(Running Backs and Receivers)

 

Inspired by Coach O’Gorman’s Offensive Line Drills we have come up with a Running Backs Drill called Slow Stalk Block.   The purpose of the drill is to not only re-enforce our Stalk Blocking technique, but also to teach the Running Back to read the block.  It’s a competitive drill that has both a winner and a loser.

Slow Stalk Block

Youth Football Drills – Slow Stalk Block Setup

Drill Setup

  • 4 Cones in a 5 by 10 yard rectangle (Note:  Depending on the age of your players the size of the rectangle made need to be adjusted.)
  • 1 Ball
  • 3 Lines (Runner, Blocker, and Defender)
  • The rotation of the drill is Defender to Runner, Runner to Blocker, and Blocker to Defender

 

 

 

 

Slow Stalk Block Drill

Youth Football Drills – Slow Stalk Block Drill

Drill Execution

  1. The Blocker and Defender line up 3 yards apart in the center of the rectangle with the Runner 2 yards behind Blocker.
  2. The Blocker approaches the Defender lowering his hips and keeping his head up while keeping the Defender from going where he wants to go.  The Defender is trying to tag the Runner.
  3. The Runner walks toward the end line reading the block and must stay within the rectangle.  (Note: Walks to the side of the Blocker’s rear end).
  4. If the Defender makes a definitive move in one direction, the Blocker should attempt to keep taking him that way.
  5. If the Runner is tagged, both the Runner and Blocker have to do 5 push-ups.  Otherwise the Defender must do 5 push-ups

If you are looking for additional youth football drills for your team, we encourage you to take a look at the CLYFL Youth Football Drill Book.  It consists of 85 drills covering many aspects of the game.  If you need more drill ideas, please take a look out our YouTube library of football drills.  Our library includes drills for Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.  We have even included some Flag Football drills.

Youth Football Coaching Tips

7 Tips for Coaching Younger Players in Youth Football

Coaching Little Guys in Youth Football

 

For the first time in my youth football coaching career I will be an assistant coach on a 3rd and 4th grade team.  I have always felt the coaches at the youngest levels of youth football are the most important because they are the first to introduce the game.  Because of this belief and since I am more experienced with coaching older players, I thought it would be a good idea for me to reach out to other coaches who are experienced at this level for advice.  As expected, I got back some great responses that I felt are worth sharing.

 

  1. Keep it Fun!  Many of the younger kids don’t initially understand the competitiveness of the game in the beginning.
  2. Give equal attention to all of your players.  While your better players will improve you will see the greatest improvements from your weaker players.
  3. Have a good practice plan and keep the pace fast and efficient.  Spend extra time on fundamentals and technique.
  4. Don’t assume players will understand all of the terms that you will use.   Make sure to explain everything no matter how small.
  5. Hide conditioning within games and competitive drills.
  6. Do everything you can to make every player feel good about football.
  7. Make sure to communicate to the parents early and often.  For many of parents this is their first exposure to youth football as well.

If you have any great tips that you are willing to share, please drop us a note using the form below:

Lesson #5 from a Youth Football Coach

Lessons from a Youth Football Coach

Lesson #5

By Coach Ronnie Atkinson

 

Practice2I’ve coached many youth sports over the past few years, but nothing near the magnitude of a tackle youth football team.  I learned a few valuable lessons in year one that other rookie coaches could surely benefit from.

Lesson #5: Experiment during practice and not in games.

Early in the season I wanted to experiment with our cadence to draw the defense off side and to keep them from timing our snap.  BIG MISTAKE!

Recommendation: Do not vary the snap count in youth football.  Doing so is almost as likely to cause a false start on your own offense as it is to draw the defense off side.

Our offense is a Double Wing offense that relies on chipping away at the defense 5 yards per play.  I thought that drawing the defense off side would basically be a free play each time.  That is all fine and dandy when it works, but when your own players commit a false start instead the resulting 5 yard penalty is a potential drive killer.  Teams that rely heavily on big plays can afford to lose 5 yards here and there.  We cannot.

I made the mistake of varying the snap count in a game without properly practicing it.  The results were as many false starts on our offense as off side penalties on the defense.  Once we changed our game plan and stayed with the same snap count, our false start penalties went away.

Recommendation:  Resist the temptation on Game Day to try and add any special adjustments, strategies, and plays you haven’t practiced.  While you may be successful on occasion, more often than not you won’t achieve the result that you are looking for.

If you choose to vary your snap count, practice this from day one.  Otherwise, use a single snap count.  If you must do something to keep the defense from timing your snap, try a No Play or Freeze Play to accomplish the same thing.  Running a No/Freeze Play near the beginning of the game should help create hesitation with the defense.  Below is an example of a team running a No/Freeze Play:

Coach Atkinson coaches a 4th Grade team in Edmond, Oklahoma.

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