Lesson #5 from a Youth Football Coach
Lessons from a Youth Football Coach
By Coach Ronnie Atkinson
I’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.