There are many ways you can contribute to your local community. Yet, often the most rewarding ones are when you can do something you love, like Football. Helping the next generation build their skills both on and off the field can be hugely rewarding as well. That is why so many people take on the role of coach. Of course, to be the best coach possible, there are a few things you will need to remember, keep reading to find out what they are.
Learn the rules
There is nothing more embarrassing or that will cause your team to lose faith in you faster than not knowing the rules inside and out! Indeed, even if you spent the majority of your own youth on the field, brushing up on the specific rules for the type and league you are in will be vital to your success as a coach.
Of course, for those who need a quick refresher, it’s important to remember that possession of the ball is one of the most crucial aspects of Football. After all, when your team has possession they will have the opportunity to move the ball down the field and score.
Scoring can happen in one of two ways. The first is by a member of your team kicking a field goal. That is when they send the ball through the opposition’s goalposts. The other way in which your team can score is by touchdown. To score a touchdown your team will have to get the ball into the opposition’s endzone.
Your team can progress to the opposition’s end zone by moving in 10-yard sections down the field. They have four opportunities or downs to do this. At this time the opposition will be doing everything in their power to prevent this progression. If they succeed possession of the ball will go to them, but if your team succeeds they will get 4 downs to successfully move another 10 yards down the field.
As well as the basic rules of the game, you will need to know the names of all the positions and what they are allowed to do on the field. A football team is divided into backs and linemen. Linemen play at the ‘line’ of scrimmage, while backs play behind.
Tackle or not to tackle – that is the question
It’s also worth noting that you can choose to coach a contact or non-contact team. Although, this decision may be dependent on the options offered to you locally.
Contact, full contact, or tackle football is when a player can be tackled to the ground by the opposition. No-contact, flag, or touch football follows mostly the same rules, but there is no tackling. Instead, players wear a flag in the uniform and a play ends when the flag is removed by the opposition.
Often non-contact football is practiced by younger children because it is regarded as safer for them. However, some coaches decline the option of non-contact preferring full contact instead because it provides their players with an opportunity to practice the most popular form of the sport for longer.
Get some inspiration
Once you have brushed up on the rules, and feel confident explaining them to the kids that will be playing, you need to consider your coaching style. After all, there are many ways to coach a team to victory and you may even have some strong views about the coaching you received in your youth – either positively or negatively.
Of course, one of the most vital things when coaching a youth side is to make sure that you are fair and consistent. This means you will need a definite approach or style of coaching that your players will be able to get used to and understand.
One way of developing this is to look at successful coaches from the NFL such as Ron Rivera – Carolina Panthers and deliberately study how they go about things. Of course, your style won’t be the same, especially if you are tutoring kids whom you will want to get enthusiastic about football, but you can certainly learn some great coaching tactics from those at the top of the field.
Focus on building skills
After establishing the way you will approach coaching your youth team it’s time to consider working on building up the skills they will need to succeed. At this point, it’s crucial to remember that everyone, even the most advanced and accomplished players on your team will benefit from a refresher on the fundamentals.
To teach basic football skills it can help to demonstrate them with another adult member of your coaching team so the kids can watch. Go slow at first and emphasize the correct form, as this can help minimize injury as well as encourage better performance.
Once your team has a grasp of the fundamentals it’s important to run regular drills so they get to put their skills into practice. Indeed, drills are very important for keeping your players fit and healthy as well, so should never be skipped.
Offensive and defensive plays
There are two types of play you need to educate your team on when coaching Football – offensive and defensive. Offensive plays include running and passing plays and are designed to help your team move the ball up the field into the end zone.
Defensive plays, on the other hand, are designed to stop the opposing side from getting first downs and so limiting their opportunity to score. Defensive plays involve tackling, and it’s vital that you make sure your team has a good grasp of this skill before you begin. Players will also need to know what to do if a blocker comes at them, that is an opposition player whose goal is to keep them away from the player that has possession of the ball.
When coaching a youth football team on offensive and defensive plays there are few vital things you need to bear in mind. The first is to keep things simple. This means working on the fundamentals and not introducing too many different kinds of plays at the same time. Instead begin small and add more later on if necessary.
It’s also vital that you encourage your team to make the plays they are best suited for. For example in an offensive play, a team member that is fast, but not so accurate on passing is much better suited to a running play. Although, it is always important to drill every member of your team in both types.
Always consider the safety of your players
While football can be a great deal of fun, there are also some critical safety issues that you as a coach will need to consider. The first of these is to make sure that you don’t work your players too hard, especially in the heat. This means providing them with plenty of water breaks, and where possible allow them to rest in shaded areas when not in play.
Injury is another issue that coaches of youth players need to be mindful of. Sadly many promising players have lost their chance of being scouted due to unnecessary injury. With that in mind, ensuring players always understand and practice the right form in football is vital. Providing them with the correct safety equipment including helmets, which need to be fitted correctly by a professional and checked regularly is vital. Additionally, shoulder pads for positions that require them will be necessary too, as well as hip, thigh and need pads to be worn in the pants.