Penalizing Excellence in Youth Football

Working With Special Rules Mullahs in Youth Football.

In youth football many of the leagues rules seem to be very fluid. Special rules are put in place one year and are out the next. These special rules are often developed to hinder or help specific organizations within the league that have the political power to put them in place. I’m not speaking about rules like minimum play rules which help coaches get all the kids into games for a set number of football plays. I’m speaking of rules designed to water down the effectiveness and efficiency of certain teams systems.

In the leagues my team plays, football rules change slightly from year to year based on the decisions of the ruling Board. In the previous youth football league my teams played in, all the teams voted on the rules changes each year. Regardless of the ruling body or structure, we all have to deal with rule changes from year to year. Part of coaching youth football well involves adapting and making adjustments. Part of the youth football game are yearly rule changes. It doesn’t do your team, coaches or parents any good to lament about woulda, coulda, shouldas when it comes to rule changes. Adapt and overcome, heck embrace the challenge, unfortunately it’s part of the wonderful world of youth football.

If you run the Single Wing offense, you may have already run into some of these special rules being put in to hinder your success. Many youth football Board members are made up of coaches in the league and quite frankly many of them don’t like seeing their teams get clobbered each week by physically inferior teams, its embarrassing to them. Heck that’s one reason we have a heck of a time getting teams to play us in extra games, they can’t use the excuse “they were bigger, faster, had more kids etc”. So the leadership often try to give themselves even greater advantages via additional “special rules”.

I’ve yet to see a special rule that did little more than aggravate a well coached Single Wing team but here is a story from one of the guys running my system we can all appreciate:

One of the coaches that went to the Orlando Coach of the Year Clinics I did in 2007, bought into the system full tilt down to the tiniest detail. This guy did his homework as he is a very detail oriented, thorough and aggressive person by nature. I’m not sure I know my system as well as he does, in all seriousness. I had the privilege of working with him, his coaches and some of his kids for a day. These are all first year tackle coaches and all first year tackle players in an age 7-9 league. Like most youth football teams, he has a few good players and bunch of average players and some minimum play types as well. I don’t recall seeing a player on his team that would dominate the league, but they had 4 kids that were athletic and probably in the 70th percentile for most leagues. They also had a couple of below average kids that were just excellent listeners, my guess is they were going to be developed into fundamentally sound players. Like the rest of us they had a few real small and weak “Lupus” type kids too, typical youth football team. UFABET

This team practices on a field that other youth football teams in the league practice on. They practice the very same amount of time the other teams do and in fact are required to do so by league rules. My friends team followed the daily football practice plans in the book religiously, avoiding time wasting cals, agility drills, conditioning and lots of full scale scrimmaging. They used the practice templates to ease the kids into contact, teaching everything in progressions, teaching the kids great fundamentals and to execute the Sainted Six series of football plays and our base defense. According to coach, he had most of his offense and defense in after the first two weeks. Meanwhile the other teams in the park were using their time doing monkey rolls, leg lifts, push ups and cross country running. Coach commented that he always thought of me and my comments about poorly performing teams time wasting drills, whenever he saw the other teams wasting their valuable practice time with these activities.

My friends team played the other teams in the park in a “Jamboree”, a type of controlled scrimmage where each team plays each other in round-robin format for 10-30 minutes. Needless to say my friends team just dominated the scrimmage to put it lightly. Over 75% of the opposing teams football plays went for negative yardage. On offense they scored on every drive and had 5-6 different players score touchdowns. This team was the talk of the league, to put it mildly.

On the eve of their first real game my friend gets a call from the league commissioner telling him the board has made some last minute changes to the rules because “Your team and coaching staff are too advanced for the rest of the league”, remember when I said these were all first year tackle coaches and players ? Well the league couldn’t handle such excellence in execution so they required this team to alter its defense and go from an unbalanced line to a balanced line. I know this coach and unlike many, he embraces challenges and obstacles like this.

My guess is his team will play just as well in “handcuffs” than without. It’s just such a shame that coaches that go out and make themselves better through effort and ingenuity are penalized by those that don’t. Or that kids that are paying attention and learning well are told on the eve of their first game, that they have to change what they so painstakingly learned. I sure hope that youth football doesn’t go the route of the soccer; every game ending in a tie, everyone having a juice box and singing Kumbaya in the mini-van on the way home. That’s just what America needs more of, teach the kids to penalize hard work and excellence and subsidize those that choose not to put the effort in.

 

 

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