Many youth football coaches believe they know who will be victorious by watching players during warm-ups. At these events, the Pop Warner and AYF National Championships there were a lot of parents and coaches taking part in this exact event. I listened to my ears and it was fascinating to listen to what they said.
The majority of remarks were focused on the size and athleticism of particular players. If you are at the level of competition, there are some incredible physical specimens on the majority of teams. After a couple of hours of listening to the ooohs, the aaahs and “look how big that kid is”, “look how fast that player is” it got a bit too difficult for me to listen to. In addition to those remarks are usually predictions that the red team will beat the blue team. Look at the stature of the children, take a look at the number 20 and no one will be in a position to stop him and so on.
A close friend of mine who was part of an AYF team that won a National Championship this year travelled along with me to watch several of these teams work. Although we’d discuss one or two players however, the majority of our conversations revolved on how well or poorly the teams were practicing together. What was the quality of the drills and what was the location that the coach was spending his time during practice how the players were solid as well as performing to a high level, did the team function as a group, how difficult were the line of offensive emerging at a pad level, what were the basic blocking strategies that were being used, what kind of offensive and defensive strategies were teams using as well as how was the coaching team communicating with the players and how they were working in tandem. We would observe each team practice for the 60-90 minutes prior to the game and then decide which team would take the victory. The data we used to determine our predictions was different from the data we hear from the commentators. It was interesting to note that I had 5 wins and one loss with my strategy, while the people that we were hearing were more incorrect than correct.
It is true that players are the ones who make plays that win games, but an individual player or even group of elite players won’t be able to defeat teams that are better-coached and spbo have lesser skill so long as the gap in ability isn’t too huge. If you’re with a team of over 2,000 children and however take each kid who signs up to your team and the number is 23 players, you’re likely to be a struggle taking on the competition regardless of the coaching advantage you possess. However , the advantages teams enjoy don’t even come close to this kind of scale.
This difference in skill was apparent in a variety of games played at the AYF Tournament. In one game, the Deon Sanders Truth Select team was playing an opponent of Central Florida, it looked like a High School squad competing against a bunch of fifth graders in the 5th grade. They Truth team was one head taller and 50 to 100 pounds heavier than all the players of that Florida team. It didn’t help that the only thing was the Florida coaches did was shout at his children and inform them that “they didn’t want it.” It didn’t matter how well they were taught because they were the Truth team was sure to play well in the match and they did. However , the Truth team did play a match later on in the tournament against an Ohio team that was slower and smaller than the Truth team, but not in the same degree that they did the Florida team. It was also worth noting that the Ohio team also was better-coach and coached than Floridians. It is important to note that the Truth fell last year to an extremely average-looking non all-star Naperville, Illinois team that was extremely well-coached.
In an additional game of eight grades that was played in eight grade, there was a group of Brooklyn, New York playing. They were 6’1″ 245 pounds “I” back who had amazing body control, an excellent core, a powerful upper body, excellent speed, unbelievable strength, and lots of energy. He was in the defensive position playing Linebacker as well as Defensive Tackle. It’s clear that the player in opposition is at least a foot smaller and around 120 pounds lighter that his Brooklyn player. In the same Brooklyn team was the 6’5″ wideout with great feet, great coordination, and speed that was deceiving. He was also a regular at the Defensive End. This Brooklyn squad also included skilled position players as well as some nice-sized linemen, too.
Brooklyn’s group Brooklyn was playing and included a number of players who needed to snap for and the size of the opposing team included 34 players. The team that was playing against them did not have any fast backs or receivers, and nothing which would make you think “wow”, look at the following. They did have an impressive running game, which was the result of a Single-Wing attack and a shrewd play-action passing game. They played about 12-13 play out of three to four different formations, and didn’t get enough distance using the off-tackle power play. The Brooklyn team Brooklyn played on didn’t run any play that went over 30 yards.
The Brooklyn team tried to move the ball towards their big hoss for the majority time. There was a lot of straight dives, sweeps and off-tackle play for him. Very rarely did they employ him to deceive them, and when they did pass it was always at downs and the distance you knew that they would to pass over. They didn’t play or play Fullback traps, or tight misdirection plays utilizing the defense’s pursuit of the large man against them. Their only misdirection plays were deep reverses as well as naked bootlegs, which all did not result in negative yardage. Brooklyn did not use any play action passes on the first or second down of throughout the game, and of course, their special teams weren’t very exceptional to begin with.
If they tried to throw at the 6’5″ player, it was on obvious passes in which he was surrounded by two defensive players and the Quarterback was sweltering from stunts or blitzes. It was clear that the Brooklyn team could not put their fakes well and did not get from the ball in a good way also had poor pad levels and blocked the base on every single game. It was a disappointing loss for the Brooklyn team. Brooklyn team was defeated to the astonishment of the fans There were lots of people who weren’t associated with either team and were who were there to watch the two players playing. Brooklyn also lost their consolation match, and went at 0-2 during the tournament. The result was the norm for the tournament. In the fifteen and a half games I saw, there was not one player who took over every game I observed. Well-coached teams won’t allow one player to win them.
After the game, I spoke with coach Brooklyn head coach. I’m not going mention any names. When I asked him what the name of his favorite player, the coach gave me the nickname of the boy and then asked another coach what the player’s real name was. He did not know. It was confirmed by the coach that the person indeed was six feet one” and 245 lbs, he also said the player was attending a prestigious Catholic High School the following year on a full scholarship. I interviewed the player as well and included a picture here in the blog. He was a very humble and very nice young man who has a great attitude and great grades as well. The head coach for the East All-Stars selected this player to play Deon Sanders team at the Army All American game in Florida in January. The coach also confirmed his star receiver was indeed 6’5″ tall, and the same school was his Catholic High School on scholarship but with a different name that the running back with the biggest stature.
Players play however football remains the greatest team sport. The team that has the best appearance isn’t always the one to win This has never been more apparent than during the AYF and Pop Warner National Championships in 2010. If you had chosen winning teams on the basis of looks only, you’d have been wrong in a lot instances. Teams win games. Good coaches in youth football help create teams and players, and place teams and players in positions that allow them to contribute value and perform. Avoid getting caught up by the blame-game, where you blame the other team’s advantages in talent for all your losses. There are coaches of youth football across the country in all leagues who face the same challenges each season and win despite not having the best ability. It’s arrogant for coaches who consistently lose to blame the talent gap for their failures instead of taking responsibility themselves. Teams that are well-coached and cohesive that are able to trust their coaches and trust in each other will negate the advantages of youth football.