Coaches Corner

When you serve as a football coach at any level, and especially at the youth level, you have the opportunity to introduce young players to one of America's greatest games, as well as personally enjoy a tremendously rewarding experience.

You will have the chance to see your players blossom from awkward, young athletes into a smooth, efficient team. As you start the season, it is important to ask yourself:

  • What will be my role as a coach?
  • How will I approach the position?
  • What will be my philosophy toward the game?

As a coach, you are, first and foremost, a teacher. Considering the many complex issues facing coaches today, being a teacher may seem to take a backseat at times, but it shouldn't. All great coaches are great teachers.

As a coach/teacher it is your responsibility to:

  1. Provide a safe and enjoyable setting for learning to take place.
  2. Prepare yourself in order to understand what is to be accomplished each day.
  3. Present the information in a manner that the players can understand.
  4. Provide a setting where everyone participates and has fun.
  5. Be positive when communicating with players, parents, and officials.
  6. Lead so that the players will eagerly follow.

Safety and Enjoyment

Providing a safe and enjoyable setting for learning involves:

  • Inspecting the field before the first player arrives for practice.
  • Greeting each player by name.
  • Taking a quick check of each player's equipment.
  • Pre-planning the practice so the drills are conducted in a safe manner and the techniques that are taught emphasize proper and safe body movements and positions.
  • Being aware of any persons who may be loitering around the field.
  • Having one coach remain at the field until the last player has been picked up.
  • Having a pre-arranged plan for any potential medical problem.


Preparing yourself to understand what is to be accomplished every day means that it is necessary to meet as a staff prior to each practice, each meeting, and each game in order to outline the goals for that day. Coaches need to understand not only what they are going to try to teach but also why and how it fits into the bigger team picture. Spend practice time teaching only the skills you will need for your offense or defense. If you plan to be a passing team, you need to spend practice time perfecting the skills of throwing the ball and running pass routes. You do not need to practice the skills needed for the option play.

Differentiate in your mind between teaching a skill and teaching assignments for a play that will involve a particular technique. When you teach a skill like pass protection for the offensive linemen, your concern is how to do the skill. You need to focus on footwork, lower body position, balance, upper body position, and hand position. As you bring the team together and begin to run plays, your focus will shift to making certain that the players know who to block and not necessarily how to get the job done.

Try to remember that football terms and experiences that are familiar to you may be like hearing a foreign language for your players. Make sure to present your information in a manner they can understand.

  • Avoid using one or two-word terms when first teaching a skill or technique.
  • Give your players a full description of what you want them to do.
  • Have them practice the skill.
  • Then tell them what the technique is called.
  • Be prepared for the learning of football terms to take place over two or three practices, not just with one introduction.

You may already know in your mind what a "reach block" is and how a player should do it, but do not assume that your young players have the same information in their minds.

Player Participation and Fun

In your practices try to:

  1. Keep all the players active.
  2. Make sure every player participates.
  3. Keep your drills short and focused on one technique.
  4. Use many drills with each drill teaching only one skill rather than running one drill that involves multiple skills.
  5. Keep lectures to a minimum.
  6. Give the players as many repetitions as possible in a short brisk drill.
  7. Keep it fun and be upbeat in your approach.

Positive Communication

As a coach, always communicate in a positive manner.

  • First, consider what you want your players to do.
  • Then, instruct them in a step-by-step manner.
  • Telling them what to do may take more thought and time, but seeing the players improve will be far more rewarding than saving time by telling them what not to do.
  • Give the same consideration when speaking to a player's parents. Stay positive in your conversation, regardless of what is being discussed.
  • One of the greatest lessons your players will learn from you, as a coach, is how you communicate with the officials during a game. Show the officials the respect they deserve and save any discussions or questions for a time-out or at halftime.


Kids are going to look to you for leadership during practice and at games.

Their attitudes and conduct will reflect your attitudes and demands. You are their coach. Young players want and expect you to provide:

  1. Instruction
  2. Organization and Structure
  3. Discipline and Leadership

Players come to the practice field wanting to learn and have fun. They want you to understand that they will make errors and that they need encouragement and positive teaching. Young players want everyone on the team to be treated the same. They do not understand, nor do they want, stars or whipping boys. They want a team in which everyone is coached with kindness rather than criticism.

Coaching is a tremendous responsibility. Parents entrust you with their most precious possession, their child. It is your responsibility to:

  1. Treat each child with respect and care.
  2. Prepare and teach the skills and rules of the game to the best of your ability.
  3. Demonstrate positive life skills, like good sportsmanship, through your actions and words.
  4. Allow every child to participate and have fun
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