What To Wear To University Of Alabama Football Game Youth Football – The Cornerstones of Winning When Coaching Youth Football, is it Football Playbooks?

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Youth Football – The Cornerstones of Winning When Coaching Youth Football, is it Football Playbooks?

Lessons on Winning When Coaching Youth Soccer:

Winning in youth football is not much different than winning in other sports. In fact, it can be helpful to look at teams and coaches in other sports and see if you can learn something to bring to your youth soccer team.

Learning from John Wooden

I am in the process of reading John Woodens book The Pyramid of Success. Although I’m not a big basketball fan, I thought I could learn something from this UCLA basketball legend who won 7 straight NCAA National Championships, 88 straight games with 38 straight NCAA Tournament wins.

Many of you may not know that when John Wooden took over UCLA, the program was a joke. Coach Wooden’s main source of income was as a dairy manager, UCLA rarely drew over 2,000 fans and during his first 17 years they had no place to play or practice on campus. The facilities were the absolute worst in the conference and possibly the nation, but his teams not only succeeded, but dominated year after year.

What surprised me the most about Coach Wooden’s approach to the game was his absolute disinterest in the opponent. Although he studied some film, he studied much less than any of his peers. Coach Wooden was adamant that his teams would do what they did best and spend their valuable practice time preparing to implement Coach Wooden’s philosophy.

Don’t bother the opposition, worry about yourself

In this book, player after player repeated what Coach Wooden said about opponents. His players have been very consistent in their understanding that they care little about who they play, or even the style they play against. In some games, UCLA players did not know the names of the opposing players, or even what conference the opposing team was from. It wasn’t because UCLA didn’t respect the opposition, it was because they truly felt, it really didn’t matter who they were playing, they were going to execute. The UCLA players were PLAYING AGAINST THEMSELVES, they were playing against their potential, not against the opposing team. UCLA was prepared against any philosophy, system or contingency.

These UCLA players were very confident, not in their individual abilities, but in the team, the coach and the system. These UCLA teams and players had a calm aura of confidence and invincibility about them that served them well in close games and intimidated most teams that played them.

I see so many youth football coaches scouting and worrying about the opposition when their team is struggling with their own execution. I watched the game films of the Louisiana youth coaches last season. While he claimed to play in a “tough league” where all the coaches scouted each other, I found little to scout. The execution and alignment of all the teams in this league was terrible, something I haven’t even seen in the entry level domestic recreation leagues here locally. All these coaches would do best to teach their kids their systems and fundamentals without worrying about their opposition. Scouting time was poorly spent.

An example of Nebraska’s national championship

My friend Jerry Tagge said the same thing about the 1970 and 1971 University of Nebraska football teams. They went a combined 24-0-1 and won back-to-back state championships. Jerry was the starting quarterback on both teams and a team leader on and off the field. When asked what his most lasting memory was from that 1971 season in which NU outscored its opposition 507-104 and won the national title game at No. 2 Alabama 38-6, Jerry didn’t hesitate to say, “They knew we are going to win every game before we step on the field”.

Jerry said they had so much confidence in themselves, their team, their coach and their system, that the only question on their minds was how much they were going to win. Although many of their games have been blowouts, they have thrived on road #2

Oklahoma several times in that game, which most still call the “Game of the Century.” Jerry said they never panicked, they somehow knew, somehow they were going to win, they stayed very upbeat and confident throughout the game. He said; “We just knew we were going to win,” in his mind and the minds of the teams, the game was a foregone conclusion.

As a kid, I went to every Jerry home game in 1970 and 1971. We would get to the games very early, get down close to the field and watch the players warm up. It seems like so long ago and all those players seemed so huge to a ten-year-old boy back then. We would go down under the stadium and watch the players behind the ropes come out of the locker room for kickoff. Many players would give you a quick slap if you leaned in far enough and smiled really hard. What I remember most was how calm these guys were and that none of them were jumping up and down or yelling like you see on TV today and even at youth and high school football games. The NU players were always so eerily quiet, some would have a laugh or two, but there was no rah rah stuff going on. It always seemed like in those days the team that played Nebraska often played in inverse proportion to how much emotion they showed. Oklahoma was one of the few teams at the time that could consistently compete with Nebraska, and they weren’t rah rah either, they were equal parts calm and confident.

60-3 in the 90s

There was an era in Nebraska football from 1993-1997 when the team went an incredible 60-3, winning 3 national titles along the way and barely missing another. In those days, teams often fell for Nebraska. What I remember most about those teams is that there was no fanfare, no players painted their faces, no one jumped up and down, no one shouted, just Darth Vader walking down the tunnel. Someone is going to get damned out of them that day and it sure as hell won’t be Nebraska. Often the other team looked like little wide-eyed lambs being led to the slaughter, you could feel it in the air. Sometimes the opposing team would show a bit of fake nervous bravado, but at the time most of them had those baby eyes that said, “I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, but I doubt it’s going to be good for me personally.” By the end of the second quarter, they were looking for a “soft spot” to land, to use a boxing term. If you know someone who was at the stadium then, just ask them. No offense to the opponents, they always got a standing ovation from the NU fans after the game, win, lose or draw. Perhaps it was our way of showing that we appreciate the opposition that survived the carnage and survived.

Were the Nebraska players brash, arrogant or disrespectful? Not at all, they were just very confident in their preparation, scheme, coaches and team. They had no reason to act like clowns, they just wanted to do what they knew how to do, game over, move on to the next goal. Now, of course, we’re on day two, a man is seen behind the curtain, the aura is gone, Mike Tyson is knocked out, and the giant is revealed to have feet of clay. But at the time it was and those same monsters exist in youth football today.

Applied to youth football

What can we as youth soccer coaches do to instill that kind of confidence in our kids?

I can say with great confidence that it is possible. I did it under the most ridiculous circumstances. I’ve put teams in situations where we faced huge odds: In 2003, my 8-10 team played and beat two 11-12 Championship League teams, one in the 10,000-seat College Stadium, falling 7-0. and he was very small and outnumbered. In 2004, I led a rural rookie team to an 11-0 season and won the Champions League in a much bigger league where more than half of their kids were veterans. In 2005 I took the same team of 8-10 kids that weren’t selected (took all comers) and beat (30-6) a huge Inner-City Select Team that picked from over 150 kids and hadn’t lost in 3 years. They started at least 5 kids over 150 pounds and had one monster over 210, we on the other hand only had 2 players over 100 pounds. That same year we beat a team (mercy ruled) that hadn’t lost in 5 years (our fourth quarterback started in that game) and we beat a second seeded Omaha team (36-6) that was the champion of their league. In 2006, I took a team of 8-10 year olds to a tournament in

Kansas City and we fielded a team that started 5-6 kids over 150 pounds, including 2 huge defensive tackles over 190, keep in mind our starting center only weighed 71 pounds at the time (usual starter was out). In 2007 my 10-11 age team played a Malcolm team that had 8 “striped” players during the National Anthem to our 1. Striped means the player is over 128 pounds and must wear a stripe on their helmet. Not only did this team outscore us 8-1 on stripers, but their stripers were huge, with at least 3 starters weighing over 180. Our lone striper was 148, and our next biggest players were 115 and 105 .We were outplayed in every one of these games, but the kids were very confident.

How did we do it? I promise you it had nothing to do with paying much attention to our opposition. If we had done that, I’m not sure we would have had the same success. In practice, we don’t waste time on frivolous non-football activities and execute key offense and defense to perfection against most known contingencies. We know how to match our defense in every attack and how to respond to the typical tactics used to stop the attack. Our children are confident in the scheme, their tasks, technique, performance and coaches. We expect them to do well and they expect it too. For those of you who have game film you know our kids don’t get very excited about touchdowns or big plays, they expect that to happen and so does the coaching staff. You don’t see any jumping up and down or fists in the air, the expected, quiet calm confidence. We always talk to the kids in the past tense “After we score the 4th touchdown remember KSIZ”, “After the game is over remember the other team came a long way to be here and will be very disappointed, don’t jump up and down and make a big thing from winning and making them feel bad, we expect to play well, it shouldn’t be any surprise” etc. I’ve been told that our kids seem much more confident than their outward appearance should warrant.

Before the games we face out of competition and even come very late, we work only 30 minutes before the game, while our opponents work 60-90 minutes. Our children seem to be somewhat oblivious to who we are playing with, in the country, in the suburbs, in the city center, in the big, out of town etc, ignoring the opposition and taking care of ourselves, we have created that environment. We are always in competition with ourselves, our potential, not the opposing team. Couple that with our ‘easy count’ game mapping system, adjustments and key identifiers, and the need to scout every opponent is negated. Are we scouting our opposition? Very little, maybe one game a year, but they scout us and it didn’t seem to help much even with the movies, books and sharing information between them.

Once initiated, the aura feeds on itself and can include things like championship banners, trophy displays, and other examples that reinforce the inevitability of your teams’ success in the minds of your players and the minds of their opponents.

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