Monday, November 26, 2007

Youth Football Plays And Drills - Is Your Kid A Future Quarterback?

Before teaching your child any youth football plays, or running any drills, you need to decide which position they would do their best at. In my experience, every kid wants to be a quarterback, but a youth football team only needs two quarterbacks (a starter and a backup). Is your kid made out to play quarterback? Is your child the next Peyton Manning?

The quarterback is a special position
, so it requires a special ability. They are usually the leader of the team, and most of the time, they get the credit for both the win and the loss. Dealing with the pressure of having a football team on your child's back can be mentally tough for them, especially in times of a loss.

An indecisive person does not fit well into the role of a quarterback either. If your child has difficulty making decisions on their own, they will probably struggle as a quarterback. Most youth football plays are pretty simple, but they will still be required to think on their own, and make the best decisions on offense to help their team win.

Besides the mental requirements of playing quarterback, they will also need great physical ability. A quarterback must be in great shape, and have the arm strength to get the ball down the field. There may be times where they are required to run around in the pocket, and throw the ball 20-30 (or more) yards down the field, and hit a moving target (their receivers).

Because they have to hit a moving target, they must also have an accurate arm. The best thing about this requirement is that accuracy can be worked on. There are a few youth football quarterback drills that help to improve accuracy, but the best is the good ol' hanging tire drill. Simply hang a tire from a tree, and have your child throw the ball through the hole. Once they are comfortable with throwing the ball through the hole while it is sitting still, you can begin to swing the tire back and forth. This simulates trying to hit a moving target.

Remember, football is a physical sport. The quarterback is the target of 11 other players on defense! The whole defense will be aiming for the quarterback, so make sure that you are okay with that before you allow your child to play this position. A lot of pressure will be put on you, as well as your child, but if they pan out to be a good quarterback, they may have a very bright future in the sport after youth football!

Remember, being a quarterback is not only about mastering the youth football plays that they are taught, but they have to have the instinct that all good quarterbacks have. The good news is, they can be taught these instinctive things through a lot of drills and practice!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Youth Football Plays And Formations - The 4-4 Defense

The 4-4 Defense is one of the most basic defensive formations known to football. When choosing youth football plays and formations, it is very important to keep things as simple as possible. This formation is a perfect place to start, to get children to understand the basic defensive concepts.

The 4-4 Defense is a formation that is built for speed. Most Youth football leagues (that I know of) have weight requirements; therefore, there will be a lot more speed on the field than there will be size and strength.

Since most offensive youth football plays rely on the run, by stacking 8 defenders in the box (the imaginary box around the line of scrimmage), the defense will be in great position to stop just about any run play!

The Linebackers

With only 3 Defensive Backs (2 corner-backs and a safety), it is important to have smart, athletic linebackers in the 4-4 defense.

  • Middle Linebackers

    Most of the time, middle linebackers are responsible for stopping the run between the gaps (the space between both tackles, and between the tackles and ends). If you can teach your middle linebackers how to read the offensive guards (explained in a future post), this will become a very easy task (as long as they have solid tackling skills).

    It is also a good idea to assign a strong side and a weak side middle linebacker. The strong side linebacker will line up on the strong side of the defense (usually the side where the tight end is at). The weak side line backer will line up opposite to him, and will have slightly more responsibilities.

  • Outside Linebackers

    On a youth football team, this may be one of the most difficult positions (in the 4-4 defense). The outside linebackers must have great speed to cover half-backs and sometimes wide receivers, but also must have a nose for stopping sweeps, tosses, and other outside runs. As with the middle linebackers, strong side and weak side outside linebackers should also be assigned.

Defensive Line

  • Tackles

    Size is usually very important when it comes to playing the defensive tackle position; however, because of the youth football rules about maximum weight, this becomes almost impossible.

    The good news is, the other team also follows those rules. If you can teach solid techniques (covered in a later post), size will not be much of a factor.

    The main goal of a defensive tackle is to attack the line of scrimmage. Using size, strength, and technique, they should push their blocker's into the backfield, while looking for any runs that may come their way.

  • Ends

    The defensive ends are usually big and fast. Look for the tall players on your team, and try to plug them into this position.

    Defensive ends are very valuable to a 4-4 defense. They can be dropped back into coverage, used to contain (penetrate to the outside of the offensive line, to prevent runs from getting outside), or angled inside, putting a lot of stress on the interior offensive line.

    Defensive Backfield

  • Corner-back

    The corner-back position requires speed that will allow the player to cover quick and athletic wide receivers. Usually, when a kid wants to be a wide receiver, but does not posses the hands that a receiver needs, they will fit in good at the corner-back position.

    In youth football, plays are not usually geared towards the pass, but the ability to cover the other team one-on-one, drop into a zone coverage, and tackle are very important for corner-backs.

  • Safety

    To play the safety position, a player must posses a lot of the same skills as an outside linebacker, except they should be a lot quicker.

    In a 4-4 Defense, the safety is either in dropped into a zone, covering the deep middle of the field, covering an extra receiver one-on-one, or blitzing. Also, moving the safety around can be a very useful tool to confuse the offense (including their coach).

Next Up: Youth Football Plays- To Blitz Or Not To Blitz- That is the question!

Youth Football Plays And Drills- Instilling A Joy For The Game

Before you can try to teach youth football plays or run football drills, you must instill a joy for the game in the child. Children can get bored of things very quickly, if they are not finding joy in what they are doing. There are few ways that you can go about making this happen.

One of the best ways to accomplish this, is to show an interest in the game yourself. Children like to mimic their parents, and if you show some excitement while watching a game, they will soon follow you! If they hear you talking football to one of your friends, they will be interested in finding out what you are talking about. If they see you wearing your favorite team's t-shirt, they will want one too!

Teaching some of the history of football to the children can also make them excited about the game. If it is possible, you should plan a trip to Canton, Ohio to visit the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Another way to teach the history is to buy a few of the old NFL Film video's. Those video's are filled the best of the far and recent past!

One thing that I tell parents all of the time is, a joy for the game can not be forced in youth football. If the child shows little interest in the game, leave it alone! Not every kid wants to play football! Its hard to believe sometimes, because you remember your joy for the game, but forcing football on them will only upset them.