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The “Football Playbook” Road to Destruction in Youth Football

The “Football Playbook” Road to Destruction in Youth Football

This past week a frantic person called asking if I had a playbook for sale that could be used for a Youth Football team. They said that they had played High School football 20 years ago, had never coached youth football before and just needed a playbook to get their team off and running. They knew all about “drills”.

I explained my book was not just a playbook, but a step by step process that included a small but very effective playbook section. This person told me they, “Just needed a playbook”. I can guarantee you this coach probably will make every one of the Common Youth Football Coaching Mistakes Detailed on pages 27-33 of my book. His team will most likely be one that not only fails miserably from a wins and losses perspective, but whose kids won’t have much fun and will have huge retention issues. I’m not sure how a playbook in of itself is of much value to any youth football team.

The coaches that call and talk to me with an open mind are those that are e-mailing me with incredible success stories at the end of the season. The coach from the above story and the like we never hear from again. Embarrassed of their failures I’m sure and following the “Playbook Path” to a disastarous season. These disaster seasons often lead to player and parent revolts and seem to be one of the main reasons most youth football coaches only coach for a season or two.

The playbook fallacy:

On the other hand, there are some coaches like KJ, BJ, DB, KB, GB and many others. I can tell right away after talking on the phone with them for 5 minutes that they are going to have monster turnaround seasons. These are the teams we will be talking about on our end of season Wall of Fame. It has to do with having an inquisitive nature and being open minded about learning. People that are successful in life are this way about everything, it is a process they embrace. They have a problem, they admit they don’t have all the answers, they try and understand the critical success factors of the endeavor, they do research and they develop a plan that in many cases has been proven successful elsewhere in solving their exact same problem.

For starters most of the playbooks I have seen or bought have been nothing but a bunch of backfield action drawings with little to nothing said about the blocking responsibilities of the players. Many do not even have lines drawn for who the linemen are to block. Others have the blocking drawn up against a set 4-4 defense but nothing is said of how to block against a 5-3 or 6-2 nor are any set blocking rules given. Others have 150-200 plays in them, obviously a compilation of many different offenses. But these are football plays, not offenses, there is a huge difference. Anybody can draw up a bunch of football plays, not everyone can draw up an offense.

An offense is a set of complementary football plays built around a football philosophy with integrated blocking rules and detailed coaching points for each play. Most playbooks do not contain any of this.

Don’t even get me started about first steps, blocking progressions, technique, position descriptions, player evaluations, practice plans, priorities, defense, special teams, implementation, fit and freeze, scouting, game day management, managing players and parents etc etc etc. The playbook is such a small part of the puzzle. Important, but a small piece and anyone that doesn’t understand that is usually doomed to fail when coaching youth football.

Coaches don’t get a playbook and think you’re set for the season, even if it is my playbook. A playbook is no magic bullet no matter how great it is.

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