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Cheat Sheet

Coaching Football For Dummies

From Coaching Football For Dummies by The National Alliance of Youth Sports [with Greg Bach]

Coaching football involves motivating your players; supplying the right equipment for practice and games; and having the facilities and your team ready before, during, and after a football game.

Motivating Your Football Players through Smart Coaching

Here are some coaching guidelines to help motivate your football players to give their best efforts, not get discouraged, and become the best they can be on the playing field:

  • Stay calm. Don’t distract your players by running up and down the sidelines, yelling instructions at them.

  • Encourage players to give it their all at all times — regardless of the score.

  • While correcting errors, use words that boost confidence and reinforce positive thoughts. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t fumble,” say, “Hold onto the ball.”

  • Convey instructions in a calm manner and tone.

  • Give kids the freedom to make mistakes, and coach effort over skills. Boost productivity by providing constant encouragement.

  • During timeouts, relay positive information to your team.

  • When substituting players, take players out of the game after they’ve done something well rather than after they’ve made a mistake.

Coaching Supplies for Football Practice and Games

Being prepared for football practice or the big game is your responsibility as the coach. Keep these items with you so you’re prepared for an emergency and have enough of the right equipment for football practices and game day.

What to bring to practice

  • Properly stocked first aid kit. Here’s a quick glimpse of some of the most important items:

    • Sterile gauze and athletic tape

    • Bags of ice

    • Bandages

    • Latex gloves

  • Pylons or other markers needed for any drills you’ll be running that require them.

  • Extra footballs and kicking tees.

  • Practice plan for the day broken down by time segments.

What to bring to games

  • A fully stocked first aid kit.

  • Cell phone in case of an injury emergency

  • A few extra gallons of water for the players

  • Your roster of players and the positions they’ll be playing

  • Sheet with your substitution rotation spelled out to ensure equal playing time for all the kids

Football Coaches' Pre-Game Responsibilities

Before you send your football team out on the field and call those plays you have worked on for weeks, use this checklist to attend to your pre-game responsibilities as football coach:

  • Arrive early and inspect the field for any hazards (broken glass, rocks, raised sprinkler heads, loose turf) that could pose injury risks to the kids.

  • Set the tone for good sportsmanship by meeting with the opposing coach and officials.

  • Verify that your players have their mouth guards and all the other proper safety equipment.

  • Get the pre-game warm-up underway with a series of light drills covering all the skills and some stretches.

Coaching Football during Pre-Game, Post-Game, and Halftime

Keeping your football players focused, positive, playing hard and having fun before, during, and after a football game is your job as their coach. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you gather your football team together:

Pre-Game Talk

  • Conduct the talk away from any distractions.

  • Speak in a calm and relaxed manner.

  • Be brief.

  • Be positive, and touch on areas of the game that the kids have excelled in.

  • Stress the importance of having fun and displaying good sportsmanship.

  • Stay away from clichés; speak from the heart to get your point across.

  • Avoid pressure phrases like “Let’s score four touchdowns today.” Remember, kids can only give you their best effort.

  • Be passionate and enthusiastic, and your excitement will carry over to your players.

Halftime Talk

  • Regardless of the score, remain positive and upbeat. Highlight the positives.

  • Focus on a couple of main points that you want to get across to the kids for the second half.

  • Make sure the kids drink water to re-hydrate.

  • Play to your team’s strengths.

  • Pile on the praise for their hard work in the first half.

  • At the more advanced levels, ask for your players’ feedback and suggestions.

  • Don’t dwell on mistakes; mistakes are all part of the learning process.

Post-Game Talk

  • Keep the focus on fun.

  • Accentuate the positive.

  • Recognize good sportsmanship that was displayed.

  • Don’t allow the scoreboard to dictate what you say to the kids.

  • Wrap up the talk on a high note and with a team cheer, and send ’em home with a smile.

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