Ultimate Guide to Coaching Youth Football

Maintaining discipline may be one of your toughest challenges as a coach. See more football pictures.
©iStockphoto.com/Iris Nieves

Perhaps you love football. Maybe you even played football in high school. And now, you've signed your own child up for the local youth football league. What's more, you've agreed to coach his team. That was a couple of months ago, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Now practices are looming, and you realize you are a little underprepared.

While the prospect of coaching a team of enthusiastic, young football star wannabes might seem daunting, armed with some basic information and a practice plan, you could have the time of your life. Remember, youth sports are supposed to be a fun way to learn basic life skills -- respect for others (both on your team and on opposing teams), discipline, hard work, and following through when the going gets tough. Modeling those values for your players may go a long way toward your success as a coach [source: Coaching Youth Football].

Two tips can help get you started: First, keep in mind that every league is going to have different requirements and rules, both for players and for coaches. Before you even start planning your practices and drilling your players, you'll need to check out the handbook for your specific league. This manual should also note the required equipment, safety rules and weather-related rules that are specific to your league. Additionally, many leagues make this information available on their Web sites.

Second, you should bear in mind that maintaining discipline is probably going to be one of the main challenges you face as a coach. Mental, physical and emotional discipline will all contribute to proper play, training and conditioning, and learning to win and lose graciously. Your players should develop the ability to work as a team, which doesn't always come naturally to people. You will need to stress both discipline and teamwork from the very first minute you begin practices [source: Pasqualoni and McLaughlin].

With those two tips as a starting place, you are ready to go on to some of the rules, drills, skills and strategies you'll need to have a successful coaching experience. To get a handle on the basics, read on to the next page.