Unless you are coaching a “select” team or have 50-60 kids on your squad, the typical youth football coach is going to have to develop some unathletic kids into competent starters and competent backups.
Your Typical Youth Football Team
The typical youth football team consists of 22-27 kids. If for the sake of discussion you have 24, the typical team will have 4-5 kids from that group that are real “football players”, athletic enough or tough enough kids that can start both ways. Now you have 19 kids remaining, of which you have 12 starting spots left on offense and defense. Of the remaining 19, you will typically have 3-4 kids that are smart enough that through technique and alignment/assignment mastery they will start at a position but may lack some of the physical attributes that are required to play the position well. Of the remaining 15, most teams will have 5-6 kids that are “average” meaning they possess average athleticism and enough mental ability that they will start on one side of the ball.
So now you are left with 9 “minimum play” kids, which are usually well below average size and athleticism, often first year kids that are very lost. Often the remaining nine, 4 are often kids that are totally out of their element. Many times these are the kids that are first year kids giving football “a try” that often play just one year and are either very weak physically, mentally or both. Sometimes these kids are playing just to please a parent.
You Have No Choice But to Develop “Minimum Play” Players in Youth Football
You are going to have to develop a starter or two out of that group pf “minimum play” kids as well as some competent back ups. Many youth football leagues including Pop Warner have minimum play rules, where you have to play everyone a pre-set number of plays. Even for those of us that have no minimum rules, many of us self impose a minimum play standard to insure all the kids get at least some playing time if they attend practices regularly. When faced with this challenge the youth coach has to be willing, able and interested in developing weaker players. I for one look forward to it and embrace it as a challenge and opportunity to help someone develop an appreciation and love for the game and helping someone that in many cases wouldn’t get much attention elsewhere. On a selfish note if you have minimum play requirements, the development of these players may be the difference in your teams winning or losing. Often in leagues like Pop Warner where minimum play rules are strictly enforced, how well your least talented players perform versus the other teams least talented players is a strategy unto itself.