Commissioner Corner: Resources for Coach Education and Training

By Quinn Ursprung | Posted 6/22/2020

USA Football creates resources to help leagues like yours year-round.

Commissioner Corner is a blog series tailored for organization leaders that features advice for leagues, by leagues across a variety of topics.

Whether you are new to coaching or a veteran coach, you’re in the position to teach and influence the young athletes on your team on and off the field. Coaching resources are vital for gathering the knowledge and teaching methods to best develop athletes in the safest manner possible.

Learning more about coach education, resources, and training beyond USA Football’s Youth Coach Certification can help provide and deliver a safe, positive, and enjoyable football experience for your youth athletes.

What are the resources and education options available for your coaches?

“Zionsville Youth Football League (ZYFL) partners with local high school football programs for skills clinics and camps, allowing coaches to share knowledge and techniques to a wider youth athlete audience. When leagues build relationships with high school programs, league coaches can better broaden their skills set and athletes can gain a positive experience.”

Josh Medvescek // Board Member // Zionsville Youth Football League (Ind.)

“We utilize the HUDL program more every year and use it from the varsity down to the sixth-grade teams. Coaches can breakdown each game weekly with the kids, which provides incredible teaching opportunities at a young level. HUDL also has a playbook that we incorporate with our kids. Each level has a specific level of capabilities, so we modify the playbooks for the age-appropriate level of play. We can easily transfer plays, packages, or the whole playbook to kids at the push of a button. We can also send information back and forth between the high school and middle school programs. This is great for providing coaches with lots of background on kids entering high school.

“In the offseason, our youth coaches participate in what we call the Appleton North Lightning Youth Football Academy. Our high school coaches work with our youth players for seven sessions on Tuesdays throughout the summer. We have several classroom sessions where the varsity coaches bring in the youth coaches and walk them through our offensive and defensive systems, then position by position. The classroom sessions generally use a lot of HUDL clips and some whiteboarding as well.”

Nick Salm // President // Appleton Youth Football Association (Wis.)

Coaches affiliated with the Dane County Area Youth Football League (DCAYFL) have the unique opportunity to enhance their ability to provide a safe environment for athletes while receiving a certification in First Aid, CPR, and AED. With sudden cardiac arrest being the leading cause of death for competitive youth athletes, we feel that it is of utmost importance to learn and understand the lifesaving procedures to increase one’s chance of survival in the event of an emergency.

“Clinics are held annually for coaches interested in equipping themselves with the tools and confidence needed to transform them from the role of bystander to lifesaver. At times when medical staff is not available, each team is required to have one certified coach present to provide care if needed. Both in-person and online blended learning courses are currently available to coaches in the DCAYFL with a completion certification valid for two years.”

Karly Frey // President // Dane County Area Youth Football League (Wis.)

What advice would you like to share with league leaders that are looking for more resources to educate coaches?

“When preparing to get their First Aid, CPR, and AED certification, coaches have many options. While the American Heart Association and American Red Cross offer many classes in nearby communities, coaches may also look to their local YMCA, school or fire department for courses taught by certified instructors. In just a few hours, coaches will learn life-changing skills that can make all the difference to someone in need.

“Do your research. With less than 40 percent of kids aged 6 to 12 playing team sports regularly (and even worse with age), it is time we do more. While it is important to provide a safe and healthy environment for athletes, it is equally as important to provide a fun and enjoyable environment. Look for ways to continually help coaches become the best that they can be for their athletes, whether that is through First Aid, CPR, and AED certifications or Positive Coaching Alliance workshops. The resources are endless. The bare minimum is simply not enough. Just remember: It takes change to make a change.”

Karly Frey // President // Dane County Area Youth Football League (Wis.)

“Look for any resources you can. We at ZYFL are fortunate to have a great coaching staff. I’ve always said, ‘The best coaches are the best thieves.’ Coaches take feedback, drills, and structure from others and adjust for the betterment of their teams and programs.”

Josh Medvescek // Board Member // Zionsville Youth Football League (Ind.)

Why do you go above and beyond to provide more coach education and training resources?

“After recognizing that merely 3 percent of the U.S. population receives CPR training each year, the DCAYFL wanted to become a part of the solution while doing more to educate and prepare our coaches for health-related emergencies both on and off the field. With limited funding or resources for adequate defibrillators and varied response times of advanced medical help, trained and certified coaches are the key component to being able to double or triple the chance of survival using immediate CPR.

“Although injuries can take place in all sports and recreational activities, the DCAYFL is committed to continuing taking the necessary measures to enhance the safety and well-being, not only of our participants but for our community as well with the hopes of becoming a leader for others to follow.”

Karly Frey // President // Dane County Area Youth Football League (Wis)

“In youth football today, the most important person is the coach and providing them with the correct resources and information. The number one goal for our younger athletes is to allow them to be safe, have fun, and enjoy the game. Therefore, training our coaches and giving them resources to implement that is imperative.”

Josh Medvescek // Board Member // Zionsville Youth Football League (Ind.)

“As a football coach, you have only three things to focus on that will make you a good coach. Being a very good person, being a very good leader of athletes, having a great deal of education and continued learning of the game. I also believe in three principles of being a good youth coach.

  1. Protect kids: Coaches are there to make sure kids can play the game without outside distractions bothering them or teammates not treating them like part of the team. At all costs, watch your kids and help them when they need it.
  2. Teach the game properly: As a coach, you must safely progress them in the knowledge of how to play the game, skills to play the game and teach them the principles of a position or number of positions where they can help their team and have individual success at the same time. Teaching the game properly should first and foremost include playing the game safely. We have at least 8-10 coaches at each level. This is so we have a lot of eyes to watch our kids. The more trained eyes, the safer we will be. We take great pride in our exceptional statistics of healthy play, but it all starts with teaching the game properly.
  3. Have fun & teach fun: Kids need to understand how to work and how to commit to the need to work. More importantly, kids need to have fun! It’s a game, and there is a fine line to playing and not having any fun. We teach kids how to earn fun. I believe that the greatest fun to have is to achieve fun through hard work and dedication to practicing and coming together with your teammates. Then, when you all work hard together and you trust and commit to one another, you can come out victorious in a game. You earned it! Earning fun is the hardest, but most rewarding fun you can have. Fun means a lot more when you must do it together and it works! This can be achieved in practices leading up to games, but it must also be communicated, and if you want them to come back and continue playing, it must be fun.”

Nick Salm // President // Appleton Youth Football Association (Wis.)


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