Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Junior High Program

Posted by admin May - 28 - 2010 - Friday

A coach asked: “should a 7th and 8th grade program use the same playbook, terminology and techniques as the High School program OR… just teach the fundamentals?”

IF… the Varsity coach has responsibility/control over the Junior High/Middle School program, then absolutely “Yes!” They are part of your program and you should be installing your offense, defense and special teams at that level just like you would at the Freshman and J.V. levels. More importantly than “installing” should be “instilling”— values, expectations and policies that the kids will have to exhibit when they get to the high school. To allow junior high kids to be “renegades” when they are playing at 6th-8th grade and then come to the high school program and be expected to be good citizens is fighting an uphill battle.

However, if the Junior High/Middle School football program is “independent” of the High School program, then you don’t have any control over what they install or instill. As I mention in my book, 101 Little Things that Can Make a BIG Difference, a Varsity coach should establish lines of communication and provide any help that his feeder programs need. I see nothing wrong with “pitching” to the Jr. High coach that you would like him to run your system. But… be quick to point out that you will provide him the help he needs to learn it and install it.

Soooooooooo… “Yes”! I think the earlier you can get the kids that you will be coaching at the high school level “indoctrinated” to your program the better off you’ll be. We can’t draft and we can’t recruit at the high school level. We take what we get and work as hard as we can to make them the best they can be. The earlier that process can start, the better your program is going to be over the long haul. You focus on THIS season but you’re always “planning” for the next 2-3 seasons. Those kids in 7th grade will be sophomores in that 2-3 year time period. Isn’t it better to “capture his heart and mind” when he’s 13 and mold him into the type of player that you want him to be than to wait and get him as a 15-16 year old Sophomore and try to assimilate him into your program in a year so he has a chance to help you by the time he’s a Senior?

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