We did a lot of good things this year. We finished 7-2, and lost in the semifinals. The team that won the league we lost to 6-0 in double overtime. We didn't have much talent this year but we had a lot of kids that played with heart. We went to a tournament and did very well in the first game, but got beat in the second game by a team much younger than us. They had more speed than I have ever seen. Our team has never seen that kind of speed.
One thing that we could have done better was our line blocking technique. Our line did not sustain blocks very long, and we didn't do as well as we should have driving people off the line as we should have. Granted we are working with 9 and 10 year olds, but we played against some very good 9 and 10 year olds that did sustain blocks well. We saw one team that had 4 players lead blocking 25 yards downfield! Impressive.
Can anyone give me some ideas on how to teach players on the line to sustain blocks for a longer period of time??? Also, did anyone use zone blocking at the youth level this year, and if so, how well did it work?
Great question on sustaining the blocks, coach. I call it the bounce block: the kid comes off hard and gives the the guy a good pop but bounces off. We had to be the best in the league at that technique, the only problem being it's not a technique we ever taught! I'd love to hear the answer to that one. One thing I did notice is that the best blocking teams we saw all tended to have five man sleds available to them. I don't think that's the answer, just an observation.
I'm working with 12-15 year olds, and we did zone block. We had great success against slower teams with the outside zone, less so against speed teams. Inside zone was a base play for us. The kids did learn the concept, but have a tendency to focus on the combo and forget to eyeball and come off on the attacking LBs. You have to be very patient with them and accept that you're going to miss some big gainers while they learn how to do it. I'll be working on concepts for reinforcing this key element to the inside zone this off season.
Basically, if you can be patient while the line learns the combo skills and have a back with vision who can read cuts and cutbacks, I think it can work at the youth level. The trick is when things get tight (which usually happens against teams with speed) he's got to be able to make one cut and move the pile when there's a crowd. My TB last year was good at both, my guy this year was gone if he caught a seam. Unfortunately this year's guy was so used to catching those seams that when we played a team with a lot of speed in the playoffs he didn't understand the concept of one cut and get north-south until the 4th qtr of our playoff game. It finally clicked that he could move the pile 3-4 yards and avoid getting a bunch of hats in his back and ribs if he wouldn't dance and would attack once the cut lanes disappeared, but alas, it was too late to move us forward in the playoffs. That's football.
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