6 Ways to Engage Youth Players

Creating a Feeder Program for the High School

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor

By collaborating with the youth coaches in the area, a high school coach can strengthen his program by increasing participation numbers and adding to the talent pool in the incoming freshman class.

Bradley Webber had every intention of planting roots in the local community when he became the Pike County (Ga.) head coach in 2008. So, his first order of business as coach was to reach out to youth programs in the area to establish a feeder system.

Webber’s program is now infused each season with a seasoned crop of freshmen – players who are familiar with his team’s scheme and verbiage. Webber offered these six tips to other coaches for creating a partnership with the local youth program.

Have a Youth Night. Pike County has a rec night each year. The youth players warm up with the varsity high school players. Wrist bands are distributed to youth players.

Have a Youth Camp/Clinic. Give the youth players opportunities to get coached by the high school staff. Share the verbiage and basics of the scheme. Let the players establish relationships with coaches before their first practice.

Coach the Coaches. Hold a clinic to share ideas on coaching with the youth coaches so that the community has a streamlined way of teaching and installing its schemes.

Let the Youth Players Use the Facilities. What better way to provide motivation to youth players than by letting them dress in the varsity locker room and play on the same fields?

Have a Doubleheader. Schedule a night in which the junior high team opens for the varsity. Fans will trickle into the stadium throughout the early game and inspire the youth players to stick with the sport.

Hire the Right Assistants. Most of the time spent working with youth players and coaches is not technically on the clock. Hire the right assistants so they are invested in the program as a whole and won’t shudder at the idea of working without compensation.

Do you have a thought about this article that you would like to share? If you do, email managing editor Dan Guttenplan at dguttenplan@ae-engine.com. Tweet us @fnfcoaches.