CYFL Background Screening Policies and Procedures for the 2011 Season
All CYFL coaches and other volunteers (as determined by the CYFL Board of Directors) who did not complete a background screening last season through NCSI (National Center for Safety Initiatives) will be required to complete a screening prior to the upcoming 2011 season. Background screenings on volunteers are necessary to help ensure the safety of all children participating in league activities and we have put in place to be what we as a board feel are, strict, but fair, requirements of those who we entrust with our childrens' well-being.
ALL COACHES SHOULD ATTEMPT TO COMPLETE A BACKGROUND SCREENING BY CLICKING ON THE NCSI LETTER TO APPLICANTS BELOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! ANY COACHES FOUND WITHOUT A CURRENT BACKGROUND CHECK DURING THE SEASON WILL BE SUSPENDED UNTIL THE SCREENING HAS BEEN COMPLETED. THIS CAN OFTEN TAKE UP TO TWO (2) WEEKS TO COMPLETE, SO PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR INFORMATION TODAY! IF THE SITE WILL NOT ACCEPT YOUR INFORMATION IT IS BECAUSE YOUR LAST SCREENING IS STILL CURRENT. THANKS!
These requirements apply only to coaches within the Crossroads Youth Football League. Coaches within affiliated organizations should check with their respective boards for background screening requirements and procedures.
How to Improve Your Team's Practice
By Scott Lancaster, Youth Evolution Sports
Youth coaches are always looking for ways to keep youngsters engaged during practice.
Here are seven tips to keep practice fresh and interesting.
Follow these steps to spice up a team practice.
You could hear it in any household, almost every season, it begins early in the year and often gets worse as the season wears on -"I don't want to go to practice!" "Can I skip practice today?" "I hate practice!" Yes we all experience it, yet do we attempt to get to the root of it? Or do we naturally react with "You signed up for this team, you're going to practice and be committed to your team!" It all sounds like the right thing to do, after all teaching your child that backing out of things after making a commitment, because they don't like it, is wrong. In theory we are right, but are we seeing the forest through the trees.
Let's first understand why kids dislike practice. One of the first reasons you always hear is that "practice is boring". Naturally we respond by thinking and I often hear parents say, "Practice is about learning and getting better, not about having fun." Now, put yourself in your child's shoes. If they think there is no way practice can be fun they basically give up, and as a result there is no chance they will learn or improve. If it's not fun it'll not be engaging therefore you'll not capture their attention. Think about how easily children teach themselves how to play a new video and/or computer game. Many of these games are not the easiest to learn yet your child masters them in no time. Why does this happen? It's fairly simple, it's fun to play computer and video games and as a result the child immediately becomes engaged in the process of learning. The same holds true for sports and practices.
What do kids dislike about practice?
- Too much down time and standing around. Practices that have large amounts of interruptions such as coaches taking time to figure out what they should do next, long lines with kids waiting for their next turn, or coaches who stop practice to give long explanations, all contribute to a boring practice in a kid's mind. This is not how you keep a kid's attention. A kid will experience their most productive learning when it takes place in fast paced increments that are experiential. Continuous command instruction with limited repetitions, and no opportunity to experiment with what they just learned, is extremely boring for kids. Now think about how your practices are organized and paced.
- Not receiving equal attention. It's fairly easy to coach and pay all your attention to the stars of your team. But coaching is about teaching new and improving upon skills. If more times needs to be spent with any athlete on your team it should be with ones that are struggling. Everyone should receive attention, but special attention should be paid to your weakest athletes.
- Not experiencing improvement. Practice should specifically attempt to improve upon both team and individual's weaknesses. Practices should not be a replication of your games. In other words if your practices are primarily scrimmages kids will not experience significant improvement. Very little teaching takes place during scrimmages. As Head Penn State Football Coach, Joe Paterno says, "If you can't coach, scrimmage." Practices should be productive and engaging learning experiences, not an extension of your game schedule.
What's the best way to design and run your youth practices? The following is a checklist of how to improve and make your practices a more contemporary and rewarding part of your athlete's season.
- Set overall objectives for your team to achieve prior to the start of your season. Objectives can vary by sport or team, but they may include limiting mental errors on the baseball field, executing all the basics of tackling and blocking in football, winning more 50/50 balls in soccer, reducing your opponents number of second shots in basketball, etc. Set several key objectives for the season, design specific drills and games that emphasize their execution in practice and track your team's progress with these objectives throughout the season.
- Plan and choreograph every practice. Practices should be designed into small timed segments no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. The rule of thumb here is that a child's attention span is no longer in minutes than their age. For example an 8 year old should be taught in 8 minute timed segments that progress to the next portion of the skill or a new drill. Practices should also be no longer than 90 minutes. Your goal should be to have kids disappointed that practice has ended and looking forward to their next practice.
- Eliminate lines and increase equal repetitions for every athlete. Pair off every athlete the best you can by ability and be sure that instruction is brief and a majority of each timed segment is spent on repetitions.
- Start and finish each practice on a high note by pumping everyone up. Kids love getting excited and pumped up, you can do this by creating a chant that builds slowly to a loud cheer and sends every athlete away ready to execute and perform. If your practices start off slow and uninspired it's difficult to create enthusiasm for what your about to teach. If you end your practices abruptly without sending each athlete away excited about what they just learned you miss a great opportunity to reinforce the last 90 minutes. Some of the best practices I've seen at the elite levels of college begin and end with the entire team gathered at the center of the field jumping up and down as a group chanting and inspiring each other. Try it and observe how your athletes react to the experience. There is nothing wrong in sports to be a little kid-like as their coach.
- Design mini-competitions throughout each practice that measure both individual and group progress. Immediately after each drill, that teaches a particular technique or fundamental, create a competition that incorporates a point system for the correct execution of those fundamentals. Be creative and design games and competitions that emphasize things you have just taught, if you're struggling to come up with these search this web site for suggestions.
- Incorporate surprises into practices. Everyone likes a surprise, especially if it changes things up. For example, if you have baseball practice for 8 year olds, surprise them with baseball cards. As practice is going on, and you witness an athlete executing correctly reward them with a card. At any given practice you can find a reason to reward every athlete for something they have done correctly or for giving extra effort.
- After-practice specialization. If you find it necessary or feel your athletes could benefit, offer after practice specialization in particular fundamentals of the game. For example it could be executing corner kicks, or goalie work, but offer it to anyone who is interested for an additional 30 minutes after specific practices.
Remember we need to be aware that kids can become disenchanted with sports. However we can incorporate some simple changes that can make their experience contemporary and enjoyable therefore keeping their passion alive for sports and an active lifestyle throughout their childhood.
The Most Successful Football Coaches Begin Planning for Their Football Season, Now
If you are looking to have a successful season, your preparation needs to begin before the first practice begins. Here are some tips to get your started.
AS WINTER WEARS ON and spring quickly approaches, you should be asking yourself – “How do I begin to save myself time this upcoming fall?” Many coaches write me during the middle of their seasons asking for help to organize their practices. Unfortunately it’s usually too late at that point to make much of a difference. The best time of the year to prepare for the fall season is now. The advantage is the fact that you only need to dedicate small amounts of time each day. For example, if you spend 15 minutes each day writing down different things that you want your team to achieve this fall and the fundamentals they need to accomplish those goals, followed by finding the best drills to develop those fundamentals, you are well on the way to a great season of learning, improvement, and a great amount of time saved during the season.
In order to help you accomplish organizing your entire season of fall practices, we’ll begin to provide you with some of the following ideas and tools:
- A list of suggested fundamentals to teach this season.
- A wide selection of drills to incorporate into your practices that apply directly to the fundamentals you would like to teach
- Advice on how to organize and run an entire season of practices.
Let’s begin by suggesting 7 key elements that can be added to your practices.
- Set objectives: Before you begin planning your practices for the fall, establish a realistic list of goals for you and your team this season. The key here is establishing realistic goals. Goals that require the team to go undefeated, make the playoffs, win a championship, or even finish with a winning record, often place too much pressure on the team, and are overly focused on final results. These should not be considered goals but rather a bonus or by-product for achieving your other established objectives. A football team that wants to improve their open field tackling, the center/quarterback exchange, and downfield blocking, are realistic goals that can be measured, rewarded, and most often leads to good overall results for the entire season. One goal every coach should set out to achieve is to make practices the most enjoyable part of your team’s season. Imagine your players looking forward to attending every practice. The remainder of these suggestions will help you achieve just that.
- Teach every position to every player: A great way to engage every player in the pre-season and truly prepare a fully knowledgeable team for the season is to introduce and teach the fundamentals of every position to every player on the team. Avoid pigeonholing kids into one particular position because of their physical size or ability. If kids are taught the fundamentals of each position, over time they will find the position where they belong naturally rather than having an adult dictate where they will play.
- Incorporate athletic development training: Too many kids are handicapped by the fact that they cannot properly run, jump, throw, catch, not to mention move laterally or any other direction. We expect kids to execute sport specific skills before we ever introduce or teach them basic athletic skills. Do your entire team a favor and introduce them to a series of fun drills that improve their agility, balance, coordination, flexibility, speed, stamina, and strength. These are the skills that will improve their overall performance on the field throughout the season.
- Measure progress of every player: One of the key reasons kids participate on an organized team is to become better at that particular sport. Your main responsibility is to make sure every athlete improves his or her overall skills. That applies to every athlete on your team, no matter his or her ability. A good coach spends equal time working with the athlete with the least amount of ability as he or she would with the star performers. A fun way to keep track of progress is to create a scorecard for each athlete. During practices and games have someone record specific key fundamental techniques, such as in football, getting into the proper stance, positioning the shoulder and head properly while tackling, correctly running with the ball, etc. If these techniques are continually taught and reinforced throughout the season, tracking each individual’s progress is a great way to demonstrate what they need to continue to focus on or how well they’ve improved. Otherwise a season that may seem disappointing due to final scores that are most often out-of-your control can still be put into perspective and rewarding for every athlete on the team.
- Incorporate competitions into every practice: A great way to measure everyone’s progress is to sprinkle competitions throughout a practice that emphasize the fundamentals that have been introduced and taught that particular day. This is a fun way to reinforce your teaching, provide an opportunity for each athlete to test their skills outside of a drill, and allows for each athlete to self-measure their progress. For example, if you’re teaching how to execute quarterback/center exchanges and hand-offs to a running back at practice, conduct a relay race of groups of three kids, where each team attempts to move the ball down-the-field by executing proper center/QB exchanges and hand-offs in 5 yard successful increments, for a total of 45 yards. Each player rotates to a different position for a minimum of three times per position. For example player A starts the race at quarterback, switches to the running back position for the second snap of the ball, then proceeds to the center position for the third snap, before repeating the entire rotation again two more times. If a team mishandles any portion of the exchanges, the ball returns to the original races starting line.
- Divide all players into groups of 4 – 6: In order to keep your practices well organized and running smoothly throughout the season break up your team into small groups. Design each practice to consistently work in groups of 4 to 6 athletes. If possible also assign partners within each group as a fast way to break into groups and pair off for drills. Divide equally amongst the team considering ability, size, and personality. In other words use common sense, don’t place an athlete that tends to develop at a slower rate with others that are advanced. Each group will work together and compete against each other every practice in friendly competitions that reinforce all the skills learned. This will ultimately save you time each practice by avoiding the chore of breaking the team into groups every time you meet.
- Make time for free play: Often we criticize coaches that turn each practice into a large scrimmage. That’s not what we are suggesting here, we are recommending that you dedicate 15 minutes each practice for kids to make up their own games while you observe. You’ll be amazed what you learn about each athlete when you incorporate this into your practice. Witness who your leaders are, who has the most creativity, and who understands the fundamentals that have been taught. You may want to give guidelines for their free play such as create a game that focuses on the fundamentals that were just introduced in practice, or a game that they feel best represents what they need to work on as a team to improve their overall performance. This ultimately empowers your team and gives them the freedom to enjoy themselves without instruction and judgment taking place.
These are few suggestions to consider as you begin to plan your fall season of practices. Over the course of the year I’ll be providing many more tips to incorporate into practices, in order to save you time, and present the most effective practice for kids of any age.
USA Football is a great resource for CYFL coaches. For more information on making next season your best ever, please visit them on the web at www.usafootball.com.
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