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Coaching Football Builds Character

Coaching football is challenging job at any level. You not only have to get your athletes in top condition due to the physical nature of the sport, but you also have to teach many different skills and plays so your team can perform well.

As a coach you can have a tremendous positive or negative impact on a young person's life. Teaching young people about competition and teamwork can equip them for a successful life.

Coaching Youth Football: Official Handbook of USA Football, 4th Edition is a must have book for anyone who is just getting started coaching football. For those who have been at it for a while there are numerous other resources, but not the least of which will be your colleagues.

Part of being a good football coach is providing the knowledge of the game. Another aspect of coaching football well is to get young people ready physically to participate in a very physically demanding game. Their bodies must be in top shape to handle the type of contact they endure.

Age will make a huge difference on the type of training they are involved in. As a coach you should be looking at both the fitness of the young athlete and the over-all health. Unfortunately many top college and professional football players are unhealthy.

Jump To

Lean hybrid muscle building

No nonsense muscle building


Nutrition basics

Game skills


Running the ball



Strength and Conditioning

A good fitness program will help the high school and college football player build lean muscle mass. Flexibility must be maintained as well. In attempting to become bigger and stronger to withstand the physical punishment of playing football. Coaching football gives you the responsibility of helping your players find a good workout program.

Coaching football at the high school or small college level, possibly more than other sports, means you have to be discerning in recommending programs for athletes who want to lose fat and gain muscle or gain weight and muscle.

At this level you may or may not have a coach to help with strength and conditioning. If you are coaching football you should have a basic understanding of what is going on so you can be informed and recommend good programs to your athletes.

Muscles and Fitness

Restoring Fitness

You can be healthy but unfit or fit and unhealthy. It is important to be both fit and healthy. What does it mean to be fit? The most respected publisher in exercise physiology,
in their highly authoritative Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning doesn’t even attempt a definition. We like the definition found in the Crossfit Journal. I think after reading that article most of you coaching football or playing football will want to be fit by those standards.

Most fitness experts generally agree that the days of isolation movements are gone as part of a good workout. Even today many a person coaching football has their athletes working on machines or at free weights doing the standard workouts that have been done for sometime, which simply doesn’t help their athtletes become more fit or athletically strong.

If you walk into a gym and do a standard circuit routine you’re body building. Those involved in coaching football need to have their athletes not with just great looking bodies, but competitively strong.

Listen carefully, if you are coaching football and think your athletes just walked out of the gym doing those standard lifts and having gotten a workout you’re most certainly in denial, and you have done nothing to help them gain fitness and the athletic strength necessary to perform to their capabilities.

The Loss of Physical Fitness

The loss of physical fitness was not intentional. Rather, it was accidental and most certainly unknown for many years.

The old “strongman” workouts were developed in such a way that the entire body was used to perform the task. Nothing was being isolated, nothing was being left out, the exercises required great physical strength as well as cardio vascular strength.

It is this cardio vascular strength that was the greatest loss in the transition from weight lifting to body building workouts. It is also something anyone involved in coaching football wants from their players.

In his book The Development of Physical Power Arthur Saxon wrote:

“I shall teach you to judge a man by his capabilities as an athlete, whether a weightlifter, wrestler or not, and not by the measurement of his biceps or chest. ... My idea will be, and always has been, to leave the muscles to look after themselves, but I place a premium upon the possession of untiring energy, great stamina (sic) and vital power, and a sound constitution."

Later, Edward Aston (Britain’s Strongest Man) writing for The Superman Magazine in December 1930 wrote of a “muscle cultivator” named Percy Whittaker who by his account “looked big enough and powerful enough to beat any Professional Strong Man”, but was hard pressed to beat Aston at even some of the simplest weight-lifting tests despite the rather obvious size advantage Whittaker had over Aston.

“Whittaker had cultivated muscle at the expense of strength”, he said. Aston also went on to say, “…here I would point out that these ‘muscle cultivators’ are the men who have given Physical Culture such a bad name as it possesses and who have, to no small extent, retarded the progress of weight-lifting as a sport.”

If you are coaching football at the high school or small college level you will certainly appreciate the story of Chris Barr. Barr was a 17 year old high school junior who was the captain of his football team and star of his track and field team. He set his school record for the deadlift. At 165 lbs Chris deadlifted 365lbs – breaking the previous record by more than 100 pounds.

If you don’t find anything impressive about that then perhaps you’ll be surprised to know that Chris never, never, practiced the deadlift. It was actually the first time he had ever even attempted it. He only did so at at the request of his coach.

Chris for the four years prior had worked out exclusively with kettlebells. He had more strength built into his 165 lb frame than someone twice his weight. It was that strength  combined with his extraordinary stamina and speed that made him the star of his track and field team in the first year he competed. Don't you think those coaching football would love to have an athlete who has speed, stamina, and strength?

Full Cycle

What athletic trainers [and those involved in coaching football] are doing now are changing their approach to strength building. They are returning to their roots and taking workouts done by Charles Atlas, the Saxon Brothers, Edward Aston and of course Eugene Sandow, among others, and are implementing them into their personal and group personal settings. Walking in on one of these classes is like stepping back in time and something anyone coaching football should look into.

It is not easy, it shouldn’t be, and it can’t be. Does anyone coaching football really want it to be easy? It takes effort, it takes sweat and determination it takes time, but so does everything else that’s worth doing. It builds character! Gone are the days of muscle cultivation. Let’s be as fit as we look.

Adapted from Article by Anthony Diluglio at http://www.artofstrength.com/info.php?id=224


If you are involved in coaching football, and other sports, you need to understand that our muscles are made up of different types of muscle fibers: Type I, Type II, and Type III.

The Type I fiber contracts slowly and have a high resistance to fatigue. They are better known as slow-twitch muscles.

Type II fibers have a quicker contraction time than type I fibers and a low resistance to fatigue. They are better known as fast-twitch fibers.

Type III muscle fiber behaves like a cross between Type I and Type II muscle fibers. It's stronger, more powerful, and more resistant to fatigue than the others. This is muscle that has been reconfigured by adding mitochondrial density, which results in a bigger, stronger muscle with more endurance capacity.

Mitochondria are your cells' powerhouses. They take in nutrients, break them down and create energy in the process. The more mitochondria there are in the muscle cells, the greater the energy capacity, which fuels both strength and endurance. By adding mitochondria your muscles are able to grow larger and are able to resist getting tired for longer periods. As someone involved in coaching football isn't that what you want in your athletes?

Resistance training combined with intense, short bursts of cardio, is the single best way to increase this mitochondrial density. By combining cardio, strength training, and resistance activities you cause the composition of muscles to morph into this hybrid Type III fiber. For the individual involved in coaching football that means leaner, stronger, quicker, athletes who have more stamina.

How many of you have fat linemen? These big high school age boys need to get fit and as a football coach you need to help them. In the process you will enable them to become better athletes. That is one of the responsibilities of those coaching football.

Lean Hybrid Muscle Building Program

The Lean Hybrid Muscle Building program was developed by former football players and who are now personal trainers. It is ideal program for those coaching football to offer to their young athletes who need to lose fat while gaining muscle. The program will teach

• How to increase your muscle growth by reducing your workout time.

• How to get better (and faster) results than the steroid users!

• The truth about getting rock-hard abs

• Why a full range of motion is key to massive gains

• how to perform these new exercises correctly

• The best resistance exercises and how to do them properly!

• Why athletes have an easier time losing fat while gaining muscle

• How to eat and train so you're completely in control of your muscle-building and fat-loss potential!

• Why doing resistance cardio is enough to completely change your metabolism

• How to use "hyper-adaptation" tricks to increase your muscle mitochondria and increase your muscle fiber density... blowing up your muscles like water balloons

• How to fit these simple exercises easily into your current routine... so you aren't spending an extra minute in the gym

• How to ignite your natural levels of Growth Hormone!

• Why "motivation" to train will never be a problem again!

This is a great program for all those involved in coaching football to offer his athletes or to incorporate in their own training programs.

No Nonsense Muscle Building

No Nonsence Muscle Building is a program that will teach young, thin, athletes how to gain weight and muscle in a completely safe and healthy manner. Lets face it, if you are coaching football at the high school or small college level you will have young athletes who are good athletes, but simply too skinny and weak to maximize their potential.

The program was developed to teach people techniques that will help them gain this weight without getting fat. It is muscle weight that is important not just for athletes. Certainly, coaching football, you want big but fit and healthy athletes.

In this program your athletes will learn

• The best approaches to gain weight with muscle not fat

• A 21 week workout with video instruction

• The exact 29 week program used by the developer that enabled him to gain 41 pounds of muscle in 29 weeks.

• The 10 muscle building nutrition rules

• 84 day healthy mass meal plans

• what to eat after working out

and a whole lot more.

Full Bodyweight, Military Style workouts for Athletic Strength, Stamina, and Flexibility

If you are involved in sports coaching, especially coaching football, you definitely want your athletes to have tremendous strength, athleticism, explosiveness, and flexibility. The type of strength our special forces guys have.

TacFit is a fantastic workout program for athletes.

Our special ops guys have trained their bodies to perform athletically. You don't need large space, special equipment, or a great deal of time to train. You can do it all in only 20 minutes a day.

If you are coaching football your players will develop that all important athletic strength with this incredible program. Can you imagine your football players having the strength and dexterity to do the moves of their favorite action hero? It is possible.

Consider that our elite military forces have to train for crisis response. That type of response demands a physical training program that will develop tremendous endurance, extreme range reactive strength, ballistic speed, the agility and coordination of a Free Runner, and active recovery.

Coaching football involves asking your athletes to also develop these traits.

As someone coaching football, if your athletes had those type of workouts do you think their performance would improve? You bet it would!

So, what does this basic program give you?

* workouts manual
* training calendar
* video instructions in several formats
* Recovery techniques

You can add to the basic program and get all the above, plus:

* follow along videos
* rapid recovery and breathing techniques
* diet plan
* recipe book
* video of an actual training program

So, check out all the details of TacFit and decide if that is the program for your team. Maybe you will want to incorporate all three.

Nutrition Basics

Coaching football requires a basic understand of nutrition. Nutrition is the other aspect of keeping athletes healthy and fit. Having this basic understanding will help you provide basic information to your athletes as well as helping them access even more information.

We do know that nutrition goes much further than simply taking vitamins and minerals or counting calories. Everyone has their own unique genetic code as well as beliefs and values that all impact our unique nutritional needs.

There definitely general principles that must be adhered to. Beyond that it is up to the sports coach, parents, teachers, and mentors to point athletes in the right direction to get educated regarding nutrition. In coaching football we, the football coach, also have the responsibility of helping athletes learn the dangers of steroid use or other inappropriate means of increasing strength and endurance.

To learn more about nutrition for athletes and our recommended nutrition programs you can go to our nutrition education page.


Part of the allure of steroids has not just been about strength building but it has also been about recovery from injury. While it is a relatively new field the study of redox signaling molecules. These amazing molecules are vital in the healthy functioning of our cells. If our cells are functioning properly our health will be better, our recovery will be better, and our endurance will improve. You can assist the functioning of these molecules.

Game Skills

Blocking, tackling, running, receiving, and quarterbacking


Noone coaching football could develop a consistent winning program without developing a good offensive line. Blocking is the key to the offense. A quarterback with great skills but without a great line seldom becomes a truly great quarterback - one who wins championships! Just look at the career of Archie Manning.

So, what are the basic keys to blocking? Well, there are two basic types of blocks: the run block or drive block and the pass protection block.

The drive block is a one-on-one block used most often when a defender is lined up directly over an offensive lineman and must be moved in order for the play to succeed. When coaching football emphasize the following points to your players.
  • Explode from the stance with the foot closest to the opponent and drive your hips forward on the third and fourth steps.

  • Use short choppy steps and keep the feet moving.

  • Keep the feet wide when delivering the block, keeping the head up and the shoulders square.

  • Punch hands or forearms into the opponent to establish momentum, and deliver the blow on impact.

  • Keep your head on the side of the opponent toward the hole, and follow through with short, choppy steps.
Pass Protection Block

The pass protection block keeps the defender from getting to the quarterback before he can deliver the ball to a receiver, everyone coaching football wants to give their quarterback time in the pocket.

The initial move and setup technique is extremely important in pass blocking.
  • The lineman must set up quickly, stepping with his inside foot first.

  • The lineman pushes up into a two point stance with his down hand.

  • The movement projects the offensive lineman into a position with his head up, eyes open, back straight, rear end down, hand and arms up, and feet positioned to move back or laterally in a split second.
  • The lineman must position himself between the quarterback and the defensive pass rusher.

  • He can do this by backing off the line of scrimmage quickly after the snap.

  • Make sure that your linemen know that they should never get beat to their inside.
  • The blockers must be patient when pass blocking, keeping the legs under him and always remain in a good blocking position.

  • They are not the aggressors while pass blocking.


Tackling on defense is THE skill that must be mastered. If you don't tackle you don't stop the other team from scoring. Great football coaching entails develop a good defense. A  good defense requires good tackling. As in all sports, defense wins championships. If the other team doesn't score you can't lose.

There are four basic components to good tackling and one warning...

Always tackle with your head UP!

In coaching football tackling you want your players to...

1) HIT!

The tackler is to drive his shoulder into the ball carrier's thigh pad, and nowhere else! His head should be across the runner's body and up. His hips should be under him. There should be no bend or arch to the tackler's back.

2) WRAP!

The tackler should fling his arms around the ball carrier's legs and pull the runner towards him with a sharp motion. His fingers should be grabbing cloth wherever possible.

3) LIFT!

The tackler should lift the ball carrier slightly (roughly an inch or so). This serves three purposes: it keeps the tackler on his feet, preventing dives and misses; it breaks the runner's balance and contact with the ground, and it makes the next point easier.


With short choppy steps the tackler should power the ball carrier across, rather than back along, his initial motion.

Poor tackling is responsible for about 75% of offensive production in youth football, and about 85% of the scoring. If you eliminate poor tackling you have a better chance of keeping the other team from scoring. Coaching football must involve teaching proper tackling techniques.

Here is one major tackling drill that is popular in football coaching cirlces.

Put two lines at right angles. One line is ball carriers and the other is tacklers. At the snap or coaches motion start them with ball movement. You absolutely should not use a whistle to start this because we want to associate the whistle with ending a play!

The ball carrier jogs at 3/4 speed in a straight line. The tackler moves as fast as he needs to to make the tackle, following the above four points. Alternate shoulders for every repetition and change angles at least daily. Do this drill every single day! It only takes ten minutes a day to perfect your tackling if you don't accept shoddy effort. Tackling should be worked on by the offense as well if you want to be exceptional at football coaching.

Never, ever do full speed tackling drills. Drills are where you perfect technique. Do your full speed tackling during your scrimmages. If you drill at full speed, you can virtually guarantee that you'll be calling an ambulance at least once during the season.

Quite a bit of what you read here comes from the great books Coaching Youth Football and Coaching Youth Football: Defense by John T. Reed. Those books are highly recommended. There are an awful lot of high school coaches out there that would also benefit greatly from the material Coach Reed has to offer.

Running The Ball

Running the ball controls the clock and keeps the other team off the field, just what you want while coaching football. A good running game is essential for a well-balanced team.

Here are 11 essentials for running backs to master. A couple of these involve vision which can be trained, but is for many is instinct. It does involve learning to look down field with eyes defocused so periferal vision is enhanced.

Here are the 11 football coaching essentials for running the ball:

1) Stand with your feet a bit closer together than a lineman would.

2) Work at develop first step speed. Be on the balls of your feet, knees bent, and lean slightly forward.

3) Create the correct "cradle" for accepting handoffs: Elbow closest to quarterback up, other elbow down near the waist.

4) Keep your eyes straight ahead and defocuses looking "through" the line. This improves your periferal vision and the ability to see holes and potential tacklers.

5) After the handoff, cradle the football with both hands to avoid a fumble if contact is made immediately.

6) Once you put the football in one hand, place it securely in the fingers with the index and middle fingers gripped around the nose. Squeeze the ball into the body with the elbow and arm.

7) Hit the hole with a burst. This is as much mental as it physical. Seeing the hole and having the mentality to "drive hard" through the hole is essential

8) Keep the shoulders down and the butt low for proper leverage.

9) Explode through the hole. Keep the knees up and the feet moving constantly.

10) Once in the clear, position the ball in the arm closest to the sideline. You can allow the ball to move slightly away from the body, but squeeze it right back while in traffic.

11) On contact, the ball should be covered with both hands to ward off the defense's attempts to pry it away.


A team can control the ball passing, but with incomplete passes it is not as easy to do as running the ball. While defense wins championships coaching football well involves developing a great offensive team, which will have great receivers. A great receiver can catch the ball anywhere on the field and can run after the catch. They don't drop many passes or fumble the ball very often.

11 Football Coaching Essentials for the receiver:

1) Keep your eye on the ball. Focus on the ball all the way into the hands, concentrating on the tip.

2) The best hand position is with the thumbs in where the thumbs and forefingers of each hand are almost touching.

3) If the pass is low or over-thrown, hold the hands with the little fingers in and the thumbs out.

4) Focus on catching the football at the end because if you try to catch it at the middle you are likely to see it pass through the hands.

5) Catch with your hands, not the body. Develop "soft" hands by "giving" with your hands as you catch the ball.

6) As you come out of your route, immediately look back at the quarterback.

7) Control the football before trying to run with it.

8) Develop a quick burst in your release off the line.

9) Develop good fakes like the "head bob", "head & shoulder", and "eye" fake.

10) Develop the ability to separate yourself from the defensive back. Learn to use your body to shield the defender and get space.

11) Always catch the football at its highest point.


There isn't anyone involved in coaching football that doesn't want a great quarterback. It is the most important position on the team. Yes, defense wins championships but every great team has a great quarterback. Being a great quarterback is much more than having a great arm. Leadership is probably the most important skill to develop and what those coaching football look for.

Having said that here are the top ten tips for the young quarterback.

1. Be a Leader: Leaders are players who make good decisions on and off the field. They are passionate. Coaches willl always give the opportunity to the player with stronger leadership everything else being equal. College and NFL scouts look for prospects with an incredible work ethic and good character.
  • You lead by example
  • You lead by taking responsibility
  • You lead by being humble, yet confident
  • You lead by serving.
2. Keep Your Throwing Elbow Up: One of the most common habits of untrained quarterbacks is to drop the elbow of the throwing arm. This causes the ball to be thrown "side arm" which creates tremendous torque on the elbow joint and makes it more difficult to throw the ball with accuracy. Work to keep the elbow above the shoulder through the release.
3. Practice Accuracy: Accuracy should be your number one goal with every throw. Regardless of whether you're warming up or throwing the long ball, always strive for a precise target. Practice drills, which test and improve your accuracy for all types of throws.
4. Quick Feet: Jumping rope, carioca, quick footwork and drills, which improve foot speed, are essential for quarterbacks. Footwork is the foundation of a solid drop.
5. Strengthen the Core: The secret to all athletic endeavors is core strength. Activities which enhance the strength of the abs, abliques, hips and gluts will help put velocity on your ball. Quarterbacks can improve the explosive strength of these muscles by combining medicine or weighted balls with throws, rotations and ab work.
6. Winning Attitude: Respect your coaches and fellow teammates. Remain positive. Never hang your head and shoulders. Believe in yourself while being open to constructive criticism. Recognize you are human and all humans are flawed. It makes it easier to be humble. Always seek to improve your game. A player with a good attitude and outstanding work ethic will always have a better opportunity to start.
7. Head Steady/Eyes Focused: While you certainly don't want to broadcast to your defender where you plan to throw, once you've located your man, zero in on your target. Keep the head steady, eyes focused and make the pass.
8. Explode Away From The Center: On all drops, explode away form the center with speed and confidence and purpose. Practice various drops as often as you practice your pass - DAILY!
9. Warm-up Gradually: You don't throw to get warm. Warm up your body before you throw then gradually extend your throws in distance and speed. Reduce your risk for injury by warming the shoulder with slow controlled movement.
10. Improve Your Grip: Next to an interception, the worst thing a quarterback can do is fumble the ball causing an unnecessary turn-over. Quarterbacks with "Sticky" hands practice releasing, gripping and grabbing the ball.

Share your expertise!

Coaching Football well involves learning from others. Give Back and Help Others Become Better!

Your experiences and expertise is vital and will greatly enhance coaching of one of the great American sports. If you have feedback on any of our recommended products, suggestions for others, tips, and strategies to help other coaches please share it!.

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