Recruiting? Yes, recruiting kids in your own school system. Unless you’re in one of those rare situations where all you have to do is open the doors and you’ve got 80-100 prospective football players in your program, you must increase the numbers by actively recruiting. Now, we’re not talking about recruiting kids from other school districts,
Perhaps you have a junior high program or as most, a youth football league in town. It is important to ensure that these kids have a positive experience. At this level we want to keep kids involved and develop a love for the sport. Today’s third string twelve year old could be an all conference player as a senior. Believe me, we’ve had them! It’s my opinion that it’s best to promote participation rather than competition throughout a young football player’s career. It is sad to lose a young grade school athlete to frustration. The American Coaches Educational Program says that 70% of all boys who participate in youth football drop out by the time they get to high school. Now, I don’t know if that’s accurate but if it is, that’s unacceptable. Ease them into competition by their seventh and eighth grade year. By the time they are freshmen they are ready to compete and win.
Try to be active in your youth program even if you do not have much influence on the coaches. If they see that you are genuinely interested in their program and your program at the high school level has earned respect, the youth coaches will usually be glad to learn from you. Be visible to the youth program and organize coaching clinics for the youth coaches to introduce them to your offensive and defensive systems. Let them know they are a crucial part of your program. Also, organize player camps in the summer. Make sure to have plenty of help from your most popular varsity players to work the camps so the young boys are exposed to their heroes and role models.
Recruit eighth graders hard. We liked to talking to all eighth grade boys in May and encourage them to participate in SOMETHING when coming to high school in the fall. Then, as a football coach, we make our pitch to them why they should play football. We don’t care if a youngster has never played football in his life. Ask kids to give high school football a try.
One year we had a young man come out for the high school football team who had never played o