Five Ways to Engage Your Feeder Programs

Getting involved with the youth teams in your area is an easy way to set your­self up for future success.

Five Ways to Engage Your Feeder Programs

Getting involved with the youth teams in your area is an easy way to set your­self up for future success.

Each fall a new group of play­ers arrives at your school, eager to make their mark. In a few years one of these fresh­men will be your lead­ing tack­ler or stud run­ning back.

But for now, they’re just anoth­er group of wide-eyed young­sters in shell shock by the wide array of changes high school presents. They must adapt to your rules, study an entire­ly new play­book and coach­ing phi­los­o­phy, learn how to train and lift weights and meet a new group of team­mates — and that’s not even tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion all their off-field adjustments.

You have the pow­er to ease that tran­si­tion. Having fresh­men pre­pared from day one could be the bedrock of your pro­gram. Working with youth leagues and help­ing to devel­op tomorrow’s stars will define future success.

Here are some ways you can impact your local youth leagues and ensure that the next wave of tal­ent will enter high school ready to hit the ground running.

Hold Youth Camps

What bet­ter way to con­nect your pro­gram to youth leagues than to engage them direct­ly? Whether host­ed at your school or an off-cam­pus loca­tion, these camps allow you to:

  • Teach youth coach­es your phi­los­o­phy, which will then trick­le down and be intro­duced to the players.
  • Meet and engage with the par­ents of your future players.
  • Introduce the play­ers to the way you run your pro­gram, short­en­ing the adjust­ment peri­od once they get to high school.
  • Connect with the com­mu­ni­ty and build good­will with fans.

Though mak­ing mon­ey isn’t the No. 1 issue, these camps can also be used as a fundrais­er if you choose to charge for them, sup­ply­ing your team with a lit­tle extra income. Conducting a sum­mer camp is an easy and effec­tive way to con­nect with the com­mu­ni­ty and build rela­tion­ships with the future of your program.

Get Them Hooked Up With Hudl

Your team may be used to watch­ing video through Hudl, but some youth teams have yet to take advan­tage. The ear­li­er you can get the play­ers famil­iar with review­ing video, the more effec­tive they’ll be at study­ing it once they’re on your team.

Kids are such visu­al learn­ers, and Hudl allows us to show kids instant­ly what we’re talk­ing about.” Chris Merritt, head coach at Christopher Columbus HS in Miami

There are major ben­e­fits for youth play­ers to gain from using Hudl, so tell their coach­es about it. You could poten­tial­ly even hold a train­ing ses­sion, allow­ing you to build rela­tion­ships with coach­es while ensur­ing they teach their play­ers correctly.

Simply put, Hudl is a great teach­ing tool for young ath­letes. Get them engaged and famil­iar with it ear­ly on to pro­mote future success.

Get Them Involved on Game Day

Any time you can tie your pro­gram with a pos­i­tive youth expe­ri­ence, play­ers are more like­ly to want to play in high school or, if your school is pri­vate, enroll. You should be doing any­thing you can to con­nect pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences and inter­ac­tions with your program.

Game day pro­vides all kinds of oppor­tu­ni­ties to get the kids involved. You can have them serve as ball boys or kick­ing tee run­ners. If a local youth team is suc­cess­ful, rec­og­nize them at half­time or through a call-out on the PA sys­tem. Hold youth nights or pro­vide dis­count­ed tick­ets for coach­es who bring large num­bers of players.

Meet Face to Face

Some of the nation’s top schools have tak­en a very hands-on approach in engag­ing local teams. If pos­si­ble, meet with young coach­es and league com­mis­sion­ers to make sure that the play­ers are going through the same process on Saturdays that they even­tu­al­ly will in high school.

Share plays and for­ma­tions with coach­es and show them how you teach and con­duct cer­tain drills. Give them a peek into your phi­los­o­phy and they’ll fol­low suit. Some com­mu­ni­ties even have their youth squads pre­pare and warm up the same way their high school teams do.

The ear­li­er and more often the youth play­ers are intro­duced to your way of doing things, the short­er the adjust­ment peri­od will be once they’re under your watch.

Allow Shadowing Sessions

Many youth coach­es have aspi­ra­tions of fur­ther­ing their careers and coach­ing at the next lev­el. Allow them to shad­ow your team for a prac­tice, game or film ses­sion to show them the ropes firsthand.

This is a win on two fronts. First, the coach is like­ly to take notes and imple­ment some of your style with his play­ers, intro­duc­ing them to your phi­los­o­phy at an ear­li­er age. It also allows you to build strong rap­port with the coach­es, who are then more like­ly to point their play­ers in your school’s direction.

And who knows — you just might need a new assis­tant some­day. It nev­er hurts to give your­self new options.

Strong pro­grams aren’t assem­bled in a day. They are care­ful­ly planned and built over time. By com­mit­ting to youth play­ers and coach­es in your area, you are set­ting your team up for future success.