Vin Sehgal and Jeff Hemhauser had no idea what they’d started back in 2010.
The pair simply created a blog discussing the many benefits of youth football. They hoped to connect with youth coaches and parents and improve the game as a whole.
It’s safe to say they accomplished that mission.
That dream blossomed into Youth Football Online, the go-to source for information on tips, drills, formations, plays and awards in the youth game. The site snagged a spot on the Hudl 100 earlier this summer and is used in more than 170 countries. It’s provided a way for Sehgal and Hemhauser to educate parents on the benefits of getting their kids involved.
The two noticed a spike in site traffic around 2013 as the interest in concussions and the safety of the game became a national story. As former NFL stars and neurologists pondered football’s place in the sports world, Sehgal and Hemhauser sought to point out what positive effects the sport has had.
“A lot of these kids and their parents credit football for some of their success, teaching them hard work, commitment, dedication, things like that,” Hemhauser said. “It just showcases the benefit of team sports."
“That’s what we’re really about,” Sehgal added. “We want to promote the game. With so much noise out there with how the sport is dangerous, we say, ‘Look at these benefits that you can add from playing the sport.’"
But YFO’s impact goes far beyond debating the safety of football. The site acknowledges players as YFO All-Stars, giving recognition to the youth game’s top performers. Parents or coaches can nominate a player and share their Hudl highlight to try and get selected.
Youth Football Online is also involved in a number of philanthropic efforts, donating both equipment to leagues and money to help get teams registered.
“Being involved with coaching for 12 years and being a board member for quite some time now, everything is expensive,” Hemhauser said. “We have very tight budgets. We have to do fundraising. We know the struggle these coaches and volunteer board members go through just to get their kids to play with the best equipment. And with the innovation of equipment, the prices are going up.
“If we can help out youth organizations that are helping our kids out, we’re all for it."
As the website has grown and their interaction with coaches has increased, Sehgal and Hemhauser have seen firsthand how video has become more important and prevalent in the youth space. Hemhauser said that youth players are very visual learners, and showing them video of themselves is a very effective way to get them engaged and help them improve.
“There is nothing like visual aid. You can say it a million times, but kids have to see it. When kids see themselves doing it, they’re more engaged to watch it. I’m not so much showing them a kid I coached five years ago that did it the right way. They’ll be more focused in seeing how they look so they retain the information better. They seem more engaged because they want to see how they look. They want to see their form."
This is where Hudl excels. By recording games and practices, coaches can provide feedback for their youth athletes that allows them to correct mistakes and maximize their potential. The YFO founders have seen coaches across the nation recognize the benefits of using Hudl.
“Look at Hudl. Everyone throws their game footage up on Hudl,” Hemhauser said. “Coaches want to showcase their offense and their drills and everything like that. The growth of social media and all these video-sharing apps, it’s only going to grow."
Check out Hamhauser and Sehgal’s work at youthfootballonline.com and nominate your players to become YFO All-Stars. To help your team improve, get them engaged with Hudl. Use the promo code “YFO1” for 10 percent off.