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Gary sent the following question:
My coaches and I have decided to use video to grade our middle school players. This is new for us, so any ideas will be appreciated.
My feeling is to grade players as simple as possible. I also feel that we must define why we are doing the grading.
It was important to me and the staff that we were not just involved in an exercise to determine who the best player was at any position. After a year of coaching the team, we should know which segment of the defense played the best based on our grades. We were not evaluating coaching expertise.
Ideally, we wanted to have the entire staff together, but this was not always possible. However, we always had at least two coaches in the room when grading took place. It is crucial to have a second set of eyes to help determine a play that was difficult to grade.
Our sole goal was to identify weaknesses in our players in order to focus, correct and monitor closely during the next season. We did this by taking each play, listing the technique that the player should use and then grading his performance using this technique plus his effort for the entire play.
When grading the play and technique, we used a simple “+” (executed technique properly) or “-” (if the player failed to correctly use his technique). If it was an assignment error, we put an “A” following the minus sign: “-A”. On any play in which the player could not be observed, we used “ng,” signifying no grade.
This gave us a good picture of which players were needed more work to properly master a particular technique in order to have greater success individually and for us to improve as a team.
In the effort category, a player received a check if the effort was good and a zero if it was unacceptable. Effort was then calculated to determine a percentage score.
We felt that any grade in effort below 95 percent was not acceptable. We focused more on motivating that player to raise his score for the next season.
It is important to foster the belief that everyone on defense are “our” players, that every defensive coach has a “my guys” attitude no matter which position the player lines up at. To emphasize this, we often divided one game so each coach would grade another position group. This allowed defensive coaches to keep up on the technique and play of individuals he did not directly coach. It encouraged and brought together all of our players under one umbrella.
I would encourage you to grade a couple of games any time you have a bye week. This allows you and the staff to catch and correct weakness during the season rather than waiting until the offseason to realize any areas of concern.
Try to keep coaching evaluation out of this exercise and concentrate on identifying techniques that can and should be improved.
Happy New Year and good luck next fall to every coach gearing up for another year of coaching and teaching – not only correct and safe football skills but also the life skills that will help our players for years to come.
Coach Tom Bass
Coach Tom Bass brings more than 30 years of NFL coaching experience to USA Football. Along with answering youth coaching questions, he also receives emails from young players. You can email the coach at firstname.lastname@example.org.