USA Football is launching an app that can help coaches and parents on all youth levels of the sport.
At a key time, too, with so many youngsters across the nation unable to gather for any games or practices — now or for who knows how long?
The free app, called Coach Planner by USA Football, was built by the governing body of the sport as part of the Football Development Model that aligns with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s American Development Model. The FDM is designed to aid in the progression of the whole athlete based on a child’s age and stage of development.
Coaches, who are often parents of the players, teach athletes based on their age, skill level and the version of the sport that they prefer, from flag football to 11-player tackle and game types in between. More than 100 football drills and 12 prescribed practice plans are loaded on the app, with more to come.
“If we plan something, it has to be scaleable and global,” said Michael Krueger, USA Football’s senior director of football education. “With technical skill progressions, it helps provide context for the developmental stage of the athlete and for their coaching. A 7-year old is at a way different stage than a 12-year old. The neatest thing about the app is it helps provide that kind of resource and support in the space where we may not have coaches with extensive background. Their knowledge could be extensive or limited. The resources here run the gamut.”
For example, if coaches have been involved in the sport for a decade or more, reinforcement of their techniques is available on the app. But if the coaches are newcomers or relatively inexperienced, there are programs available for them as well.
“It does speak to the differences in coaches,” Krueger says, “their approaches and backgrounds, and it’s built on the expertise within the sport.”
The app took a bit over a year to develop; Football Canada already had one for its youth organizations and provided some guidance to its neighbors in the states. USA Football has nearly 900 youth clubs and leagues already enrolled in the development model, and the app can provide the coaching services currently not available because of the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.