Ashburn Youth Football League is a youth sports league created for the children of Ashburn, Virginia and the surrounding areas.The AYFL exists to promote youth football in the Ashburn area, and is intended to be an instructional league that places an emph
Football coaches are in short supply! Coaching the next generation to develop the foundation required to be successful in high school and college football requires hard work, patience, organization, and communciation. We want to make coaching with the AYFL as easy as possible so that the volunteers who step up have a clear direction on where to start and where to go. The following materials (some password protected, some not) are available to help aspiring coaches organize a plan for the season. If a material is password protected, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the steps/requirements to access it.
Before each season, we will be holding a coaches' meeting with the President and Director of Coaches to go over expectations, requirements, and answer questions. This information will be distributed as the season approaches, but to ensure you do not miss any information, please register at AYFL.org to be added to the coaches' email list. Both head and assistant coaches need to register at AYFL.org before the season starts.
Things to note about coaching with the AYFL (for all coaches):
Game Locations/Opponents: AYFL is in a partnership with the Loudoun Youth Football Association (LYFA). This means that you will be playing against teams in Ashburn, Sterling (Lower Loudoun Boys Football League), Leesburg (Central Loudoun Youth Football League) and Purcellville (Upper Loudoun Youth Football League) areas.
FALL ONLY: AYFL Draft/Evaluations [FOR A, B, & C-LEAGUES]: Teams (18-24 players) are put together via an AYFL draft at the end of July. Before the draft, coaches are expected to attend player evaluations (2-3 evaluations that take place between May and July) where coaches evaluate registered players on their skills (similar to the NFL Combine). Coaches should be prepared with what to do during the evaluation (i.e., 40-yard dash, passing/catching, blocking/tackling drills, etc).
D-League teams are assigned as more players register overtime. There are no evaluations nor draft for D-league teams, so disregard the information above if you plan on coaching K-2nd graders.
FALL ONLY: Freezes [FOR A, B, & C-LEAGUES]:Every coach gets to freeze one player before the draft begins; if you have a child registered to play, then they will be your freeze. If you do not have a child playing in the league, you will be able to freeze one player of your choice.
FALL ONLY: Weight Restrictions [FOR A, B, & C-LEAGUES]: Each age division has weight restrictions where players over a certain weight (i.e., 110lbs in B-league) cannot play skills positions or run the ball (aka "red dots"). When drafting players, keep weights in mind to make sure you have enough non-red dots to fill skill positions, while also having enough red dots to play the line. Players who are below the red dot weight can still play the line, but red dot players cannot play RB, QB, Receiver, TE, etc.
Red Dot Weight Restrictions for the 2021 Season:
D-League: No weight restrictions
Note these are subject to change annually. As soon as LYFA determines the weight restrictions, we will forward that updated information.
Coaches Code of Conduct: All coaches are expected to behave in accordance to the AYFL Coaches Code of Conduct. This includes no profanity, no harassment of players/parents, no unsportsmanlike conduct (i.e., criticizing other coaches/players/referees/board members, spying on other teams' practices, booing, encouraging illegal/unsafe tackling or hitting on the field). Violating the Coaches' Code of Conduct will result in a penalty or, in some cases, dismissal from AYFL.
USA Football Certification: Coaches are expected to obtain the USA Football certification each year. This involves instructional modules on safety, heads-up football protocol, concussion prevention/signs, and more.
Additionally, please review the information on AYFL safety provided here: SAFETY
Administrative Tasks: AYFL provides coaches with equipment and practice fields. Coaches are in charge of choosing their designated practice location (from the options provided by the AYFL), and practice days/times. Coaches can allocate tasks such as organizing volunteers to hold chains at home games, fill out the play count sheet at all games, organize snacks, collect physical forms, fundraising, place decals on helmets, and other administrative tasks to Team Parent volunteers.
FALL ONLY: Conditioning Days: All players are required to participate in 3 practices worth of conditioning without contact before starting contact football. If the coaches prefer, players can wear their helmets during conditioning days. In previous seasons, we have offered pre-season conditioning days--this will dependent on the season and more information will be provided at the AYFL Draft.
Good, organized and directive head coaches are difficult to find. As an incentive to coach with the AYFL, head coaches are reimbursed for their child's registration fees at the end of each season. We provide head coaches with equipment including coaches bags, tackle dummies, arm shields, footballs, water jugs/bottles, first aid kits, and other equipment to use for practices and games. 5-man, 3-man and 2-man sleds are also provided by the league and are located at each field.
Unsure about where to start? There are many clinics online that are not affiliated with the AYFL that provide information on all aspects of coaching from drafting players to preparing for games:
Coach Stephen Parker from coachparker.org has materials available on his website and on Youtube (youtube.com/c/StephenParker/featured) to help guide new coaches through running practice, playcalling, motivating players, etc. This is a great resource to review as you consider becoming a youth football coach or before the first evaluations.
*We claim no credit or rights to these materials as they have been prepared and published by Stephen Parker to help youth football coaches from across the country; he is not affiliated with the AYFL. We thank you, Stephen, for your work!
CoachTube is also a very helpful resource online which publishes lectures on administrative and coaching strategies for executing the season. Their introduction lecture is free, but the offense/defense/special teams lectures cost $29.99 to access. *We do not provide additional funds to coaches to access these materials.
Remember, youth football is the start of the pipeline into high school football. We asked head varsity coaches of the local high schools for input on what they need youth football coaches to focus on each season to best prepare their players for the next level. We recommend that registered coaches review their suggestion and implement them in the plan for the upcoming season. See what they said here: HIGH SCHOOL COACHES' INTERVIEW (password protected)
WHAT TO PROVIDE TO YOUR TEAM BEFORE THE FIRST PRACTICE
Attendance policy: every team may have a different attendance policy and it is up to the coach to deem what is appropriate. From the league-level, if a football player misses more than half of the practices in that week, it is unsafe for them to participate in the game that weekend. Coaches can add additional policies from there.
Rules and Expectations: Coaches should provide a document of the rules and expectations for behavior by both parents and players
AYFL Physical Form: Before players are allowed to participate in contact football, all players must turn in a signed physical form by their physician that gives them permission to play. Players can turn in the form provided by their physician or they can have their physician sign the AYFL physical form.
Playbook: Have your players start reviewing the playbook from DAY ZERO. It is recommended that you have your playbook prepared and available through email or an online drive so that players can start memorizing plays while you are building their foundational skills. This ensures your players are more than prepared for when you start running plays in practice and it allows you to spend more time on building their skills rather than running plays.
For an example of a team welcome email, see here: COMMUNICATION TO YOUR TEAM (password protected)
WHAT TO FOCUS ON FIRST
Blocking: Your #1 Priority
Often times, a coach's priority for the beginning of the season is to start coordinating and teaching plays. Instead, coaches should focus on developing the foundational skills that strengthen every play--specifically, the defensive and offensive lines. Specifically, coaches should focus the first weeks on strengthening all players' blocking ability (regardless if a player in a lineman or a skills position). If your O-line is strong, you can run any play. If your D-line is strong, no team can run over you.
If you think you've focused on blocking enough, you haven't. Even after the first weeks, you should dedicate at least 30% of each practice to learning/practicing to block. Even further, you should split your lineman from your skills positions and have one coach keep running blocking drills with the linemen, and another coach working on passing/catching with the skills players.
Next, focus on specific skills: catching, passing, running, feetwork, kicking. Many players on your team may be first-time football players; meaning they don't know what their skills are. Giving every player the opportunity to work on these skills will mean that your team will be better prepared for any position at the high school level or the occasional game-winning circumstance. For example, having a defensive linemen learn how to catch can increase the potential for a pick.
Review the following module for where to start: EARLY PRACTICES (password protected)
Once your team has started developing the above skills (~2-3 weeks), you can start introducing plays. Tips for preparing your players for this step:
Have a playbook available to your players before the first practice (either through email, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.).
For information on creating your playbook, see the clinics listed above with examples and suggestions.
Need a playbook? There are many playbooks available online to purchase or use (see clinics above for examples). Feel free to also reach out to the AYFL Board--a number of board members are past coaches with the AYFL and are willing to share their materials with you! Additionally, coaches from higher age divisions may also have materials that they may be willing to share with you given that you don't play them that season.
Encourage players to review the playbook everyday (even before you start running plays in practice)
Practice your defense and offense at the same time. We try our best to have large teams so that you can put your defense against your offense during practice.
Drills that are illegal/banned by the NFL and thus not permitted in the AYFL or any other football organization
Running the following drills will be considered a Coaches' Code of Conduct Violation as they undermine the safety of the players and unnecessarily risk injury and concussions in practice/games.
Coaches are expected to attend every game day (unless exigent circumstances require a coach to be absent such as family emergency, health issue, work trip, etc.)
If a coach is absent, an assistant coach or representative is required to attend. If you let us know before the season starts of a scheduling conflict on a certain weekend, we may be able to schedule a bye week during that time or adjust the game time to work around it.
Every player must play in every game; this is not a travel league where some players are benchwarmers. As a developmental league, all players are expected to play in every game. In A8 league, all players must play at least 12 plays (6 plays per half) in each game. In A7, B, C and D league, all players are expected to play at least 16 plays (8 plays per half) in each game. The volunteer in charge of filling out the play count sheet each game will help in ensuring that all players get their expected playing time.
Every home team must organize volunteers to hold the chains on the home sideline. Setting the expectation for parents to be hands-on for their child's team and volunteer at least once for these roles will make game day go smoother.
VHSL allows tents, extra water jugs, camera equipment, fans, and heaters on the sideline. Drones are not permitted at games. Coaches can notify parents to organize these items on needed game days.
Coaches are expected to behave professionally and promote sportsmanship on their team. If a coach is ejected from a game, they will not be allowed to attend the following game nor the practices that lead to it. If a coach is ejected a second time, they will be dismissed for the rest of the season.
MATERIALS FOR THE SEASON
LYFA Operations Manual
Tackle Football Rules (FALL ONLY)
Ultimate Flag Football Rules (SPRING ONLY)
Play Count Sheet
LCPS Inclement Weather Policy
Field Status Information (Has Loudoun County Parks and Recreation closed your field today? See here: RainOut Hotline)