To teach Zone coverage to youth football players, you must have the image of the end result firmly fixed in your brain.
Quick pass reads, piston like footwork, razor-sharp drop angles, exacting zone drop depth, ESP-like communication and finally interceptions and incomplete passes.
You will need this image fixed in your brain because what you are likely to start with is:
Slow / No pass reads, sloppy footwork, slow feet, false steps, inexplicable dropped balls and maddening completions.
If you have done a good job in the run game teaching read steps, run support, run pursuit and communication your job will be much easier.
The first step to playing zone effectively is getting players to drop fast and deep enough to:
1. Keep Wide Receivers in front of them
2. See routes develop
Players have to understand that when they identify pass, they must get to their zone NOW!!!
You will have to over come a huge barrier – multi-tasking.
When young players identify pass, they will attempt to do everything at once in 1.8 seconds:
– Watch the QB
– Watch the Wide Receivers
– Figure out who they should cover (even though it is zone)
– Figure out where the ball is going
– Try to remember what they are actually supposed to be doing.
This mental activity, makes the feet slow down and leads to players taking poor drop angles.
Take a focused, step by step coaching approach.
1st focus on speeding up drops.
Get there now!!
Once players demonstrate they are reacting properly to pass keys, then, and only then, should you move on to teaching the other components of zone coverage –
– improving footwork
– sharpening drop angles
– hitting landmarks
– ball skills
Coach the little things and big things will happen.