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Doggs hold youth clinic for coaches

POSTED: May 31, 2014 12:00 p.m.

On June 21, Winder-Barrow High School football will host their Youth Coaches Clinic in order to give local youth coaches an opportunity to advance their knowledge of the game.

According to the Bulldoggs’ new coach, Heath Webb, the clinic will serve multiple purposes. While they hope to provide coaches with an informative session, they also hope to form a more unified system from top to bottom for Barrow County football.

"It’s a great way for us to be able to connect with these coaches and educate them in proper techniques…and also to teach them the same language that we’re using so that if a kid is speaking the same terminology and same language for many years within the same football program, it’s just going to make us better in the long run," Webb explained.

Webb and his assistants hope that introducing youth coaches to their system will allow for a more cohesive football experience for young men coming up through the ranks. In that way, a varsity player who has gone through Barrow’s youth football program will have learned the same terminology and the same techniques before and will be ready to jump in rather than forcing the high school coaching staff to work against a young man’s ingrained training from years of different coaches with different coaching philosophies and formations.

The idea of a cohesive system is by no means a new notion, of course, as many high school programs in surrounding areas have a direct or indirect hand in youth football training. Flowery Branch head football coach Chris Griffin said as much in an earlier interview and espoused the notion that players who have come up through the youth programs in their cluster can fill roster spots with minimal additional training because they are already well adapted to that particular scheme.

Perhaps that element of consistency is part of why Flowery Branch football has succeeded at much the same level for nearly a decade. The Falcons enter the 2014 season with a nine-year playoff streak.

It is also no small point that Webb was an assistant coach at Flowery Branch two seasons ago and saw the immediate effect of this top to bottom way of doing things.

While Webb believes that the consistency at every level of football will only serve to strengthen the overall level of play in Winder-Barrow football, he understands and admits that immediate adoption at every level is far from an immediate boost to the highest level.

"In that way, it’s a very farsighted view of building a quality football program," Webb noted. "The more repetitions that they get doing the same things, the better they’re going to be. Eventually it turns into riding a bicycle.

"Speaking the same language is important, as well. If a kid has been speaking our terminology from the time he’s 8-years old until he’s 18-years old, he’s obviously going to be a better 18-year old football player," Webb added.

Then again, since Phil Jones’ departure from coaching the Bulldoggs in 1996, Winder-Barrow has barely had a chance to develop any long term consistency. Webb makes the sixth coach in 17 years to lead the Doggs.

With coaches getting an average of three years or so to establish a program, it has been nearly impossible to develop any sort of standing infrastructure.

From day one, Webb wants that glaring weakness to change.

"I think it’s just a way to bridge the community across the board and also just to build a quality football program at the highest level in the community," Webb stated.

The clinic also accomplishes another one of Webb’s goals, and that is making Winder-Barrow football more about the community at large rather than just the halls of the school.

"The biggest thing is to make it a community football program. I know I say that all the time, but it really is kind of a theme for me," Webb said.

"It’s a great way to let those youth coaches know that they are a part of what we’re doing. They’re a big part of what we’re doing. They’re raising up the young guys within our program, guys that will be playing on Friday night eventually, so to have them be stakeholders in what we’re doing is important."

By making youth football players and coaches feel like they are a part of the community on the whole, it helps to establish that community atmosphere that Webb believes will drive Winder-Barrow football for years to come.

Although the clinic and the underlying philosophies will net the varsity football program benefits for years to come, Webb also believes that youth coaches can build a positive experience and come away from the Saturday morning event with useful information that can also help them succeed at their level of play.

"If you’re coaching youth football, then you’ve obviously got a very big heart, but it may be that they want to help out, they want to volunteer, they want to see their kids successful, but they might not have the knowledge and the background that, respectfully speaking, that they might not know how to teach tackling. They might not know how to teach blocking. They might have learned it 30 years ago, and things have changed," Webb explained. "It’s just a way to make sure that the kids are safe and using proper form and technique."

Although some of the clinic may be geared towards inexperienced coaches or those who want a refresher in certain techniques, he also mentioned that he hoped every youth coach in the system could come regardless of years of coaching or level of experience so the high school coaching staff could have a chance to meet them and explain their particular ideologies of coaching.

"We’re going to just talk overall philosophy, the things that we believe in offensively and defensively. We’re also going to teach fundamentals using the language that we use with our players so that they can use the same language and, again, bring those kids up using that language. We’re going to get as deep into Xs and Os as those coaches would like to go…and we’re willing to give them as much information as they’re willing to take."

While the majority of the clinic will be run by Webb and his assistants, Barrow FCA had a hand in bringing in a very special guest to offer his own input on coaching football. Former University of Georgia quarterback from 1974 to 1976 and head football coach from 1989 to 1995 Ray Goff will be on hand to speak to coaches and share his own war stories from the gridiron.

"FCA has got a lot of great connections and Spencer Breedlove was able to pull some connections and make it happen," Webb said of getting Goff involved. "The biggest thing is to hear the heart of a coach who’s been there and done that, and the thing our coaches are going to hear from him is more of building great relationships with players and treating them the right way and focusing on the big picture of teaching them proper form and technique rather than just trying to win a 9-year old football game."

The clinic will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 21 and will take place in the Winder-Barrow field house. Webb says the clinic will run until about noon, but they would be open to staying longer.

"If we’ve got coaches that are willing to dig deeper, then we’ll go as long as we need to," Webb concluded.

Barrow County Parks and Recreation register children as young as 5-years old and as old as 13 to play football. They are currently running registration from now until July 11 for $115 per child.



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