The annual Steelers/USA Football Coaching School was recently held at the team's practice facility at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex, a one-day educational program designed to help high school and youth football coaches continue to develop their skills and improve the quality of coaching at that level.
The clinic is divided into two segments, with Steelers President Art Rooney II and strength and conditioning assistant Marcel Pastoor kicking off the classroom instruction in the morning.
Coaches were broken out into groups based on the age of the kids they coach, hearing from other coaches who teach kids in the same age range.
"From a youth coaching perspective the importance of an event like this is a common forum for coaches to get together and discuss what their thoughts are around communications, technique, what they are doing with their particular age group," said Jeremy Horton, who coaches in the West Allegheny Youth Football program. "We don't get a chance to get together and discuss these kinds of topics in a am open forum like this often enough, as it relates to the Steelers and youth football in general. It's a great way to get involved with the community and provide resources to the youth programs around the area."
Messages of safety and making football fun were delivered across the board, with other topics being discussed as well.
"The message for my age group, 10 and under, is really to stress the importance of keeping it simple, not overwhelming them with too many plays or things of that nature," said Horton. "You have to remember their age and give options and keep it simple. That is what I stressed. As coaches we are always trying to think of new and better ways to do things. A lot of times we get ahead of ourselves and lose focus and forget they are just kids.
The clinic also included on-field instruction, focusing on tackling and then breaking out to cover each position.
"We are so proud to host our yearly Steelers/USA Football Coaching School," said Mike Marchinsky, the Steelers Youth Football Manager. "It is such a great opportunity for us to hear from youth coaches from all over the area and to see how we can improve our outreach programs to assist coaches and programs in teaching young football players. By talking with coaches here over the years, we developed other programs like our Youth and High School Coaches Days at Training Camp and Youth Football Camps. It's great, we learn just as much from the coaches here as they do."
About USA Football: Endowed by the NFL and NFL Players Association in 2002, USA Football helps football organizations keep the sport fun, safe and accessible by offering innovative resources focused on coaching education, league enhancement, officiating development, and health & safety awareness. The organization also serves as the designated United States representative to the International Federation of American Football (IFAF).