A guest blog by Coach Jeff, YouthFootballOnline.com
Having a well planned and organized practice plan is vital to a successful youth football season. Head coaches must have a whole practice blueprint so that there is no time wasted. Remember, practice time is limited, make every minute productive.
Five Main Keys to Practice
- Organization – Coaches and players on the same page
- Fast! – Change phases of practice, fast and with emotion
- Reps – Practice makes perfect, it takes reps to get fluent with plays
- Everyone busy – Every player needs to be active – backs-ups need play reps as well
- Coaches coaching – all coaches should have a job and do it with passion, it rubs off on the players
Youth Football practices usually range from 2 to 2-1/2 hours
Stretching & Warm up 5-8 Minutes
Four player lines horizontally, with each player four yards behind the player in front of them. Do all the stretching. All players counting load-hit pads after 10 second count. Look and sound like a team. Have them stay in lines and do high knees, kick outs, back pedals and shuffle. Get the players blood circulating – a good warm up is essential.
Conditioning Stations 20 Minutes
Set up three conditioning stations. Give each player a number (1-3). Each station is labeled a number; the player goes to the station that matches his number given by the coach. There should be a coach at each station pushing the players.
- Three cone drill (exploding)
- Three cone Horizontal Drill (agility)
- Crab walk (stamina and strength)
Offensive Individual 10-15 Minutes
Each player goes with their position coach. They’ll be working on skills, drills, and blocking. Linemen work on blocking rules and techniques. Running backs work on run blocking and play fluency (running plays without linemen).
Team Offense 20-30 Minutes
Complete team practice. Complete offense running plays against scout defense. Developing fluency and execution with plays is the idea. Get the backup players reps as well. Punt team, coverage, snapping and kicking. (Punting is offense because it is on an offense down-4th down).
Individual Defense 10-15 Minutes
Each player goes with their position coach. They’ll be working on skills, drills, and blocking. Defensive linemen work on exploding on ball movement, gap control, launching and squeezing and tackling. Back seven (linebackers and secondary) are working on tackling, block shedding and pursuit to the ball.
Team Defense 15 Minutes
Complete team practice. Complete defense on the field running through your proper alignments, blitzes, and coverage against scout offense. Tip: We scout and film every opponent. Every Tuesday we write up our findings on what we’ve seen on the film and give it to the players (make copies). It is a lot easier to prepare for your opponent when you know what is coming. Punt return, containment and block. (Punt return is defense because it is on a defensive down)
Special Teams 15 Minutes
Complete team practice. We go over kickoff coverage, and onside kick. We go over kick return and hands team. Extra point and extra point block should always be practiced as well.
Line the players up in 4 lines across. The first 10 sprints are down on the snap count. The last 10 sprints are done on ball movement. Have a coach hold the ball and try to get the kids to jump off-sides. If they do jump off-sides add another sprint. A football game is four quarters, your players need strong and conditioned bodies.
Having an up-tempo pace and organized practice routine is extremely important. Make practices fun and upbeat-with a lot of emotion and energy.
Good Luck! Visit Coach Jeff for youth football tips at http://www.youthfootballonline.com.