In youth sports, a well planned and productive practice is essential for your team's success. A structured practice can often times be a challenge as children have a natural desire to have fun. The key is to make sure your youth football practice is upbeat yet productive. Here is an in-depth, inside look at how to run a successful youth football practice.
Stretch. 4 player lines across -4 yards between each player lane - each row is 5 yards behind the row in front. Everyone stays in line evenly, every person counts and hits their pads after each stretch 10 count. Have your kids look & sound like a TEAM.
Warm-ups/ Conditioning. Players stay in the lines from stretching but move inside until they are one yard away from each other. Your conditioning coach should be in front; seeing 4 helmets across (Each kid is directly behind each other in all 4 lines). Proceed with High Knees, Kick outs, Shuffle, Back-pedals, and then end warm ups with two ¾ speed sprints. Following warm ups we get right into conditioning stations. Condition stations, one for each of the four lines. Then you'll rotate so each group can work every condition station.
Stations: Station 1: Crabs (crawl on hands & feet stay off the knees!) Station 2: Karaoke ( right over left, good hip movement). Station 3: Change of direction (sprint, into shuffle, into back pedal, and then shuffle again). Station 4: Tires: The classic! Put your kids through the tires station. Fast feet, get those knees up!
Individual Offense. Each position goes with their position coach, working on skills, drills, and blocking responsibilities for the position each kid plays.
Team Offense. Complete offensive team practices against a scout defense (both first & second teams rotate reps). The scout defense will be running our opponents' defense (so the kids get a feel for what the opponents' defense likes to do). The objective of the team offensive session is to improve our offense as a complete unit. Team offense is time for our kids to practice our blocking rules while creating fluidity with our offensive plays. We will also work on our goal line plays as well as extra point attempts (Field Goal). We will end our team offensive session with our punt team. PS, Your offense should be installed the first week of practice, this in-season team offense session is strictly for timing and execution.
Individual Defense. Each position goes with their position coach, working on skills, drills, and responsibilities.
Team defense. We will start team defense with tackling drills, defense is all about tackling well. Then right into complete defensive team practicing against a scout offense. The scout offense will be running our opponents' offense (so kids get a feel of what the opponent's offense likes to do, also to practice reading our keys for this week's offensive attacks). The objective of the team defense session is to improve our defense as a complete unit. Team defense is time for our team to practice the execution of our stunts, blitzes, shifts, coverages and base gap & key assignments. The scout offense will run the plays (of our scouted opponent ) to help the kids get a feel for what our opponents' offense likes to do. We will also practice our goal line/ extra point block packages with great intensity and attitude. Getting a goal line stop or blocking an extra point can give the team some positive momentum. It can also make the difference in winning or losing the game (PS extra point is worth 2pts in youth football) so you do not want to let your opponent make the kick. We will end our team defensive session with our punt return team, then right into our pump up circle chant!
Team Special Teams. Complete special teams will practice against scout special teams. The objective of team special teams is to practice the importance of kickoff coverage (staying in lanes and containment) and kick return blocking. We will also practice kicking power and direction. We will end team special teams with our onside kick / hands (Onside recovery) teams.
Sprints. We will run sprints with great pride and purpose, knowing the importance of being able to play a full game at full speed and winning the fourth quarter. The team that is in the best shape will usually end the game with a victory. The importance of conditioning must not be overlooked with kids! Being in shape will only help kids be able to focus game time and will help prevent injury. Again Very Important! Conditioning. Conditioning. Conditioning!
Practice time in each phase depends on your youth football coaching style, preference, and time your football organization allows you.
Having a practice schedule and sticking by it is very important. You need to run organized practices. Run a youth football practice with an up-tempo rhythm, don't let your kids get bored and don't let them stand around. Always make sure your team is jogging on the field and that they switch phases of practice with great passion and energy. You as a coach need to run practice with great passion, decisiveness, and a type of command when you speak. Remember they are kids, they can get bored or daydream very easily. It's your job to keep your youth football practice fun and upbeat.
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