There is more to equiping your youth football team than just shoulder pads, pants and helmets.
There are team “need to haves” and “nice to haves”. As the founder of an inner city program that did not charge the kids anythng to play, we have had to get by on a shoestring budget and make due. Over time we slowly built up our resources in this area:
These are Items your youth football team “needs to have” to practice properly:
1) 4 Tall Round Dummies- They come in a variety fo sizes and colors. The 52″ size in black worked best for us, as the yellow or white dummies got dirty or discolored easily. We use these for our base form blocking and tackling drills as well as the “landing mat” when we do our “splatter driills” made popular by Hugh Wyatt. You need at least 4 dummies to make a good landing mat. These cost in the neighborhood of $100 each and have a very long shelf life. Early on, we got some very used tall round dummies donated to us by the local HIgh School. Some duct tape made them usable, they did the trick for us for years.
2) 5 Shield Dummies- Black is the best color again and they run about $35 each. We use these to teach or players the wedge as well as having our coaches hold them at the point of attack when we do offensive team. They help our players learn to accelerate into contact and helps us make sure the players have the correct head placement as well.
3) 13 Scrimmage Vests- They are about $5 each and should be in a color different than your practice jerseys. They help your players determine which team they are on during scrimmages. In a pinch the vests can also be used as a boundary marker.
4) 30 Cones- We use the 12″ soft pliable plastic cones. They work great as boundaries and drill set up markers. They run about $3 each.
5) 5 Footballs and a Mesh Bag- Make sure you order the correct size ball as required in your leaugue rule book for your league and age group. 5 Seems to be the minimum number that worked for us, a combination of new and older balls. Most Wilson Balls seemed to last 3-4 years for us and a compostie grade TDJ is about $30. We write the team name in permanent marker on the ball, as they have a tendancy to disappear. We put the scrimmage vests, tees and balls in one mesh bag.
6) Tees- Put 2 Kickoff Tees and 2 Field Goal Tees in each bag. They are about $6 each.
7) Medical Kit- Including ice bags, tape, gauze, rubber gloves, alcohol wipes, and bandaids as starters.
8) Extra Equipment- Helmet hardware, chin straps, mouthpieces, butt/hip and knee pads, laces, shoulder pad clips and a set of pliers, screwdriver and scissors.
9) Field Paint- At $3 per can use this to mark scrimmage lines and drill boundaries. Make sure this is ok with the people you are letting you use their fields, it washes out in the rain.
10) Field Marking Machine- This dispenses the field paint in a straight line for those that have to mark their own fields. We used the economy version at about $80 and it worked well.
11) Down Markers- After going through 2 sets of $300
Dial-a-Downs, we went back to the economy version at about $170. The Dial-a-Downs are very professional, our people were just too brutal with the gear.
12) If the field does not have goal post pad, you will need a set of those at $400 for a set of 2.
13) Water Bottles and carrying case. A set of 6 bottles and carrier is about $30. You can get by with some individual bottles, but doing that is a real pain.
14) Whistle and Clipboard.
Nice to Haves:
7 Half Round Dummies- Great for “Board Drill” blocking drills to force the players to stay on track and keep their feet wide. Excellent for offensive line training to stay on an inside “track with their feet wide, one for each of the offensive linemen. You can also use field paint here, as we often do, however the dummies are far more effective. They run in the $75 range.
Popsicle Sled- Also referred to as a “One Man” Sled. great for teaching individual form tackling, drive blocking and even double teams at the youth level. They can cost anywhere from $650 to $1200.
Sideline Yard Markers- Having 2 sets of these makes the field look great. They make your coaching job easier as to lining players up on the correct yard lines.
Signage- Team name and awards on banners or signs are great to brighten up the playing field. Some like to put slogans or mascots on the signage to give the game more of a “big time” atmosphere.