Time Wasting Drills in Youth Football
One of the main reasons many youth football teams fail is they lack proper football practice priorities. Keeping the players busy with lots of different drills may look good to the parents, but it is often misguided and a waste of valuable practice time.
Last season I was out of town for work and missed one day of football practice. During my absence, one of the parents of my team was discussing/suggesting to one of my assistant coaches the need to do some �Tip� drills for my age 8-10 team. This drill along with a handful of others are classic time wasters that rob your team of valuable practice time.
This parent was absent from my first day mandatory parents meeting where we talk about the fact that we are not interested in drills, offenses, defenses or any type of football coaching suggestions from the parents. At that meeting we let all the parents know they had the opportunnity to coach via a letter sent 30 days earlier that invited them to go through our background check, sign our very restrictive coaches contract and attend our football coaching clinics. We are not interested in hearing from the parents with the exception of some very specific and narrow reasons that are were all detailed in the meeting and parent contract.
When I got back and heard from one of my assistant coaches what the parent had tried to do during our football practice, I took the time to visit with the parent. I let him know what he missed during the mandatory parents meeting and our reasons for not doing a bunch of time wasting drills. He explained to me that his older son had played on another team in Lincoln the previous year and they had done this tip drill that he loved so much. I asked him what his sons team record was on that team, he said they had won one game. Our team mind you was in the midst of a 30+ game winning streak and had not lost a game, or even had a close game for that matter so far that season.
I asked the parent if his sons team did pushups and sit-ups, yes he replied. I asked about monkey roll drills and karaoke, breathlessly he said yes, yes. I asked about scrimmaging, yes they did it religiously every day he said. I let him know that those were all standard operating procedure and signs of very poorly coached youth football teams and it was no wonder they lost nearly every game.
I let him know I cared too much for the kids and our youth football team to waste their time and their season on such time wasting activities in the nicest way I possibly could. I also let him know I had no intention of copying the practices of a losing team, if anything I would best serve my team by doing the exact opposite of what losing team were doing.
My two year study of perennial losing programs cleary showed that nearly all these losing teams practiced in the above mentioned fashion. Our daily detailed practice plans for a 13 week season starts on page 86 of the book. You won�t find any time wasting tip drills or monkey rolls scheduled in these minute by minute practice plans. We are far too busy perfecting our blocking and tackling techniques along with our football plays, defensive schemes and our special teams to have time to waste.
This “rule” is so proven I can tell in pregame how well a team will play based on the types of drills they do. I don’t pay attention to size or speed, just the coaches priorities and drills. I watch a lot of youth football games and can predict 99/100 which team will win based on this method alone. If I see a team with helmets on running a lap or doing monkey rolls and pushups or situps in pregame, I let my assistant coaches know to get our reserves ready to go early because most likely it’s going to be a blowout.
These predictions are rarely wrong. I also have friends in different parts of the state that e-mail me lots of questions, because they have sons playing. All I have to do is ask about the time usage of the practices, how many plays they have in their playbook and their blocking rules to determine if their son is getting good coaching or not. I can even usually predict pretty closely how these teams will do for the season based on these limited conversations.
The moral of the story: Make sure the parents come to your mandatory parents meeting on the the first day of football practice. Cover all the points explained in the book on pages 58-65 and don�t waiver. And for Goodness Sake do not waste your practice time with time wasting agility or tip type drills that have either nothing to do with football or try and teach a skill that is rarely if ever used in youth football. Lastly, DO NOT copy activities of perennial losing teams or coaches, all it will get you is the same results they get. Remember we got most of our practice priorities in shape when Jay Smith joined our staff in 1999. Jay coached on Canyon Springs California High School’s two USA Today National Championship teams and was a very accomplished youth coach as well.
Coaching Youth Football well is much more than keeping the kids busy with a bunch of mindless drills or handing out a pretty playbook, anyone can do that.
Our success is 1/3 Scheme, 1/3 Technique and 1/3 Practice Priorities.
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