Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Our 6th Football Practice of the 2007 Season

Our 6th Youth Football Practice of the Season

Here is a breakdown of how our 6th youth football practice of the 2007 season went: It was very hot again, with heat index right at 100 degrees, so we varied a bit from the what we usually do in a Practice 6.

The kids are perfect on the short dynamic warm ups that include the stance, high knees/butt kicks, �no-play�, and angle form tackling. We easily get all of that in just 8-10 minutes.

The older and younger team linemen worked together as we repped the wedge to start out with. The older teams wedge is very tight and forms about as quickly as I�ve seen it with this group of smaller but experienced kids. With this team, we moved our best backup linemen to several of the spots on the right side so he could get a feel for the various fits he would need to make from the various linemen positions. Since our GOD rule and the footwork is the same with the Right End, Power Tackle and Right Tackle, those positions are interchangeable. Having our most competent backup work into all three spots gives us the flexibility to have him go in early and often to spell starters in those 3 positions. We expect 2 of those guys will start both ways, so the backup will be playing nearly full time splitting time between the 3 spots. The younger kids wedge still is looking pretty ragged, as you might expect from a youth football team made up of all rookies. Our ends on the younger squad aren�t being quick enough yet to make a good fit, but we are seeing progress and out interior linemen are starting to get a descent fit. The wedge as a youth football play, is an awesome weapon. But you have to be patient teaching it, it takes time to perfect.

The linemen then worked on some live blocking on our �Board Drill�, basically a one-on-one close quarters blocking drill/game where we have the kids do the drill while straddling a board or a painted line. Our 5-6th grade kids showed some good fire and technique, with the exception of two players that are still hitting little high, both rookie players. We had both of them back on the dummy, fitting on the dummy at what would be waist level or below. The 3rd-4th grade rookies were for the most part making good fits, however our quickness and aggressiveness were rather poor.

Next we moved on to reviewing our GOD blocking rule progression which both groups with the exception of 2 players seemed to have a very good grasp of. We did group quizzes of what the terms meant, pointing to the various progressions and then we did individual tests by having coaches and dads line up in defensive formations and asking our players who they would block and why.

The backs in the meanwhile were doing full speed reps of our football plays on air with coaches holding shields at the point of attack. Our older kids are looking very solid on their football plays, with just a handful of minor mistakes being made. We have to stay on these kids now, making sure their alignment, fakes and head placement are perfect. They have the �Sainted Six� in as well as the Mouse, Wedge and Spinner Series. We were even able to work in some of the other formations for this veteran team, including �Double� and �War�. For the younger kids our 4 starters have the “Sainted Six” football plays down fairly well minus the 18 sweep pass, we will put that in on Thursday. The backups are very green and not very athletic or mature. While our starters are not by any stretch of the imagination, �world beaters�, the backups are significantly worse than the starters, there is a huge gap in ability. What this has led us to do for this team is cross train our wingback at tailback, in case of injury. The wingback is very smart and one of only 3 second year players on this team, he has all his football plays down. He doesn�t have the size to play tailback every down, but he has some heart, so he will have to do for now. This is a kid that is always competitive in the �towel game� and always wants on the field, the only problem is he has just over average speed and is weighs just 65 pounds.

We brought the backs and linemen together and did a team blocking and tackling drill that is a variation of the old “Oklahoma Drill.” We put three groupings of 2 players facing each other, 5 yards apart. The first grouping of 2 are an offensive and defensive lineman, the next 2 players five yards behind the linemen are tight ends and linebackers, one facing the other, the last 2 kids facing each other at 5 yards behind the linebackers/tight ends are backs and defensive backs. We set up cones in a �V� as boundaries, with the first 2 cones just 4 yards apart at where the linemen are and widening to about 12 yards apart where the defensive backs/backs are at. We then have our center snap the ball to a running back who is stationed in front of these 3 groupings of 2 players each, all three groups start their block on the same snap count. The running backs goal is to run full speed through this mess, reading each block and making just one cut to daylight. The offensive players goal is to make a great full speed block, maintain contact and not to let the defender make the tackle. The defender is using his technique to shed the blocker and make the tackle. This drill allows us to work 7 kids in on every rep and work blocking, tackling and running back skills.

As expected the older kids grasped onto this quickly and we saw some very good hits at the 3rd level where the defensive backs are. We saw several kids make tackles that surprised us, we will be giving those kids a long look at starting at defensive back. We also got some conditioning in with our running backs, as we went with only a 2-3 man rotation there and did not waste any time in setting up the next rep. As expected the younger kids struggled a bit with this, as we have a bunch of less mature kids that hold it up for the kids that can do it. We limited this drill to just 10 minutes and in retrospect, we should have just done it with the more mature kids, while the less mature players got better at basic form tackling and blocking.

We moved to full speed team reps of the offensive football plays on air with coaches holding shields at the point of attack. Due to the heat, we had our helmets off and were only having the linemen take their first 2 steps, the pullers and backs were running the plays out 10 yards instead of the usual 20. With our older kids, even the backups at this point are looking pretty crisp and we are able to move some kids around a bit. We have a backup 3 back that we are also working in at both end positions, he is very smart, a great kid and we want to get him on the field quickly. We worked our Power Tackle in at a few reps at 3 back as well and expect to do the same with our starting Right Guard as soon as he finishes a practice with zero mistakes on the team reps on air segment of practice.

Practice 7 will be all about defense as we start putting in some of our special teams as well. Again the reason we are detailing our football practices out is to help other youth football coaches understand what our priorities are and how our football practices are structured.

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