Our 9th Youth Football Practice of the Season
As we progress towards our first game our football practice plans skew towards making sure we can execute a simple but effective game plan based on the skill levels and experience of our respective teams. While our opposition in most cases has had at least twice as many football practices as us to this point, we feel confident in our ability to be competently prepared and competitive in this first game. Our practice methodology and system allow for the disparity of practice time without giving up a significant smount of competitiveness.
Here is what our 9th football practice looked like:
As many of you know I�m coaching two teams, a very weak all rookie age 7-9 team and a veteran age 10-11 team. The teams offer completely different challenges. The older team is a bit complacent and is attempting to cut a few corners technique wise. They know the schemes and football plays, but are not working as hard, fast and perfect as they need to. When I work with the younger group, the older group, under the tutelage of my assistant coaches, the pace slows and the players are not held to a standard of total perfection. Once that standard is flexed, it is difficult to get back on track.
At this practice, I had the younger kids arrive 30 minutes later so I could get some alone time with the older team. As the younger team went through our warm-ups, angle form tackling and special teams for 30 minutes, this allowed me 1 full hour with the older kids.
I started out the older team with a lap because the kids were walking to set up warm ups and way too many were on one side of the 2 lines. This is first week stuff that we do not deal with after that, so they ran, another player didn�t run all the way in, so he ran again. While this is extremely rare after the first practice or two, it has to be nipped in the bud. Since we condition during the course of our football practices, the pace must be very quick, jogging and standing around are not permitted. After this quick attitude adjustment we went into rapid fit-and-freeze reps on offense with our starters setting up on the rest of our players and coaches set up in a �scout defense�. We are using our wrist coaches and the plays are being called in using our coded system. The goal is to get a play off every 20 seconds, we are exceeding that goal.
We repped the entire offense as well as our most common used adjustments. The core plays we ran 4-5 times each and ran several out of alternatives to our base formation. We have the potential to be a good football team, but lack of consistent focus on every play means we are less than perfect on many of our football plays. Today we are playing a bit under the potential this team can perform at. I got after them pretty hard and critiqued the tiniest of details on each and every play. We went “live” for the last 20 minutes of offense while keeping a pace of one play every 30 seconds or less. The kids were breathing real hard as it was about 95 degrees out.
We started the second hour doing fit-and-freeze defense with coaches running the base offensive plays we most often see in youth football as well as setting up various formations to make sure our defense aligned correctly on these sets. All of our stunts would have been repped during this time period. During this segment I went over to the younger group. After 30 minutes of this they then went into special teams reps on air.
The younger group nearly mirrored the older group practice, but in backward order. After repping the kick off and kick off return with my assistants, I joined them to rep the offense in a fit and freeze mode. Then we went live for about 15 minutes on those players not on the first team offense. We did not work everyone into the live offense at this point due to time constraints, but did work 3-4 kids on the “scout defense” into the offense for a few plays at least. Our “Sainted Six” seies of football plays seemed to look fairly crisp and reasonably consistent given the age and experience levels of this youth football team. We were getting a play off every 20 seconds, right at about the pace we want.
We then moved to fit-and-freeze defense with everyone on the defensive side, we were rotating kids every play during this segment. The coaching staff were running the base plays we usually see out of various sets and looking make sure players were reading their keys correctly and making proper first steps and using proper hand techniques. We also ran our base stunts some.
Our weigh-ins are the next day, so we reviewed the details and the importance of being there. This youth football league allows players of any weight to play. At age 7-9, any player above 80 pounds must play an interior line position on offense and defense. For age 10-11 the cut off is 120. At the younger age group we had 2 kids in the 83-84 pound range that would have been pretty good backs, had they lost the weight. However, both were kids that really didn�t have much fat at all on their bodies, so we made no attempt at having them cut any weight. We will be about average size or just below compared to others at this level. We have 5-6 players above the 80 pound level. On the older team we only have a single player above the cut off and he is probably just 145, so a pretty small team with just one �striper�. We will without a doubt be the smallest team in the league at this age group.
We will have just one more football practice before our first game on Sunday. Normally we schedule at least one scrimmage prior to the first real game. This year we could find no takers. We are about an hour from most teams and the Lincoln area teams (just 30 minutes away) we normally scrimmage have not gotten back to us after repeated attempts. Last year my little age 8-10 team (different age brackets last year) of 22-23 rural kids and no cuts just romped this Organizations huge “A” team that chooses from about 100 inner-city kids. That Lincoln team went on to win their respective league, so my guess is they didn�t like being thrashed by a very beatable looking squad from the sticks. This is the price you pay when your teams perform well in youth football, no one wants to play you. Back before we went to this offense and practice methodology we could get extra games and scrimmages all the time. Now it�s very difficult, even when you offer to play on their field.
Oh well, adapting and overcoming is a skill good youth football coaches and good managers should excell at.