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How To Avoid Late Season Stalls in Youth Football

How do you keep your youth football kids interested late in the season?

Many of us have kids that start to get a little bored with football practice this time of year. Sometimes interest wanes and attendance starts to slip.

As I try to arrange some extra end of season games for both my teams, I hear some interesting stories from some of the youth football coaches I talk to. One organization I contacted last week to play an extra game has a pretty good age 10-11 team that is 6-1 now, they are willing to play an extra game. But their youngest team isn’t, it seems the younger team has yet to win a game and does not want to play any additional games.

When I asked why they didn’t want to extend their season, coach said they were just “tired”. This team it seems was still practicing 3 nights a week plus a walk-through on Saturday. So 5 days a week these 7-9 year olds were doing football stuff and they had not won a single game. I asked him to describe what their typical football practice was like and no wonder none of the kids didn’t want to play anymore, lots of conditioning and no fun stuff. No doubt these kids are burned out and my guess is they won’t have a very good return rate for next years team.

I don’t understand why so many youth football coaches don’t get that you can have fun, teach great fundamentals and win too.

At this point in our football season we are only practicing 2 nights per week and now are down to 1:15 per practice. This is the time of the year to skinny down the practice time. We know all our competitiors are practicing at least twice that much, but to be quite frank, I wouldn’t know what to do with all that extra time. With our rapid pace and exclusion of non football activities including conditioning, we get all we need to get done in the limited time we practice. We still seem to have plenty of time for practicing fundamentals, schemes and perfecting the execution of our football plays and defense.

Our kids are still real excited about coming to football practice and we have had perfect attendance by both teams for the last 2 1/2 weeks. To keep the kids appetite wet for football you have to mix it up this time of year, don’t get caught up in doing the same old thing at every football practice.

Some ideas to keep the kids interested:
Put in a trick play or two, even if you don’t run them in a game
Put in a wall kickoff or punt return
Learn to go on a quick first sound count
Cross train players in positions they may be playing next year
If you have your base series down, add a twist like “jet” motion
Play some of the fun team building games in my book like: tackle baseball, towel game or Hawiian Rules Football
Do a full contact scrimmage with players changing to other positions, linemen are backs and backs are linemen
Have pizza delivered to your field for a surprise pizza party after football practice is over
Relay games like the large dummy carry relay race. Coaches choose sides and the team that loses the losing coach and team has to run a lap
If you don’t kick field goals, practice them anyway
Add twists to your drills, add a blocker, tackler or running back to a drill that doesn’t require one

There are countless creative ways to keep the kids interested, use some of these ideas or your own imagination. it will help to keep your kids out of a late season funk.

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