Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

A New Twist on Splatter Drills for Youth Football

Splatter Tackling Drillsfamily-photos-214

If you have my book you know we are huge fans of splatter tackling and splatter tackling drills when you are coaching youth football. These drills are great ways to ease your kids into full contact. We think it is imperative to prefect blocking and tackling technique at the youth level. Too many youth football coaches just don’t spend enough time or demand the perfection of detail that makes kids great blockers and tacklers.

Ruining the Potential of Good Kids

Despite what many youth coaches think, most kids aren’t born to be great blockers and tacklers, they are made. Unfortunately there are a bunch of kids out there that have the potential to be very good football players that are ruined by their youth football coach. These coaches rush kids into contact before they have perfected perfect blocking and tackling technique with their players WITHOUT contact. Too many kids get rushed into full speed blocking and tackling in space well before they are ready for it. That’s a coaching problem, not a kid problem. Coach is too busy trying to quickly see who is studs are, before giving his average and weaker kids a chance to develop the skills and confidence to be able to survive and compete in a full speed tackling or blocking drill in space.

Splatter Drills

In our book “Winning Youth Football a Step-by- Step Plan”, we detail exactly how you can do it. One of the key steps is using “Splatter” drills. The Splatter Drill lets a player learn how to accelerate through contact without experiencing the consequence of a reciprocal blow. This drill also allows the player to take another player to the ground without a hard ground impact. This drill can also help you drill the correct landmarks for feet placement, head placement and hip roll.

For the player playing the role of the “patsy”, the player providing zero resistance to the block or tackle and is getting slammed into a soft landing matt on every rep, the job doesn’t sound like much fun. But what I’m hearing from coaches all across the country is that their kids love to be the one holding the shield and getting slammed onto the landing pad every play. I thought our kids were weird, they all want to play the pasty, but I guess everyones kids are as odd as mine.

Problems With Splatter Drills

One of the things that always bothered me about this drill was the fact you need to have 4 long dummys to use as landing pads. Well at about $100 each, that is $400, out of the reach of many youth programs. Lugging these dummys around is a big hassle as well. Then once on the field, you have just one landing pad for 25 kids. As most of you know I’m not a fan of having kids standing in long lines, so that means whenever we do splatter drills. It is only part of a circuit, it is never a drill we want to do on it’s own, even if we need it.

The Solution, Tony Holland to the Rescue

My good friend Tony Holland from Maryland solved this one. He went to Walmart and bought several camping air mattresses for $65 each. Each mattress is big enough to be a landing pad all by itself. These things roll up into a small box too, so you don’t need a pickup to lug them around. Tony bought a small electric air compressor for $20 that not only inflates each mattress in less than 2 minutes, it also sucks the air out as well when you are finished. Tony has several of these mattresses so his kids can all do Splatter Drills at the same time and in much smaller groups. He didn’t have to repair a single leak and he said all of his are good to go for next season.

More from Tony in a future post, look to hear more about the great “ Foundation Rock” motivation tool.

Copyright 2009 Cisar Management, all rights reserved. Republishing allowed if links are kept intact. For 400 Free Youth Football Coaching Tips or to Subscribe to Dave’s free Youth Football Coaching Tips Newsletter go to : //winningyouthfootball.com

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  1. ACM

    I have not coached yet (this season will be my first), but I too was considering several options, including using the air mattress. Other ideas I had were to make my own mats from ‘scratch’ by buying foam, or buying gymnastic mats. The air mat option is by far the most economical. The reason is that air, the key material, is free!

  2. Troy

    I used Dave’s system last year and will be using it again this year. I used two old twin mattresses as landing pads. They were free. Our city does a bulk trash day twice a year. I drove around the neighborhood and picked up a couple of mattresses. I wrapped the mattresses in plastic and duct tape to keep the moisture out. You do have to haul them to practice but not set up time required. Good drill and really made some hitters out of the more timid kids on the team.

    PS I also saw two twin mattresses for $60 on Craig’s List which would have been a cheap way to go as well.

  3. Chris


    I use 2 twin size air mattresses we use for camping (Coleman) I set these up horizontally 1 in fron of the other. It works and the kids have fun. I was worried they would pop but so far they have not. Thanks for this idea.

  4. Pingback: Lesson #4 from a Youth Football Coach - Coaches-Clinic.com

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