Crushing the Time Bandit When Coaching Youth Football
In many ways if you eliminate wasting time during your youth football practices, you can nearly double the amount of “true” practice time your kids get compared to your competitors. There are literally scores of time wasters laying in wait to steal your valuable practice time. The teams that are consistently in the league cellars usually accommodate or embrace nearly every time wasting trap out there.
It always amazes me why two teams with nearly identical talent, age and available practice time can have such wide disparities in execution. It almost always comes down to practice priorities, practice pace and amount of “wasted” practice time.
Time Wasters Are Your Enemy
This reminds me of a cellar dweller I observed a few years back in Lincoln. I came to one of their practices to observe, in hopes of helping them turn around another hapless season. This was an easily distracted group, coaches were constantly trying to corral players to listen and pay attention, while many of the coaches talked over each other. In a 2 hour practice I bet there were at least 10 instances where it took the coaches at least 2 minutes to get the kids to settle down, stop talking and pay attention. That is 20 minutes of down time (10 x 2 minutes), take that times 3 practices per week for 14 weeks and this team was wasting about 14 hours of time because the coaches couldn’t hold the players attention. That is 7 full practices this team was willing to allow the time thief to steal. In our book, “Winning Youth Football a Step-by Step Plan”, the “Ready-Focus” method solves that problem in the first practice. We waste no more than 3-4 seconds getting our players attention using this method. It has worked in every setting, demographic and age group I’ve coached, over the last 11 seasons.
Watch Out For These
Other time thieves include, extended cals/stretching, traditional player evals, traditional conditioning, traditional scrimmaging vs scout teams, non-instructive water breaks, drill set-ups, long lines, traditional play reps, single station drills, traditional “agility” drills, equipment problems, traditional play installations, traditional chalk talks, non progression teaching methodologies, medling parents, discipline issues, the list is almost endless. We have addressed and conquered all of these issues, detailing the solutions in the book. But every year we look for ways to squeeze out a few more minutes of productivity out of each practice. We want to crush the time bandit and look for the smallest loss of time and ways to prevent it from happening again.
Last season we had a few problems with kids taking the wrong helmet. A player would come back from pre-practice or warm up/angle form tackling and then go to put his helmet on. He wouldn’t be able to find his helmet, panic and take someone else’s helmet, nasty mouthpiece attached and all, creating conflict and a chain reaction of problems that robbed us of valuable minutes of practice time.
We write the year of the helmets use inside the helmet so we can see when a helmet has reached its useable life span. There isn’t room for a player to write his name inside the helmet for identification.
We went to putting the players number on a sticker on the back of the helmet. With a clear backing and in our teams colors, the sticker not only looks sharp, it helps our kids keep their helmets identified so there are no “helmet switch” meltdowns, which seemed to always happen 4-5 times a season. You can get 100 numbered stickers from here:
//www.sportdecals.com/?Click=2&gclid=CJrbuMTKyZsCFQN-xwodwzKKCQ for $12.00, which seems like a reasonable price to pay for a guaranteed solution to this problem.
Our practices look like a fast paced controlled Chinese Fire Drill, which is why we can get away with practicing less than most of our competitors. We are about as generous about giving up our valuable practice time as a skinny junk yard dog is generous with his bones. When you are vigilant about not wasting time, your kids are more focused, you get more done, your parents are loving you and your coaches don’t get sidetracked. It is truly one of the most underrated skills of the successful youth football coach.
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