Your Last Football Practice of the Season
All of us want to make that last practice special for the kids, so they can have a good memory to look back on during the off-season. That goes double for the kids that are aging out of your program and will not be able to return for another season.
While you always want to end your season on a high note, you need to make that last practice special as well. This late in the season, we are only practicing 90 minutes, so the first 60 minutes is devoted to the usual last practice of the week segments. Special teams, defensive fundamentals, team defensive walkthrough and scheme adjustments, team offense walkthrough and scheme adjustments, substitution patterns and sharing the game plan with the kids.
But once we have that out of the way, we try and have some fun those last 30 minutes. We split the teams up with each coach having 5-6 kids on “his” team. We then do competitions, including the coaches. We do things like firemans-carry relay races, wheelbarrow races, obstacle course races, pass catching relays etc. Each game has a winner and multiple losers and the losers always have to do something like 5 pushups or a short lap. We wrap up with a short talk that focuses on the kids who are aging out, what they have meant to the program, how they have progressed, how much we will miss them and their responsibility to help others like the program has helped them.
At the end of practice we wrap up like in the movie “Rudy”. All 3 age groups of mine practice together as a group, so we line up all the 3-7 graders facing each other in a long tunnel. At the end of the tunnel is me holding a tall bag. We let all the outgoing 8th graders come through the tunnel of players and give me one last hit. All the players and parents scream, cheer and yell as I call out each of the “seniors” names. After they scream through the tunnel and deliver their final “hit” to me, the moms have cupcakes and treats ready for those kids off to the side. The same moms go out the night before our final game and put signs in the yards of the outgoing seniors. These signs just have the kids names, number and team name on them. We try and make it a special event, because we want them to remember us and the life lessons they learned while they were a member of our team.
I also write each of them a personal letter the month after the season ends letting them know how much I appreciate them and care about them. I try and convey what great potential each of them have beyond the football field. This doesn’t take a lot of time or effort and really means a lot to the kids. How do you want to be remembered? What lessons do you hope your kids learned while being a part of your program? Why not reinforce it and drive it home at the end.