Lots of youth football coaches want to know about schemes and drills, but what matters most is what and how you practice. Here is a post to help you understand what you should be working on in Week Three Youth Football Practice.
Week Three Youth Football Practice
The first day of week three for most youth football coaches, means you are two weeks away from your first game. Some guys start to panic and in an effort to get their team to look “like they are playing team football” they tend to ignore some key developmental areas. Some jump ahead to try to get their kids prepared for every scenario in one inch of water instead of going six foot deep in areas they need to excel in.
This is how I coached my age 9-10 team in 2016. This week you need to invest the majority of your practice time in individual and position group drills, but instead of the 2/3 indys/group to 1/3 in team ratio, we might bump that up to 60% indy and group drills and 40% team. I totally understand your apprehension, you don’t want the kids to fail and you don’t want to look like an idiot either, but most of your progress, teaching and quality control effectively happens in indy and group, not team.
The practice time ratio breakout this week was 45% defense, 45% offense and 10% special teams. So many guys will invest the majority of their practice time in offense this week, but the guys who consistently win know they need to spend just as much time on defense.
We had some weather issues. Always have a backup plan for weather problems, no one can afford to lose any practice time in week three. We have several options: chalk and walk under the shelter, SOMETIMES we have school gym space (always asking in advance to make sure we are following all the protocols) and we have person in our program who has a big warehouse space OR we can try to schedule a practice day for a day we aren’t practicing. But that means we have to count on that extra day being dry too. At the end of the day- have alternates lined up. One year we worked out in a church gym, right now is a good time to be looking at backup plans.
At the End of Week Three Youth Football Practice- We Had the Following in:
Offense- Four Running Plays, Hard Count, One Passing Play, One adjustment, Two Formations. We can hit inside wedge, off-tackle, wide, counter, inside trap and play action pass, all off almost the very same implied intent backfield action.
IN – means 19 times out of 20- 95% every player is attacking at the right angle, blocking the right person, ball exchanges perfect, fitting with correct pad level/head on the correct side with the FIRST TEAM. While we usually do 11 in 11 out on every rep on both Offense and Defense, not all players are going to hit that standard. While our goal is to coach everyone up, we would never make any progress if 100% of our players had to fit that standard.
Defense- Base Man Defense, All Defenders proficient with one block destruction technique, every defenders proficient with base alignment and base read. We have alignment down on the following sets using our team defensive recognition drills: Double Tight Full House, Double Tight Wing Right/Left, Twins Right/Left, Trips Right/Left and Double Twins. We worked the front six live a bit later in the week and the back five live in skeleton some as well.
We finally did on the last day about 15 plays of “live” versus ourselves. I’m not a huge fan of this, since the first team rarely gets very good looks against what is left over. We get our competitive contact done during Indys and Group. Unfortunately my 120 email requests for a very controlled scrimmage against outside competition was not answered by anyone.
Special Teams- Kickoff Team with kicker set, Kickoff Return Team set and practiced. Working on but not proficient at onside kick recovery to both first and second line on both kickoff return and kickoff. No PAT or deep kicks have been practiced just yet.
On a side note, one of our rookie players missed the first week due to vacation. He was struggling to catch up, so we set expectations with the parent, that for his safety we were planning on sitting him the first game. At first they were a bit put off, but once we talked about what he was struggling with and how that could be dangerous for him and his teammates, they were fine with it. He would be a captain, but not have his pads on for game one. Do we dislike vacations? Yep but family comes first and football isn’t always the overriding priority with all families.
Our team had a descent line, however we were extremely short athletes who could play in space. Like I mentioned before with just 8 returning players and 16 rookies from a League Championship Team, due to going from double grade to single grade divisions. We had lost ALL of our starting Running Backs and Receivers, with just a backup Wing with any playing experience handling the ball. We cross trained the Fullback with the Quarterback, since the Fullback was a pretty fair athlete, smart and had played a lot of organized baseball and basketball. He didn’t have the burst or body control our Quarterback had. We also made the decision to move the less mobile Blocking Back to Power Tackle, the position he had played the year prior. Our goal was to have this player start at Power Tackle and play backup at Blocking Back, our H-Back position. Our rookie Blocking Back had some very nice raw ability, ok size, but was really struggling with the playbook and proper technique. Yep, just like you-we were taking a calculated risk, but buying insurance by cross training the slower player who had a better grasp of the offense.
We were extremely young, inexperienced and lacking any type of real knowledge of how our starting backs and in-space players would respond in a real game like situation. Our starting Quarterback/Monster had left our overnight camp thing at about 1:00 am due to being scared, so we were sweating it a bit. While he had some ability and efforted well, he wasn’t very big and Alpha Male he was not. This was an extremely difficult equation to solve. Just like the type of seasons you guys have. Hopefully you can learn from what I’m going to share with you about this season over the next 60 days.
The positives were, all the coaches were on the same page, even though I had never met two of them, both coaching tackle football for the first time. We hadn’t lost any kids. As always we did NO agilities, cals or set aside conditioning and the coaches were good with that. So the progress we were making was approaching the real limits. The effort and obedience was good, after a struggle in week two to keep a couple of rookie players on track. Attendance had been outstanding with the exception of the one player who missed a week due to vacation, which happens. So at this point we knew what our strengths and weaknesses were. We were doing our best to try and backfill and to work around our weaknesses.
If we could come together, make it past our first few games so the kids could develop some confidence and be injury free with our backs and in-space players, we might have a chance to have an ok season. We were kind of going for broke the way we slotted kids into positions. Check back in to see how it turned out.
Our weekly minute by minute practice plans can be found here: Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan Book