Week Two Youth Football Practice
We continue our walk through an entire season youth football season week by week to help youth coaches understand what their youth football practices should like and what are reasonable milestones each week.
Week two is still almost 2/3 individual and group work. Yes, there is a temptation to get to where it looks like “team football” as fast as you can. Some coaches do it to try and impress their parents, some do it because they think scheme, football plays, playbooks and defensive twists are more important than fundamentals.
At the end of the day, the teams that excel at, are extraordinary at the ordinary will be the teams carrying the big shiny trophy home at the end of the season. The dealio is, saying it and doing it effectively and efficiently are two very different things. Monday was Offense, Tuesday was Defense, Thursday was Offense and Saturday was Defense a little bit of Offense and Special Teams.
The Offensive Indy groups were: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wingbacks/Receivers and Offensive Line. The Tight Ends are Receivers, but they would spend 80% of their practice time with the Offensive Line at this point. The Defensive Indy groups are: Defensive Ends, Nose Tackles, Defensive Tackles, Linebackers and Defensive Backs. After the dynamic warm ups and angle form fit tackling reps which was now down to about 7 minutes, the kids were in their position groups.
Every position group has some every day drills (EDDs) as well as weekly rotations (drills you consistently do weekly- not daily) and either new drills or nuances to existing drills to keep the kids interested. For instance on the Offensive Line- every day we are going to do: 1 step, 2 step, 1 & 2 step, bag fits- Gap Block Fit, On Block Fit, Down Block Fit then GOD rule fits in Formation, Board Drill and Wedge fits. We add in several weekly drills and new drills to more than fill up the 80 minutes of Indy and small group time.
Our first game is just 3 weeks away, so yes you need to build to that, but not at the expense of building that rock solid foundation. To do that, we are incorporating teaching small pieces of the scheme during Indys and small group. Instead of doing GOD fits in rows, have the kids align in their positions just like they would do in a game. In a real game the play is over, the kids are in different spots on the field, they have to align on the ball and wait for the play to be called in, we are a no-huddle team. So the GOD fit drill now gets started from the mob of players instead of nice tidy rows.
The Offensive Line
Again using the Oline as an example when we teach pulling, we teach every player in the group to pull. But when we drill it, we do it from the formation, just like they would do it in a play. We teach the player from the formation and fitting or splatter blocking a “defender” on the trap, power, sweep and counter plays that you would pull on.
Offensive plays are really taught during Indy and Group, so when the team comes together there is little teaching that needs to be done with all 25 players standing around twiddling their thumbs. Teaching and learning during Indys is much more productive than in full team.
What did we get in for the week with this group of 9 year olds with 18 rookies on it? The O-line got its base gap, on and down blocks in, understand the base rule, got to the wedge fit (not taking it downfield) and pulling. We worked some on getting off the ball faster with our cadence claps and tennis ball drills. The backs and receivers were working on their base and stalk blocks, ball security, coming off the ball downhill, acceleration into and out of contact/ball exchanges and chaser drills. Defensively every position group had now invested time in one base block destruction movement, pursuit, base read and tackling. Each group understood their alignment and base read.
On Saturday we had our tryouts for special teams and showed off a little of team on offense and defense. On Offense we had the 16 Power, 43 Counter and 18 Sweep in. We ran 32 wedge as just a fit, our linemen hadn’t had the time to take the wedge down the field. Defensively we always teach man first, so we did defensive recognition on several sets- Double Tight/Full, Double Tight/Wing and Twins. On D we only ran pursuit drills with a coach at QB and Running Back. The only true “full team” full contact drill we came close to doing was 3 Level Oklahoma- which involves 7 players at a time doing full speed to the ground block destruction, pursuit and tackling.
On Saturday we had our tryouts for special teams and showed off a little of team on offense and defense. On Offense we had the 16 Power, 43 Counter and 18 Sweep in. We ran 32 wedge as just a fit, our linemen hadn’t had the time to take the wedge down the field. Defensively we always teach man first, so we did defensive recognition on several sets- Double Tight/Full, Double Tight/Wing and Twins. On D we only ran pursuit drills with a coach at QB and Running Back. The only true “full team” full contact drill we came close to doing was 3 Level Oklahoma- which involves 7 players at a time doing full speed to the ground block destruction, pursuit and tackling. Our daily practice plans are all in the “Winning Youth Football” book. Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan Book
Where were we at? Just like you, a combination of angst, panic and dread when looking at what we had for kids and how far they needed to go- as well as some cautious optimism when looking at the potential and progress some of the kids were making. Yes, with pads on we did make a few moves, taking one player we had pegged at Pulling Guard to Center and a Power Tackle to Pulling Guard. We also moved a Wingback to Fullback/ 2 Back just to give us depth there since we had a rookie who was doing well at Wing and a backup who was not as strong, but was picking things up well. You rob Peter to pay Paul, no one ever has the perfect team or even close to it.