Week Four Youth Football Practice- Game One
No there is nothing wrong with you if you are panicking a bit in your week four youth football practice leading up to game one. Some guys wake up at 3 am and can’t get back to sleep, some wake up at 6 am and the first thing they are thinking of is how the heck they are going to put a descent product on the field for game one. This will be a bit different practice compared to weeks 1-3. Again this is a break down on how my 2016 grade 4 team prepared for the season in the hopes that you can pick up some ideas you can use. We had 16 kids new to football and 8 veterans.
This week it’s ok to do more work in full team, but don’t do what most guys do and neglect to continue build your fundamentals. Remember the teams that consistently win commit to and are extraordinary at the ordinary, they never beat themselves. This week we are on defense on day one, with indy and group making up about 50 minutes of practice. The rest is full team, but we add in some bigger tackling circuits where we can work in larger groups with the entire team participating. This means drills like 3 Level Oklahoma, 3 on 1 Gang Tackling Drill, 3 on 1 fumble recovery drills and dummy tackling relays.
Being this is the first game, we have no clue as to what type of offense and defense the team we are playing runs. So how to you prepare for something, you don’t have time to prepare for everything? Team defense made up nearly 45 minutes of practice. In defensive recognition and pursuit drills we aligned against the following sets: Double Tight Full House, Double Tight Wing right/left, Twins, Trips, Double Slot, Double Wing and Unbalanced. You can’t rep every play you might see, so the youth football plays we repped with coaches in the backfield spots were: off tackle power, dive, sweep, split flow run, counter, jet sweep, bootleg, power pass, bubble, and smoke screens and waggle pass. While we want to be in zone, we just ran out of time and continued to be in man for game one.
Practice two of the week was all about offense. For game one we would have 9 plays in and 2 formations. We had the base complementary play series down pretty well and got into the second series as the week progressed. Many failing youth coaches go into that first game thinking they need to have their entire offense in. You can have it “in” but in all likelihood, you won’t be executing it to any degree of consistency or high quality.
Practice three was a combination of offense, defense and special teams and included just 20 minutes of group work. Now is the time we put a stake in the ground as to what we could and couldn’t run in a real game. For us, we won’t run anything we can’t consistently execute for 19 of 20 plays with the first team. For this practice, as we always do, subbed in on every rep, 2-3-4 kids. This helped our kids get great at substituting while allowing for some conditioning as the team was set about 20 yards from the sidelines.
Practice four was a non padded walk through practice. This consisted of us running all of our special teams on and off the field and executing all the special teams on a full field for nearly half the practice. We did defensive recognition for about a fourth of practice and team offense with substitutions and using the wrist coaches for about one fourth of practice.
After this last practice we got together to strategize on how we were going to get all of our kids their required plays, rotations and basic game plans. Each coach had his position group on offense and defense, but also had other duties as well. I laid out what was expected of each coach, the type of information and how it would need to be communicated to myself and our players. How did we do in game one? Check back next week.
For more details on our defense, offense, special teams and game day mangement- check here: Winning Youth Football Book and DVDs