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Youth Football Practice – How to Keep it Interesting in the Last Third of the Season
This week in our youth football training:
As we enter the final third of our season, the kids are starting to get a little restless. While we still get perfect attendance most nights, you can see some kids getting a little lax on some things they’ve been perfect at for the last 9 weeks or so. The worst thing that can happen to a young footballer is that they do something that is technically wrong, but still have success. It often happens when you play that mid-season cream puff on your schedule, that no matter what you run or what technique your kids use, the other team is so horrible it all works out. When your players use bad technique against teams like this and they still succeed, your players will often come back to that bad technique.
It’s the time of year when even coaches let go and let bad habits creep back into the drills they do. Youth coaches often arrive at this time of year ‘knowing’ that their players can perform a specific task, the kids have learned that, the kids have rehearsed it, and the kids have done well in games, so in practice, many coaches will “let it go” because they have seen the children perform the task well in games, etc. These are dangerous waters, you must remain vigilant with the standards you have set, as it is normal for children to push back and test the limits. Even if you slack off in certain areas, never stop holding the kids to perfect alignment, effort, and technique standards. I have to constantly push even my coaches to pick up the pace and make sure the little things are always focused.
Although as the season progresses we continue to add more advanced techniques, we never fully outgrow some of the things that have made us competitive teams thus far. We’re still making the corner progression tweaks we did the first week, to make sure our corners are tight, etc. While things like splash blocking and tackling drills don’t make sense at this stage of the game, (the goals of the splash drills are to get kids out of their fear of full contact) never give up those critical success factors that got you here. We will, however, add some twists to a few of our existing exercises to keep the children’s attention.
This week we worked a lot on the basics including basic double team blocking, down blocking, open field blocking, corner adjustments and crab blocking. We’ve done an unusually high amount of tackles this week, including a lot of handing and tackling and various open-field tackling drills. Since we did so many full contacts in individuals this week, including many Level 3 drills in Oklahoma, we only had one intense 10-minute team “competition” session. .
We continued to refine some of the game’s finer points with plenty of 2-minute attacking drills. We also worked hard on our special teams and “last play” football games. Each team also added their own “tricks game”. I’m not talking about any type of deceptive illegal football games, but something like “Statue of Liberty Throw Back”. Something that we’ll probably NEVER run in a game, but is catching players’ attention again on this latest date.
When we coach youth football, we think it’s part of our mission, to finish strong with the kids who always want more.
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