Youth Football Drills Using the Play Burst Model
Drills in the youth football game can be very difficult. Many times players don’t see the connection between conditioning and them being less tired during the game. While some may see the connection between their training and their quality of play, very few realize that if players are not fit they are putting themselves in a danger by playing while heavily fatigued.
One way to help combat this is by focusing on conditioning using position specific drills. This accomplishes two goal. The first is that it helps to keep players entertained where they are becoming conditioned without realizing it. The second thing is that it maximizes time. In the Youth game there is never enough practice time. If a team spends 30 minutes conditioning by running sprints it has taken away 30 minutes of time that could be used to develop skills. By using position specific drills at a high tempo to condition players the coach can both develop the players skills and conditioning at the same time.
The drills that are used can, and should, vary to emphasis the skills players will need to be successful on your team. I will focus on Offensive drills but using Defensive drills to condition is easy if you follow the same model. One of the most effective ways to condition players is by having them execute the footwork for a given play and then finish with a 5 yard sprint. This is an especially effective tool for conditioning the Offensive Line. I refer to this as the Play Burst Model because players should have a burst of energy similar to a play. This helps condition their bodies to what the game will actually be like.
Using the Play Burst Model for Offensive Line all players will be on a yard line and the coach will tell them the play they will be running. When the Coach yells go the players will do their footwork for the first 5 yards of the play and then finish with a 5 yard sprint. For example, if the play is Inside Zone right when the Coach yells go each lineman will execute their Inside Zone steps for 5 yards. When they reach the 5 yard line they will sprint 5 yards to the next 5 yard line to simulate chasing the ball downfield. They will then line up on the next line and get the next play. Done effectively this can be a great way to review player’s footwork while also getting in conditioning.
The play burst model can also be effective for Wide Receivers with a few tweaks. When working Play Bursts with WRs the coach should set up a circuit where the receivers will run one route after another with minimal time between the routes. The effect of this is for them to not only get their conditioning in but also get practice running specific routes. When using the Play Burst Model you can run the receivers on routes every 10-15 yards. They will run the route, simulate catching the ball and accelerating up field to the next 5 yard line. There they will set up to run the next route. Again players are developing skills, route running and accelerating out of the catch, while also working on their conditioning.
Running Backs can use the Play Burst Model to condition effectively but there are other options available to specialize even more. The best way to work on the conditioning of Running Backs is by using Ball Security Drills and add a finishing burst. A great example of this would be the staircase drill finished with a 20 yard burst. This can be sold easily to the players by telling them they are working to get through the line and the 20 yard burst is the end of the run. This can be done with any of the standard footwork drills for Running Backs.
The ability to condition players through football specific drills is endless. The key is to sell the players that they are developing their skills while they are conditioning. When done effectively this increases motivation while also developing position specific skills. By Coach David Weitz