Youth Football Drills by Position
Here are the best youth football drills for each position.
Offensive Line Drills
The game of football is won at the line of scrimmage. It’s important that you work with your offensive line throughout the practice week. We utilize individual position periods at least three times a week. During these periods we will work on everything from our line split to run/pass blocking technique. If you want your offensive linemen to block well you have to have them practice blocking. Run blocking is all about attitude and competitive. Here are several offensive line drills that you can utilize this season.
(See Also) Run Blocking Progression Drills
(See Also) Pulling Offensive Linemen | Technique
(See Also) Offensive Line Drills for Youth Football
Running Back Drills
When it comes to youth football, speed kills. You always want to do drills that will develop RB speed and agility. Playing running back requires your player to be fast and agile, but always very physically and mentally tough. Since running backs are touching the ball pretty much every play it’s important that they are able to secure the football. We tell our kids all the time that if they can’t hold onto the football, then they will not carry the football. Playing running back goes well beyond just running the football. Running backs need to be able to block as well. Sometimes they will have to lead block, seal block, wham, or execute a kick-out block. You running backs should be practicing blocking just as much as the offensive line.
(See Also) Progression for Carrying the Football
(See Also) Taking a Handoff in Youth Football
Wide Receiver/TE Drills
Coaching wide receivers is somewhat tricky in youth football. It’s important to keep in mind that playing receiver doesn’t just mean that they are going to run patterns and catch passes. Receivers are ask to run routes and catch passes, but they are also required to be able to block. Receivers in youth football will do much more blocking than they will do route running and catching. Regardless of your offense, receivers need to be able to block. Receivers could be ask to stalk block, crack block, or even lead block on some plays. Receivers have to take pride in their blocking. Our receivers practice blocking just as much as our offensive line.
(See Also) Stalk Blocking Technique
(See Also) Beating Press Coverage
(See Also) Receiver Route Running Drills
The quarterback is the leader of the offense. He must be able to take control and demand the respect of his team. In youth football, the QB needs to be a kid that can lead and communicate with his teammates. He needs to be a kid that when he talks, the kids listen. Playing QB is very difficult and it requires you to touch the football every single play. QBs need to be able to take snaps, execute handoffs and toss, remember the plays, and of course he must be able to throw the football.
(See Also) QB and Running Back Handoff Exchanges
(More) QB Drills for Youth Football
Defensive Linemen Drills
The game of football is won on the line of scrimmage. If you defensive linemen can’t maintain their gaps then your defense is in for a long day. Your defensive linemen are responsible for anchoring their assigned gaps and freeing up the linebackers run and make tackles. Defensive linemen must be disciplined, they must be able to get penetration on passing and goal-line situations. Defensive linemen must be able to play with low pad level and they must be very physical. We spend a lot of practice time working with our defensive linemen.
(See Also) Defensive Line Gaps and Technique
(See Also) 10 Fundamentals of Defensive Line Play
(See Also) Typewriter Drill for Defensive Linemen
The linebackers are the heart and soul of your defense. They are usually your most aggressive and best overall athletes. These kids must be able to blitz, run fit, pass cover, block destruct, and tackle very well. Linebackers must be able to coordinate the defense, they are the “QBs” of the defense. We spend a ton of practice time working on block destruction and tackling during the practice week. Good linebackers are able to destruct blocks, get to the ball carrier, and be sure tacklers. Here are some excellent linebacker drills:
(See Also) Linebacker Read Drills
(See Also) Chase the Chicken Drill
Defensive Back Drills
Playing defensive back is a very tough job. Both safeties and cornerbacks need to strong against the run and strong against the pass. With so many teams going with spread formations it’s important that your defensive backs are able to play in space. Your corners and safeties need to be excellent athletes. We work a lot on open field tackling, defending the pass, our zone drops, and coming downhill and tackling. These kids must have good ball skills and the ability to close the distance very quickly. Here are some excellent drills that will develop excellent defensive backs:
(See Also) Press Coverage Technique
(See Also) Tennis Ball Reaction Drill
Defensive Pursuit Drills
The most successful defenses are defenses that are able to get to the football quickly. In addition to getting to the ball carrier quickly, your defenders must take the proper angle to the ball carrier. Here are excellent drills that you should be working on every single day with your defense:
(See Also) The Pursuit Drill
(See Also) Chase the Chicken Drill
(See Also) Tab the Hip Drill
Speed and Agility Drills
Speed kills! That’s the case for every age level of football. Good football players are fast football players. As a coach, you should prioritize speed and agility develop during the practice week. Every week your team needs to become faster and more agile.
Play Burst Model for Speed and Agility Development
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.
Here are some excellent speed and agility drills:
(See Also) Change of Direction Drill
(See Also) Cone Drills for Speed and Agility
(See Also) The L Drill for Speed and Agility
(See Also) Strength and Conditioning in Youth Football