The Youth Football Season has Begun | First Day of Football Practice Plan
It’s that time of the year again, it’s football season! My seasons starts tomorrow, as does many other league across the country. I know there are several teams that have started already and some that don’t start until the second week of August. Nonetheless, this is the best time of the year. This season I am only returning 3 plays from my team last season (lost in the semifinals). The vast majority of last years team has moved onto high school. The team I receive this year struggle last season (0-8) for several reasons. Some of it was because of poor coaching and some of it was due to low numbers and injuries. This season presents a major challenge for my coaching staff. We play in a very tough division and we are in desperate need of skilled position players. The talent of my team does vary year by year and most of the time I don’t get to coach the same players every season. With that said, here is our first day of football practice plan.
First Day of Football Practice Plan
Right off the bat we will gather all the kids up and do a quick introduction. I have seen a couple of my players during the spring 7 on 7 flag league, but most of them don’t know my coaching staff. I will first introduce all my coaches. We will then go over team rules and what they can expect from us as coaches and what we expect from them as players. We will get into our offense, defense, and special teams philosophies. We will also talk about the importance of proper hydration. I will do my best to keep our intro under 10 minutes.
Following introductions we will get into our stretching routine. We utilize dynamic warm-ups that will go no longer than 8 minutes.
- 10 yard log
- 10 yard shuffle
- 10 yard quick skips
- 10 yard lunges and twist
- 10 yard high knees
- 10 yard toe touch
- 10 yard back pedal
- 10 yard karaoke and change of direction
- 10 yard leg swing/ toe touch
- 10 yard sprint
- 10 yard sprint and change of direction.
This will be 10 to 15 yard distances and each time the kids will go down and back. We will use this as a chance to evaluate the athletic ability of our players as well.
In order for us to have success this season we must be able to generate turnovers. I know we will score points on offense but I am concerned about our ability to play good defense. You cannot hide weak players when you are playing defense. With that said, we have to be able to steal some possessions to keep our defense off the field and the ball in our explosive offense’s hands. There are 3 drills we utilize in the turnover circuit: The under punch (from behind the ball carrier), the club and rip ( from side and front of the ball carrier), and the scoop and score drill. We will spend 15 minutes on this almost every practice. However, the first day it may go longer because we have to teach the technique.
Defense Intro / Pursuit Drill
We will give the kids a quick overview of our defense. We will go over gaps, positions, and position assignments. We will install our two base calls out of our 3-5-3 Stack, Downtown and Uptown. Once the kids understand the base gap assignments of each position we will practice our pursuit drill. The pursuit drill is something we do every single practice so we want to teach them this drill on day 1. The pursuit drill will teach our players how to line up fast, practice our blitzes and alignments, and it will develop the mindset of swarming the ball carrier while taking good pursuit angels. We would like to keep this under 15 minutes, but that probably won’t happen because there will be a lot of teaching on the first day. We will put the kids in position based on where they have played last season. Our pursuit drill serves as a conditioning session as well.
Related Content: Utilizing the Pursuit Drill in Youth Football
We will spend a good amount of time installing how we want to tackle. We are using the USA Football Heads up Tackling System. Overall, I feel it is a good technique that will take the head out of the tackle. We will do a quick intro into tackling and then do form tackling (on air), and then we will utilize some tackling dummies. If we want to play defense successfully and safely, we have got to be able to tackle well. Proper tackling technique is something that needs to be taught starting day 1. It will take a couple of practices before the kids really understand and implement the proper tackling techniques.
Related Content: Using Yoga Balls for Practicing Tackling
Related Content: Practice Tackling the Near Hip with the Approach Drill
We will install our base formation and go over our position and numbering system. We will also give a quick overview of our scheme which consists of a lot of motion. We will also hand out our no huddle wrist coaches. This session will be a quick overview of the offense that will take no longer than 8-10 minutes.
We have a good idea of who our skilled position players are and who will be linemen. We like to get our players with their position coaches as soon as possible. These kids will be spending a lot of time with their position coaches so it’s important that we develop those bonds right off the bat. Our offense indy sesson consists of two periods. The first period is conditioning that also works techniques. For example, our running backs will do ladder drills while working on hand off and ball security. Our offensive line will do some sled work. We want to condition our athletes while working proper technique. It’s all about hitting two birds with one stone. The second half of the indy session we will go through our plays. The skilled positions will run through their plays and the offensive line will run through the plays (blocking assignments/rules) without the running backs.
This will be a brief period where we will run through our Jet Sweep which was installed in the indy period. If we are able to get Jet Sweep installed quickly we will then install Jet Power. We shoot to have our Jet Sweep and Jet Power installed day 1. This is also were we install our speed huddle.
Our conditioning is broken up in two phases, play sprints and then suicides. We will line our offense up and run through our Jet Sweep and Jet Power play but have them sprint 20 yards. We will switch the kids every other play. If there is a mistake or a fumble the sprint doesn’t stop. The kids that aren’t in will sprint behind the offense. The second part of the sprints will be straight suicides. We will have our kids line up along the sidelines and we will do a couple suicides (width of the field).
- Kicking extra points. Snap, hold, and kick.
- Centers snapping.
- QBs throwing Post-Wheel and Speed-outs (two base pass plays).
If the kids are at practice early have them do something useful, otherwise they will be standing there just talking or throwing a ball around. In my mind, if the kids are at the field already they mine as well be getting better. Our centers are snapping before, during, and after practice.
If you have a new team which you don’t know very much about you might want to consider evaluation stations. This will allow you to evaluate your teams athleticism and aggression.