The number of practices in a week can vary from team to team in youth league football but the majority of teams will practice somewhere between 2-4 times per week. Obviously the number of times your team practices plays a huge role in planning practices for the week. For this article we will be looking at structuring the week for teams that practice two times per week. Practice Week Game Planning for Youth Football: With this structure the theme will be to work on Offense on Day 1 and Defense on Day 2.
Day 1-Offensive Focus
Day 1 will be an Offensive Focus. The primary reason for having an Offensive focused day at the beginning of the week is that many times offenses rely on timing for their plays to be effective. When plays are added or tweaked early in the week they can then be reviewed during the next two days in order to clean up the timing and make sure they are running smoothly. While it’s very tempting to put in a bunch of different plays teams tend to do better with less plays. In this thinking it is best to go into a game carrying 2-3 series of 3 plays. By limiting the amount of plays, the team can focus on executing the plays with great fundamentals.
The practice plan for an Offensive Focused Day is above. The tackling circuit allows the team to keep their defensive skills sharp and then spend the rest of the practice focusing on developing their offensive skills. For the Individual Session it is easy to have the Running Backs be a separate group if there is a coach to take them. This would allow the QBs to focus on throwing drills while the Running Backs can focus on more position specific drills. If there is not a Coach who can take RBs specifically QBs can work on their throwing drills during Warm-ups or Tackling Circuit and then work Ball Security Drills with the RBs. During the Mesh session the Running Backs and QBs will work on the timing of the backfield plays while the line goes over the details of how to block them. By separating the line and backfield, coaches can focus on making sure each group is prepared to execute their assignment when the Team section comes up.
Day 2-Defensive Focus
The Defensive Focused practice focuses on developing the skills required for playing defense while still ensuring that the progress that was gained on the Offensive Days isn’t lost. The Offensive side of the ball will get 20 minutes to make sure the plays they installed the previous practice are ready for the upcoming game. The first period is 10 minutes of Mesh and Review. The next 10 minutes the offense runs plays vs. Barrels that are set up to represent the defense. If barrels aren’t available Parents can fill in the role. The idea is for the kids to get practice physically doing their assignment.
For the defensive portion of practice the key is to get the players working on developing the skills that will make them successful. This will start with Individual time where each position group will work through the specific drills that apply to their players. Next either a Tackling or Turnover Circuit will take place. In Tackling Circuits the goal is never to have huge collisions. Instead each drill should have a specific technique that is being worked on and taught through the drill. Turnover Circuits should focus on securing the ball.
This is just a template that can be used and adjusted to fit each team’s individual needs. It’s important that practices have a routine and structure to them. Players enjoy knowing what is next and having a well-structured practice allows them to know what is next. With that being said, adding in some variety is always important. The same practice schedule done all season can become tiring for the players and coaches. Something as small as putting team at the beginning and then using the rest of practice to work on problems that developed during team can be enough to add some variety to practice.
See Also: Practice Planning and Optimization