The key to a successful football season starts with your youth football practice plans. Head coaches should have a plan for every practice.
Basic Practice Philosophy
Implement what you as a coach believe in. Make sure all of your coaches, players, and parents buy into your system. Stay true to what you feel is best for your football players. Believe in your offense, defense, and special teams philosophies. Stay true to yourself and always be genuine with your players, assistant coaches, and parents. Listen to other coaches. Value their opinions and always work together. Remember, coaching youth football is not just about winning- It is all about creating positive experiences for the kids. Every youth football coach has his own scheme and practice plan, but there is a universal philosophy that all coaches must adhere to- never to put the children in an unfair or unsafe situation. All practices should be operated safely, and in accordance to the rules. Never win at the expense of the children. Be organized, upbeat, and enthusiastic.
Teach Proper Techniques and Fundamentals
Successful coaching in youth football is all about teaching the basics or fundamentals of the game. You must be a good teacher. Practices should be focused entirely on playing with the proper technique. Playing with proper technique will not only give your team success, it will help keep your players safe from major injuries. It is vital to have proper technique when blocking, block shedding, and tackling. Players must always keep their heads up! Again, playing with the proper football fundamentals will help deter most injuries.
Form Tacking Drills:
Form tackling drills should be practice everyday. This is an excellent tacking drill to teach the kids how to tackle during the first week of practice without pads. We actually do this drill every single day. The #1 key to a championship defense is tackling. The greatest defenses are known as sure, aggressive tacklers!
If you cannot manage the players and the coaches that surround you, then you will not have a very successful year. Great management comes with great organization. In order to have productive practices coaches must have scripted practices. All coaches on the coaching staff should have practice plans and all coaches should be on the same page. It is vital to keep youth football players busy in practice, no kids should be aimlessly standing around. When managing practices, make sure they are up tempo and enthusiastic. Coaches need to be able to manage multiple players at once. You must be able to coordinate with parents, players, and other coaches flawlessly. Good managers are able to handle pressure, have confidence, and stay true to their beliefs at all times. Football teams with bad management will lose. Head coaches must be able to manage everything from the parents- to games and everything in between.
Always Remember What Youth Football is About:
Generic Practice Plan:
Stretching 5-10 Minutes
We have our kids get into lines of 5. We have 5 lines across, with each kid 5 yards behind the player in front of them. Each row is roughly 5 yards apart. This really depends on how many players you have and if your practice field has lines. Another option is to do dynamic warm ups.
Basic Warm-up Lines
Individual Offense 15 Minutes
Each player goes with his position coach to work on- plays on air, conditioning, technique, and drills. The time you spend on each aspect is up to you. We will do a lot of conditioning in our individual sessions.
Here are a list of drills we do in our individual sessions:
Skilled Position Drills:
We have an adjustable football linemen split mat because when you run plays on air (without OL), you need to simulate offensive linemen split distances so that the RB timing and line split distances are consistent.
Offensive Line Drills
Related Content: Run Blocking Progression Drills
Team Offense 20-30 Minutes
The entire offense will line up and practice plays. We will practice getting out of the huddle fast, getting splits, getting down, and executing our plays. Most of the time we will go vs. a scout defense (if we have enough players). This team session we will focus on play repetition. Complete offensive team practices against a scout defense (both first & second teams rotate reps). The scout defense will be running our opponents’ defense (so the kids get a feel for what the opponents’ defense likes to do). The objective of the team offensive session is to improve our offense as a complete unit. Team offense is time for our kids to practice our blocking rules while creating fluidity with our offensive plays. We will also work on our goal line plays as well as extra point attempts (Field Goal). We will end our team offensive session with our punt team. PS, your offense should be installed the first week of practice. GET BACK-UP PLAYERS REPS!
Individual Defense 10-15 Minutes
Each position goes with their position coach, working on skills, drills, and responsibilities.
Linebackers and Defensive Backs:
Wave Drill Video:
Team Defense 20-25 Minutes
Right into complete defensive team practicing against a scout offense. The scout offense will be running our opponents’ offense (so kids get a feel of what the opponent’s offense likes to do, also to practice reading our keys for this week’s offensive attacks). The objective of the team defense session is to improve our defense as a complete unit. Team defense is time for our team to practice the execution of our stunts, blitzes, shifts, coverage and base gap & key assignments. We will also practice our goal line/ extra point block packages. It can also make the difference in winning or losing the game (PS extra point is worth 2pts in youth football) so you do not want to let your opponent make the kick. We will end our team defensive session with our punt return team, then right into our pump up circle chant!
Team tackling drills like the Oklahoma Drill are excellent drills that can be done during the team defense session.
Team Special Teams 10-15 Minutes
The objective of team special teams is to practice the importance of kickoff coverage (staying in lanes and containment) and kick return blocking. We will also practice kicking power and direction. We will end team special teams with our onside kick / hands (Onside recovery) teams. We work a lot of kicking and extra points before practice even stars. We will work snaps, holds, extra point kicks, and kickoffs during pre-practice.
Sprints 10-15 Minutes
We will run two sets of sprints. The first set of sprints will be offense themed. We will run what we call play sprints. Play sprints- we will have the kids get into the huddle and then we will call a play. The kids will then break the huddle, run to the line and execute the play and then sprint 20 yards down the field. We will switch groups every two plays. The kids that aren’t in will run off to the side. This kills multiple birds with one stone. It practices plays, it conditions the kids, practices our no huddle, and it gets back-up player reps. A few days into the season when our base plays are installed, we will do our play sprints completely out of no-huddle. Keep things fast and upbeat.
The second set of sprints will be defense themed. We will do the defensive pursuit drill. We will have a coach run the ball in a direction and have the kids run and break down and touch the coach. Every player must touch the coach (simulates swarming to the football). Again, this kills multiple birds with one stone. We will practice our defense alignment, gap responsibility, conditioning, and pursuit to the football. You can also do special teams sprints. Have the kids sprint while practicing kick-off coverage and kick return.
Here is a video of the pursuit drill: