The types of drills that are available out there can seem endless, just the various “types” of youth football coaching drills can seem that way. Drills for Linemen, Offensive Linemen, Defensive Linemen, Running Backs, Fulls Backs, Quarterbacks, Cornerbacks….maybe the list is endless 🙂
What I can tell you for sure is that as a new coach you need to do your due diligence as you determine what drills you will use and why. It is easy to end up running drills that only focus on one area–you could end up with a team that knows how to tackle perfectly, but can’t get into a basic stance to start the play.
This is a breakdown of the key areas you need to focus on.
Every player starts every play in a football stance. Whether it is a 2, 3, or 4 point stance or some variation. If a player doesn’t begin the play in the proper stance he/she could easily be blocked, miss a block, drop the ball, in short fail on that particular play.
The 3 and 4 point stance are very basic stances, primarily used by linemen. A short lesson in these stances and you will be ready to coach these. The 2 point stance is a standing stance and varies from position to position; quite honestly, this stance is common sense and position dependent, not difficult.
Every practice needs to include drills that practice the stance, in fact, if you can have an assistant coach that just walks around focusing on just this you will cut out half of your frustration right up front.
Regardless of position, all of your offensive personnel will likely end up blocking at one point or another; in fact, even your defensive players will be blocking during turnover plays. The rules can be quite specific on what is legal and not legal in this area–read them, know them, understand them.
The key is to remember the purpose of blocking–so your ball carrier can get free and advance your teams position and even score. Just because your offensive linemen didn’t knock the opponent to the ground doesn’t mean he/she did not make an effective block.
SAFETY! Tackling seems to be a lost art when you watch higher levels of football these days, I hear commentators saying this constantly. Much of that is because youth football coaches are not teaching proper tackling.
Head up, head between the ball carrier and the direction he/she is heading, wrap the arms around the ball carrier, lift and explode through the ball carrier on contact. Sounds easy, but you rarely see a good solid tackle.
POOR TACKLING CAUSES INJURIES. In my career as a player, a coach, and a fan, I’ve seen poor tackling cause more injuries, particularly serious injuries, than any other issue on the field. Every coach should take this particular aspect of the game head on; not to do so is absolute negligence. SAFETY!
Not a commonly refered to area of training, but definitely a common cause of failure. Defensive players are allowed to hold…most of the time, offensive players are not–but they do! Offensive holding happens almost every play, but referees only call the most obvious of those penalties.
Hence, the ability to “Handfight” is critical for every player. I’ve seen the most talented players get completely overwhelmed because their opponent is holding and it is not being called.
Players have to be taught handfighting–how to break holds, how to get past “handsy” players, and how to do this instinctively so they can focus on the play at hand.
How to pass, how to handoff, how to control the ball as a ball carrier, how to recover a fumble. These skills are critical.
Statistics show that overall the more time a team has with the football the more opportunity they have to score and win. So it follows that when you turn the ball over via interceptions and fumbles, you have less chance to score and win–pretty basic stuff.
The drills to teach ball carriers to hold on to the ball are endless–use them.
You may have heard of Jimmy Johnson, former Miami Hurricanes/Oklahoma State Cowboys/Dallas Cowboys coach. One of his messages, even now as he speaks to teams around the country is “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
You’ve heard of the all important 4th quarter. Teams can’t keep up the pace in the last quarter and lose a game, pretty common. But this doesn’t mean you have to run your players into the ground in practice.
Coaches have multiple ways to condition players, the key is to keep them moving and to make it fun. Yes, it is possible to work hard and have fun. Lots of fun conditioning drills out there.
What’s the “So What”
This is one of my favorite terms, so I had to use it of course.
Drills matter. As a coach it is your job to determine what drills, what they focus on, and how to adjust which ones you focus on at the beginning of the season and throughout the season. Picking the drills can be an arduous task. But remember what I said before, for the coach, every practice, every game, every team meeting is GAME DAY.
Players get to come to practice and just do what you tell them. When it’s time to run, they run, when it’s time to scrimmage they scrimmage, and when it’s time to hit they hit.
But coaches have to have a purpose behind everything they do, make sure you are using the most effective youth football coaching drills. You have to make sure that you’re players are ready for the next practice and the next game.
And at all levels you have to make sure your players are having fun–it’s a game.