This is a saying in business. So if you don’t like what results you are getting, you better change your system. How does this apply to youth football? If you don’t like what you see on the field when your team is out there, maybe, just maybe it’s not their fault but it is your coaching that is producing these results. Actually most of the time, this is the case. So what do you do? CHANGE WHAT YOU DO!
The average youth practice is 20-30 minutes of calisthenics and sprints. 20-30 minutes of the whole team doing one-on-one tackling. Each player getting one rep every 3-5 minutes. All of this followed by 1 hour of scrimmaging the 1st team offense vs second/ third string defense. If this is your practice then you won’t have a very good final product on the field. You can have so much talent on the field that you win even with this practice plan but they’re not nearly as good as they can be. This practice plan was reinforced to me when I watched the recent season of “Friday Night Tykes”. These 3 elements are about all I ever saw.
Why is this ineffective? Why do the kids not have fun at practice? Why are they not getting better?
Some calisthenics, some conditioning are both necessary but not every night and they are boring to the kids. They’d be boring to you as well. When doing drills, split the team up into groups. Groups of equal size and ability. When competing against someone of equal ability, you both improve. Mismatches in size and ability don’t improve either participant. And smaller groups get everybody more reps.
Scrimmaging first vs second string is almost useless. Your starters can easily push your second stringers around and are not working as hard as they can. You are programming this level of intensity into them hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Then comes gameday and you give the most inspiring speech of your life and they go out there and play mediocre. What just happened? Why don’t they play harder? Because they are playing exactly the way you programmed them to. Your system is producing the results it’s designed to. You have burned mediocre effort into them. It’s the only way they know how to play. They are giving all they know how to. No amount of inspiration can change this. In addition to this, your second stringers get discouraged and want to quit. Why? Because they spend half of practice getting their butt kicked every night. Night after night. Most of the time, your second stringers get smart and make an agreement with the starter to just let them push them around. It keeps the starter from getting yelled at by you and the second stringer gets off easy. Does this sound like either side is getting better or enjoying football? I’d hate practice too if this is what practice is.
If this is starting to sound like your team, you have to decide if you’re willing to put in the work to fix it. You can’t fix this problem in one day with one technique. It takes commitment by you and a holistic approach to coaching. This website is about how to fix this and other problems. I’ll do some small articles and videos on how I do things. It’s up to you to decide what and how much of this info you use.