Youth Football Drills for a Winning Season
Championships are won at practice. It might be a youth football cliché, but experienced coaches know the truth of that statement. Running effective practices that emphasize fundamental skills and prepare players for real-game situations is the best way to achieve a successful season.
It’s also a coach’s biggest challenge.
Running Great Drills
The drills that make up a practice need to be well chosen. They should reinforce the skills used in a game as closely as possible. If players are practicing staying low, for example, the “stay low” drill should make them stay low using the same movements they would in a game. Repetitions teach muscle memory—and the memory they teach needs to be useful.
To keep kids from getting bored, practices must be fast paced and fun. Use different drills each day and week. Go from one drill to the next quickly, with a sense of urgency. Set up every drill in advance, or during water breaks, so players aren’t standing around waiting to participate. Establish a rule that no one is to walk on the field. Make every minute count.
Careful planning is key to good practices. There are dozens of resources which offer football drills for all age and skill levels. Do the research, and then evaluate and reevaluate your drills’ effectiveness as you run them.
Here are examples of a few proven winners.
Youth Football Drills
A big part of football is reacting instantly no matter what position you play. Running backs can practice reacting using the Dummy Drill.
The drill involves a center, quarterback, and running back set up in running formation. A coach with a dummy faces the trio about three yards away from the center. After a snap and handoff, the coach shifts the dummy left or right as the ball-carrier approaches. The running back then reacts to the movement by cutting in the opposite direction.
Staying low is the key to solid line play. The Towel Drill reinforces proper movement.
The drill involves an offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, and a towel. Both players take proper stances, with the defensive player shading to the outside. The towel is placed on the ground, near the offensive player’s outside ankle. At a coach’s command, the defender explodes low, grabbing the towel as he moves past his opponent.
Find the Quarterback
Locating the ball within a frenzy of activity isn’t easy. Receivers need to find the ball and react with lightning-fast reflexes. A fast and fun way to practice this skill is to “Find the Quarterback.”
This drill involves four passers, each with a ball, surrounding a single receiver. At a coach’s command, one passer throws to the receiver, who must locate the ball quickly to make a catch. He then tosses the ball back to the passer and prepares to receive another pass, from an unknown direction.