More Reps! No standing in line for youth players

Its football season again in Texas.  The heat is melting my brain under my Dallas Coyboys Cap, the cow pastures they call practice fields are hard as concrete and my tan is better than it was in Colorado.  Not that my tan has anything to do with youth football in Texas, but a lot of youth football players are getting tan and losing interest in learning the game standing in long and boring football drill lines waiting to play football and trying to see and hear the coach’s comments from 10 yards from the back of the drill line. 

Ok, how many of us stood in these long drill lines in High School footbal that start out as straight line then snake back around the drill because no one could see or hear the coaches coach?  Well why are you doing the same thing to your players?  Youth football players have very short attention spans and standing in line gives them plenty of opportunity not to listen and goof off.  Thus the reason you send so many to run around the opposite goal post for not listening when you should be punished for not keeping your practices fun and interesting.  Oops, did I say you might be boring.  Yep!

At the end of the season three years ago, my Arvada coaching staff  met to evaluate our season and determine what we did right and how we could improve as a team and as coaches for the next season.  One of my coaches, who also assisted on his youngest’s sons team, said his other team broke up drills into multiple stations so the players would get more reps instead of standing around.  He said the players liked the tempo of the drills and the coaches were able to focus on the individual players better.  We implemented the multiple drill format the following year with great success.  If you study Cisar, Reed, Wyatt and other youth football authors, they also suggest multiple drill stations to gain more reps and lessen boredom. 

Here’s an example of what we did to enhance our reps.  In our Oklahoma drill we went to three stations.  Small / Running Backs, Medium  and Big Meat station.  Each station ran the same OK drill within 10 yards of each other.  Each station had an assistant assigned to it and ran at its own pace.  I walked the down the line and over the bags to find the hardest hitters.  Try to keep your lines no more than 4 or 5 long.  At the end, I ask for the 2 hardest hitters from each station and we have a quick hardest hitter competition in one line.   

Another advantage of the multiple station drills is conditioning.  Since your players are not standing around, they are always on the move.  I used to love long lines so I could rest.  Now your players are constantly moving just like in a game situation.  We were able to stop running wind sprints at the end of practice because everyone was conditioned by doing drills and coaching.  Wind Sprints and sending kids to the other goal post is a huge waste of coaching time.  Is it worth 3 minutes sending them around the goal post or would you rather be teaching them their blocking assignment for 3 minutes?  Hey, there’s another advantage, more coaching time!

So the next time, you send a player around the goal post for horseplay, ask yourself who should be running around the goal post, you or him?  He’s only 10, your 25+ and YOU didn’t do your homework or organize practice so he’s interested in learning the game of football from YOU!

Play of FUN and winning is Funner!

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  1. I am a big fan of coaching by progression and having multiple stations lends itself to that as well.

    Take tackling for instance. Instead of one drill where the kids are running at each other full speed and tackling, break it down into its pieces.

    Have a station for teaching kids how to break down as they near their target, have another for how to grab and drive their target and perhaps another one for head/body placement on angle tackles. Rotate the kids through and let them work on each individual skills one step at a time then have the full speed tackling drills as a way to put it all together. Way too much going on in a tackle to expect a young kid to be able to process all of them at once while steeling themselves for impact.

    The part about the line snaking around is dead on – its also about the kids wanting to see whats going on or to get closer to the action.

    Good points.

  2. I recently took over a 6-7 year old tackle football team and the multiple stations, up tempo practices really work for repping, conditioning and maintaining player focus. The only time we have standing around is when we have are first introducing a basic concept that we are chalking. Planning and having a theme for the that really hepls me stay organize and keep me and my assistants on the same page.

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