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What to Do in Your Second Youth Football Practice of the Season
Second practice report
Our second soccer practice was us again using our time to assess the players, teach them a few basic skills, while also trying to make sure we had some fun where it made sense. We are still out of pads and practice time is 2 hours. It was in the low 90s with about 80% humidity, so it’s pretty warm.
Second practice report
We can cut our Dynamic Warmups and Angle Form Tackling down to about 12 minutes, we’ll get it down to about 10 minutes at the end of the next few weeks. The short coaching clinic for our coaches really helped as most of them have a pretty good feel for the drills we use. Still having a problem keeping the pace fast enough. At the pace I train, I can do 2-3 times the number of repetitions that other trainers go in during a drill. We have to improve this, but it seems to happen every year, and it gets ironed out in weeks 2 and 3.
Coaches also need to do a better job of holding kids accountable to perfection on coaching points that kids can control. They are always rotating from station to station to run each one for a few minutes so that the coaches understand the correct rhythm and the perfection we need. Like many coaches, some have come from a “practice makes perfect” mentality, when it’s really “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect” that develops good youth soccer teams.
After our dynamics and facing the corner shape, we set up the following stations:
Splatter Blocking (at the landing mat): To teach proper blocking technique, acceleration through contact, and also to help assess aggressiveness.
Snap Progression Drill- We didn’t get as far as we wanted in Practice 1, so we worked on the handoff part and “squeeze run” in this rep.
First Two Step Blocking Drill – Primarily an Offensive Line Drill, this helped tune our kids into how our basic blocking steps work. Also used as an evaluation tool to determine listening skills and quickness for offensive linemen.
3-Slot Challenge Fit and Freeze Tackling Drill – Like our regular 3-slot challenge drill, but the runner and tackler fit at the point of contact. Used to assess lateral quickness and aggressiveness, as well as to teach tacklers to attack the Line of Scrimmage when tackled.
Rabbit Chase Races – To hide some conditions, have fun and help determine the relative speed of our players for placing positions.
We then put everyone through the Gauntlet Drill to help us understand the heart and toughness of those we are looking at for the various running back positions. Of course, we want our pulling linemen to do well in this drill as well. I was disappointed that many players I was looking for in the fullback and blocking back positions did not run with much authority in the younger team group. We do not have a single descent candidate for the blocking position and with very low numbers in this team (17) there is not much to choose from with only 3 having played football before.
The one player who looked like a good candidate for the return block would not accelerate through contact even after several landing pad exercises and encouragement. The old saying “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane” can apply to this player, something we often see in youth football. This looks like a very difficult challenge for the younger group this year, very thin in numbers, heart and experience.
The oldest team is the opposite, but with low numbers and by far the smallest team in the league and only 19 children also poses challenges. We usually bring 24 players, unfortunately with our success here in the last 3 years and only losing one game in that time period, many will feel that they have to be a descent player to play for us and they don’t care to sign Of course, this is not the case, if you come to see them play, you will see many weaker children in the team and get playing time. While for our younger team, I’m not sure why the lower numbers, this is the first time that the 3rd -4th graders are separated and we have a lot of very small and weak players in this team. Nazis soccer mom has some kids playing flag soccer at a younger age. We also had a 130 pound kid in the 5th grade who signed up that we were told will play flag football this fall, what a loss.
After the gauntlet drill, we reviewed the offense, the basic formation, the splits, the alignment and the perfection we need of the alignment and positions. We put an offense on the field to sit in their positions. We reviewed and taught the numbering system for the book to the whole group. This included many tests for each segment with players touching the head of the designated ball carrier for each play, then touching the ground where the ball carrier will run the ball. As with everything we do, we teach and test for it in a progression. Our vets were perfect with it and about 80% of new kids learn it quite well.
The younger kids watched our vets go through the Sainted Six football plays of our offense. We were not waiting for the new players to know what they had to do for now, since we still have to determine positions. I just wanted to give you a 5 minute look at what the offense and the Base Series will be like in 2 weeks with some focused football practices.
We wrapped things up with the Slam Dunk game as detailed in the book. We did it with hand shields rather than tackling and put our best players on the shields as “defenders”. This game helps to teach leverage, allowing low and constant foot movement. It also helps coaches assess lateral quickness, heart, desire and determine which players have an aversion or love for contact. We had several pleasant surprises on this drill and a big disappointment or two as well. One of our small second-year players on the older team who has excellent speed, seems to have matured and has become more aggressive. You’ll often see that with second year kids, they seem to make the biggest gains from year 1 to year 2. That’s why teams with first year players like our younger team , they often fight a little.
We have a pretty good feel for where all the pieces are together, with a ton of holes on the younger team. My DC for the older team emailed me this morning with his depth chart of who would play where and the kids are right where he would put them with the exception of one backup. He studied the book and I was really happy that we independently came to almost the same conclusions about the placement of the player. Of course, the games and evals that we make very clear that you should play what based on the detailed position requirements written in the book.
We handed out gear at the end of soccer practice and went 3 days a week for 2 hours every week after that in full pads.
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