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First Practice

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Our season is approaching fast for this fall and in about 2 weeks I'll have my roster and then we can begin practicing for the season. I just want to get some insight form you coaches out there your ways of running that first practice of the season. This is especially important to those who have experience dealing with all new kids or an all new team that is made up of almost all new players. In my case, I have my son returning along with two other kids! Our teams are 10 players, so that means 7 will be all new. I'm looking for insight on maybe drills or exercises for me to not only evaluate what some of the kids can and cant do, but also to get to know them individually. I am not asking for pre talk ideas with the parents or anything, just ideas of actual practice time with the kids. This is my 2nd season coaching, I do have some of my own ideas which I can post later, but I would love to hear all of your ways of running that infamous first practce. Post away......

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Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

my first practice is getting the kids familiar to how I run my system.From how we stretch to warming up to jogging of the field after drills or breaks in between.

I usually do agility stuff to try to learn how athletic the kids are.I pretty much know where I'm going to play a kid after the first practice.

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I'm a bit different I suppose, but I would recommend playing a game. That's why the kids are there. Not to do drills or run laps or other monotonous stuff. Drills and conditioning are important, but letting them play at least 15-20 minute game will allow you to see where players can excel and where they need work.

Worst youth sports experience for my kids was basketball. When he was 7, I signed him up for a clinic-type basketball program where all the 7 year olds show up to the gymnasium every Saturday for their hour. What I thought was awful was they spent 45 minutes of the practicing doing laps around the gym, side-shuffling, and teaching them ZONE defense (including position names, etc). 7 year olds don't give a rat's behind about that. They want to play! Every week that season, the kids would hardly touch a ball until at least a half hour had gone by, and then it was to do relay races, meaning at most a player had a ball for 3-4 minutes every practice.

For any sport I coach, I use the first practice to "break up" cliques and forge new friendships. Not in a negative way, but just to let those know that they must become familiar with and associate with everyone. They don't have to like everyone on their team, but they are not going to just bond with 1-2 players. So, I incorporate football-like competitions for the first 20-25 minutes and mix the teams up often so everyone gets to know everyone else. Then when we play the game at the end of the first practice, they are somewhat familiar with everyone.

pf

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I'm a bit different I suppose, but I would recommend playing a game. That's why the kids are there. Not to do drills or run laps or other monotonous stuff. Drills and conditioning are important, but letting them play at least 15-20 minute game will allow you to see where players can excel and where they need work.

Worst youth sports experience for my kids was basketball. When he was 7, I signed him up for a clinic-type basketball program where all the 7 year olds show up to the gymnasium every Saturday for their hour. What I thought was awful was they spent 45 minutes of the practicing doing laps around the gym, side-shuffling, and teaching them ZONE defense (including position names, etc). 7 year olds don't give a rat's behind about that. They want to play! Every week that season, the kids would hardly touch a ball until at least a half hour had gone by, and then it was to do relay races, meaning at most a player had a ball for 3-4 minutes every practice.

For any sport I coach, I use the first practice to "break up" cliques and forge new friendships. Not in a negative way, but just to let those know that they must become familiar with and associate with everyone. They don't have to like everyone on their team, but they are not going to just bond with 1-2 players. So, I incorporate football-like competitions for the first 20-25 minutes and mix the teams up often so everyone gets to know everyone else. Then when we play the game at the end of the first practice, they are somewhat familiar with everyone.

pf

Definitely understandable...I like that also...

I coach older kids in a competitive league which is why I like the way we usually start it.We've always had good response to it.The kids like it along with the parents...We keep things very organized.Most of the drills we do have conditioning in them so we dont really worry about that.

Later in the season we get to the point where practice is 1 hour and all we do is warm up & scrimmage...

Your approach is definitely different from mine but an awesome one also :)

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I have a lot of experience here, as in the past I have purposely not taken back players (parents know this up front) simply because I enjoy seeing new teams form. I coach k-2nd.

I've done the same thing each season.

I put everyone in a circle around me, and we "go around the horn" introducing ourselves. I usually ask them questions as they are introducing themselves, "What is your favorite T.V. show?" or "What is your favorite food?", etc.

I then tell them what to expect this season. I have them look to their left, then look to their right. I explain that these are their new best friends. I set expectations up-front. Anytime someone falls down, I expect the team to swarm to that player and help him up. If someone needs assistance on the field with an assignment, ask a teammate and the teammate will help (if he can). When they see one another at school, I expect them to shake each others hands, etc.

I get them very exciting for the season and the fact they are on a TEAM. I explain to be on my team they MUST make good grades and MORE IMPORTANTLY behave themselves in school, as I only coach players who are worthy of wearing the jersey, and they must make me proud on and off the field. I've had a few parents in the past tell me that "Johnny" has been acting up in school--can you talk to him?" I've had private talks with those players at practice (to the point they were almost in tears---nothing bad, more of a "why aren't you listening to your teachers, man? You want to be on my team, don't you?" It seemed to have made a difference. I guess when you have some guy you are used to having fun around suddenly give you a lecture because of something you did not think he would know about--it hits home with them.

Finally---we all sign "The Pact". The Pact pretty much dictates a lot of the things I noted up above, "I promise to play with pride at all times. I promise to always put the team first." We spend about 15 minutes going over each bullet, and talk about why it is important, and more importantly, how it is fun as it is the right thing to do. The kids really get a kick out of "The Pact", and it also is something that can be referenced during the season. It's all about being responsible and accountable.

The next practice is when we actually take out the football. ;-) I know it sounds like I am a disciplinarian, but instead I am quite the oppposite. I'm a "true player's coach." The kids all enjoy yukking it up with me, and they know I am very approachable. At the same time, they have tremendous respect for me, simply because I set expectations up front. Once those expectations are met, it's all about having fun!

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Thanks for the feedback here guys!! Much appreciated, I always love hearing different methods and ideas on this stuff!

Well we had our first practice.... we have had about 4 practices actually and I feel I have a pretty good bunch of kids. New team, new players..... this weekend we have a exhibition tourney. We play 3 teams and we only get 2 offensive possesions each game. Its a round robin format so there is potential to advance and play Sunday. This will be a great test to see where my kids are at in a game situation! I'll chime in and let you all know what happens.... excited to get going though!!!

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Good luck...I always feel pretty good but I'm optimistic cause I dont really know until they play.I cant wait till our season starts.I'm going to be an assistant for the first time lol...I'm letting my assistant take over as head coach

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Well we played our 3 scrimmage games and overall we went 1-2. First game we lost 14-0 by a very good team who came in 2nd place last year. Our next game we lost 12-7 to a team I know we can beat. And the last game we finally won 6-0.

Story of the day was poor flag pulling. My kids were in position just about every play but missed flags. Sometimes there would be about 3 kids missing a flag on the same play. My offense actually looked pretty good for never playing together. Just have to get back to work on defense and flag pulling!

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How do your scrimmages work? Are they simply games that do not count, or is it like you get x plays on offense to score each posession? I wish we could have formalized scrimmages. I've asked the other coaches, but none of them are interested. Everyone is real secretive in our league. ;-(

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How do your scrimmages work? Are they simply games that do not count, or is it like you get x plays on offense to score each posession? I wish we could have formalized scrimmages. I've asked the other coaches, but none of them are interested. Everyone is real secretive in our league. ;-(

Our league put together a scrimmage tournament so that all the teams could get a good feel for where they were at in terms of actual game playing. They were organized and refereed... basically they paired 4 teams up in a mini bracket/division. So that meant we played 3 other teams once. Thus our record was 1-2. The winner of their bracket went on to play the next day in a round robin single elimination tourney against the other teams who won their bracket.

The games lasted only 20 minutes max and it was set up where each team only got 2 offensive possessions. All rules applied, except if a team got an interception you weren't able to return the pick, rather it was whistled dead and you took over on downs. Everything else was the same though. And yes the games did not count, it was purely exhibition.

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I have a lot of experience here, as in the past I have purposely not taken back players (parents know this up front) simply because I enjoy seeing new teams form. I coach k-2nd.

I've done the same thing each season.

I put everyone in a circle around me, and we "go around the horn" introducing ourselves. I usually ask them questions as they are introducing themselves, "What is your favorite T.V. show?" or "What is your favorite food?", etc.

I then tell them what to expect this season. I have them look to their left, then look to their right. I explain that these are their new best friends. I set expectations up-front. Anytime someone falls down, I expect the team to swarm to that player and help him up. If someone needs assistance on the field with an assignment, ask a teammate and the teammate will help (if he can). When they see one another at school, I expect them to shake each others hands, etc.

I get them very exciting for the season and the fact they are on a TEAM. I explain to be on my team they MUST make good grades and MORE IMPORTANTLY behave themselves in school, as I only coach players who are worthy of wearing the jersey, and they must make me proud on and off the field. I've had a few parents in the past tell me that "Johnny" has been acting up in school--can you talk to him?" I've had private talks with those players at practice (to the point they were almost in tears---nothing bad, more of a "why aren't you listening to your teachers, man? You want to be on my team, don't you?" It seemed to have made a difference. I guess when you have some guy you are used to having fun around suddenly give you a lecture because of something you did not think he would know about--it hits home with them.

Finally---we all sign "The Pact". The Pact pretty much dictates a lot of the things I noted up above, "I promise to play with pride at all times. I promise to always put the team first." We spend about 15 minutes going over each bullet, and talk about why it is important, and more importantly, how it is fun as it is the right thing to do. The kids really get a kick out of "The Pact", and it also is something that can be referenced during the season. It's all about being responsible and accountable.

The next practice is when we actually take out the football. ;-) I know it sounds like I am a disciplinarian, but instead I am quite the oppposite. I'm a "true player's coach." The kids all enjoy yukking it up with me, and they know I am very approachable. At the same time, they have tremendous respect for me, simply because I set expectations up front. Once those expectations are met, it's all about having fun!

John I really like some of your ideas here, especially the circle, getting to know each other, and the PACT. All things I am going to do with my winter team this season. Thanks for the advice.

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Finally---we all sign "The Pact". The Pact pretty much dictates a lot of the things I noted up above, "I promise to play with pride at all times. I promise to always put the team first." We spend about 15 minutes going over each bullet, and talk about why it is important, and more importantly, how it is fun as it is the right thing to do. The kids really get a kick out of "The Pact", and it also is something that can be referenced during the season. It's all about being responsible and accountable.

John,

I'd love to read the PACT, can you send it to me?

As for me this is my first year with Flag football (9-11) thought I have coached soccer and little league (including all-stars for both). So I know what I'm in for as far as parents and have a specific handout for them with expectations, behavior, my philosophy, etc. But I havent' really gotten into having a "Pact" with a kids...I usually just lay down my basic rules and how I will enforce them and stick to it.

Thanks

Rodney

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