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Youth Fb Camp Observations

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My son is attending one of the "club" teams week long sponsored Youth Football Camp this week. Around here we have 3 options for Youth FB at the 2nd grade level.

1.) Pop Warner 8 Man Tackle.

2.) YMCA 5 on 5 Rec League Flag - What I have coached last 3 seasons.

3.) Club Team (Select) 8 man Flag w/ helmets blocking allowed - 3rd/4th move on to 11 man tackle.

I haven't made a decision on where to place him, so I though that having him attend a 4 night 2.5 hour camp (in the heat no less) would help us decide, if he is still interested in FB after that then the "Club" team which practices about %100 to %150 more than we do would still be an option. If he is sick of it....then Y Rec league it is.

So after one night of camp (which I was not impressed with) he loved it and had a blast. Now all things with a 7 year old have to be taken in context (His favorite part of the camp was the drink hose/cooler where there is a tree with 6 or so hoses on it that you can squirt into your mouth).

My review of the 1st Night.

Check in starts at 5:30 (Camp is 25 minutes from house) so we hustle to be there & arrive at 5:45 and are greeted by a line 100 deep (Heat index is 106), so we stand in line and get into the stadium by a little after 6:00 PM. It takes until 6:20 to get everyone in the door.

6:20 to 6:45 - Break kids into grade age groups and set them up on Yard lines. About 15 minutes of jumping jacks, knee bends etc. then some dynamic warm-ups of leg kicks, shuffles and 10 yard sprints. Finish with a 10 Yard sprint.

6:45 to 8:20 - Another thing, kids have been given a sheet of paper to record their "times" on. I notice this is a huge stressor for my son...what do with his sheet while he's doing jumping jacks etc. Anyway they break into 4 groups: 40 Yard Dash, 3 cone shuttle, 3 cone L shuttle, and some basic blocking drills (which they don't send K-2 kids to).

BTW I estimated 200 to 250 Kids here. I'd say 10 to 12 coaches on the field...not enough coaches. My son heads to 40 Yard dash, this takes about 30 minutes to run all the K-2 one time. Why you would need a 40 yard dash time on a 6 year old I'm not sure....I would think a 20 or 27 yard would be much better.

K-2 proceed to the next stations...the 3 cone shuttle takes FOREVER since they are only running 1 kid at a time. About 70% of K-2 are confused as to what to do when they get there so as I said it takes forever. Finally they add a 2nd station since they realize they are not going to get done. My son starts out great but gets confused on which cone to run to and stops 1 cone early. Of course he's been standing in line 30 minutes before he runs....so you would think he would know what to do by that point. They move on to the L shuttle cone drill which I missed my son run.

So for 2 Hours of actual camp (Plus 35 minutes of waiting for registration and it to complete) We got 25 minutes of warm-up and 3 timed drills of little value to my son. We've got 3 more nights to go, hopefully it improves. I assume the time were taken by the team to identify kids they want to "recruit" to their program since they have our address, email, etc.


I believe my son ran a 7.46 40 Time (He didn't remember and they called a H2O break right when he was running so I couldn't hear them call out the numbers clearly). This was above average for his age group, 2nd Grade, and 2nd amongst his friends one ran a 7.44.

Saw a 1st grader run a 6.67 40 Time. Average time it the age group was above 8 with 7.5 being "fast".

Saw 1 8th grader run a 4.94 and another a 4.98 (they ran against one another).

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Doesn't sound too appealing, but if your son is enjoying it--then great! As you alluded, 8 year olds really just like the fact they are going to 'football camp', and it keeps their interest in sports. I found the 40 times interesting. I'm thinking of holding a 'football' camp' in early September for my team. Of course it will be geared toward our team and will help keep their heads in tune with football. Probably will do three nights for 2 hours each. Anyway, I've never timed my players in the 40 (we usually just have races, but don't time). Interesting how some players just blow the field away with 4+ times. I have a few players on my team that can probably beat me in the 40 now, so perhaps coach will go out there and get his 40 timed. ;-)

Too bad they all that standing in line. It seems most (if not all) of that could be done in your backyard. About a third of my players go to some kind of football camp in the off-season. They all love it. I've not seen tangible improvements in their play, but have seen an increase in their "football smarts". This is one reason I like to hold my own OTAs for the team. It lets them participate/compete with other players, and is small enough to focus on specific things the players want to achieve. Said differently, it's much more enjoyable than standing around for 30 minutes just to do a cone shuttle drill. ;-)

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We had a Blaze football camp here about a month ago that sounds very similar. However, they did a great job. Each night they had about 250 kids and had drills spread across 3 football fields with each group being broken down by age and then broken down by number of kids. No one group had more than 20-30 kids in them. They moved through quickly. Another thing I liked is that they had a local high school football team come out each night and give demonstations at the beginning on a certain aspect of tackle. The head coach would give a speech too. That was neat. They also helped in the drills. My son loved it!

Another camp we sent him too was a local private school football camp where I know one of the coaches. My son is going in to 3rd grade (he just turned 8), but the coach invited him because he has seen him play sports and knew he would stay focused and wont sit and pick grass. The camp was 5th grade and up. So, they really took care of him being so young. But, it was a skills camp where he got TONS of reps and QB, RB, and CB. It was by far his favorite camp. All the high school kids were awesome to him and made him feel special. He learned more in that week! It was a very small group of kids (maybe 30 at max) and very hands on with all the coaches. I will send him every year from now on.

He made the decision to jump from flag to tackle and we start our 2 week evaluations next Monday. 6-8 every night M-f for two weeks. They then get drafted to the different levels for their age and season starts with a Jamboree the next week. I expect 100 degree heat and 1.5 weeks in full pads. We will see if he still likes it at the end. I am looking at coaching there and excited and nervous about the process. Wish us luck.

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Day 2:

So the main issue with the camp is there are just too many kids for the number of coaches they have.

Day 2 went better.

K-2 kids where given instruction in the following:

1.) 3 Point Stance

2.) Proper technique for securing the ball while running.

3.) Hand-offs

4.) Pass Catching and a bit of throwing

5.) Ran "Gauntlet Drill" to teach Ball Security.

Still because of the limited number of coaches, campers in this age group where getting at the most 3 to 5 reps at each station. I didn't watch the older age groups as much since there was more "action" with my son. Saw some better instruction going on at the upper levels. I'd say at the K-2 age group max coach to player rep you really want is 1 to 5. It is closer to 1 to 15 to 20. Older kids can have a higher ratio since their ability to take instruction in a group setting is much better.

All that being said, my son is having a blast.....so the parent in me is satisfied. Coach in me thinks well....most of us always think we could do it better until we are given the chance to walk that mile so I will withhold judgment. Truth is the coaches handling such a large number of young ones are doing a great job keeping them in line and holding their attention for 2 hours.

Camp is in Missouri, temps are up for the next few weeks, high 90's, heat index could be worse, humidity not to bad...5 to 6 PM is usually the peak of the heat, by 7:30 field is shaded and it is alright. My son says heat is no problem. To be 7 again would be nice.

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Do they break the kids up into various position units? I have a player (of girth) who told me he learned something in 'lineman camp'. Curious if they segment the kids out and play to their (percieved) strengths.

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Do they break the kids up into various position units? I have a player (of girth) who told me he learned something in 'lineman camp'. Curious if they segment the kids out and play to their (perceived) strengths.

For K-2 no breakdown by Backs/Lineman.

For 3-8 yes last night there was a separation of Backs and Linemen for drills. I'll post later my review. 1st Night was Combine Night, 2nd Night there was a bit of separation at the higher levels, 3rd Night they split them up by posistions for specific drills.

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Nights 3 and 4

K-2 was introduced to tackling progression, did some pass catching, and ran some I formation ISO plays with the FB picking up the coach with a shield. They also did a bit more work on the 3 point stance.

Overall my son had a Great Time and was excited to leave for camp every night I got home. He smiled a lot at the camp so that is cool with me.

I never did a count on the 2nd graders (they didn't hold still) but I estimated 35 total for 2 coaches. Given the numbers they did a good job getting done what they did. Not enough reps for me personally and definitely not enough 1 on 1 coaching time given to correct mistakes, they just didn't have the man power.

What I did learn is my son can and does enjoy FB practice more than 1 hour a week, so we are checking with the Pop Warner Tackle team to see if they have space for him still. If not one more season of flag then off to tackle.

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