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tpbuck

Planning Practice

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Hi guys. I was excited to find this forum, as i'm a first-time head coach getting ready to start the season. I've assisted a lot previously, but this is my first time stepping up as the head man.

One thing i need help with is starting the season. I'm trying to figure out where to start with my team. I obviously want to work on the basics (blocking & tackling) early & often. We don't have a lot of practices before we play our first game (6-8 practices) and i think that planning the early season work is critical.

What do i start with? My thoughts: Stance, footwork, & exploding out of your stance, followed by tackling basics. Am i missing/forgetting something?

How quickly do you introduce hole numbering & plays?

I'd love to hear what some of you do for your first few practices. What do you cover and what drills do you use?

Thanks Guys,

Thom

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I think, since you only have a handful of practices before the first game, that you need to cover the hole numbers night one. I don't know how you'll be able to pick a lineup and install and offense and defense in that short of time; especially if you have more than a couple of days without pads.

I completely agree that you need the fundamentals. I like to start every practice with blocking and tackling fundamentals. For tackling, the drills I like are, what I call, the box drill and the pursuit drill.

In the box drill, I set up cones (denoted by ^, ignore the dashes)

O

O

O

O

^

-

- (7-10 yards)

-

-------------^-----^

-

-

-------------^-----^

-

- (7-10 yards)

-

^

X

X

X

X

The ball carrier line is the O's and the tacklers are the X's. On the whistle, both the ball carrier and the tackler race to the 4 cones making the box. The ball carrier can do anything to avoid the tackle in the box, but has to pass through it. The tackler, using proper form, executes the tackle in the box.

For the pursuit drill,

OOOO>---------------------------------->

-

-

-

-

^

X

X

X

X

The ball carrier line is the O's and the tacklers are the X's. On the whistle, the ball carrier runs a straight line to the far cone and the tackler must find a line of pursuit to tackle the ball carrier before he reaches the far cone.

For explosion off the line, we are going to try a drill suggested to me, called the tennis ball drill.

http://www.infosports.com/football/arch/2518.htm

I would install a simple offense and defense that I could build on as I had more practice. Maybe power I or wing T, although at the young ages I coach, it would be the full house. I'd think a blast or two, a sweep, a counter, and maybe a simple pass would be about all that could get installed in such a short time. For defense, 5-3 or 6-2. I know there are a lot of professional coaches who would push for the GAM or Gap-8, but I don't think the time would allow it. Focusing on responsibilities is paramount.

Just my 2 cents

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Thom, If you only have 8 practices before your first game you better introduce positions and hole numbering system the first day! and even run your best core play the first day!

20 Min tackling and as they get better you can cut it back to 10min. as long as you are teaching perfect form.

and the kids are executing

Your line can also work with stance and first step and hour per day until every one is comfortable and they are exploding off the line then as the season progreses you can cut that back to 20-30 min.

Geeze, 8 practices dang that is tough, plus I assume you will have 3 days with no pads before you can go full contact.

I also coach 5th and 6th grade, We do a dynamic warm up lunges, butt kickers karioka, shuffle etc. then defesive stations and break them up into DL, LB's, DB's, and DE's teach them stance 1st step and 1/2 speed fit and form tackling not to the ground until the 4th or 5th pracrice. Show them your defensive formation along with the responsibilities for each position.

Offense: break up into OL, RB's, QB's, and TE&WR's stance, 1st step, mechanics, ball handling ect. I built a linemen shute for youth players and we live in that thing the first two weeks learning to explode out low and hard. with both right foot and left foot leads.

The rest of your practice better be used for running plays and explain who, how, and why, to block for each play and I would only install four plays before the first game and get them to run it to perfection.

Is this a returning team where these kids played together before or are you starting from scratch? that will make a big difference in your preparation as far as finding positions and getting kids comfortable in those positions.

If your opponent has the same number of practices as you the one who is more prepared will win. If your opponent has had another week, look out.

I have never lost an opening game in the 9 years I have coached and that is because we were better prepared. We run plays while opposing teams are doing monkey rolls and leg raisers.

Make your practices practical, do not waste time doing anything not related to a football action. Don't wast 20 min running laps, don't do updowns, gassers, wheel barrow races etc. run two min. drill running plays for conditioning. run plays on air before you put a defense in front of them then progress to hand held dummys then go live for a few plays once everyone is comfortable.

GOOD LUCK!!

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It's not a returning team, but the kids have run the same base offensive and defensive system for 2 or 3 years, so we don't have to start from scratch. Returning players (probably at least 80% of the kids) will be familliar with the hole numbers and back numbers. At this level our offensive playbooks can open up a bit more, which will require a little more of a learning curve on both sides of the ball.

As far as getting players into positions, you do have an idea (based on previous performance, a 4 day workout camp, & weight restrictions) of where to slot the kids.

I'm getting the idea that, outside of blocking and tackling drills, it's probably best to introduce (re-introduce, in many cases) the holes and possibly a play on the first night.

Incidentally, we do start in pads on the first night, but not during the 4 day evaluation camp (shells).

I appreciate the drill illustartions. I'd love to see others, if you have them.

Also, i'm really interested in your philosophies. What do you want to get accomplished leading up to that first game? How do things change (prep. wise) once the season is underway....etc.

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Well another Drill we use to work on blocking on the offensive side, fighting off blocks and tackling on the defensive side

^----------^

-------------

-----X------

-------------

-----X------

^----------^

---O--O----

-------------

-------------

-----O------

The front X, represents a defensive lineman. He can lineup anywhere between the cones, representing the line of scrimmage. The two side by side O's represent two offensive linemen. The lineup with normal offensive splits. The back X is a linebacker and the back O is the ball carrier. The defense can play heads up, shoot the gap, slant, stunt, and or blitz. The linemen must read the defense and make the right blocks. The ball carrier is told to go left, right, or up the middle.

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Also, i'm really interested in your philosophies. What do you want to get accomplished leading up to that first game? How do things change (prep. wise) once the season is underway....etc.

By the first game.

On defense I want everyone to know their gap responsiblities, and Man pass coverage.

On offense I want the plays installed to be run to perfection! I do not want anyone saying in the huddle what do I do on this play?

As the season progresses we will cut down on full contact drills but will still work on perfect form tackling every day. We will make any blocking adjustments to our core plays and add plays as needed from week to week.

Never settle for good enough! Demand perfection and your kids will expect it of themselves. Do not dwell on a bad play or penalty however, let them know their mistake how to fix it and tell them to redeem themselves on the next play.

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How many plays do you typically run? How big is your playbook?

I consider a play to be two plays (including its mirror play to the opposite side).

Our offense and defenses have limitations. More on defense than offense. We all have to run the same variations of the wing-t. Defense is the 5-2 (or the 3-4 depending on if you call the outside guys DE or OLB. They are on the line and generally used as contain, so it's a 5-2). unless you're in goal line, which is the 6-2.

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How many plays do you typically run? How big is your playbook?

I consider a play to be two plays (including its mirror play to the opposite side).

Our offense and defenses have limitations. More on defense than offense. We all have to run the same variations of the wing-t. Defense is the 5-2 (or the 3-4 depending on if you call the outside guys DE or OLB. They are on the line and generally used as contain, so it's a 5-2). unless you're in goal line, which is the 6-2.

I typicaly have 12 plays, I mirror our off tackle powers to both sides, fullback traps to both sides, but mostly to the left on FB traps. I will run wing counters to both sides. sweep to the right and a reverse to the left. A qb keeper of some kind depending on QB. a middle wedge play, and a pass play on play action off our best running play, usually show power action with a wing going on a post and tight end on a 5 yard out. with qb rolling out with max protection, looking for a near 100% completion ratio when we pass the ball. Then add a few wrinkles here and there as the season progresses.

With limited practice time in youth football I have never found it practical to have more than 12 plays and we usually only run 4- 6 of them a majority of the time.

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coachbreck, i'd like to see your FB trap play using a wing-t against a 5-2 defense. Our best back will most likely be our FB.

Can you e-mail it to me?

tpbuck@charter.com

What do you use to design/diagram plays? (software)

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sweep to the right and a reverse to the left.

I really hate that play. At that age, the defense should be coached well to defend it and it carries high risk if they are. 2 hand offs (one with an inexperienced player) and all east-west running 5-7 yards behind the line of scrimmage. I would look at a wingback end around first that goes against the full back power (this may be your wingback counter)

What do you use to design/diagram plays? (software)

http://www.y-coach.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=443

http://www.y-coach.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=744

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coachbreck, i'd like to see your FB trap play using a wing-t against a 5-2 defense. Our best back will most likely be our FB.

Can you e-mail it to me?

tpbuck@charter.com

What do you use to design/diagram plays? (software)

Coach, I do not run wing-T, I run double wing. I also do not have software to diagram plays.

my fullback is very close to the qb, unlike the wing-t.

he will take a counter step right then take hand off from the qb on a reverse pivot.

the play side gaurd will double the nose

the playside tackle will go to play side lb

the backside gaurd will trap the dt

the fb will hit the hole right off the gaurds trap block.

I think I may have a diagram of the play if I can find it I will e-mail it to you.

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sweep to the right and a reverse to the left.

I really hate that play. At that age, the defense should be coached well to defend it and it carries high risk if they are. 2 hand offs (one with an inexperienced player) and all east-west running 5-7 yards behind the line of scrimmage. I would look at a wingback end around first that goes against the full back power (this may be your wingback counter)

[

Coach I am not much of a sweep guy, I might run it once every other game. And yes I was being general but I was talking wing counter as far as the reverse goes.

I have always given teams a huge dose of off tackle, and when the ends start crashing we will sweep but not a toss sweep where the TB tries to race everyone to the side line but a power sweep with two gaurds a full back and the qb leading the way.

I know the kind of sweep and reverse you are talking about, most youth teams have it in their arsenal but it almost always ends in disaster.

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I've been the circuit on software, from using something that someone gave me to using PowerPoint and Publisher and creating plays myself - even animated!!It's fun to do, but hugely time consuming. If time is the essence, I bet you can get something on a piece of paper faster this way:

Decide what offensive formations you want to use and create some "blanks" in PowerPoint or Publisher (or the old fashioned way - by hand) for photocopying or mass printing. Bring several to practice and sketch plays as needed against the typical defenses you may face. Our league mandates a 5-2 at that age, even easier!

If you're like me, you have a family, a job, and want to go fishing once in a while. Keep it simple, they're 3rd graders and would benefit more by seeing the play drawn out in front of them as opposed to looking at something already set up.

I also run the Double Wing and at that age limit the kids to 1 or 2 passes and 3 run plays with mirrors (wedge, off tackle and sweep). We say that each back gets to do the plays. This way the QB and FB get in on the action as well, keeping their interest up. Also simplify the terminology. I coach junior high kids. If i have a play called "split left red 99 power sweep" for my team, I ask the 6-7 coach to call it "split left sweep left".

At that age they need to have fundamentals more than playbooks.Good luck!

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