Youth Football Practice Plan Is Essential
By FirstDown PlayBook on Jun 13, 2019

Every year about this time FirstDown PlayBook begins to get more and more questions about youth football. A lot of them are about what plays and defenses we recommend but sometimes they are about other things, like organizing your team and practice.

One question we get every year is about how to set up a practice schedule for your youth football team and so here you go. We also get together every Tuesday night at 9:00 EST for a Youth Football Chalk Talk. If you want to join us sign up right here. It’s free!

For those of you out there with degrees in education, this is going to seem like common sense and so fundamental that it need not be discussed. However, after an extensive football coaching career, we have seen more than a few coaches go to the practice field and the meeting room without a lesson plan or a practice plan.

Former players can be some of the biggest culprits when it comes to this. They are normally very confident in what they they know and after all, their coach always had the practice plan and all they did was follow it. When you become a coach, it is a little different. Now it is your responsibility to be organized so everyone can get something out of practice. Here are a few reasons why having a practice plan is essential and a couple of tips on how to put one together.

Practice Plans Keep You Organized & Accountable To Yourself!

When you head out to the football field you will have a starting time and an ending time for your practice. The one thing that we can promise you is that regardless of if you coach 6-8 year olds or grown men in the NFL, you will never have enough time once you get to the field. For this reason, it is critical that you map out what you want to get accomplished before you take the field.

Coaches who go to the field without a practice plan will consistently find that they never get to the last two or three things that they wanted to teach. This is because they do not organize their time and there is always at least one thing that they end up spending more time on during practice than they had planned to. A practice plan forces you to move on so you can get to everything. If something you have taught needs more work you can come back to it the next practice.

If you look at any coach from the NFL down through High School, one thing they have in common is that they always have a practice plan. Every minute of that practice should be planned before you ever take the field. This is because they know that they must be disciplined enough to make a plan and stick to it if they expect to get everything taught that they need to.

Practice Plans Keep Everyone On The Same Page

A normal practice plan will be broken down into five, ten or fifteen minute segments and include such categories as individual period, group period and team period. This can obviously be broken down into more detail but the point is that every coach should have this practice plan before practice starts so that everybody is on the same page.

If you expect your assistant coaches to actually help you and be as effective as they can be, it is important that they understand your organization and their role. If you can get your assistant coaches a practice plan the day or night before, it can go a long way towards having an effective practice. Without a practice plan you may end up spending all of your time trying to coach everything or spend practice time explaining to your assistant coaches what to do instead of actually teaching your players.

Below is a very simple practice schedule from an NFL Rookie Mini camp that shows how to organize practice into small blocks of time. It also shows that if you get this to your assistant coaches in time, it also will allow them a chance to be more organized.













Let Your Parents In On The Practice Plan

There is nothing more frustrating to a young kid or to the parent of a young kid than to arrive at practice and spend the first twenty minutes watching the coaches get organized. Once you organize your practice plan, let your parents know what time you are going to start practice and what time it will end.

Also, let them see that every minute is well organized and accounted for. This way when you say practice will begin at 6:30, the practice begins at 6:30 and there is no waiting around for everyone to get there. If someone is late they will just jump into the practice when they arrive.

About now, some of you are thinking “But Coach this is just flag football and these are really young kids. Do I need a practice plan for this?” Our answer is “Absolutely”. It may be more important for kids at this age because there are critical skills that must be taught or you just cannot play the game properly. It is important that you identify those skills and make sure they are taught and practiced. Here is a sample practice schedule for a YMCA Flag Football practice from a few years ago.




















As you can see, the sophistication of what is being taught and coached may not be at a high level but that does not mean that the practice organization should be any different. At the very beginning of every practice we would call the players and the parents up to talk to them and show them the practice schedule so they all could see what was going to be taught. It immediately set the tone and sent the message to both the players and parents of “We are organized. This is the plan and this is how we are going to accomplish it.”

Finally, the great thing about a practice plan or practice schedule is once you create a template you can just go in before each practice and fill in the time slots. After you do the first one it really does not take very much time at all. Trust us when we say that the time you spend on a practice plan will come back to you exponentially when you get to your actual practices!

FirstDown PlayBook is the only Digital Football PlayBook that gives you access to over thirty five thousand football plays, schemes and technique help all designed by coaches and players with NFL experience. FirstDown Playbook is also the official PlayBook resource of USA Football and Football Canada..

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