When teaching any youth sport, including football, it is important to offer a balance of fun and learning. At a young age, kids may have short attention spans and be uninterested in drills and fundamentals. While these elements are important, keeping parts of the game fun is an effective way to keep the young players engaged and interested.
Fun football games that teach and reinforce football fundamentals are important. Having your players run through an obstacle course at the end of practice is an effective way to keep their attention during the drills. Set up an obstacle course on the football field. It should involve running, sprinting, changes in direction, jumping and tackling. Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers can run through the obstacle course carrying a ball. An example of an obstacle course could be to run 10 yards, spin around a pylon, run five yards, spin around another pylon, run and jump over an obstacle, weave through a series of pylons, hit a tackling dummy and backpedal for 10 yards.
The tug-o-war is a traditional contest of strength at parties and fairs, but it can serve to entertain and teach your young football players too. All you need is a long length of thick rope, marked in the centre with a flag or piece of tape. The centre of the rope is placed over a marker on the field. Whichever team can pull the rope (and the opponents) over another line five yards away is the winner. To generate good-natured competition on your team, pit the offence against the defence in this drill.
Ball carriers are taught to keep their feet active during play to avoid being tackled around the ankles. Reinforcing this lesson can be taught through the net drill, which is a common football teaching tool. A net is suspended 3 or 4 inches off the ground by stakes, and players run through it while trying not to trip. The key is to negotiate the net's holes quickly and efficiently. To add a fun element to this drill, parents can line up 10 or more yards away and throw water balloons at the player as he runs through the net. This can make for a rewarding drill after a hot practice and will involve the parents in the fun.
Balance is important for linemen, and this skill can be taught with an element of fun. To teach the balance drill, have your linemen pair up. One will stand in a crouched, blocking position and the other will try to knock his partner to the ground by grabbing, pulling and pushing him. The crouching player's goal is to stay on his feet for this exercise. After 10 seconds, the players can switch. Have the players try this drill five times each.
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