Youth football is a popular pastime among children across the United States. It is where many youngsters start dreaming about someday starring in the NFL. When coaching youth football, it is important to ensure it's fun for youth players. This helps the youngsters learn to play football with fun drills in an enjoyable atmosphere. Developing the football skills of a youth player helps them retain enthusiasm for the game, which could lead to an interest to continue playing as they grow older.
All drills should be fun for the players and focus on the fundamental techniques and skills required to succeed in the game. At the same time, the coach should balance repetition with enjoyment to ensure all players stay mentally involved in practice sessions. Some of the fundamental skills a youth football coach should teach are passing, receiving and running with the ball.
Passing and receiving
Passing drills should teach the correct grip on the ball and how to throw a spiral. The youngster needs to learn to flick his wrist and have a follow through that points to the ball's intended target. Pair the players and have them stand 10 yards apart and toss the ball to each other. The coach should gradually increase the distance. Fundamentals can be emphasised by manipulating the drill, for example, have a player throw from a kneeling position, which emphasises upper body mechanics. After working on the mechanics, passing drills should involve moving targets, such as receivers running unopposed or against defenders. Add a scoring system, such as timing the first player to reach 10 completions or scoring the number of touchdown passes a player completes. This allows players to compete against each other in a friendly, competitive setting.
Receiving fundamentals are making a triangle with the thumb and forefingers and watching the ball right into the hands, focusing on catching the ball before tucking it in the body in order to turn and run. Drills can involve movement at a slower pace to concentrate on the technique before progressing to catching the ball in motion. Adding defenders and keeping score of the number of catches, with bonus points for touchdowns, will add competition and make drills more fun.
Running with the ball
Running with the ball should be taught in an organised and progressive manner. It is not prudent to introduce full hitting until a player has become comfortable with the fundamentals. Being laid out will not make it a fun drill in the early going. A player must learn to cradle the ball in their forearm and wrap their hand around the point, holding the ball tightly. This will prevent fumbling the ball upon contact. Drills include taking a handoff and running through a hole unopposed, allowing the player to accelerate into space after recognising where to run, which is a key skill to avoid defenders. Progressions can include adding defenders. A coach should understand proper tackling technique and safety issues before incorporating it into any drill.