Notifications

Advice for practicing with a small team  

Page 1 / 2
  RSS

systemspoet
(@systemspoet)
Copper
Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 13
August 8, 2019 5:17 am  

Hi Coaches,

I've got a small team -- 20 kids when they are all there.  With participation way down, I think that's going to be the new normal.  We had 18 last year.  Last night we had 15.  One kid on a planned trip with his dad, two kids who's parents said they "came home sick from camp", one kid at the doctor having his sprained ankle evaluated.

How the heck do you get meaningful reps against anything more than air or kids holding blocking pads?  Last year we ended up running a lot of like, 10 on 7 or 11 on 6 or whatnot.  I was running the D last year and my feeling was, that sort of thing is generally good for the defense.  I'd tell the kids, "yeah so what, they have 11 kids and we have 7, football isn't fair, shed your blocks, contain the sweep and do the best you can."  But it's absolute death to the offense.  When they succeed at a play, it's fool's gold.  They were always getting pushed around in games because they never got realistic looks.

I know I can contrive half-field looks, pull out the WR's and CBs, that gets you to 9 vs 9.  We can have coaches with blocking pads fill in some spots on defense so at least the o-line has someone to block. 

Experienced coaches -- how do you handle stuff like this? I'd like to have 26 kids on the team, but this is Massachusetts.  A bill to make tackle football illegal for kids under 14 was just introduced. It's gonna die in committee, has no chance, but that's the climate.  There's no longer intense societal pressure to play, in fact it's the other way around.  Kids can play fall baseball, fall soccer, wrestling, AAU hoops, you name it.  So I need to really master how to produce situations where we can see if the kids on the line really get the blocking scheme, do the kids I have playing linebacker really possess the speed and instincts to fly to the ball, etc.

thanks everyone...

Coach "Just A Dad"


Quote
spidermac
(@spidermac)
Gold
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 2386
August 8, 2019 6:11 am  

Well, it's not just Mass with small roster sizes...although this season we are actually a big roster for the format...but regardless...

Things we do...

Working the oline - we do what we call run fits...we will set our oline, then put up whatever front we are facing that week, i.e., 5-3, 4-4, 4-3...and then we will put a back behind them and they run a direct snap play, so if we called ISO scheme, the line would run ISO and the back would run where ISO is supposed to go. Added bonus points...we use quick fast ball guys as the Dline...it helps teach the line how to adjust when they are facing more athletic dlnemen...flatten your step for example...

Half Line - for this we use our real defense (half at a time) against our real offense...we set bags next to the center to keep folks from cutting back to the backside beyond the center...

Small Group - we work our technique, fast feet for the oline perhaps, meshes for the ball guys, stalk blocking for the receivers, ball get off for the dline, etc...

Inside Run - No WR or DBs

7v7 - No online (except the center :P) or dline

We actually do very little "scrimmage work" i.e., full O against full D, because of roster sizes...we do run what we call play polish...which we will set a front 7 against our full offense...sometimes we may have dad's with bags fill in if we are missing parts in the front 7...

None of them suck, they just haven't found what the kid is good at yet.


ReplyQuote
terrypjohnson
(@terrypjohnson)
Bronze
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 166
August 8, 2019 6:41 am  

I'm a second-year coach, so I'm sure there might be better ideas. But here's what I did last year with 17 kids (when they all showed up).

1) The first thing I'd do each week is lineup the offense and have them walk through their respective assignments on each play (Power, Sweep, Counter, Reverse). Then, I'd have everyone run their assignments against cones to make sure there was no confusion.

2) Assuming the kids knew their assignments, I'd usually go to a half-line scrimmage and fill in other players as needed. So, if I were practicing counter, I'd have a BSG and BST, and then a defender over the G so that the T practiced his reach block and the G got to pull. There are tons of different things you could do. I did the best I could to keep them engaged since my practices are only allowed to go 90 minutes.

3) For defense this year, I'm going to borrow an idea I saw online (I think at Youthfootball online), where they used large trash cans for the offensive line. The defensive line would hit the trash can, while the backs / ends run the play. While this might not work for all cases, I think it will help me determine if the LB's / Safeties / Corners are reading their keys and playing their assignments correctly.

Again, there are probably better ideas, but I wanted to chime in to get the conversation started.

Coach Terry

P.S. - Enrollment is way down here in South Georgia. Last year, my city had four teams at my age group... this year, it might be two!


ReplyQuote
ZACH
 ZACH
(@bucksweep58)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9298
August 8, 2019 7:13 am  

I drilled more then taught on those night and we all worked together.

Eg.

O line vs backs run period
- 5v5, 5v7, 7v9 just oline

Backs vs line
DPs rb gauntlet drill

Tackle circuit

End on fun game type activity.

If you need to teach plays still can, just use who you have. Dont say "oh we cant run plays bc our center is at hooters today"  ...teach a new center... no show means someone steps up.

Hit me up anytime....gotten really good at small team and large team practice

I can explain it to you, I can't understand if for you.


ReplyQuote
Wing-n-It
(@robert)
Platinum Moderator
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 3872
August 8, 2019 7:23 am  

Coach "Just A Dad"

Hey me too.
First you are no longer just a Dad, when these kids see you in the grocery store or around town 10-15 years from now you're going to hear this deep voice from behind you say "Hey coach" Then your going to flip around and the kids is going to shake your hand the correct way and your going to ask hows he been doing and you're going to make his day that he remembers you but you also remembered him. Maybe you will call him by his nickname that you will have for him this year.
Kids will easily forget their first teachers and counselors and other adult figures but they RARELY forget "Coach"

Its the most rewarding job you'll never get paid for in money.
Now, On to your question

How the heck do you get meaningful reps

Half lines when your trying to go full live

Involve the parents as players if you have to for alignments and the such.

20 isn't bad. so now you just got to get them to come to practice.
*Hey Wing-n-it, how do you do that?*
This is what we did.
Don't waist time on meaningless drills and conditioning. Have a practice plan and follow it, but if you need more time to get something across please by all means slow down and make sure they understand. This is all new to them.
When a new player does something correct that he's been struggling with, make a BIG deal about how proud you are, I have been known to pick the kid up and swing him around while saying very loudly "NOW THATS HOW YOU HIT!!"

if parents and kids don't see benefit in practice they will slow down in coming so show them benefit. Let them know when they progressed, a lot of players and parents don't see the change so show them.

All positions are up for grabs and NO ONE "Has" their position locked up

If you want PM me and I will drop my number so we can go through some stuff
Just one Dad to another

2 Things my offense will always have is a Wing and a Wedge


ReplyQuote
32wedge
(@32wedge)
Silver Moderator
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 540
August 8, 2019 9:26 am  

I have 15 players so far but 12 is the most in practice.  One kid has to have a new concussion protocol baseline test before he can practice because he got a concussion last year even though he was cleared to played after the injury last year.  Another is on vacation.  2 others don't have their physicals yet.  Today school starts.  Hopefully I will pick up a few more.

To answer your question, we work on the inside game and the outside game separately.  I use the Linemen as scout team for the DBs and OLBs and use the little guys as scout teams for the inside guys.  Not the greatest situation but you have to work with what you got.


ReplyQuote
patriotsfatboy1
(@patriotsfatboy1)
Platinum
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 3236
August 8, 2019 9:47 am  

Where in MA are you?

20 kids is great for us.  Won a couple of championships in MA with 20 kids on a team. 

Half-line drills help some, but you can get a lot done on air.  You focus on the line blocking and use a coach at next level for pullers to focus on. 
We did a ton of splitting up between the line and the backs.  Backs worked on hitting certain holes and open field tackling.  The line worked on both OL and DL techniques.  Did maybe 15 minutes as a full team.  Even our team time for defense was showing certain looks and talking about where we were supposed to be when certain things happened.  When I needed to simulate a fast player against our full defense, I used a soccer ball to roll out wide very quickly (simulated a fast ball carrier). 

To get more kids at practice, have your playing time dependent on practice participation.  We did not start kids who were not at practice during the week.  If they missed more than one practice, then they are looking at minimum playing time. 


ReplyQuote
Dusty Ol Fart
(@youth-coach)
Diamond
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 7553
August 8, 2019 9:54 am  

The only Viable way is 1/2 Line.  At least then you can engage on both sides of the ball.  I had exactly 11 of 15 kids at practice. 

We did our First Full Contact 1/2 Line O vs D yesterday.  Flipped Left and Right  Eye Opener for sure but, at least I know what our deficiencies are.  I have set up a 10 play scrimmage for us against the Older Guys (8th Grade) next week.  I try not to have preconceived notions but, each play will, most assuredly, be a learning experience.  I have 5 Football Rookies and 1 second year player on the Roster. 

Onward into the Fray!!    8) 

Not MPP... ONE TASK!  Teach them!  🙂


ReplyQuote
CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 16859
August 8, 2019 9:55 am  

Hi Coaches,

I've got a small team -- 20 kids when they are all there.  With participation way down, I think that's going to be the new normal.  We had 18 last year.  Last night we had 15.  One kid on a planned trip with his dad, two kids who's parents said they "came home sick from camp", one kid at the doctor having his sprained ankle evaluated.

How the heck do you get meaningful reps against anything more than air or kids holding blocking pads?  Last year we ended up running a lot of like, 10 on 7 or 11 on 6 or whatnot.  I was running the D last year and my feeling was, that sort of thing is generally good for the defense.  I'd tell the kids, "yeah so what, they have 11 kids and we have 7, football isn't fair, shed your blocks, contain the sweep and do the best you can."  But it's absolute death to the offense.  When they succeed at a play, it's fool's gold.  They were always getting pushed around in games because they never got realistic looks.

I know I can contrive half-field looks, pull out the WR's and CBs, that gets you to 9 vs 9.  We can have coaches with blocking pads fill in some spots on defense so at least the o-line has someone to block. 

Experienced coaches -- how do you handle stuff like this? I'd like to have 26 kids on the team, but this is Massachusetts.  A bill to make tackle football illegal for kids under 14 was just introduced. It's gonna die in committee, has no chance, but that's the climate.  There's no longer intense societal pressure to play, in fact it's the other way around.  Kids can play fall baseball, fall soccer, wrestling, AAU hoops, you name it.  So I need to really master how to produce situations where we can see if the kids on the line really get the blocking scheme, do the kids I have playing linebacker really possess the speed and instincts to fly to the ball, etc.

thanks everyone...

Coach "Just A Dad"

Sounds to me like you're talking about scrimmage situations, which is how I want to spend my time the least. I'd much rather spend it in 3on3, board drills, QB/Center exchange, ball-protection drills, Whose Ball, C.O.D., Fit & Drive, pulling drills, and so on.  Give me 5 or 6 guys at my station and I'm good.  The fewer the players, the better coached they should be.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


ReplyQuote
systemspoet
(@systemspoet)
Copper
Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 13
August 8, 2019 10:57 am  

Sounds to me like you're talking about scrimmage situations, which is how I want to spend my time the least. I'd much rather spend it in 3on3, board drills, QB/Center exchange, ball-protection drills, Whose Ball, C.O.D., Fit & Drive, pulling drills, and so on.  Give me 5 or 6 guys at my station and I'm good.  The fewer the players, the better coached they should be.

--Dave

I don't intend to spend more than 15-20 minutes in scrimmage. We just need to figure out who is a bag warrior and who can really play as well as let the kids get some fun playing football in.

Hey me too.
First you are no longer just a Dad, when these kids see you in the grocery store or around town 10-15 years from now you're going to hear this deep voice from behind you say "Hey coach" Then your going to flip around and the kids is going to shake your hand the correct way and your going to ask hows he been doing and you're going to make his day that he remembers you but you also remembered him. Maybe you will call him by his nickname that you will have for him this year.
Kids will easily forget their first teachers and counselors and other adult figures but they RARELY forget "Coach"

Its the most rewarding job you'll never get paid for in money.
Now, On to your questionHalf lines when your trying to go full live

Involve the parents as players if you have to for alignments and the such.

20 isn't bad. so now you just got to get them to come to practice.
*Hey Wing-n-it, how do you do that?*
This is what we did.
Don't waist time on meaningless drills and conditioning. Have a practice plan and follow it, but if you need more time to get something across please by all means slow down and make sure they understand. This is all new to them.
When a new player does something correct that he's been struggling with, make a BIG deal about how proud you are, I have been known to pick the kid up and swing him around while saying very loudly "NOW THATS HOW YOU HIT!!"

if parents and kids don't see benefit in practice they will slow down in coming so show them benefit. Let them know when they progressed, a lot of players and parents don't see the change so show them.

All positions are up for grabs and NO ONE "Has" their position locked up

If you want PM me and I will drop my number so we can go through some stuff
Just one Dad to another

You got that right. I'm Coach to them.  Have been from day 1 last year.  This is all good advice, I'm going to try the cones to split the field trick.


ReplyQuote
Wing-n-It
(@robert)
Platinum Moderator
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 3872
August 8, 2019 11:23 am  

Cones work well. The runners must know that they cannot run to the cones.

On the mismatch, we had a time called strive for 5 where we put the offense on the 3 yard line and ran one play, the QB wedge, it was a staple of ours, every team new it was coming early and often. We would line up the rest of our team on the defense 13, 14, 15 players would be on the defense trying to stop that play they knew we were running it for 5 minutes straight.

My offense knew that if they ever needed 3 yards it was going to be no tougher than aligning against 15 players from your own team who knows what play is coming every time.
If the offense scores the defense does 10 push ups, if the offense doesn't score the offense does 10 push ups. We just keep adding up push ups till the end and all rent is due near the end of practice

I like mismatches in practice, just make sure you let your team know that when they succeed when the odds are stacked against them it feels much better.

2 Things my offense will always have is a Wing and a Wedge


ReplyQuote
Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9325
August 8, 2019 11:28 am  

I've got a small team -- 20 kids when they are all there.  With participation way down, I think that's going to be the new normal.  We had 18 last year.  Last night we had 15.  One kid on a planned trip with his dad, two kids who's parents said they "came home sick from camp", one kid at the doctor having his sprained ankle evaluated.

How the heck do you get meaningful reps against anything more than air or kids holding blocking pads?  Last year we ended up running a lot of like, 10 on 7 or 11 on 6 or whatnot.  I was running the D last year and my feeling was, that sort of thing is generally good for the defense.  I'd tell the kids, "yeah so what, they have 11 kids and we have 7, football isn't fair, shed your blocks, contain the sweep and do the best you can."  But it's absolute death to the offense.  When they succeed at a play, it's fool's gold.  They were always getting pushed around in games because they never got realistic looks.

I know I can contrive half-field looks, pull out the WR's and CBs, that gets you to 9 vs 9.  We can have coaches with blocking pads fill in some spots on defense so at least the o-line has someone to block. 

Experienced coaches -- how do you handle stuff like this? I'd like to have 26 kids on the team, but this is Massachusetts.  A bill to make tackle football illegal for kids under 14 was just introduced. It's gonna die in committee, has no chance, but that's the climate.  There's no longer intense societal pressure to play, in fact it's the other way around.  Kids can play fall baseball, fall soccer, wrestling, AAU hoops, you name it.  So I need to really master how to produce situations where we can see if the kids on the line really get the blocking scheme, do the kids I have playing linebacker really possess the speed and instincts to fly to the ball, etc.

Heh...the numbers you consider small are what I consider normal.  26 on the team is a number never approached by any team I've coached on since I started in 2007.  That year we had 23 show up for picture day, but only 17 stay around to play the game!  I coached for years in house ball where, due to their minimum play rules, they'd never make teams of more than 22, and usually were around 17.  The team I'm with this year has now reached the stratospheric roster number of 21, of which I've seen only 17 at practice so far; last year we had 16 but only 15 after one moved away mid-season.  A few of our opponents were stocked -- Madison NJ needed no-huddle to get much of their roster a good amount of play -- but the others had comparable roster depth to ours.

A bad head coach I worked with ran a lot of live drills with a full offense (or occasionally a full defense) against the few remaining.  You're better off practicing against air for the minority of time you need to assemble an entire team, subbing the next player on the depth chart at the various positions.

Line drills where the players either just point to or take a step into the opponent they're going to block are good.  If you have a multi-position sled, that's an excellent resource, as is a multi-position chute.

You'll spend a lot of time on skill drills 1-on-1 (but in parallel where possible) or few-on-few.  Don't worry that the matchups aren't going to be like those you get in games; for skill development it doesn't matter, and most techniques have a lot of carry-over between offense and defense.  Blocking and tackling are similar but for hand placement.


ReplyQuote
Coach TonyM
(@ramoody)
Gold
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 1726
August 8, 2019 11:30 am  

I don't intend to spend more than 15-20 minutes in scrimmage. We just need to figure out who is a bag warrior and who can really play as well as let the kids get some fun playing football in.
Use the drills DP mentioned.  Then your bag warriors will be MOJO beasts.  Coach em up.. rep on air, Oklahoma drills.  They get better at blocking, shedding blocks, tackling and running the ball with Oklahoma, and you only need 4 kids.  Split the team into lineman and backs.  Setup up cones for the front 5, then use the backfield to learn/rep plays, while OLine is doing their thing 1 on 1.  Same thing on defense,  1 coach working with secondary on alignment/assignment, while other coach works with defensive lineman splitting double teams, grabbing grass on wedge, reading pullers and such.  I will have 5 Olineman on 4 Dlineman (only need 9 their) and 7 DBs.  I run half line stuff with them stopping sweeps and ISO plays.  They go on offense when we go the other side, that way I can match up good vs good

You got that right. I'm Coach to them.  Have been from day 1 last year.  This is all good advice, I'm going to try the cones to split the field trick.


ReplyQuote
Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9325
August 8, 2019 11:46 am  

Sounds to me like you're talking about scrimmage situations, which is how I want to spend my time the least. I'd much rather spend it in 3on3, board drills, QB/Center exchange, ball-protection drills, Whose Ball, C.O.D., Fit & Drive, pulling drills, and so on.  Give me 5 or 6 guys at my station and I'm good.  The fewer the players, the better coached they should be.

That's it.  We might not all go for the same selection of drills, but focus on teaching the skills.

When I do like "scrimmage situations", it's nothing like a whole team with plays, but group Oklahomas (or whatever you call them), say 4-on-4 or 5-on-5, partly as reward/fun at the end of a practice session, and partly for practice at tackling, tracking the opponent, blocking, protecting the ball or stripping it, and reading a broken field; enforce a tight time limit per "down" and it's conditioning too.  You can have half the team do that because they did well in the drills that day, and the other half do remedial work because they didn't, or you can have 2 groups each doing them.

Do you have enough coaches for all that?


ReplyQuote
DumCoach
(@dumcoach)
Diamond
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 8618
August 11, 2019 1:09 am  

Hi Coaches,

I've got a small team -- 20 kids when they are all there. 

I have 16...when they're all there.

How the heck do you get meaningful reps against anything more than air or kids holding blocking pads?  Last year we ended up running a lot of like, 10 on 7 or 11 on 6 or whatnot.  I was running the D last year and my feeling was, that sort of thing is generally good for the defense.  I'd tell the kids, "yeah so what, they have 11 kids and we have 7, football isn't fair, shed your blocks, contain the sweep and do the best you can."  But it's absolute death to the offense.  When they succeed at a play, it's fool's gold.  They were always getting pushed around in games because they never got realistic looks.

Play half line (for me 8 on eight) with a complete offense to one side of center.  For me that's center, G, T, TE and four backs.  The "D" also plays with 8, in this case a DG, DT, DE, MLB, OLB, backside OLB, corner, and safety.  Always allow your DC to pull anyone off the offense (ANYONE) to add to his defense in exchange for one of his players.  Since the DC will usually pull the OC's #1 stud, OC must learn to play without him.

This forces the OC to coach his supporting cast (not his star) and make different plays look alike.  If OC can't win without his #1 star he has nothing going anyway.  In reality, you work for first downs in a game.  If every practice play goes for a TD you are guaranteed a LOSING SEASON.  Why?  Because you have an unrealistic practice.  Myself, I give my DC his choice of playere trades until he can hold me to 3 yards.  Now I have to coach.  So does he but he has the players to do it.  The odds are equal and so are the benefits.  Because the only way the DC can keep me from gaining 3 yards is to make his players better and the only way for me to gain more than 3 yards is to make my players better.  GAME ON!

Next, learn the phrase "On the ball!"

The moment the DC stops you from gaining 3 yards, say "On the ball!" and repeat the same play, OUT LOUD, for the defense to hear.  Now run it and either get your 3 yards or find out why.  Because SOMEBODY missed their block and you need to find out WHO and WHY. 

Because if all you're doing is running over your own garbage players to score then you need the other team to line up its own garbage players against you on defense to win.  Do you run their defense?

I know I can contrive half-field looks, pull out the WR's and CBs, that gets you to 9 vs 9.  We can have coaches with blocking pads fill in some spots on defense so at least the o-line has someone to block. 

Yes.  9 on 9.  I don't know why with 9 on 9 not everyone has someone to block.  Eight (plus one ball carrier) are blocking nine.  Eight cannot block 9.  But the 8 have an advantage over 9?  And you have to add more coaches as defenders?  ???

Play the WR's to the half line side.  Why aren't you?  With 9 you can play "empty backfield" with QUAD receivers.  Again, why aren't you? 

Yes.  I am critical.  I do that with my own players top coach them and I'm coaching you now.  I'm standing in front of you, giving you a blast of my bad breath, and demanding, "WTF are you doing?" 

"Football is for the kids - But let's win anyway."


ReplyQuote
Page 1 / 2
Share: