Conditioning for Youth Football

Remember what it was like when we were 8-12 years old? Heck, we rolled out of bed in shape. We could play all day and didn’t need any adult to get us in shape. Now I know kids may not be as active these days because of video games, but most kids are still full of energy. That’s why you don’t have to worry about scheduling in drawn out calisthentics and endless sprints with the idea of “gotta get ’em in shape”. Hey coach, you can get them football ready just by taking them through a spirited 90 minute practice with no exclusive conditioning time.

Football should be fun, particularly youth football. According to ACEP (American Coaches Education Program) 70% of all kids who participate in some sort of youth football drop out by high school. If that statistic is true, that’s too much. There will always be some attrition. Let’s face it, football isn’t for everyone. But practice should not be drudgery and there shouldn’t be much standing around. It should be quick moving and full of action. Incorporate conditioning into all phases of practice and they’ll be football ready without a specific conditioning period. If you’re hustling and running throughout your drills and activities, conditioning will take care of itself. Here are some examples:

Warmup with line drills of high knees, bounding, back pedals, carioca, etc. 10 minutes should do it.

Set up 6-8 stations for agilities. Break the team up into 6-8 groups and get a circuit going. There are tons of great agility drills that improve athleticism and have a great side benefit of conditioning. 15 minutes of these are great.

Position breakdown time. Line, backs, and receivers breakup into their own groups for fundamentals and skill work. By getting a lot of repetitions (reps) all players are learning, practicing, and getting their legs in shape. This is also the phase where play assignments are learned. 25 minutes

Team offense or defense. 25 minutes. This is the phase of practice where the team comes together to coordinate the offense or defense into one. Keep the offense (and defense) simple so that plays can be run through crisply. Better to run a few plays well than to have a lot of plays that can’t be executed correctly. If possible, run the high school base offense and defense. Too complicated means too much standing around talking. That’s boring to kids. Coach on the run and keep things moving. Just by running plays at half speed then full speed, there is conditioning taking place. Have your players hustle to the ball until the whistle blows.

Pursuit drills for defense or perfect plays for offense. 15 minutes. Run ยูฟ่าเบท perfect plays against air and the players must run the play for 20, 30, or 40 yards. This is a great way to practice the offense AND get in sprint work. It’s all about the legs and being able to run. Make sure all team members participate in this. The starters are unit one, backups are unit two, and so on. As one group is jogging back to the line of scrimmage (out of bounds on the sideline) the next group is running their play. This is a rapid fire drill that is sure to condition and practice the offense. When finished the kids will be gassed. Give them high fives, pat ’em on the back, tell them how hard they worked, tell them they’re special, all that stuff. It will pump them up and make them feel good about themselves and hard work.