I have had the recent opportunity to coach very young players – 7, 8 years old. The biggest mistake I saw, dealt with time management. Too many of the youth coaches are tied to the same routines they went through when they were in high school. They start with stretching, then high knees, and then run through some cones, etc. You look up and you are 1 hr into practice and you haven’t done one thing specific skill related.
Basic Practice Tips for Youth Teams
I am not saying that those basic skills are not important, but at this young age there are far more important specific skills that need to be mastered in order to ultimately maximize practice time.
I recommend that at this age, you take the first 10 min of every practice to do nothing but the basics by position. Have your QB take snaps from the centers, RB work on taking hand offs, Linemen their stance, etc.
This concentrated 10 min before each practice will ingrain the skills into habit and will allow for a lot more time to be spent on more elaborate skills and tasks that follow.
It sounds like common sense, but no matter how elaborate your game plan, if you cannot execute the snap, hand off and basic blocks, it is all for not. I can’t tell you how much time is ultimately wasted by coaches who assume those things will happen naturally.
NOTE: this is referring to the youngest players who are just really playing for the first time. But, even at the higher levels, the activities that occur before the stretching need to be used to ingrain the basics of each position.