Many youngsters first start playing competitive football by getting involved in Pop Warner. Coaches start the season with conditioning drills that are designed to get players into top shape and then teach them plays that they will be able to use in games. As a coach, you must do everything you can to make these drills enjoyable and safe for the young people you are leading.
Every practice should begin with conditioning drills. Prior to the start of the season, players may go through two weeks of conditioning drills in which players do exercises to get faster, stronger and more agile but do not do any hitting. One of the key conditioning drills is Up-Downs. In this drill, players run in place for 5 or 10 seconds. Then they hit the ground on your whistle and do five pushups. Players then get up, run in place for 10 more seconds and do five more pushups. The drill continues until all players have done 25 pushups. After a one-minute break, players repeat the set.
Five blocking bags are placed in a row on the ground, with three feet between each bag. On your signal, the first player in line runs over the bags, making sure to pick his knees up high enough so that his feet do not hit the bag. At first, players trot over the bags, gradually working up to a full-fledged sprint. Each player runs over the bags five times. This gets players used to getting over the other players who may have been blocked to the ground and is known as "getting through the trash."
Shed and Throw
The shed and throw drill teaches linebackers how to get rid of blockers, move to the ball carrier and tackle him. In this drill, three linebackers stand one yard away from a blocking sled, with a running back positioned eight yards behind the sled. On your signal, the linebackers hit the blocking sled and drive it five yards back. They then accelerate to the running back, who has taken off to the right or left to try to get past the linebackers and run down the field.
Gauntlet Receiving Drill
This drill works on a receiver's concentration, an important factor during a game, when the defenders are bearing down on him as he catches a pass. Five players stand on a line stretching 10 yards so they are all 2 yards apart. Five more players stand in a line facing opposite, 2 yards away. On your signal, the player at one end of line A lofts a pass to the player at the far end of line B, who passes back to the player at the end of line A. The two players are diagonally opposite each other. The other players try to distract the two players who are attempting to catch the football. Each receiver should catch four balls before two other receivers take their place.