How to Make Football Practice Fun

By Trisha Dawe

When coaching youth football, making practice fun is essential for continued love of the sport and a high level of effort from each child. It is the responsibility of the youth coach to lead by example. When the coach is demonstrating enjoyment, the children will follow suit. Organize activities to be performed during practice that not only enhance football skills but are also promote an entertaining environment for the players.

Begin each practice by motivating players to do their best by using upbeat speech and assuring each player that they are effective at what they do. Pump them up to get started and let them know the practice will be entertaining. If each player has the basic understanding that the practice is going to be enjoyable, they will be more willing to participate and stay with the team.

Warm up the players using games such as follow the leader, where the coach or a veteran player leads a line of other players through a course of activities. Have players catch the football and sprint for 25 seconds to improve their running instead of the traditional method of jogging laps. Have them do what's called a sideways grapevine step while they run to improve agility. This involves players, turned to the side, stepping the right foot out to the right side, crossing the left one in front of the right, stepping the right foot out again and stepping the left foot behind the right.

Develop games instead of monotonous drills. For example, play a game of keep-away with the players, instructing some of them to pass the ball around while another player attempts to intercept the passes.

Play a game of "Coach Says" similar to the game of "Simon Says," instructing players to quickly take common football stances using proper techniques. When a player takes an incorrect stance, he must sit down for the remainder of the game. Offer a prize to the last player remaining at the end, such as one less lap to run during warm-ups.

Scrimmage with the players. When the coach is actively involved in the practice, the players are more apt to treat it like an enjoyable game as opposed to a tedious practice. Shout out to each player when he is displaying behaviors that are conducive to both learning football skills and having a good time.

End the practice with a team huddle, and be sure to congratulate each team member by stating one thing he did really well during practice and one thing he can try to work on during the following practice. Commend the team for their efforts and be sure to break the huddle with an inspiring cheer.

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