Make practice fun with some simple drills.
As a youth football coach, it's your job to teach kids the basics of the game, but it's also important that you keep it fun so they stay interested. To do this, you need drills that will show kids how to block, throw, catch and run with the ball, but they need to be enjoyable, too. Keep young football players engaged with creative, age-appropriate drills that match their skill level but still offer a challenge. There are lots of fun practice games that are designed just for youth football players that will teach them the fundamentals and make them excited for practice.
Learning how to tackle another player -- and be tackled -- is an important skill to master for the game. One fun way to teach kids the basics of tackling is with a game of sharks and minnows. To set up the game, place four cones in a large rectangle about 20 by 30 yards; this is the ocean. Select one player to be the shark and line the other kids, the minnows, up on one of the 20-yard lines. At the coach's whistle, the minnows will attempt to cross the ocean without getting tackled by the shark. Each time the shark tackles a minnow, that player becomes a shark; play until there are no minnows left.
A fun way to teach kids the fundamentals of blocking is with a game of king of the ring. In this game, kids will rely on their strength, speed and, of course, blocking skills to become the king. Start by spray painting two 15-foot wide circles next to each other on the field, leaving just enough space for one player to run between them. Center a blocking dummy about 5 yards from the top of the circle; getting to the dummy is the ultimate goal. The kids will play one on one, with each child taking a starting position at the top of their own circle. On go, the kids will run around the outside of their circle so they meet in the center. Since there's only space for one, they'll have to hit and block to make it through to reach the dummy.
Conditioning drills that involve running can be made into a fun activity simply turning it into a race. Invoking a little friendly competition among the kids can make the experience more enjoyable, and you can do this with a couple different exercises. Try a dummy relay, where you divide the kids into small, equal groups. Use pylons or cones to mark a starting position for each group, then place another marker several yards away. Have the players line up behind the start position and give a blocking dummy to the first player from each group. The goal is to run with the dummy to the opposite marker and back, then hand off the dummy to the next runner. The first group to have everyone complete the race wins.
Speed and Agility
At the end of a long, hot practice, the last thing most kids want to do is work on improving their speed and agility. However, these are necessary skills for success on the field. One fun way to do this that won't result in whining and complaining is with a water balloon toss. Create a ladder pattern using rope or spray paint and line the kids up at one end. Coaches and parent volunteers will have water balloons at the ready, and as the kids race through the ladder, they will jump, duck and run as quickly as possible to avoid being hit with a balloon.