Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

“All Aboard!”

Posted by admin July - 17 - 2018 - Tuesday

Official pre-season practice begins next week in Virginia. It seems to be earlier and earlier every year! I can remember when starting the 2nd week in August was considered “early.” Please be cautious in planning out your season’s practice schedule. Most of you will be going hard for 4 months once your practices start. Kids today, too many of them anyway, don’t seem to “stick to” a commitment like they used to. While I am a proponent of keeping your practice schedule a) organized and b) basically the same… I do think there’s a place for “breaks” in the action. I’ve mentioned on this blog before that, for example, asking players to come in on Saturday morning after playing the night before may be asking too much. They need time over the weekend to unwind, rest and heal up.

Your weekly practice schedule doesn’t need to deviate much. People don’t like change. But, at the same time, you don’t want your schedule to become “routine.” That leads to lack of focus. I’ve talked before about scheduling an “off day” on a predetermined Monday during the season. I also learned from my players that going out in helmets only on a Monday can be a “spirit-lifter.” Those types of changes RE-energize your players and that is important.

It’s also important to curtail live contact during practice. The concussion issue is important. Players need to be protected. Unnecessary contact during practice can be detrimental. I’ll always remember what my high school head coach said when asked why we had little or no live contact in practice once the season started. He stated, “If they’re gonna get hurt (and I hope that’s never the case!), I don’t want them to get hurt during practice.” The NFL has shown that you can do live tackling without having to hit another person!

If you haven’t utilized a tackling machine or the tackling rings… or simply tackling a “blocking” sled, you are missing out on opportunities to have a player tackle full speed while using good/safe technique without contacting another player. We became big advocates of Pete Carroll’s “Hawk Rugby Tackling” technique. Not only did it prove to be safer but, in particular, our open-field tackling improved tremendously! Why? The kids told me why: “Coach, I feel so much more confident coming up to make a tackle knowing that I don’t have to put my head in front of the ball carrier.” Wow! How true! The old “cross the bow” tackling technique is actually quite dangerous. The “Hawk Rugby” tackle teaches the players to put their head behind the tackler; wrap up his legs and roll!!! Check out the video’s that Coach Carroll has posted if you haven’t seen this technique explained.

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