Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

How Much Hitting?

Posted by admin August - 29 - 2013 - Thursday

I’ve had several coaches contact me this week about practice schedules and how best to utilize practice time. One coach just shared with me about the rash of (season-ending) injuries that his team has suffered in the pre-season. I know football is a violent, physical sport. Kids have to be mentally and physically tough to play it. However, I’m not sure if the reward predicates going at it so hard in practice… IF it’s going to cost you your starting QB or LB because you go “live” in practice all the time.

Aside from the whole concussion issue, I don’t think you need to tackle live in practice to create physical toughness in your players. I ascribe to the adage that my old HS coach (who remained my mentor for years) preached to me: “If they’re going to get hurt during the week… make it on Friday during the game— NOT on Tuesday during practice!” It has served my teams well for 28 years.

The only full, live tackling to the ground that we do in practice is 4 goal line plays from the 5 yard line on Tuesday for Offense and the same on Wednesday for Goal line Defense. The rest of the time we’re going to smack each other; wrap our arms and run our feet and expect 4-5 more tacklers to get to the ball before the whistle. Nobody goes to the ground.

Our kids are as tough and aggressive as anybody we play. They know that come Friday night that we are going to “turn them lose!” They actually look forward to hitting people during the game because we “hold them back” during the week.

I’ve found that it minimizes the chance of injury during any particular practice and…. the over-all wear and tear on an athlete’s body over a 12-15 week season is also minimized. Our kids are fresher and stronger at play-off time than at any time during the season. Why? Because by November, they are in the best shape of the entire Fall. We cut back on practice time as the season progresses as well.

Let me add here a note of importance: You must keep up your weight lifting during the season!!! Do not use the excuse that you do not have time. You make time. We get our lifting done in 20 minutes on Monday and Thursday every week. This is as much a part of conditioning as any running that we do. Keep lifting coaches!

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