Running Football Conditioning and Evaluations

For the past 5 years I’ve helped organize and run the first week (10 hours) of no-pad workouts for youth football. For the past 2 years this means working with 8th graders exclusively. We run this opening camp with multiple goals in mind:

  • Do as much as we can to get the kids in shape for the coming season.
  • Teach fundamentals of form tackling without full contact
  • Objectively evaluate speed and agility of the players
  • Teach and review fundamentals for line and backs on both sides of the ball
  • Evaluate the players in an attempt to (1) balance our two 8th grade varsity teams and (2) determine which players would best be served playing at the JV level where Sherwood will field 3 teams this year.

This year we had 69 eighth graders in evaluations which is probably a record for Sherwood. Running a 2 hour practice for this many players while maintaining intensity requires a lot of help. For the first 2 days I set up 10 separate stations and tried to get 2 parent helpers for each station with limited success this year; for some reason we had lower parent support than we’ve had in the past.

Starting with day 3 we get into learning our offensive plays, separating the offensive line from the backs and receivers.

I gave sample schedules for day 1 and day 3 of our first five-day week below.

Sample Day 1 Evaluation Schedule

Offensive Linemen Stations:

  1. 40 yard dash and timing
  2. Line step drill
  3. Shuttle drill and timing
  4. Towel game
  5. Guard pulling drill and timing
  6. Right 12 sweep line work

Offensive Back and WR Stations:

  1. 40 yard dash and timing
  2. Down and ISO series for backs (QBs stay here and rotate into shuttle and 40 timing)
  3. Shuttle drill and timing
  4. Hit & spin drill
  5. Footwork drill
  6. Right 12 sweep back work

Sample Day 3 Evaluation Schedule

Six Plays to Run

We will focus on core buck and belly series plays, with two play action / option pass plays included. These plays can be run right / left, rose / lily formations with various motion sets.

  1. 44/43 Down
  2. 14/23 Counter
  3. 45/46 ISO
  4. 44/43 Down Pass
  5. 12/21 Sweep
  6. 12/21 Sweep Boot (run/pass)
  7. (time permitting) 48/47 Trap

Offensive Linemen Teaching

Note - Tight ends will stay with the linemen. May pull out to backs from time to time when they start working on pass plays.

We will likely have about 25 linemen to work with, which means about 4 distinct sets (C, RG, LG, RT, LT, TE). We will break the linemen into two subgroups with two sets in each group, likely by skill and experience. Group 1 will have about 12 players with experience at their respective positions. Group 2 will have about 12 players with less experience. A lead parent helper will be assigned to each group, with an assistant helper involved as well as we will run two lines through steps within each group. These helpers may need to review basic line steps before diving into plays, especially with group 2.

Offensive Back and WR Teaching

We should consider separating wide receivers and working through basics of route running, stance, release, and downfield blocking. Integrate them into the larger group during the last segment so that we have full backfield and wide receivers executing plays.

Similar to the offensive line, we will break the backs into group 1 and group 2. Group 1 will be experienced backs comfortable in their assigned position. Group 2 will be new players and new candidates for positions (e.g., a former lineman that makes weight and needs reps at FB). Focus on steps and repetition of plays.