Saturday, June 2, 2007

How to Cut Your Warm Up Times in Half in Youth Footbball

Need more practice time? Think about areas of your football practice that you can shave time off of.

"Static stretching" are traditional stretching movements like toe touchers, windmills, hurdlers stretch etc. For the last 40+ years these type of movements have been used by youth football players to warm and loosen up.

Today most experts in the field actually believe these type of movements reduce power output. They suggest players should prepare for football practice or games by doing a "dynamic" warm up that moves from basic, low intensity movements to faster, more explosive movements as the muscles warm and loosen up. They suggest movements that simulate what the players will go through during football practice or games.
For most kids in the 8-12 age group, muscle development has not been extreme and most of the players have a good deal of natural flexibility. I've seen youth football teams age 6-8 using 15-20 minutes of valuable practice time to do various stretching movements, when players this age can usually bend their feet up around their heads, a waste of time.

We start with players in stances and doing very low intensity high-knees movements of 10 yards or so, we move to "butt kicks" and then angle form tackling, all at slow to medium level speeds. We accomplish some skill building, stance, cadence, starts, and form movement while getting blood flow to the muscles and getting our "warm up" accomplished in 5-10 minutes or less. Now the kids are warm enough to safely go into individual skill development or team work like running our football plays out 20 yards at full speed.

In 15 years of coaching youth football, my teams have NEVER had a player "pull a muscle" while practicing or playing a game. Coaching Youth Football well is all about priorities, don't waste valuable practice time on something most experts feel is wasted time. Use your time to teach blocking and tackling and getting great at your football plays.

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