An effective football practice requires both time management and efficiency among coaches and players. To practice every situation and technique in football, you must be organized.
Running a high school or youth football practice requires coaches to be extremely organized, so players can maximize time and effort.
Creating a team defense and a team offense practice plan may seem difficult at first, but by the end of this article, you’ll know how to plan and execute a practice.
These practice templates are great for youth, high school, and college programs.
Football Practice Schedule
Football practice plans are difficult to make, especially if you’re the head coach, offensive coordinator, or defensive coordinator.
The goal of practice is to simulate it as close to an actual game as possible. All of your assistant coaches should be organized and move efficiently with the players.
Mismanaging time is the biggest flaw in football practices we see today. Coaches often wait until everything is 100% perfect before moving on to the next drill.
Not only does this waste time, but it’s also extremely inefficient. We recommend coaches create “blocks” or short periods for their practices.
How To Create A Football Practice Plan
When creating your football practice, it’s important to have a balance of offensive plays, defensive situations, and special teams.
We need to break these 3 categories into smaller subcategories, that way we can focus on individual techniques. We’re not just making the practice a complete defensive team practicing session, practicing the same things over and over again.
Every football practice plan that we have focuses on speed and efficiency. The more the kids are moving around, the more fun they will have. They also won’t have time to talk and fool around.
Also known as “indy” periods, these periods are designed to coach the individual position. For instance, if you have a quarterbacks coach, this is when they will take just the quarterbacks and run them through drills.
Individual periods are good because you can coach up the base fundamentals of that position before you transition to team periods.
Combo periods are when you start to bring together individual groups. For example, if you bring the quarterbacks and wide receivers together, they can run pass plays together.
The running backs and the offensive line can be together to work on their timing in the run game.
During group periods, this is where you will do a full 11 vs. 11 practice. This is how we get as close to the actual game, without playing the actual game.
In this period you should work on down and distance situations, goal line plays, red zone plays, and all situations that a player might see on game day. Focus on that week’s offensive attack and defensive attack and nail the game plan down.
This is a good time to use the scout team to practice going against the opponent’s offense and the opponent’s defense.
Also, do not skip special teams. Make sure you go over the punt team, punt return team, extra point attempts, extra point block packages, kick return blocking, kickoff coverage, and key assignments within those teams.
Football Practice Plan Thoughts
When creating your football practice plan, here are some ideas and thoughts that you should keep in mind.
While 15 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, in the football world it drags on. Players get bored, coaches can get bored, and even the parents on the sideline watching will turn to their phones.
We live in a short-form content world. Meaning players are so used to getting information in spurts. Think Tik Tok, Instagram Reels, etc. Everything is delivered in quick digestible content.
In order to keep up with how the players retain information on a daily basis, your teachings need to match it.
If you notice in our practice template, we have everything timed out.
Individual periods range from 5-7 minutes. Team periods range from 10-12 minutes, depending on how many plays you need to run.
At the bottom of the script, you will see an area where you can enter in all of the plays you want to run for that practice. This will help you and your coaching staff know exactly what is coming so they can coach it up.
Why have shorter blocks? Few reasons:
- Forces your entire coaching staff to be organized. There’s no time for fooling around or small chit-chat. Every coach must be prepared to maximize the time within that block
- It keeps the players focused as they’re consistently moving from drill to drill, having to refocus each couple of minutes.
- More individual work for position-specific drills. For example, a defensive lineman can spend 5 minutes working on the pass rush, 5 minutes working on fighting reach blocks, and 5 minutes fighting off double teams. 3 drills you can do and you’ve only used 15 minutes of practice time.
Shorter practice periods allow you to get more work in, and keep the kid’s minds engaged as they move from drill to drill.
Allow Position Coaches To Coach
We recommend you meet with your staff the night before each practice (or the week before) and schedule practice.
Instead of one person filling out the entire sheet, we recommend you give each position coach the responsibility to fill out their own position.
One of the most common errors we see from coaches during practice is they don’t film their drills.
Most of the time there is 1 coach to 7-8 players in a drill. It’s very tough for a coach to be able to see every mistake players make. This is why we recommend you film every drill.
You don’t need fancy equipment to film either. Use your phone, iPad, or if you’re fortunate enough to have a large budget, buy a camera. This way, you can break down the mistakes after practice with players, where they can see it visually instead of wasting 10-15 minutes per drill coaching it up to be perfect.
We recommend investing in a film hosting system like Hudl, so you can quickly upload your film to the cloud and share it with your players.
Also, if you have players who aren’t getting much playing time, mainly playing scout defense, this is a good chance for your position coach to break down with that player what skills they are missing. It also helps with communicating to them why they may not be playing.
We also recommend filming your tackling drills, so you can see what players are tackling properly and which aren’t. Filming practice can help your players focus on their key assignments.
Another minor piece of practice is having shorter or no water breaks. Water breaks are necessary, especially in the August/September heat. However, they can be a time killer for coaches who allow it to be a true “break” rather than an effective hydration period.
Water breaks should never be a social hour.
The two ways that we’ve seen coaches handle water breaks are:
- Having water bottles dispersed throughout the field at each drill. This way, players can get a squirt of water whenever they please. It also doesn’t put a 2-3 break into practice, saving more time for drills. We found this to be the most efficient.
- Dedicating a 2-minute slot (sometimes 2 or 3 blocks) of water break time so kids can hydrate properly
If your state permits you to have water breaks for a certain amount of time, then you need to adhere to it. If they do not, what we’ve found to be successful is you have water bottles that are dispersed throughout the practice field.
This way when a player wants to get a quick squirt of water, they can. Some coaches treat water as a privilege. It’s not. It’s a way to keep the machine running at full speed. Proper hydration is key, and if your player needs water, let them have water at any point during practice.
Coaching Equipment For Practice
Having the proper equipment is vital to running an efficient football practice. We recommend having 2 pieces of equipment and 1 person in charge of time management.
The 2 pieces of equipment are:
Clock – If you’re fortunate enough to practice on your football field with a scoreboard, we recommend using that. If not, any digital clock, clearly visible by all coaches, is accepted.
Whistle/Horn – A necessary piece of equipment is a whistle ( which most coaches have) or air horn. The air horn can be used to both start and stop the period. It’s also loud enough that every coach can hear it and not mistake it for a whistle used in another drill.
It’s beneficial to have someone on the staff whose job is to manage the clock. If you’re a youth coach, maybe a parent doesn’t necessarily want to coach but wants to help.
In high school, it may be a student volunteer who can control it. We recommend having someone dedicated to clock management throughout practice.
Football Practice Plan Template
If you’re looking for a practice script that can help you manage your whole team, it’s available below. We’ve made it easy for teams with 100+ kids (who use a 2-platoon system) or smaller teams with less than 60 kids to manage their practices.
Below is an empty script, which we provide for teams with players that play both ways.
Don’t stop here, coach! We’ve created positional courses that will help you coach any position on the field. Visit our store here and learn more about how you can instantly raise your football IQ and become the coach your players love to learn from!
Master Your Technique
Learn how to coach all 7 football positions. Included in these guides are fundamentals, techniques, and drills to help you drastically improve your skills as a coach.
Having structure in your practice is the best way to be efficient and ensure that everything is covered.
It’s important to have everything laid out in an organized fashion so you and your coaching staff can execute each period to its potential.
Have any questions about our practice script or ways to improve your practice? Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. We love talking football!