Practice time is a precious commodity for youth football coaches. Thankfully, coaches can still reinforce good habits and teach fun­da­men­tals without being face-to-face with players. 

Any way you slice it, there’s no replacing the hands-on teaching environment a traditional practice provides. 

But as any coach will tell you, there never seems to be enough time during the season to fully implement strategies and develop players to their maximum potential. This is especially true for youth football, as most coaches are volunteers and there’s even less practice time allotted for players than at higher levels of competition. 

Fortunately for the youth football coaches using Hudl, teaching points normally addressed in practice can be devised and shared at any time from the comforts of their own home. 

By segmenting your time on Hudl into three main segments, you can easily map out a “digital practice” that is both efficient and effective for your team. In fact, by following the recommendations laid out below, you can help your team make major improvements in as little as 15 minutes. How’s that for productivity? 

First Five Minutes – Tackling 

One of the most important skills to develop is tackling. In addition to showing your players how to effectively take down ball carriers, you also need to ensure you are teaching the safest technique. 

This is where pulling up key plays to show to your players can be critical. Go back through your team’s game and practice footage to identify key plays that amplify points you are trying to get across.

Use Hudl to add comments to those plays and share the video playlist with your players. Consider sharing drawings and comments that really hit on the most common errors such as:

  • Keeping your head up 
  • Driving through the tackle
  • Shooting your arms and hands up in order to wrap up

Second Five Minutes – Blocking 

Since it is difficult for young players to understand how their blocks may have helped or hurt their team’s performance on a particular play, blocking is often considered the Achilles heel of youth football offenses.

That’s why you should take five minutes to go through your team’s Hudl videos and call out the following coaching points: 

  • Correcting their splits – Use drawings to show players how good or bad their pre-snap alignment really is. 
  • Missed assignments  – Share video that clearly highlights how missed blocks caused a play to fall apart. To avoid players taking these examples personally, feel free to highlight successful plays that also reinforce your points. The key here is to clearly demonstrate cause and effect. 

Last Five Minutes – Recognition  

By now, your notes have mainly focused on areas of improvement, but positive reinforcement is also crucial to player development at the youth level. Spend your last five minutes celebrating your team’s best moments.

You can build a sense of achievement by doing the following:

  • Create a playlist of your team’s biggest plays – This could include clips showing linemen getting downfield, proper tackling technique and hustle plays.

  • Plant quizzes within certain clips of your playlists – At your next in-person practice, talk about the funny note you included somewhere in your playlist. This is a great opportunity to reward those players that are really watching video. If players know they’ll be named captains for the week by being the first to answer your quiz questions, you can rest assured they’ll watch the video.

  • Include positive notes – As mentioned in the section about blocking, positive reinforcement goes a long way in motivating your players.

By spending half the time it takes to watch an episode of your favorite sitcom, you can compile and share impactful video with your players.