I'm a task master when it comes to eliminating dead or wasted practice time in youth football. While we have been able to eliminate or reduce every time-wasting activity known to man in our practices, we still seem to find a few overlooked areas from time to time.
While you may think wasting a few minutes here or there in every practice isn't a big deal, it all adds up. Have kids take a five-minute water break with zero instruction during it, you lose 20 minutes of practice when you take four water breaks. Over the course of a 14-week season, you would have wasted 14 full hours or seven entire practices.
Wasting time getting your kids' attention? Do that 10 times a practice, wasting two minutes each time and you've chosen to flush 20 minutes of perfectly good practice time down the drain. Do that over the course of 14 weeks and you've wasted seven full practices again. Of course we solved those issues many moons ago, but we've found another one.
When we do fit and freeze reps vs. a "Scout Defense" or scrimmage or do a "compete" session, the players have to be outfitted in scrimmage vests so we can tell the opposing units apart. It takes us five minutes to get these vests on and another five minutes to get them off when we are finished. Invariably we have one or two players that can never seem to get the darn vests on or off well. You end up having to take the player's helmets off or they get tangled up in the shoulder pads somehow.
I know several of you coaches reading this are gritting your teeth remembering how time consuming and aggravating it is to get those darn vests on and off.
We have gone to "scrimmage caps." They are little colored caps that slip right over the top of the helmet. They cost about $4 each when you buy them in bulk.
No more struggling to pull a poor fitting vest over the shoulder pad and helmet of one of your players. We save about seven minutes a practice and LOTS of coach and player aggravation by switching to the helmet caps. They take just seconds to slip over the scout player's helmet.
Quite often the scrimmage vests don't fit very well and you have players with a bunch of excess jersey hanging out. Have you ever had one of your scout running backs get tackled by or swung around by a player grabbing that baggy scrimmage vest cloth to tackle? I once had a defensive player break a finger because he got his fingers tangled up in the excess fabric in a scout running backs scrimmage vest. Just think how easy it would be to horse collar a player in a loose fitting scrimmage vest, and we all know what damage horse collar tackles can do.
Another thing about scrimmage vests are, they stink. Players sweat through them and they have to be washed often, who has time for that? The helmet caps don't get sweaty and require far less room in your equipment bag.
Scrimmage caps, a no-brainer when coaching youth football and they are the same or less money than scrimmage vests.
Dave Cisar has more than 15 years of hands-on experience as a youth football coach. His book "Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan" was endorsed by Tom Osborne and Dave Rimington. His DVDs and book have been used by teams in all 50 states and five foreign countries to run integrity-based programs that enhance every player's football experience and win championships. Dave has spoken at over 60 coaching clinics and is always a top-ranked speaker. His web site, WinningYouthFootball.com, is one of the top destinations on the internet for youth coaches.