Football Practice Drills for Middle School
Middle school football is a learning experience for players. The game might be somewhat competitive because coaches and players want to win, but the most important aspects are learning about the specifics of each position, conditioning for the demands of the sport and understanding the value of factors like teamwork and work ethic. Practice drills can help players improve at their sport.
Running backs have to learn how to take a hand off from the quarterback and then cut quickly to avoid the tackler. The bag drill teaches the running back to do both of these things. Have the running back line up about seven yards behind the quarterback. A coach lines up as if he were a linebacker, across from the center, holding a blocking bag. After the quarterback takes the snap from center, he drops back and hands off the ball to the running back. The running back runs straight ahead and the coach moves left or right. As soon as the coach moves, the running back cuts in the opposite direction as quickly as possible while maintaining his balance. Give each running back five attempts at this drill.
Defensive Recognition Drill
The defense lines up with four defensive linebackers and three linebackers. The offense lines up in its standard formation, with at least one running back and two wide receivers. On the coach's signal, the offense runs a toss sweep to the running back or a sideline pass. In this drill, the defense must recognize the play immediately and move quickly into the correct defense. If it's a running play, the defensive lineman must attack the gaps and get penetration into the backfield, while the linebackers must flow to the ball. If it's a pass play, the defensive linemen rush the quarterback and the linebackers and secondary drop into zone coverage. If there is any hesitation, the coach blows the whistle and restarts the play.
This drill is designed to help receivers with their concentration on the ball. It is especially important for middle-school receivers who don't get many opportunities to catch the ball. In this drill, the wide receiver runs 10 yards upfield and turns inside to run a crossing pattern over the middle of the field. The defensive back runs in the opposite direction and crosses in front of the wideout. The quarterback throws the ball to the wideout just before the defensive back crosses in front of him. This helps the wide receiver improve his concentration. Make sure each receiver gets at least three attempts at this drill.
Outside Arm Drill
Running backs have to be dependable when it comes to holding onto the football. One of the keys to this is placing the football in the correct arm. When the running back runs to the right side of the field, the ball must be placed in his right arm. When he runs to his left, it must be in his left arm. Hand off the ball to the running back three times running to his right and three times running to his left. This will help him get used to putting the ball in his outside arm each time.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.