With the limited practice time, most coaches have, being prepared for each practice is crucial to making your time with your team run more efficiently. Below are some ideas for your practice gear.
First off, you’ll need something to carry everything to the field. I use a laundry basket to hold everything. However, some coaches use a wagon like this one to wheel everything to the field:
First Practice Materials
For the practice, you’ll need to get everyone’s flags fitted. For this, you’ll need scissors, duct tape, and a permanent marker. If you can, try to find a parent who can help with this. During your practice, send over one kid at a time to get fitted. With the permanent marker, put the player’s name or initials on each flag and the belt.
I keep these materials with me for all practices as well as during the season, the belts may loosen up and need another tightening with the duct tape.
Full Season Practice Gear
It goes without saying that you’ll need a football. But how many? As part of my practice warm-up, we do partner passing so we need a football for every 2 players. The good news is that many players will have their footballs so you don’t need to buy a bunch of footballs.
With the variety of footballs, make sure that most are the size you’ll be playing with in games (no mini footballs). Check with your league regarding the football sizes, but most leagues use Pee-Wee, Junior, and Youth footballs. I do recommend getting one good football for games (some leagues provide game balls).
To keep the footballs together, get a mesh bag and put your name on the footballs you’re providing.
You should also get a pump. The balls will deflate some during the season, more so if you’re playing in the fall and by season’s end the temperature has dropped.
While not completely necessary, cones are essential for organizing an efficient practice. Over the seasons I’ve coached, I’ve accumulated multiple sets of cones. I first started with the usual 9-inch orange cones. I then went with the soccer style flat orange cones. Finally, I bought multicolored flat cones.
The multicolored cones are good for marking various parts of a drill or marking routes on passing drills. I also use these cones for my handoff drill.
- Agility Ladder – I have occasionally used an agility ladder as part of a drill. One example is using one as part of a passing drill. You can have the receivers use the ladder before running a route or have the receivers use it after catching the ball.
- Whiteboard w/ Markers and/or Magnets – These are mainly used for game day, but I often use these to draw out new plays that I want to test.
- Playbook Binder – I keep have most plays on a single page (or two per page). I also have two printed copies. In practice, I will have one copy in the huddle with the 5 that are running the play. The players on the side will also have a copy so they can visualize the play before it’s run and then see it action (hopefully).
- Passing Tree – If you are implementing a passing tree, then you’ll want to have extra copies for the kids to study.
- Pop Up Canopy – Not essential at all, but it can provide some shade if you’re practicing in an area without trees.