The Pro Sports Experience Youth Football Blog
The Breakdown Position is the foundational starting point for all football movements and challenges.
See USA Football’s Video summary explaining how to teach, train and execute this Essential Skill.
Learn these essential skills through Pro Sports Experience NFL Partner Youth Camps.
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When a football coach loves the challenge–you can tell. Everyone can tell, especially the kids.
When it happens, we get these kind of responses.
“We are super impressed with all the coaches. The outgoing and positive attitudes with smiles on their faces really makes a difference and they have great advice that applies not only to sports but everyday life as well. I was hoping this experience would pull my son out of his shell and it seems to be doing just that. They all seem to enjoy what they are doing. Today we stayed watched and everything was organized and together. The extra guest appearances are neat too! We will certainly be signing up again next year.” Parent of Chicago Bears Youth Football Camper, Frankfort, Illinois
Pro Sports Experience partners: The Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, NFL Alumni Association & USA Football.
It was great to hear Bill Polian include my father–the late Jim Finks–in his Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Speech this past weekend.
Polian and Finks were friendly adversaries as top Executives/General Managers for various NFL teams in the 1980’s and 1990s (Polian with Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis and Finks with Minnesota, Chicago and New Orleans).
Polian’s speech included a typical Finks tongue-in-cheek point.
Polian explained “One of the greatest experiences I had was serving for 19 years on the NFL Competition Committee. It was chaired by Hall of Famer and friend, Jim Finks. When I was named General Manager in Buffalo, the first call I got was from Jim. His message was short, “Congratulations, you’re one day closer to being fired.” As usual, [Finks] was right.”
Polian recently joined USA Football’s new advisory committee. Our company is a proud partner of USA Football as we teach Heads Up Football at nearly 100 youth football camps every summer.
–Tom Finks, President–Pro Sports Experience, LLC
The inaugural NFL Alumni Hero Youth Football Camps kicked off in Old Brookville, New York this week and were a big success! One Mom described it as “a dream-come-true for any football loving kid.”
The same can be said for NFL Alumni members who participate in the camps and truly enjoy the opportunity to positively motivate kids. In Old Brookville, NFL Alumni from the New York Giants were featured, and included Stephen Baker, Lewis Tillman and Rodney Hampton.
“With 5 full days of instruction, we have a great opportunity to teach kids about much more than football,” say NFL Alumni Youth Camp Hero Rodney Hampton. “Sure, the kids learn skills and become better athletes. But we have a chance to impact their approach to life. That is very exciting and very rewarding to me.”
NFL Alumni Hero Youth Football Camps are managed by Pro Sports Experience. The partnership plans to mobilize NFL Alumni resources throughout the nation for the purpose of teaching kids athletic skills, life skills and health skills through football.
All NFL Alumni Hero Youth Football Camps provide non-contact football instruction to kids ages 6 to 14 years old. Camps are led by professional, USA Football certified coaches with supplemental instruction from National Foot
ball League Alumni members.
Upcoming camp locations include Freeport, NY; Atlanta, GA and Cincinnati, OH.
For more information, visit www.NFLAlumniFootball.com or call 312-226-0002.
Camp season has officially begun! Check out what some of this years parents are saying about their kids’ experiences so far:
Thank you for inquiring about Josiah’s participation at camp. The coaches, just to name a few, ‘Al’ and ‘Wiz’ have been fantastic. This applies to their staff/assistants. Josiah has enjoyed the first two days of camp and look forward to its continual. He’s learning a lot since joining.
– Shannon (from the Philadelphia Eagles camp @ Bryn Mawr)
So far so good. He’s having fun and Coach JJ has especially made him feel comfortable as a new younger player.
– Jessica (from the Philadelphia Eagles camp @Bryn Mawr)
He absolutely is having a great time. He loves it!
– Kelly (from the Philadelphia Eagles camp @ Bryn Mawr)
He is enjoying it very much. He came home after day one (yesterday) and we asked him three things he learned and he rattled off about 10. Great work. Keep having fun!
-Alexandra (from the New York Heroes camp @Greenwich)
Hi Henry is having a blast. He comes home every day exhausted but with a lot of great stories and new football knowledge. He is getting ready for his first year of tackle football, so this is getting him excited.
Thanks. – Katie (from the New York Heroes camp @Greenwich)
Tyler said he loves it and appreciates the coaching that you all are doing. He had a bad experience with the New Canaan football program, as he was born and raised in Singapore, so didn’t know the terminology. I’m glad he is finally enjoying the sport that I love so much too.
– Mark (from the New York Heroes camp @ Greenwich)
John just walked in the door from camp and gave me the play by play of his day. He is really enjoying himself and is looking forward to tomorrow. He just told me though that he needs to relax!
John seems to be responding enthusiastically about the coaching and coaches. This is his first experience with football so I thank you for setting the tone for him to play this fall.
Hope tomorrow is cooler for you all.
Thanks! – Laurel (from the New York Heroes camp @ Greenwich)
Charlie is having a great time. And seems to be learning a lot. Thanks so much for checking in.
– Kelly (from the New York Heroes camp @ New Canaan)
Arlo is having a great week so far. He has come home very excited about the progress he is making during the morning skill sessions. He loved meeting a former Packer today. Although he is tired at the end of the day, he still wants to head into the back yard and continue to practice! He is really hoping that his team will win an afternoon scrimmage before the end of the week. We are very pleased by the emphasis that has been placed on good sportsmanship and safety.
– Gretchen (from the Green Bay Packers camp @ Mequon)
Carter says football camp is “awesome”. He is really enjoying himself and having a great time while learning many new skills. He has made new friends and has even talked about exchanging phone #’s with them to keep in touch:) It’s been great to hear everything he is doing there. Sounds like he is working hard! He has already asked to make sure we sign him up next year.
Thanks again. – Kelly (from the Green Bay Packers camp @ Mequon)
Ethan is having a blast! The coaches are top notch! I especially like how motivating they are. And they do a great job connecting with the kids with things like high-fives, etc. Ethan’s looking forward to the rest of the week.
– Laura (from the Green Bay Packers camp @ Franklin)
This is Jasper’s 3rd summer with camp. He loves it every year…this year is no exception.
– Lisa (from the Green Bay Packers Camp @ Madison)
He is loving the experience, has made many friends and was so excited he got his hat signed today. Thank you for making this great memory for my son that he will be talking about for years to come.
– Chanda (from the Green Bay Packers camp @Sheboygan)
We have one happy young man. The first day was rated 9/10 with 10 being the highest score. The weather was a little variable. Tuesday, my son gave the camp 10 of 10 – so happy to meet Kurt Larson and all he is learning. He has come away with many tips to improve his game! It is a hit with him and as a parent, really happy he is learning more about the game he loves! Can’t wait for the rest of the week!
Regards, – Maribeth (from the Green Bay Packers camp @ Mequon)
Camp is going extremely well! Tucker gets dropped off and picked up with a huge smile on his face and has even had a hard time falling asleep at night because he has football on his mind!
The coaches are extremely well organized, wonderful with the kids and positive which I believe is crucial when working with little ones.
This is Tuckers first year at this camp and DEFINITELY not his last! GoPackGo!
– Team Olson (from the Green Bay Packers camp @ Franklin)
Logan is absolutely LOVING the camp. It’s his first time playing football and his friend Kyle invited him to join. He is excited when he talks about camp and has nothing negative to say at all.
Thanks much for making his experience memorable!!
– Trish (from the Chicago Bears camp @ Glenview)
Coach is amazing, kind, and effectively instills the virtue of teamwork. I can tell the whole staff genuinely loves being around kids. After the first session, my son stated “this is the best camp ever!” He was up early this morning dragging me out of bed to get there early. We are very glad we did this.
– Bernie & Ploumi (of the Chicago Bears camp @ Palos Hills)
This has been a fantastic experience for Benjamin. He is a shy 6 year old boy who loves football. The coaches have been fabulous encouraging him and having the older boys encourage him as well. He has loved his week! Thank you!
– Colleen (from the Chicago Bears camp @ Winnetka)
So far, so GREAT!!! We are very very impressed with this program. There are a group of us attending from St. Clement and I think we are all hooked. I am almost certain we will be coming back for more in the future- our boys are only 8 (most of them) so we see years ahead of great practice.
P.S. Incredible coaches- so kind and friendly and yet ‘tough’ so the boys get some good coaching. Perfect blend.
Thank you so much!
– Helen (from the Chicago Bears camp @ Lincoln Park South)
He is loving it. He said he doesn’t want it to end. He is one of the littlest ones and the older kids are treating him so kindly and helping him and as a parent it is a great thing to see..
– Carmela (from the Chicago Bears camp @ Carol Stream)
Good afternoon! I am very pleased with the program you have! My son has been in flag for 7 years and while the volunteer coaches have tried hard and are limited on resources, I must say this youth camp blows it all away! The cost was intimidating at first but the staff and structure are worth it. Stephen will enter tackle this fall for the first time and I’ll worry just a little less knowing he’s learning proper techniques here!
Thank you!!! – Stephanie (from the Chicago Bears camp @ Naperville)
NFL Alumni Association Partners with Pro Sports Experience
Hosting Youth Football Camps to Grow the Game
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (June 4th, 2015) – The NFL Alumni Association (NFLA) announced a partnership with Pro Sports Experience, providing non-contact summer camps for kids ages 6-14 years old. Former player members of the NFLA will work with the camp coaches and leverage their NFL playing experience to help create a high-quality, safe football learning environment for young players. The weeklong day camps will begin in July 2015.
“Connecting with the community through football is very rewarding, particularly when there is opportunity to work with kids,” said Joe Pisarcik, President and CEO of the NFLA. “I’m thrilled to help bring these national youth football camps to kids across the country. Not only is football an outstanding platform for teaching kids about fitness and athleticism, but it’s also a terrific way to integrate life lessons at a young, influential age.”
Designed to invigorate youth interest in football participation, these camps will provide newcomers with a unique introductory opportunity to the great game of football, yet also provide the experienced campers the opportunity to challenge themselves as they continue to develop on both a mental and athletic level. Camps will also provide an educational platform for parents and local leagues. Both the NFLA and Pro Sports Experience have previously partnered with the USA Football Heads Up program, which ensures that kids are learning the proper techniques crucial for safe tackling.
“These kids are going to learn the values of teamwork, good sportsmanship, perseverance, and integrity,” continued Mr. Pisarcik. “They’ll make memories of a lifetime and have a blast while doing so.”
The community-based plan will bring camps to various markets across the country making high-quality programs conveniently accessible to kids and their parents. NFL Alumni Heroes – former player members with the NFL Alumni – will provide supplemental instruction bringing a unique energy and passion for the sport, paired with their unparalleled professional playing career experience.
“While we have a solid line up of professional coaches and trainers staffed for the programs we organize, the NFLA members are a pivotal piece to the puzzle and will greatly contribute to the success of these camps,” said Tom Finks, President of Pro Sports Experience. “Beyond their ability to teach the game, the NFL Alumni members will have a powerful positive influence to share life skills with the campers.”
For details on the NFL Alumni Hero Youth Football Camps, please visit here.
About Pro Sports Experience
Over the past 12 years, Pro Sports Experience has established itself as football’s leader in fan development and player training by successfully partnering with NFL teams and athletes. Pro Sports Experience’s overall mission is to develop fans and players by making multiple, high-profile camps accessible and convenient within a designated marketplace. Within that platform, PSE introduces the game to newcomers, builds confidence in recreational players and takes dedicated players to a higher playing level. All programs provide safe, non-contact football instruction in a 5-day half-day or 5-day full-day format. The program teaches football skills, athletic skills and life skills to kids ages 6-14 years old. To learn more, visit www.prosportsexperience.com.
About the NFL Alumni Association
The NFL Alumni Association is a nationwide group of former National Football League players coaches and other employees whose mission is to serve assist and inform former players and their families. The association offers a variety of medical financial and social programs to help members lead healthy productive and connected lives as well as community initiatives under its “Caring for Kids” programs. For more information please visit www.nflalumni.org.
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Pro Sports Experience
NFL Alumni Association
Football has been a boys club since its inception as an American sport. Boys play it as children and then grow into men who pursue it as a career, play it on the weekend with buddies, or simply watch it on Sundays. Its woven in to the fabric of American masculinity. But in the past decade or so, girls have taken a stand and reclaimed the sport as a national past time for everyone, regardless of gender. Today, 44% of the NFL’s fans are women. Girls and women are more than ever populating stadiums and sports bars. Surprisingly though, until recently, playing football has been relatively inaccessible to them. USA Football, the NFL, and the Chicago Bears Youth Football Camps are hoping to change that, by supporting the growing demand for girls football leagues and participation in football.
In 1998 Florida became the first state in the U.S to recognize girls flag football as a high school varsity sport. They started with seventeen schools, with 860 female athletes and hosted their first season. By 2010 the program had over 5,000 girls participating (that’s a 481% increase in 12 years!). And the craze has only continued to grow. Shortly after Florida, the sport became very popular in Alaska. A representative of a school in Anchorage noted that commonly more girls play football than Basketball in the Alaskan city. In 2012 New York City and D.C. area schools began offering Flag Football as an official women’s varsity sport as well, and Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia are looking to start programs soon.
With the growth of women’s varsity flag football programs in high school there is hope that the next step is NCAA recognition and accreditation. Enthusiasts all over the nation and at USA Football hope that the fad will continue and women’s flag football will become another varsity sporting option for university students.
As part of the effort to get more girls involved in football the Chicago Bears have partnered with USA Football for their Chicago Bears Youth football summer camps. They are open to boys and girls ages 6-14 and teach kids the fundamentals of the game. The camps are non-contact as well, so offer an excellent opportunity for girls to get acquainted with football and learn to love playing the sport from an early age.
In most co-ed settings there are obvious concerns about injury, and physical disadvantages in higher levels of game play as kids get older, but non-contact camps like the Chicago Bears Youth Football camps serve to even the playing field a bit. In a non-contact setting girls aren’t testing their strength against the other male campers, they’re learning how to play the game and competing against their own best efforts.
“We just want to grow the game of Football,” noted Tom Finks, Executive Director of the camps. “Regardless of gender, or skill level, our goal is to expose kids to football, teach them how to play the most professional way possible, and hopefully have them come out of the experience loving the game as much as we do.” He adds, “We highly encourage girls to attend our camps. Football is for everyone.”
Sign your daughter up for one of our Youth football camp this summer and help us grow the game of football!
Follow the link to sign up today: http://prosportsexperience.com/bears/
Pros and Experts Agree: Non-Contact Football Camps are
Better for Development, Fitness & Fun
Until recently, youth football parents mistakenly believed their child’s football camp choice must feature full equipment and live tackle action. After all, to improve tackling and blocking, you need the crash-boom-bam of live action and full equipment, right? Wrong.
More than ever, high school, college and NFL professionals now strongly encourage a non-contact approach to summer football camp activities. Obviously, this applies to newcomers and flag players, but even the most experienced tackle players are better off training in a non-contact format during the summer.
“During the summer, it’s about improving skills and technique,” says Billy Taylor, a former New York Giants running back. “The environment is safer and more fun, so players have the opportunity to really focus on improving the foundations of their game.”
It starts with identifying priorities and recognizing that August try-outs immediately follow your summer football camp. With that in mind, coaches suggest three goals for summer football training.
Goal #1: Improve skills and technique. When practicing specifically for technique, players focus on perfect execution–every time. This establishes muscle memory and improves skills. Perfect practice makes a perfect player.
Goal #2: Be in top physical condition. Building speed, strength and endurance without the risk of injury markedly improves a player’s chances to go into football tryouts at 100%, ready to perform. Injured players do not make the team.
Goal #3: Make it fun. Even when practice is pushing players to their limits, if they are having fun they are less likely to burn out before the season starts.
WHY FULL-EQUIPMENT, LIVE-TACKLE DOES NOT WORK
To understand the detriment of full-equipment summer camps, consider June and July, the standard football summer camp seasons–they are hot. Hot weather accelerates fatigue. Further, live action drills in full equipment during hot weather only serve to exacerbate that fatigue. And when fatigue sets in players lose focus.
“When athletes get fatigued, they are no longer aggressive,” says Tom Finks, President of Pro Sports Experience–and NFL team youth camp management partner. “They go into survival mode and throw form and technique out the window.”
Survival mode then leads to shortcuts and cheating on technique, which completely nullify the effectiveness of the drills. “When fatigued, all athletes slow it down and lose reaction time, forget assignments and fail to execute proper technique during contact,” explains Finks. “Poor technique and fatigue is a recipe for injury–something nobody wants, especially just prior to the season.”
In addition, the combination of pride, heated environments, and heated tempers (a common problem with live tackle camps) make things even worse. Campers end up worrying about surviving drills, not performing with good technique. Fatigued, distracted campers may win some battles and make some tackles, but do so with poor technique. In the long run, they miss developmental opportunities. As temperatures rise and concentration slips, the risk of injury increases–and injured players don’t make the team.
ADVANTAGES OF NON-CONTACT FOOTBALL CAMPS
Scott Baum, Head Coach at Niles West High School, believes in the non-contact summer training model. “We don’t use equipment for most of the summer,” says Baum. “Professional players prefer the non-contact drills in the summer. Overall, I think you can teach all the techniques of blocking and tackling better without equipment.”
Greg Lauri, Football Coach at Nassau Community College, agrees. “The best way to teach fundamentals is in a non-contact environment,” he elaborates. Lauri believes it does not matter what level you are talking about, “every championship team starts with non-contact instruction and learns the proper technique first.”
As opposed to live tackle camps, the non-contact football camps operate in a controlled environment. The drills are essentially choreographed, with a focus on technique, skill training, and fun.
Campers dress in t-shirts and shorts, not full equipment and this allows for more full recovery between drills. A relatively rested athlete is far more likely to repeat perfect technique, and by repeating perfect technique, the camper will build muscle memory and improve skill more easily.
Similarly, during non-contact camp drills, campers compete against stopwatches, cones, blocking dummies, shields, the coaches assessment of their technique, and most importantly–themselves. They are participating in high intensity training, but in an environment where they have the freedom to make mistakes, without ruining a play, and without risk of negative feedback from their peers. The idea is to create a culture of learning and technique training, so it doesn’t matter if campers may make a technique mistake, drop a ball, or feel awkward doing something new.
Pro Sports Experience–NFL Partner Camps are exclusively non-contact programs that train experienced players and introduce newcomers to the game based on these fundamentals. The camps feature coaches trained and certified to teach USA Football’s Heads Up Blocking and Tackling curriculum, visits from NFL Alumni heroes, and a host of crafty drills to keep players of all sports and skill level challenged and on their toes.
“With our non-contact camps, we can introduce many newcomers to the game properly,” says Tom Finks. “Additionally though, our curriculum benefits every one. Heads-Up is designed to develop better, safer football players, but our camps are also focused on developing better athletes in general.”
For blocking or tackling instruction, non-contact camps use USA Football’s Heads Up Football instruction
so they apply the proper posture, footwork, head and hand position in a controlled manner–like a safe martial arts practice. And they have the chance to execute to perfection–every time.
With perfection, the skills become engrained.
For more information about non-contact football camp options, contact the Pro Sports Experience–NFL Partner Youth Football Camps at www.ProSportsExperience.com
Pro Sports Experience Youth Football Camp Partners
Golic: Youth Football Is Getting A Long Overdue Makeover
Christine Golic is a football mom, wife and member of the Heads Up Advisory Committee.
She addresses the “Long Overdue Makover” youth football is finally getting.
The deadline for USA Football’s Equipment Grant program is quickly approaching. The grant is need and merit based, and can earn up to $1,500 for youth organizations and up to $2,500 for high school programs committed to improving the safety of the game.
“USA Football is doing a great job, growing the game at every level,” says Tom Finks, President of Pro Sports Experience and football development of USA Football. “From flag programs to coaching education to Heads Up curriculum to equipment grants, the game is getting better, safer and smarter every year.”
Read more about the Equipment Grant, the application process, and the great work USA Football is doing, here.