Pro Sports Experience Blog
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.
“This is going to be like Lollapalooza meets Taste of Chicago, but for football fans,” said Kara Bachman, executive director of the Chicago Sports Commission.
Starting Thursday, April 30, and running through Saturday, May 2, the celebration will take over an area that spans more than 15 football fields in Grant Park.
The main attraction is Selection Square, at Michigan Avenue and Congress Plaza, directly across from the Auditorium Theater, where the draft is taking place, Bachman said. Read more…
Kids—Learn to Play the Chicago Bears Way!
Non-Contact Football Instruction for Kids Ages 6-14
The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc. and the Green Bay Packers announced today there will be additional opportunities for Packers fans to share in the experience of former quarterback Brett Favre’s induction into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and his number retirement on Saturday, July 18, 2015.
“We are pleased to be able to offer new options for fans to share in the excitement of the evening,” said Hall of Fame Inc. President Perry Kidder. “We’ve worked closely with the Green Bay Packers and the Journal Broadcast Group to make this happen.” Continue to Packers.com
Kids–Learn to Play the Green Bay Packers Way!
Non-Contact Football Instruction for Kids Ages 6-14 Years Old
COMING THIS SUMMER….
A FOOTBALL FANTASY CAMP–FOR KIDS!
2015 NFL TEAM SCHEDULES
3 Lessons Kids Never Forget
Better than the classroom, TV shows or our own the dinner table, some believe kids learn proper nutrition most effectively through competitive sports experiences.
That’s what Pro Sports Experience coach and health experts observe, as they run high impact training programs for partners Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, NFL Alumni and USA Football.
So why does sports competition more effectively teach nutrition habits? Big game competitions act as the perfect scientific test lab. Kids eat, drink, compete and then reflect on their performance. Highly competitive athletes will consider how the pregame meal preparation impacted their overall performance. It becomes trial and error with memorable results.
“When kids truly want to experience competitive success, they will remember all aspects of their approach” says AJ Connors, Health Director for Pro Sports Experience Youth Football Camps. “If kids practice well but fail during the game, they can often point to their nutrition choices in the days or hours leading up to that game. That’s a lesson that might be difficult to understand, but a result they’ll never forget.”
With AJ Connors, we highlight three experiences that can make or break a competitive sports experience.
1. Hydration is an all-the-time habit.
Athletes should not last minute “cram” fluids–like a student who does a “late night cram” for the final exam. Rather, you sustain hydration levels better when it’s a daily habit.
“Often times, kids do not recognize a state of dehydration until it’s too late,” says AJ Connors, Health Director for Pro Sports Experience Youth Football Camps. “During active play, you can replenish fluids, but if you start behind it leads to trouble. That requires a lifestyle approach of continually hydrating with water.”
Dehydrated athletes quickly loose energy and often feel sick. This feeling becomes a harsh memory and facilitates a permanent habit change in kids.
2. Failing to Eat = Guaranteed to Fail
Holy head-rush! When a young player feels a little dizzy and slow, they wonder what happened since their sparkling practice two days earlier.
“Beyond not eating properly, many times kids fail to eat anything at all before competitive events or practices,” says the Connors. “They mistakenly think they will be lighter and faster. Unfortunately, early in the first quarter, or even after warm ups they have nothing in the tank and are steps behind all day.”
Again, this burns a memory into a child’s mind. They are excited to play and want to play well. Top competitors will identify reason for the substandard performance (no food fuel) and never forget to eat well again.
3. Grease is Not the Word
Nothing cuts back on your rushing yards more than a queasy stomach due to greasy French Fries, chicken nuggets or rich sauces like fettuccini alfredo.
“There is no better way to learn than to experience the benefits and consequences of your nutrition habits,” says AJ Connors. “Some gastrointestinal distress during the big game is an awful situation and one you won’t soon forget. No classroom or book can compare to experiencing this moment.”
Connors believes summer camps offered by Philadelphia Eagles Youth Football Camps are a tremendous platform to teach nutrition. The non-contact football camps for kids ages 6-14 are very active. Kids run, sweat and need hydration as well as food fuel.
In addition to their “Eat Like a Pro” education game, the coaches speak to kids about their energy and hydration levels “in the moment” and recommend corrections over the course of five days.
“When our coaches make suggestions to campers, it will positively affect that camper’s performance and experience. They play better and they become motivated to continue that healthy eating for approach.”
Pro Sports Experience Youth Football Camps provide non-contact football instruction for kids’ ages 6 to 14 years old. Flag, Tackle and newcomers to the game are welcomed to attend.
6. Rather than summer school, really pushing Green Bay Packers Youth Football Camps as a place for higher learning.
1. Rather than “class dismissed,” says “Ready?…..Break!!”