When a child steps onto a football field for the first time, they are not learning how to line up for a shotgun formation or how the 3-4 defense is different than the 4-3.
When kids are four, five or even six years old, there’s not much chance of seeing a fifty-yard completion downfield or an exotic blitz that results in a sack. Learning how to play football starts with the basics and that can be something as simple as learning your left from your right.
USA Football’s Football Development Model has a pillar called Physical Literacy & Skill Development.
“The basics are the basics for a reason. We have to teach the fundamental movements and techniques first so more complex skills can be added later.”
It seemed silly at first, but when my son Bradley showed up for his first-ever football practice at the age of four, the coach gave each child a set of wristbands, one red and one white.
This was “peanut football”, an instructional level of football that was part of our local program where the kids who registered were split into teams and played against each other on the home field each week with no travel. It was simply instructional and that started with making sure the kids knew which way to run.