A player or parent should never be able to accuse you of not letting everyone try out for every position. We ensure this by running our entire team through a day or two days of evaluations no matter if we have to draft players or not. We try to offer encouragement for inexperienced players because some of the evaluation stations will prove to be difficult, but there will be a particular drill during our evaluations that they will excel at and the player will know this as well. We try not to do too much coaching as the drills are designed to measure raw talent and skills.
Some drills can be scored by a simple measurement of time or distance or size. Other drills should be scored on a 1-5 scale. I prefer the 1-5 scale to most other numerical evaluation systems because it is simple enough that you can use multiple evaluators and get similar results.
- Below Average
- Above Average
We almost never have more than one or two players score 5s on any of these drills and we rarely have more than four or five players score a 1 on anything. We want to try and let every kid do each drill at least 2 or 3 times when time permits. I have found that some kids are just uncomfortable the first time through and perform much better the 2nd time around.
We don’t base all personnel decisions on these drills of course but they will provide you with solid numerical data to back up your decisions if necessary.
STATION #1 (record the numbers)
The first thing we do is record their Height, Weight and Standing Broad Jump. These are simple measurable attributes that we can use in conjunction with the other drill scores to evaluate where a player can help the team the most.
STATION #2 (record the times)
At the next station we time all the kids in the 10 and 20 yd dash. I stay away from the 40yd dash because at this level how fast a child runs a 40 is irrelevant in my opinion. A 10 and 20 yd time will give you a basis to judge every players ‘burst’ as well as the speed it takes to get to the ball during an average play. It is best to have the finish line be the 30 yd mark so the kids run full speed through both the 10 and 20 yd marks. We will even pretend to time them at the 30 just to make sure.
STATION #3 (use the 1-5 scale for evaluation)
QB Skills, and Ball-handling comes next. We lay out a simple flag route on the ground with cones. Each player will cycle through the QB and WR spots to throw and catch at least 3 balls. We use the flag route as it is our most common pass play in our offense but you could adjust this to fit your scheme. We will absolutely give small pointers about sticking their inside foot in the ground as they plant and cut on the flag route as well as the proper number of steps for the QB to take for the timing of the route to work. Give them the tools to be successful with this drill without teaching the whole concept.
While some of the players are working on QB and WR, we take the others and do a quick RB evaluation. We place cones or bags to represent the holes they will run through and show them how to take a handoff. Then we place a couple of dummy or shield holders on the other side of the holes so that after they run through the hole, they have to explode through a double tackle or spin off of a single tackler.
STATION #4 (record times for timed drills and 1-5 scale for evaluations)
The next station will consist of agility drills. This station has 2 or 3 sub-stations:
A) 4 cone:
This drill consists of placing four cones in a square outline, roughly 5-7 yards apart. Each player will take his turn and line up at the first cone in a sprinters stance. On the coaches call the player will bear crawl from the 1st cone to the 2nd cone- then shuffle to the 3rd cone- then backpedal to the 4th cone-pivot (face coach) and sprint to the starting cone. The coach shall chalk, walk and demonstrate at full speed this station. If you so choose you can time this drill, but I prefer to do this as an untimed drill as to not provide the sense of urgency to complete the station in the fastest time. I am looking more for sound technique based on raw ability.
B) Weave RB:
Place five cones 5-8 yards apart in a zigzag pattern. Each player will carry a football at this station. The player will take his mark at the first cone and on the coaches call the player will race to the next cone and cut to the outside of the cone. The ball should be carried in his outside arm. The player will round the cone. We want the ball carrier to place his inside hand down (touch the grass) and spring to accelerate to the next cone. Again the ball carrier will cut around the outside of the cone (COACHING POINT: The ball carrier should switch hands during the run in between cones, so that the ball is resting in the outside arm and the inside hand is placed on ground). BC will continue on to the next cone, etc. This drill should be timed. At this station we are obviously looking for our ball carriers as well as the agility of our linebackers, defensive backs, and lineman.
C) Weave WR:
We only use this station if we are coaching older kids with an offense that requires multiple Wide Receiver type players. Again, place five cones 5-8 yards apart in a zigzag pattern. As before the players will be running a zigzag pattern turning around the outside of the cones. However instead of cutting sharply, they will slow down and get under control at each cone and a Coach will throw them a football from 5-10 yards away. They should catch the ball, tuck it under their arm and then drop it on the ground and turn to run to the next cone.
STATION #5 (optional for teams that are evaluating in pads although we have done this without pads, it can get nasty)
Hawgs Gone Wild:
Simply place two bags side by side roughly two yards apart. Two players will take their place in between the bags on all fours with their shoulders touching. Feet should be up underneath their body and they absolutely have to keep their butts down. The object of this station is for the two players to try and push or block the other player out of the alley (gap between the bags). This drill will give you insight into leg strength, drive, heart and desire. It is a very competitive drill and you will definitely see which of your players have that “inner” fight in them and which ones might be more passive.
If you want something a little less physical, you might want to try our Two Dogs and a Bone drill. We take a rope dog toy/bone that is about an inch or two in diameter with the big knots on each end. Then we let 2 players play tug of war with the bone. If they let go or get dragged out of the designated area they lose. This is another drill that is great for footwork, drive, heart and desire.