GREENVILLE – It’s all about fundamentals and proper technique, Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer said Tuesday during a break from the youth football camp.
“The camp is designed for our second- through sixth-graders and it is a fundamentals and skills camp where we try to teach them some of the very basics of football,” Shaffer said. “Some of these guys will be playing football for the first time this fall with our GYFL teams, and for some of them this will be all the football they get besides the Light Camp last week.
“We are just trying to build some of those fundamental skills that we think are important as a program so that we can start laying that foundation for their success in the middle school and the high school,” he added.
The three-day camp, which concludes today, had 34 campers registered, according to Shaffer, although he added that some may have come and left periodically due to the extreme heat.
“Today we started with tackling drills,” Shaffer said. “We as adults know how important it is that we try to teach proper tackling techniques with all the awareness about concussions. We want to put our kids in the safest position that we can in terms of tackling.
“You know 20 years ago our coaches always taught us to put our face on the ball and things like that,” he continued. “But we have learned over time that is not necessarily the best way to do it so we teach a little different version of tackling then say 25 years ago when I was a player. We are head behind and tackle and roll which is basically a rugby tackling style. Those guys play without pads and they don’t have a helmet that gives them a sense of invincibility.”
Shaffer also said some of the things Greenville has done is to update its equipment to the best it can possibly be for the kids.
After taking a break from the heat, the campers then participated in running back drills where they learned how to take a handoff and make proper cuts and then later in the day Shaffer said the kids would learn more about playing on the offensive line and such things as getting into a proper stance.
“Yesterday we worked on some wide receiver drills where they learned how to catch a ball and how to run routes,” Shaffer said. “It’s just all those very basic fundamentals that maybe get lost on some of these kids as they come up through the program. We are trying to build that base at a young age so whether they come to us through the pee wee program or not, when they get to the middle school they are ready because our coaches there really focus on those fundamentals. The skills learned in camp will translate to practice and then into games.”
With the heat of the day, Shaffer also talked a lot about proper hydration and making sure the kids took plenty of water breaks.
“It’s been a good couple of days here with it being so hot,” Shaffer said. “We try to teach them about hydration and appropriate techniques on how to pre-hydrate, hydrate during and post-hydrate. We talk about eating right and making sure you are taking care of your body. When it’s hot like this your body is really working hard to give you the ability to perform.
“I know it’s a lot for a second grader to hear about eating right,” he continued. “You know everybody likes to have pop and chips and it’s OK to have some of that but not a lot. You have to try to limit it so your body can perform at a high level.”
Shaffer said this is the fifth year for the youth camp and he has quite a few familiar faces among the group.
“We have some sixth graders that have been all five years,” he said. “It’s good to keep seeing those guys coming back out and learning and re-learning the techniques and hearing about hydration and appropriate nutrition. It’s neat seeing the kids grow up too. They grow and change year after year and it is just nice to see them come back every year.“
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com