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Camp Season© April 2013
- The NFL High School Player Development program presented by the National Guard conducts free camps for high school players that combine football skills teaching with character development lessons.
Summer is right around the corner, and that means that it will soon be time for football camps for high school athletes to begin. Camps have become a popular way for high school players to get meaningful instruction and work on their fundamentals in the months leading up to the season.
If you could design the perfect football camp, what would it be like?
Naturally, you would include drills to improve athletes’ football skills. Having a multi-day schedule of position-specific and team drills that have been developed and used by a collegiate coaching staff would be ideal. To make sure that each athlete was getting personalized instruction, you would have a staff of experienced coaches ready to offer guidance and advice.
Your perfect camp would be free for all participants so that even disadvantaged young athletes could attend. To help participants become better individuals off the field, you would organize instruction sessions on how to be more successful at school, at home, and in the community.
The perfect football camp is not a fantasy, but a reality made possible by the NFL High School Player Development program presented by the National Guard. Every year, at various locations around the country, the HSPD program stages five-day camps for high school football players, primarily in underserved communities. Last year, the program hosted over 40,000 athletes at over 200 camps in all 32 NFL markets.
The HSPD camps feature football skill development drills and instruction based on a practice plan developed each year by a leading FBS coach and his staff. This year, University of Miami Head Coach Al Golden and the Hurricane coaching staff worked with the HSPD program to prepare a written plan and an accompanying DVD that will be used as the basis of football instruction and drills at the 2013 camps. Individual instruction on fundamentals is followed by group instruction including 7-on-7 drills and linemen challenge competitions.
The HSPD camps are free to all participants. While traditional football camps cost hundreds of dollars and are out of reach for many, HSPD camps offer a top-quality football experience to all high school players, regardless of their ability to pay. It’s the commitment that the NFL and the National Guard have to helping young athletes everywhere that makes the camps possible.
Perhaps what most separates the HSPD camps from all other football camps is their character development program. Every HSPD camp participant takes part in a character–building session, conducted by coaches and National Guardsmen, designed to help individuals be more successful in the classroom, in the community, and at home. The sessions, which are often held in classroom settings, provide lessons in leadership, sportsmanship, time management, and citizenship as well as timely topics such as social media and cyberbullying. The character-building activities are reinforced in the HSPD Planner, which is a calendar datebook that is given to every participant. In addition to character-related lessons, the planners contain information on a wide variety of topics that can be helpful in athletes’ daily lives.
Site managers for the HSPD camps, many of whom are coaches from the local community, are assisted in managing the football activities by local high school coaches interested in giving back to the game. Coaches receive the satisfaction of supporting a worthwhile program in their area along with many other benefits. They can network with other coaches and learn different coaching techniques that can be brought back to their programs. They receive complimentary copies of the DVD and practice plan that can help them organize their own practices. Plus, being affiliated with the NFL is an association that can benefit any coach.
The combination of football instruction provided by a top FBS program and taught by an experienced staff of coaches, character development sessions that are invaluable to high school athletes facing life’s challenges, and a take-home planner that has lasting impact all combine to make the camps of NFL High School Player Development program presented by the National Guard the perfect football camps for high school players. The amazing fact that they are free to all participants is icing on the cake.
As a football coach, your involvement in the HSPD program can take several forms. First and most simply, you can promote participation in a camp in your area to athletes on your team and other teams in the region who you believe would benefit by taking part in a local camp. You can reach out directly to players and other coaches, promote through your league or state association, or contact your local media. According to HSPD Regional Director and legendary coach Bill McGregor, you’ll be providing a valuable service. “By promoting the HSPD program,” he said, “you are giving young men something they can take with them for the rest of their lives through the character development part of the program. You’re also helping each player develop better football skills and allowing young athletes a chance to be associated with a great football brand, the NFL.”
Information about camp dates and locations in your area can easily be found at the NFL’s comprehensive web site devoted to the HSPD – www.NFLHSPD.com. Simply visit the site, click on HSPD and then “Sites” and search for sites by state or zip code. You can contact the site manager for more information about your local camp or camps.
If you’re interested in taking a more active role in the HSPD camps, you can contact the site manager for a camp in your area and express your interest in coaching at the camp. You can also contact the NFL directly on the HSPD web site by clicking the “Get Involved” tab.
The bottom line for coaches is that the NFL’s HSPD program presents a great opportunity to give back to the game and also benefit personally. For your athletes, the HSPD camps present a chance to take part in America’s premier football skills and character development programs – and become a better football player and individual.
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