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The "Energy" of Practice?

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Coach Kyle
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Been reading a few books lately. A lot of them focus on the "energy" of practice. What do you guys do to elevate the energy levels? And how do you define the energy you want practice to have?

Deaths while walking 4,743Deaths from football 12


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Bob Goodman
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"Energy" I take to mean enthusiasm.  Like, whatever they're doing, they really want it.  With "energy" you tend to get focus/attention and pace -- although also, with pace you tend to get more energy.  There are certain things I think help increase energy, but which I haven't usually had authority to implement, so I'm going mostly by what I've observed.

One thing is competitive drills -- full contact where feasible, other means of competition where not.  Especially where you don't have minimum play rules or the minimum isn't generous, if you have a lot of scrubs, they're hungry for gamelike conditions, and they're eager to show their worthiness.  I see too much reticence to expose players to the possibility of injury by conditions that are controlled only gamelike, but then why play football?

Back in the Warriors there were some HCs who did something that at the time I thought lazy and uncreative on their part: Say we had 18 players.  They'd be divided into 3 teams of 6 that would then rotate thru little scrimmages -- 6-a-side Oklahomas -- offense to defense, defense to resting, resting to offense, with little or no huddling.  15-20 minutes at a time, once or twice a week.  I used to complain about our form, thought they needed more coach feedback and planning.  But although our form wasn't as good as what I'm coaching now, the "energy" was more often there than I see now.

Pace can be picked up various ways that many of us have written about here, so I won't go over them again.  The one area I see where that may not be possible is team defense.  Both back then and now, it seems the better coaches have to assemble the defense and talk to them for a while.  Just the nature of defense, there's a lot you can't run thru but have to "show and tell".

Other than the necessary talking-to, avoid as much as possible those things that are un-football-like.  The closer you get to end of season -- and you're getting close even by the middle of pre-season -- the less your competitiveness can benefit from general agility and endurance training, and the more "energy" suffers from it.

Another thing the kids seem to like is giving them authority.  Picking captains for certain drills and procedures, letting them direct action, and either rotating players thru captainship over the season or selecting them and reselecting them based on worthiness.  Maybe occasionally take a chance on a perverse incentive and select captains based on "need".


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gumby_in_co
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First, my energy is always very high. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. I also try to keep things loose and fun . . . until I blow a gasket and then it's not so loose and not so fun for about a minute or so. I'm loud and boisterous and I want my players to be that as well. When I praise them, it tends to be "long game" type stuff. "You guys are snarling fire breathing dragons." "You guys get it. You really care about this and I appreciate that". Stuff you can't necessarily improve on in a hurry. When I criticize, it's very short term stuff. "You are forgetting your footwork. Always step with the foot closest to where you're going", "Your lack of focus is unacceptable. Do we need a focus drill?"

Second, I give them a lot of ownership. I let them run form tackling, then special teams on their own. I let them come up with their own words for calls. I ask for their input (even when I have no intention of using it) when I'm making a decision.

We practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They seem to be goofy on Tuesday, but I don't look at that as a bad thing. I don't care if they have a little fun as long as we are getting the reps we need. 

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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ZACH
 ZACH
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Posted by: @coach-kyle

Been reading a few books lately. A lot of them focus on the "energy" of practice. What do you guys do to elevate the energy levels? And how do you define the energy you want practice to have?

This is a very tough subject, energy of practice to me is everyone moving well and with purpose, players and coaches alike.  Some parents think my coaches have no energy bc we don't scream and become drill sargeants while I think we have great energy bc we are moving with purpose. 

 

Coaches must have enthusiasm and continue to coach no matter what. If we aren't talking to kids or each other they aren't coaching.  

 

That said the monotony of certain drills can drive the mojo of a practice way down.  You have to keep there interest.  See this chart by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  If the task is below skill level the player is in a state of boredom (bad) and if the drill is too challenging they enter a state of anxiety (bad).  You want your players engaged in a state of flow where the task is manageable and there is success.  This is here encouraging/motivational coaches come in and your "energy" is high, as people are being productive.

 

https://alifeofproductivity.com/how-to-experience-flow-magical-chart/  

I can explain it to you, I can't understand if for you.


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Coach Kyle
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Posted by: @bucksweep58
Posted by: @coach-kyle

Been reading a few books lately. A lot of them focus on the "energy" of practice. What do you guys do to elevate the energy levels? And how do you define the energy you want practice to have?

This is a very tough subject, energy of practice to me is everyone moving well and with purpose, players and coaches alike.  Some parents think my coaches have no energy bc we don't scream and become drill sargeants while I think we have great energy bc we are moving with purpose. 

 

Coaches must have enthusiasm and continue to coach no matter what. If we aren't talking to kids or each other they aren't coaching.  

 

That said the monotony of certain drills can drive the mojo of a practice way down.  You have to keep there interest.  See this chart by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  If the task is below skill level the player is in a state of boredom (bad) and if the drill is too challenging they enter a state of anxiety (bad).  You want your players engaged in a state of flow where the task is manageable and there is success.  This is here encouraging/motivational coaches come in and your "energy" is high, as people are being productive.

 

https://alifeofproductivity.com/how-to-experience-flow-magical-chart/  

Interesting. I have never considered a tasks difficulty to be the key factor in anxiety. Difficulty also isn't a single thing. If you tell me I need to mow 50 acers with a push mower... difficult. If you tell me I need to learn all of calculus... difficult. If you give me an hour to do each... anxiety. If the penalty for failure is small... small anxiety. 

Deaths while walking 4,743Deaths from football 12


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ZACH
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@coach-kyle

This is a very general example to be aware of tasks and talent. This scales, if I tell a first year kid to tackle a 4yr kid that's difficult and anxiety thrives and the drill is a waste for the both players.  One has it too easy the other has it too difficult.  

Challenge your kids where they can successful at that moment with out being too easy and challenge them long term. Everything builds.  

 

Example we do the same tackling circuit from day 1. Once a player masters that task he progresses to next drill. If at the next drill they do not perform well they go back to the previous drill and coach.

- form for on players with shields 

- 3/4 vs bag 

- full speed vs bag with resistance or single man tackle sled 

- short distance one on one tackling drill (we vary this daily). 

-tackle drill of the day. 

 

This keep kids who need work to improve simple skills at those levels, while advance kids will improve vs their own level.  There's a goal in each drill and a goal by end of the session to be at the tackle drill of the day.  

We had some experience players take it easy in the first 2 drills, they stayed there while less experienced kids passed.  

 

 

 

I can explain it to you, I can't understand if for you.


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Coach Kyle
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@bucksweep58

From one perspective I absolutely love the idea. You progress, and you keep things challenging. From another perspective, I don't know if that's necessarily ideal. I don't think a challenge that is too tough necessarily equals anxiety, and I don't think it should necessarily be avoided. I remember something Michael said about video games. They're also in the sweet spot, but they allow you to fail quickly and without too much penalty. The challenge with immediate reward followed up makes it much more addictive. Whether that is anxiety inducing is sort of unimportant. There are people who like things to be more challenging and there are people who don't, but the ability to repeat the task without 100% chance of achievement is what is addicting. Those are the results from the skinner box experiment.

Then there is also the fact that doing the same thing every day lacks variety. Even if you increase the difficulty that's probably true. Imagine a factory worker. They have the most boring of jobs. If I put a clock on them and I spit our a graph of their performance I can track their efficiency. If I graph them first without telling them, they will get a baseline score. If I then show them the graph it will improve their performance. If I then task them according to their ability, that will improve performance. I can continue to increase the difficulty and for a time they will also increase. However, after a while no increase in difficulty will improve performance. It will become monotonous. At that point the only thing to do is to find some variety. 

Football is not the same level of monotony as factory work, but we're also not looking for marginal gains. We're looking for best efforts. I think in order to give your best efforts you need to identify with what you're doing. When I was a kid I swam. I was pretty good. On several teams I was the best. One day someone in my lane got frustrated because they thought that I was going too fast in our warm up. That was just the speed I went all the time. I think some people identify well with hard work, and I think that inspires them. When they make it their standard, they always do it. That being said, I never liked the hard work of practice... or perhaps I just fell out of favor with it. I'm always amazed at the people who just love to run or do something that seems pretty boring. 

The book I just read was Pete Carrol's Win Forever. They talk about how they like to have routine because it allows people to improve while they also like to have variety to keep things interesting. The balance is poorly articulated, but I think we kinda all see when the monotony gets to the kids and they need to mix things up. 

Deaths while walking 4,743Deaths from football 12


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ZACH
 ZACH
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@coach-kyle 

I agree with your thoughts.  There is a balance, just something we do that's been good to us.  The chart is just a guide that's helped me as a coach, being aware of the idea helps me plan practice. 

I can explain it to you, I can't understand if for you.


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @coach-kyle

I don't think a challenge that is too tough necessarily equals anxiety, and I don't think it should necessarily be avoided.

Define "too tough?"  

For me, I define "too tough" as "not possible."  We've never asked our players to do the impossible.  But what we demand is always as challenging as I can make it.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @coach-kyle

Been reading a few books lately. A lot of them focus on the "energy" of practice. What do you guys do to elevate the energy levels? And how do you define the energy you want practice to have?

There's "energy" and there's "atmosphere."  I believe that the atmosphere of practice is far more important than the energy of it.  But most coaches fail miserably at both.  I attended a friend's practice last week to help him with his offensive line.  His practice was upbeat, fast-paced, and all-involving.  There was no one not participating, and he has a "Champions Board" where kids do sit-ups or pushups between drills to move their bar from bronze, to silver, to gold, to diamond.  I enjoyed the practice and appreciated how involved his staff was.  Contrast that to the practices of the staff I am presently serving on.  Practices with us are like visiting a morgue; somber and (for the most part) negative.  Lots of standing around and punishment drills when the header has "had enough."

When I was a header, the practice plan (coach/drill/players and duration listed) was emailed the night before, so they were comfortable and familiar with what we were going to do.  After Dynamic Warm-ups, my staff huddled where I asked for the best two hours I could get from them.  Practice was to be positive, intense, and demanding with high reward.  I've visited practices that were painfully dull or negative to witness, and I knew I didn't want that to be me.  I worked hard to make practice an environment that they wanted to be at, greeting each player as they arrived and investing in myself to be someone who's interesting and worth listening to.  

When I was in the classroom, if you couldn't keep all of your students actively involved, you were dead.  I saw many teachers whose classrooms had really negative environments.  They always struggled with their students and usually didn't teach for very long, opting out of the profession.  Other teachers knew how to have a positive vibe in their classroom where kids wanted to go there.  It wasn't the subject matter that made the kids want to learn; it was the teacher that made them want to learn.  I hear coaches complain that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.  While that's true, you can still make it thirsty.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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J. Potter (seabass)
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We play music at practice...kid's love it. 


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Coach Kyle
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@coachdp

"Practices with us are like visiting a morgue; somber and (for the most part) negative.  Lots of standing around and punishment drills when the header has "had enough.""

 

Hasn't your team not had any points scored on them all season, and you've been scoring at least 40 points a game?

Deaths while walking 4,743Deaths from football 12


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @coach-kyle

Hasn't your team not had any points scored on them all season, and you've been scoring at least 40 points a game?

Correct.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Coach Kyle
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Posted by: @coachdp
Posted by: @coach-kyle

Hasn't your team not had any points scored on them all season, and you've been scoring at least 40 points a game?

Correct.

--Dave

So the energy wasn't super important to that then. 

Deaths while walking 4,743Deaths from football 12


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @coach-kyle

So the energy wasn't super important to that then. 

On the contrary, it's vitally important.  We could/would be so much of a better football team if our practices were run that way.  Perhaps you're thinking that success is only measured through a won/loss record.  Me?  I want to have the most productive practices possible that are run in the most thorough and positive way.  Only then can I be (somewhat) assured that we've not left anything on the table.  

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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