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Efficient Practices


C-Rob
(@tso1696)
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Thinking a lot lately about how to continue become more efficient in practice. What do you do to optimize the time you have with your players?

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CoachDP
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We plan every drill.  An email is sent to the staff the night before each practice, with the name of the drill, the coach for that group, what time the drill should take place.  I list each player's name for that particular drill (instead of listing a position group) because some players play more than one position.  I send the email early enough in the evening so that each coach can read the email, as well as print it.  

Example:

6:00pm Dynamics (Team) All Coaches

6:12pm Water (Team)

6:15pm Board Drill (Billy, Tommy, Eddie, Mikey, Stevie, Fernando, Elaine) Coach Jones

............Clock Drill (Henry, Angelo) Coach Smith

............11-on-1 Drill (Bobby, Timmy, Greg, Sal, Johnny, Tremaine, Jeffrey, Ciero, Chris B., Chris R., Dominic, Cole) Coach Johnson

6:35pm Half-Line Drill (Billy, Tommy, Eddie, Chris B., Chris R.) Coach Potter and Coach Williams

etc.

This has eliminated any "What do we do next" and lets coaches know who should be in their drill so they can yell out, "I need the following players: Billy, Tommy, Eddie,..."

We err on the side of putting too much time for each drill to allow for explanations and coaching of the drill, instead of never having enough time and always running long.

I also make sure my practice field is set up for drills and equipment is in place before practice.  I'm not one of those guys who, 45 minutes into practice says, "Billy and Tommy, I need you to go to my truck and and bring the shields."  I've made sure to set the field before practice.

--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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My plan is very similar to Dave's...it's planned to the minute and sent to the staff every morning or night before. I make certain every piece of equipment is out and the drill's are set up before practice. We run on 10, 15 and 20 minute periods....depending on the day.

On Sunday I script our first 5 play's for the upcoming opponent. Between every period we run that 5 play script against a scout D. We organize the D right after warm-ups. The first time it takes 2 minutes to organize. After the first one it goes fast. We never re-run a play regardless of the outcome. Most days we are able to run that script 4-5 times. 


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gumby_in_co
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We have a different approach that works for us. All of our practices are very similar in structure so practice has a "feel" to it that both the coaches and players get used to very quickly. We don't write much down. In fact, I'm not really allowed to write anything down. This forces me to learn to think on my feet better, which is not one of my strong points.

A few "key" coaches know what is going on before practice starts and we bring the "not so key" coaches up to speed. 

For example, as the o-line coach, it was my responsibility to identify 2 or 3 "areas of improvement" and use my group/indy time accordingly. Then, I use our team time (we do team every day) to reinforce and fine tune what we worked on in group/indy. Same thing with the D line.

I have a ton of drills in my head from years of participating in forums like this. I pick one and "tweak" it for the situation. Michael's 3 cone is an example. Zach mentioned his "angle blocking" tweak in another thread. I've been doing something similar.

 

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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mahonz
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Posted by: @tso1696

Thinking a lot lately about how to continue become more efficient in practice. What do you do to optimize the time you have with your players?

Create a season long regiment that becomes flexible as the season wears on... and stick to it. 

I like doing 20 minute blocks. However we fill those blocks depends on age, experience, specifics needs, time of year. 

If you create a regiment....agilities, special teams, O or D, team, breakdown always in order then rather quickly everyone can anticipate. Eventually the players can hep run the sessions by knowing what's next. Really helpful with the younger kids who like to....wander. 

I used to be a down to the minute Coach but felt like I was training clock watchers. Reading Dave's response suits him because he is coaching HS Ball and probably has a timekeeper or a scoreboard clock. Me? Im dealing with Smurfs with what seems like constant equipment issues and Coaches who may or may not be on time due to traffic after work. So I learned to stop stressing on chit I cant control looooooong ago.

Now Im more shoot from the hip and I think that creates a better Staff on gamedays.  Think fast and do. Ifs its wrong....live and learn. 

As far as handouts or emails...when I get sick of creating them I stop doing all that....usually by the first game. Its youth ball...how many drills can you possibly do in a season although I bore easily and encourage my AC's to get creative....and they do. All part of allowing them full ownership in being a Coach. I have two AC's that are always doing unique things....Gumby being one of them. I enjoy all the coaching tools he invents. My garage is full of them ready to bust out every July. He has things Im not sure what they are used for....but he does and that is all that matters. 😎 

Me: " Lar....do you need me to bring that green tube loopy thing with the black grommets all over it and the tin foil punch outs?"

Lar " Naw....I came up with something better. You can pitch it. " 

Disclaimer. If you saw his shop you'd understand. Idle hands or something something. His brain never rests. 

Just stick to a regiment....however that works for your particular situation is my take.  

This post was modified 5 months ago by mahonz

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @mahonz

Reading Dave's response suits him because he is coaching HS Ball and probably has a timekeeper or a scoreboard clock. Me? Im dealing with Smurfs with what seems like constant equipment issues and Coaches who may or may not be on time due to traffic after work.

I've used the minute by minute approach while coaching youth ball.  I used to be a very organic coach and paid more attention to need than time. In other words, if it took me 58 minutes to get what I wanted from running Power, then by golly I was going to take 58 minutes because I was the head coach.  (Used to drive my Defensive Coordinator crazy.)  If I spent another 27 minutes on "Whose Ball" and 13 minutes on "Tee Time" then so be it.  Cisar and I used to discuss this a lot because he was far more of a by the minute coach, whereas I couldn't tell you what we were going to do tomorrow other than knowing whether it was an offensive or defensive-oriented day.  What changed it for me was my own coaching development in order to get more from not only my players but from my coaches and have no down time.  I used to run practically the whole show because some of my coaches simply weren't very good and I didn't know how to improve them.  Now I do.  (Or at least, I think I do.)  If I can demand a lot from 10-year-olds, I can certainly demand a lot from 35-year-olds.  If they're not going to be reliable, or good teachers, they get fired.  I hold everyone accountable and my staff knows this from our having conducted our off-season camps and meetings.  An occasional tardy or absence is not a problem.  Repeated issues are problems, and will be dealt with accordingly.  But sometimes, because of lateness or absences, we'd flip the schedule and work it backwards.  I think one of the things that changed for me in taking to this minute-by-minute schedule is that I have 3 times as many drills that I want to teach, than I have time to teach them.  Taking a minute-by-minute approach has allowed me to implement and rotate the drills because I already know which days we're going to use them.  I'm also a much more efficient coach.  I used to spend a lot more time talking to team/group/players; now I spend more time teaching.  Players' behavior improves and their focus is better when I talk less and keep practice more action-oriented.  I don't discuss what I need or want from them ("I want us to be the most aggressive team in the country!"); I discuss how to execute the fundamental ("Feet/Butt/Eyes/Rip").  I'm more of a bullet point teacher now, trying to pare down as much of the instruction as I can, as opposed to giving them every possible bit of information there is on the subject.  I am acutely conscience (now more than ever) of being efficient with my words while teaching, than I've ever been.  An example would be when I first started teaching Wedge, and it was a 4-day install, instead of a 15-minute one.  Certainly, I'm a better teacher of it now, but I used to teach the A-Z Book of Wedge.  Now I've learned that I only need to teach chapters 1, 6, and 14 and we're up and ready to go.  I can always fill in with the rest of the chapters later.

We have a field clock at our high school, but when I coached youth ball, I kept the time on my own watch.  It puts more on my plate, but I'm a much better coach than I used to be (in every way).  Coaching at 5 high schools over the past 10 years has helped me much more in my coaching development than when I was a youth header for 12 years with the Eagles.  Having to adjust to working for and with different coaches, using different schemes (our Spread scheme at MCHS is completely different than our Spread scheme was at GHHS), has forced me out of my comfort zone and made me take different approaches to things, whether I wanted to, or not.  And while I've hated the 5 schools in 10 years carousel in terms of stability, I know my coaching development has improved more (in every category) in the past 10 years than during the 15 years I spent with the Eagles.  But fortunately, without those 15 years with the Eagles, I'd certainly have no clue as to what I'm doing now. 

Everyone has a different style for running practice.  Whether you write it down and go minute-by-minute or whether your approach is more organic, really doesn't matter.  What's important is not wasting time and knowing what you're doing.  And by the way, I've coached at high schools who were minute by minute and still had absolutely no clue what they were doing.  

--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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Coach Williams (who was my AC at EWHS and I was his when I coached with his Pop Warner team in 2018) and I have worked hard to bring our hard-nosed approach to offensive line play at MCHS.  Lat year, I was only coaching RBs for Varsity and JV, and without control over the o-line I felt I was handcuffed.  Coach Williams and I are both coaching the Varsity and JV o-line and much of practice is spent together as we combine both Varsity and JV groups.  We go our separate ways once we go to our Team period (He with Varsity and I with JV).  Both of our (Spread) teams lead the conference in rushing TDs (and there are 2 I-Formation teams and 1 Triple Option team in our conference).  In our Varsity game last week, at the end of the 1st Half, we did something I've never seen us do at MCHS.  We got the ball at our opponent's 41-yard-line, went Tempo, and then ran Power three straight times for gains of 21, 10 and 10 scoring a TD.  In the past, Tempo was reserved for throwing the football.  Our Varsity RB scored 4 TDs in the last game.  Our JV RB scored 4 TDs in the last game.  Even though I hate the blocking scheme we use, Coach Williams and myself have incorporated as much of our DW mindset in our offensive line.  Yes, some of it is P.A.I.N! Program fundamentals, but we've added G/D/B and spend the bulk of our time teaching leverage components.  I've never scored so many touchdowns on Inside Trap, or where it was even a Go-To play.  We certainly run it more than Power.  And it allows us to be contrarian, because I don't see anyone else running Trap.

--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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gumby_in_co
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In 2012, I helped a buddy coach a team who had never coached football before. I recommended Cisar's materials. My buddy was very much "by the book" so this seemed like a perfect fit. He was the clock master. When 10 minutes was up, it was up. Time to move on. I never did a worse job coaching and I was absolutely miserable. Believe me, I did everything I could think of to "coach faster" per the book and per Cisar. For me, at least, coaching faster does not mean coaching well.

The worst part is that I feel that I left some kids behind. I had one who had some leg issues and wobbled like a newborn giraffe in ANY kind of stance. Another had an inner ear problem. He would get dizzy and lose his balance if his head moved around too much. Another had severe ADHD. Not to mention the many kids who were less athletic than any one of us would have preferred. I feel that I did not give these kids the extra attention they needed.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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32wedge
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I hate wasting time in practice and I always bring a practice plan because I hate wasting time trying to make up a practice plan on the fly.  But I do give myself copious amounts of flexibility to modify my written plan on the fly if I see something that I think needs immediate attention.

 

For a long time I was convinced that being strict and sticking to the practice plan to the minute was the right way to coach.  Then I started reading posts by this guy named Dave Potter who argued that it was more important to teach a skill/scheme as long as it took to get it right.  That made a lot of sense and I started being a lot more flexible. 

 

Now it seems that guy has changed his position.  I like to have a good detailed practice plan but I might not always follow it.


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Coyote
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Posted by: @gumby_in_co

All of our practices are very similar in structure so practice has a "feel" to it that both the coaches and players get used to very quickly.

This pretty much describes our own practices.   Generally we'll have an idea of what we want to cover in practice, but do so in Indy, or Group work.  usually when we come together its to coordinate and get down timing issues and such.   We try to have everything taught and drilled before we come together.  Kids quickly get used to this style and position coaches get to 'coach' rather than spend all their time standing around

 

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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mahonz
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I will add...and I think this has really helped me...I did away with doing position specific Indys as the norm. They start out rather specific but then grow into Group Indy's rather quickly.

Receivers practice vs CB's....OLM vs DLM...RB's vs LB'rs. QB's toggle. 

So I design drills that teach both sides of the football at once in Groups. If I have a player who is a tweener...I just float him around during the week. I believe this a a great way to cross train. 

For example the MIKE position in our Defense has the least coverage responsibilities but I will have him play some SS in a catch man Drill for example.  Being youth ball all of our Lineman play both ways so they train as a Group with each rep teaching both sides of the football 80% of the time. The 20% is for teaching specifics like footwork or stunting. 

I had this epiphany teaching zone blocking years ago. I quickly realized the RB had to be integrated into the rotation of the zone to learn to see the forest thru the trees. Made zero sense to have the OL doing OL stuff and RB's doing RB stuff exclusively and separately. Half the time they needed to be working together as a Group but without all the mayhem of Team. 

This alone made all of my practice sessions instantly more productive. I will even go as far as teaching full team half line drills when introducing a Defense. Each Defender really needs to learn what his buddy next to him or behind him or in front of him are doing. Chalk it vs an opponent...walk it vs an opponent... then run it live as a unit vs an opponent.  More manageable as half lines over full team. Use full team to work on Counter responsibilities and cross reading. Basically run a play....then the positions coaches have about 15 seconds to teach. Repeat only this time coach up a different player....and so on. 

Now the only "lines" you have are shallow and quick moving even with tackling or gauntlet type drills. Kids condition while they practice rather than making that a part of practice.

Food for thought. 

 

This post was modified 5 months ago 2 times by mahonz

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @32wedge

 For a long time I was convinced that being strict and sticking to the practice plan to the minute was the right way to coach.  Then I started reading posts by this guy named Dave Potter who argued that it was more important to teach a skill/scheme as long as it took to get it right.  That made a lot of sense and I started being a lot more flexible. 

Now it seems that guy has changed his position.  I like to have a good detailed practice plan but I might not always follow it.

Nathan, I haven't changed my position on what you should do.  I still believe that teaching should take as long as it takes to get it right.  It's just that I've been able to get what I want in a much shorter duration of time, than I used to.  But remember what this thread is about; how do YOU save time by making your practices more efficient? This thread isn't about what are the right and wrongs ways to spend practice time.  Just because you aren't using the approach I use doesn't mean you're doing it wrong.  I'm talking about how I'm now doing it, as opposed to how I used to do it.  It's different than what I used to do; not necessarily better.  However, the approach I use now does work better for me.  But then I'm a better coach than what I used to be.  In the end, we all want to know how not to waste time.

--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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gumby_in_co
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Posted by: @mahonz

I will add...and I think this has really helped me...I did away with doing position specific Indys as the norm. They start out rather specific but then grow into Group Indy's rather quickly.

Receivers practice vs CB's....OLM vs DLM...RB's vs LB'rs. QB's toggle. 

So I design drills that teach both sides of the football at once in Groups. If I have a player who is a tweener...I just float him around during the week. I believe this a a great way to cross train. 

For example the MIKE position in our Defense has the least coverage responsibilities but I will have him play some SS in a catch man Drill for example.  Being youth ball all of our Lineman play both ways so they train as a Group with each rep teaching both sides of the football 80% of the time. The 20% is for teaching specifics like footwork or stunting. 

I had this epiphany teaching zone blocking years ago. I quickly realized the RB had to be integrated into the rotation of the zone to learn to see the forest thru the trees. Made zero sense to have the OL doing OL stuff and RB's doing RB stuff exclusively and separately. Half the time they needed to be working together as a Group but without all the mayhem of Team. 

This alone made all of my practice sessions instantly more productive. I will even go as far as teaching full team half line drills when introducing a Defense. Each Defender really needs to learn what his buddy next to him or behind him or in front of him are doing. Chalk it vs an opponent...walk it vs an opponent... then run it live as a unit vs an opponent.  More manageable as half lines over full team. Use full team to work on Counter responsibilities and cross reading. Basically run a play....then the positions coaches have about 15 seconds to teach. Repeat only this time coach up a different player....and so on. 

Now the only "lines" you have are shallow and quick moving even with tackling or gauntlet type drills. Kids condition while they practice rather than making that a part of practice.

Food for thought. 

 

Yeah. All of that. A couple of years ago, I bought a set of shoulder pads at a thrift store with plans on taping them to a half round to give them something to fit against. Then I realized that I have a whole team full of "dummies" to fit against. So darn near everything I do is body vs body. The hard part is getting your "dummies" to stop being All American Practice all the time. 

At the start of a drill, I'll have at most a 2 deep line. The kid doing the drill and the kid going next. I do this when I'm introducing something new, or really need to do some quality control. Once things are rolling, I get rid of the lines and have everyone going at once. Not easy, but you learn where to stand so you can see things that are out of place.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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