“The success or failure of most coaches is in direct proportion to their ability to devise practice drills to meet their particular needs, and then properly coordinate them into the daily practice program.”
Practice planning is critical to the success of any coach. Every practice should be planned and written out. Practice plans should not be devised in a hurry. Understandably, especially in situation where a coach has many other responsibilities outside of coaching, it can be difficult to find the time to plan an effective practice. The important thing is to take hold of the fact the plan is just as important as the practice itself. As the saying goes, “you always find time for things that you think are really important.” Planning practice is really important. One method is to plan the next day’s practice immediately following practice. While a practice is fresh in your mind take time to evaluate that day’s performance and plan the next day. Also, keep a record of all of your practice sessions from one year to the next so they can be used as a reference.
In general, practice should run around 2 hours. To keep your players fresh, avoid going much beyond two hours late in the season. Below are some guidelines for organizing a great practice:
- Follow your practice plan—even if what you’re working on is not completed to your satisfaction. It is better to schedule an activity again for the next practice than it is to be forced to omit something that you had planned to cover.
- Use drills that simulate game conditions as much as possible. Make them competitive.
- Explain the purpose of each drill to your players. If you’re not careful players will go through a drill and when it’s over have no idea what they were suppose to be working on.
- Vary drills as much as possible. Avoid falling in love with just one drill.
- Introduce new points early in the practice session.
- Use drills that condition your players. Running sprints may have its place but the most effective way to get your team in shape is through competitive drills.
- Devote at least 40-50 percent of the practice time to individual fundamentals.
- As the season progresses, devote more time to team drills.
- Emphasize everything. Just because you may be working on a specific drill or fundamental do not allow slippage in other areas.
- Try to end the practice on a good note. Don’t just end it. Do something your team can feel good about.
- Take time to analyze the practice and plan the next day’s practice while it is still fresh in your mind.
Written by Dan Spainhour has more than 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. His teams have collected more than 500 victories.
A Season In Words by Dan Spainhour