Practice Philosophy and Guidelines for Coaches During Actual Practice Sessions
Utilization of practice time is of utmost importance. You must have practice segments organized to the minute. Each segment should last approximately 5 minutes but not longer than 10 minutes in duration. Each segment should be coached to its fullest potential and once the period is over then you must proceed to the next period, no exceptions. By sticking to this routine, it forces coaches to coach hard and too near game like situation.
Coaches are to get as much “talking” done as possible before going onto the field. You do not want to slow down the tempo of practice. Enthusiasm is a vital role in a good practice. By standing around and “talking” to your players will sometimes slow down their intensity. Players need to know that when they step onto the grass they must be a 150% player as well as the coach being a 150% coach to his players. Your practices should be sharp, enthusiastic, with lots of hustle. This can only be possible if you have “A Unified Coaching Staff” demanding the same style of play. Be Positive … Coach up and make your players the best that they can be!
As a staff you must stress to your players the importance of a great work ethic. If your opponent runs 10 – 100 yard sprints then you must run 10 better and harder. It is my belief that if you are going to change the attitude of your players then you must change the attitude for what it takes to win. The little Things Make the Difference, Never Compromise Your Beliefs, and the Way You Practice Is the Way You Will Play On Game day. If you are to win on Friday night, then you must prepare Monday through Thursday as players; and Monday through Sunday as coaches. You must want to practice the basic fundamentals of football every day. You must want to be fundamentally sound, physically and mentally tough.
Approach to Establishing Your Football Drills Both In-Season and Off-Season
“A good coach makes better players out of border line athletes and often makes good players out of mediocre ones. A good coach emphasizes their abilities – enables them to make the most of the latent talents – gives them the best chance by putting the right player in the right place.” Robert Zuppke
As a coach we make our greatest contribution in the construction, planning and administering of drills. More important than what system of offense and defense you run, it’s how you teach your style of football.
You must be very selective in the drills that you use. They should:
Cover considerable ground in a short period of time.
Be well planned and administered.
Be known by name to the players so that they do not require re-explanation after the first two or three times the drill has been run.
Most drills should have a secondary movement. Almost all actions in football are based on carrying out a secondary movement, after an initial one.
Do not make drills too elaborate; keep them short, snappy, crisp, and positive.
The preparation for drills must be made in full detail before hitting the practice field. The coach conducting the drill should see that his drills are prepared in advance, including any necessary teaching aids, such as balls, cones, practice bags, etc. Be certain managers are informed in advance of what equipment is needed, and if no managers get to practice early to have your stations set and ready to go.
Basically There Are Five Types Of Drills:
Fundamental Drills – these are to teach all the skills of tackling, blocking, stance, etc.
Reaction Drills – primarily for developing quickness, balance, and agility. These should be included briefly in almost every practice.
Conditioning Drills – once the season has begun these will be almost entirely running drills.
Toughening Drills – the primary purpose here is to develop and encourage the desire and ability to utilize the physical contact aspect of the game of football. These drills should be used only to the extent so as not to dull the desire for further contact.
Fun Drills – used to lighten the practice load late in the season or as a morale booster.
How to Win Football Games:
Don’t get out worked.
Don’t get out hit.
Don’t get out hustled.
Eliminate the turnover.
Eliminate the long run and long pass.
Eliminate missed assignments.
Eliminate foolish penalties.
Have a great kicking game.
Win the battles on the goal line.
Always believe that it can get done.
Make half time adjustments.
Morale is the catalyst that turns offense, defense, kicking game and goal line into victory. It is not something you can buy; it is something that comes from enjoying success, success breeds success. There must be a need on a player’s part to desire success and wish to work for it. This is where the coach plays an important role in determining whether pride will grow and flourish.
Practice and Drill Development Considerations
The following information is basic practice and drill development considerations each coach should remember when installing and developing his position players and for developing general points for establishing a practice plan. Remember, no matter the age or the situation people need to feel important.
- Give each player a chance to succeed and be positive. We’re only as good as the last guy; so how good will that player be? How important will you make him feel?
- Push players to their full maximum efforts.
- Make your “Drill Atmosphere” full speed.
- Teach at the top position skill level, don’t coach down.
- Correct all techniques and assignment and assignment errors “Immediately.”
- Maintain positive discipline – control action – stress execution.
- Teach high percentage repetitions with low percentage group discussion, develop position skills.
- Skills are perfected by “Repetition” – move players fast through drills.
- Begin new practice segments as fast as possible – predict effort.
- We as coaches must continuously teach blocking and tackling, proper pursuit and contain. Emphasis first key reactions.
- Teach the easiest way to complete the assignment – learn from repetition.
- As a position coach stress basic skill techniques, the game is secondary.
- Instill a practice work ethic – force your players to “Practice Hard.”
- Be persistent in demanding that techniques are performed correctly.
- Coach at near game like player reaction.
- Plan and only use position drills that relate to specific position assignments.
- End practice segments on the whistle – start new drill as soon as possible.
- Always bring practice schedule with you to practice.
- When working with other groups (example OL vs. DL) get your group ready quickly – do not wait for the other group – reps most important thing.
- Be sure to set your equipment up prior to practice this helps from wasting time.
- Recognize fatigue and be ready to adjust your drills.
- The most important point to remember is; your coaching image can change the football life of your position players.
Remember this important point only coach what you know how to fix, this adds credibility. Don’t be a coach that your athletes have to wait on, prepare and coach with a sense of urgency.
About the Author of this post:
Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.