Practice – Not a Minute to Spare

One of the few constants in coaching is the time available for use… there are only so many hours in a day… and we have a given amount of practice time.  It is extremely important that we are efficient and organized when we take the field to practice.  A few suggestions today regarding scheduling practice.

I have already shared some ideas and resources regarding practice in recent posts.  I wrote about effective drill work in the post – Running an Effective Drill discussed the idea of the flipped classroom and “homework” in Flipping the Practice Field, and the importance of fundamental work in the post EDD’s – Every Day Drills. Baldwin Wallace offensive coordinator Keith Grabowski also discussed effective practice time in his post, Maximizing Practice Time – Receivers/ QB’s.

The first step in organizing an efficient practice is setting the practice schedule.  I know for the most part, I am preaching to the choir with this post, but I have actually heard coordinators say,

“We don’t spend a lot of time discussing practice schedule.  I work with good coaches – they are professionals.. I trust what they are teaching their position group… I don’t need to micromanage them”

I have been fortunate to work with some VERY good coaches… both as a coordinator under a head coach, and as a position coach under a coordinator.  We always took time to discuss practice to make sure that when we took the field, we were organized, efficient with our time, and coordinated in our actions.

Some things that need finalizing during the scheduling process:

  • Group work – when position groups are combined (for example WR’s vs DB’s) where will segment take place?
  • What is the emphasis for the day?
  • What is the insertion for the day?  What are the key teaching points for each position?
  • What drills will you be using to teach these concepts?
  • Film schedule – what drill/ groups will be filmed?
  • Scripts for any scrimmage, inside, or pass skelly.
  • Scout Cards accurately and correctly drawn corresponding to the practice scripts. We started using Hudl this past season not only to set our script for the day, but also to print scout team play cards.
  • Special teams and assignments for the day
  • Conditioning – what is everyone’s role?

We type copies of the schedule and script for every coach.  It is important that everyone is on the same page.  There is nothing more frustrating as a coach than waiting on another coach that you are supposed to combine groups with during a practice period.  It is frustrating for the coach and a waste of time for the players in his position group. You can download the Excel template by either clicking on the image below, or this link : Excel Practice Template.

Practice 1

We post the schedule prior to practice for the athletes to see.  We do not try to hide anything… drills, insertion, or conditioning… from our players.   The more informed they are, the quicker and more efficiently they can move through practice.

Improving in just ONE area of practice organization can reap big dividends.  For instance, if you could run every scripted inside, skelly or scrimmage play in a practice 10 seconds quicker because of increased efficiency, planning and communication, you would save minutes during the course of practice.  50 scripted plays would translate into nearly 10 minutes extra practice time for a single practice.  Multiply that times the number of practices in a season and you are adding practice DAYS!

I know time during the season is at a premium, and that getting all your staff together, particularly at the high school level is difficult to do at times.  But, I would much rather spend 30 minutes meeting with staff (even if it is after practice, setting the schedule for the next day) than waste even 5 minutes time with our players.

Jeff Floyd –

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