It is always a joy watching teams that are well prepared… that never seem flustered… that seem to expect the unexpected.
It is a joy watching teams that are well coached.
I know most football coaches use a script for their Thursday (day before contest) practice to “rehearse” kicking game situations. We, too, used a script for our final practice, but expanded its use cover more “unexpected” situations outside the special teams.
You can download the Excel file of the script we used here (Thursday practice script) but equally as important as the script itself is how we used it in teaching and preparing our athletes.
Here are some basic tenets that we employed in our Thursday practice script:
We tried to keep everyone involved both physically and mentally.
You can see in the script sequence there are times when JV and Scout team players are actively participating in situations. In addition, the athletes know that for each segment we will call out for at least one substitute… so they ALL have to be on their toes.
We wanted to keep all our coaches involved.
Our coaches should be coaching. Everyone has a function during this script… if they are normally on the field during the game, they will be in their same locations doing their same duties (i.e. “get back” coach). If they are normally in the pressbox, they will have assigned duties during the scripted scenarios (i.e. spotting the ball during 2 minute drill). Nothing undermines the importance of this practice like some of your coaches standing by the side and talking about their evening plans!
We wanted our athletes to understand the situations.
We used our Thursday script to make sure that our athletes understood personnel, alignment and assignment for each of these situations, but also the “why”, the strategy and philosophy that corresponded to each of these scenarios. For example, when and why might we want to take a safety during the course of a game, what can we expect in sudden change situations, what is our thinking offensively when we are “backed up”?
We want the practice to be “crisp”.
Each week, we kept the routine (and the script sequence) the same… including how each group huddled prior to entering the field, where each position group would stand during the game, how we would communicate, and coach’s assignments. We had already spent practice time during the week working on specific technique and assignments… this should be a refresher.
The first few weeks, we would spend more time explaining the concepts behind each of these scenarios, but as the season progressed we were able to be more succinct.
We had weekly “reminders” for each scenario.
For each special team, and special situation we would interject a reminder (or two) based on our scouting report for that week. If we knew the opponent had a particular strength (or weakness) it gave us one more time to emphasize that point prior to the game.
We used the script to continue teaching the kicking game.
It gave us an opportunity to quickly reinforce concepts like alignment, assignment, angles, and technique used in each phase of the kicking game. Although we did not use the time for in-depth coaching (as I mentioned we wanted to keep the practice crisp) it gave our athletes another opportunity to hear our “catch phrases” in each special team segment… phrases like “cone to the football”, “lane integrity”, “hay bail them” or “2-gap them”.
The bottom line is, we wanted our athletes to be prepared… in ALL situations. This was one tool we used to put a capstone on our weekly prep.
I hope this effectively communicated how/ why we used this script as part of our Thursday game prep practice. If you have any questions over this (or any other post) please shoot me an email or message me…. I WILL reply.
Good luck to all of the coaches this week as you enter the halfway point (how is that possible!) of the season.
Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org