6 Steps to Successful Football Practice Plans
Now that the season has started for many of us, and will soon for the rest, we have to consider our practice plans. How efficiently and effectively you plan your practice is
how good your practice will be.
Do any of these sound like your football squad?
You have no football practice plan. You wing it. Sometimes the things that need to get done, get done. Other times, you forget. You run completely on instinct.
You spend tons of time creating a practice schedule, sometimes as long as the practice itself will be. But when your football practice starts, you find yourself extending periods, cutting special teams, and losing the focus you had earlier that day.
You have a great football practice schedule and fully intend to follow it. But you get so into your drills that you forget to look at your watch, almost every day. You run over on periods and scramble to get caught back up.
If so, there is good news and bad news. First, the good news: There are great programs, Championship teams, all over this country that are just like you.
Bad news? There are a whole lot more teams out there who run a tight ship, follow a schedule, get the job done on time, and win championships.
To plan an effective practice, you need to consider 6 steps (maybe 5?):
Warm-Up: Get your players loose, work on flexibility and movement issues, relieve tightness, and in general prevent injury – do it all with a good warm-up. A mixture of dynamic and static stretching, with a focus on hip flexibility, will do the trick.
Individuals: This is your money portion of the practice. I know that many of you have so few coaches that focusing on position-specific skills is difficult, but find a way. At least work on blocking, defeating blocks and tackling – those apply to every one! Have a good staff? Take care of your E.D.D.s – Every Day Drills that your players must be able to execute to be successful. After that, work on specific skills for your upcoming opponent.
Teaching: Install new fronts, formations, plays, stunts, blitzes, etc. This may be within an individual period or as a team, but take time to teach at a slow pace.
Group: Split the parts of your team up. We work 3 drills at once: Inside, Outside Weak, and Outside Strong drills. We may be working against Inside Trap or Iso with the Mike Linebacker and two tackles inside, while working with the End, OLB, Safety and Corner on either side against outside running plays. We are maximizing reps here – the backside OLB is not learning anything in Team when you run a sweep away from him!
Team: Put it all together. Show a variety of looks, try to recreate the game for your kids. Show them your opponent’s best plays, try to sequence them the way your opponent would, mix up calls and get them aligning and attacking! This is the only portion of our practice that is at actual game pace, by the way. Most of our day we will not even go to the ground. I hope that this year our team will be good enough to stay off the ground in team, too!
Conditioning: We do not condition (this is where the “Maybe” comes in!). I do not think it is wrong to run a few gassers at the end of practice. But if your kids are in shape coming in – probably due to your off-season program – and you run an upbeat, fast-paced practice with minimal standing around, you should not have much need for conditioning. If you are still running gassers in the last week of your season, you do not understand the human body. Sorry for offending you, but you need to change. But feel your own kids out, and if they are out of shape coming into the season, throw in some extra running here (no more than 40 yards). To be more effective, use a Pursuit Drill or some other football-related conditioning that will help you much more than straight-line work.