Planning For Effective Practices

Consider All Factors

If you want to run a successful football program, one of the most important aspects of your job will be practice planning.  Every school and program are different and each program has certain factors to consider when developing a practice plan.  What time does school let out?  Are your coaches on campus? Do your kids play both ways? Is there mandatory study hall? Those and several other factors will play a huge role in developing the appropriate practice plan.The only thing I will say that is a standard for me is never stay on the field longer than 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I have found through experience that the attention span of your players starts to deteriorate and things go downhill mentally and physically.  There are however some base things that need to be in every plan to give your team the best chance for success on game nights.

For the blog today I will focus on an offensive practice plan for an up tempo team that has players playing both ways.  We start every practice off with 50 minutes worth of meetings, with special teams meetings everyday.  I think special teams play a huge roll in high school football and needs to be given appropriate attention.  If I had to lean towards favoring any I would say Punt Team and Kickoff Team can get you hurt the quickest and change the momentum of a game quickly so pay a lot of attention to those two teams.  After our 25 minute special teams meeting we will have a 25 minute offensive meeting.  We will either be installing new concepts or cleaning up old concepts.  We may be watching practice or game film, or possibly opponents film.  I still believe that coaching is teaching so I want to make sure we are giving our kids every chance to succeed before just throwing them to the wolves.  Our practice will always start with 10 minutes of pre practice drills, which gives position coaches a little extra indy time.  We are a shotgun team so we like getting extra snaps during this time while also letting the QB'S warm their arms up and the receivers get extra reps catching passes.  The running backs are either catching passes or working on ball security.  The oline generally will be walking through blocking assignments, or doing extra indy work like stances and starts or footwork drills.

We open up every practice with 10 minutes of dynamic stretching and form running drills.  After that I generally like to do some form of live team 11 on 11 drill.  It might be goal line or short yardage, or it may be 5 plays to get 25 yards, anything that is competitive and live to get practice started right.  I found through experience that when I start the actual practice with indy drills the tempo never picks up.  That is one of the reasons we started doing some pre practice work to get extra reps and kids loosened up.  Now we can go straight from dynamic stretching to competitive live work to get the practice charged up.  We usually go back to Indy periods after that.  Depending on the time of year and day of the week, Indy will normally be 20 minutes.  After Indy we will go to Skeleton with the skills, while the Oline works pass protection and screen game.  Sometimes we will put some RB'S and QB'S with the Oline to work blitz pick up.  In skeleton we are throwing all of our routes against the coverages/blitzes we think we will see that week.

After Skeleton we will go to a team run period 11 on 11.  For what we do I like team run with receivers blocking the perimeter a little more than inside run.  We have a good amount of perimeter runs so I want my receivers involved in the run periods.  It also helps us with our no huddle up tempo communication.  With increased reps we should be able to play faster and communicate better.  If there is time in the plan we like doing screen/draw periods.  This allows us to get extra reps on our screens and draws without having to put as many in the team period.  Screens and draws scripted in the team period cuts down on the reps you get on base runs and passes.  Next we will go to a team period that is 11 on 11 with runs and passes mixed in.  Now we are working on the entire offense including schemes, tempo, and communication.

We almost always end our offensive segments with a 10 minute tempo drill on air.  We are focusing on the communication of our system, personnel changes, and tempo changes.  We spot the ball up and down the field while moving the ball hash, middle, hash so our players get used to the ball being spotted and getting lined up as quick as possible.  I like using a stop watch during this period to try and figure out how fast we are able to execute our offensive system.

Because our players play both ways we always end an offensive day with a defensive team period.  This way our defensive plan and scheme stays fresh in our players minds and we are touching upon it everyday.  Special Teams periods will be mixed in throughout the practice everyday regardless of what side of the ball we are focusing on.


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