Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Efficiency vs. Reps

Posted by admin January - 30 - 2018 - Tuesday

Let me take you into a typical high school Algebra 1 class. The teacher calls 5 students to come to the front and asks them to put the first 5 homework questions (and answers) on the board while the rest of the class watches. Two of them finish quickly, the 3rd student struggles but finishes his problem… but it’s apparent that the 4th and 5th students have no clue! The teacher looks at their work and says, “You two are good… go sit down. You (the 3rd) messed up that 3rd step. You last 2 obviously have no idea what I’ve been teaching you the last few days. All of you go sit down and let me call 5 more people up to do the next 5 questions. We’ve got 30 equations we need to get through and we only have 20 minutes left to accomplish that objective. Let’s go!”

How would YOU rate that teacher’s instructional skills? I am not very impressed!

What did the students learn from this exercise? Not much! Why not? Because they got little or no feedback; little or no reinforcement. Oh yes, he told a couple of them that they got something wrong but you know as well as I do that most people are visual learners. Explaining something by “talking it through” just does not sink in for most people. They need to be shown their mistakes.

This is why I am such a strong advocate of focusing on getting plays executed correctly (some of my former players would say “near perfectly!”) before we move on to another play. I’ve seen several coaches recently who were more concerned about “getting through their play list/script” in the allotted time rather than making sure that the plays they DO run are run correctly.

I heard a coach bragging the other day that “we get through 80 plays in a 90 minute practice!” Wow… good for you. However, how many of those plays are run correctly? The colleges (and pro’s) have time for meetings and a chance to correct mistakes after practice is over. I don’t know many high school programs that have that luxury. Most kids are not going to look at Hudl unless you sit down with them.

Of course, those who disagree with me would say, “Lew, you don’t get to run enough plays in practice. It will hurt you in games.” My response is: We averaged over 80% wins in my 31 years as a head coach. We averaged almost 40 points a game and over 350 yards of offense per game over that period of time. I submit that focusing on efficiency rather than how many reps you can get in is a more effective way to practice your offense.

Like my granddaughter says to me, “Just sayin’!!!”

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