Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Planning Your Summer Workout/Practice Schedule

Posted by admin June - 5 - 2018 - Tuesday

I had a discussion with a coach the other day about how to organize his summer workouts. I know that each state has different rules regarding how much time you can practice (or workout— I will make a distinction there as we go along here!) before your first game. In Virginia, where I live, the rules allow you to lift, run and “practice” all summer… with the exception of one week in July when everyone has to shut down everything! Official preseason practice begins 3-4 weeks before your opening game. Time on the practice field and going full gear has a state mandate. What I’m talking about here, though, is what you do in the weeks leading up to the official start of preseason practice.

A lot is said about the Big MO (momentum) during a football game. It’s kinda looked at as some nebulous entity… like the Force in Star Wars! It’s “real” you say —- we just don’t have much control over it. I disagree!

Like anything else dealing with the mental side of football, momentum is something that you can regulate and you need to plan for it. Think: a little snowball starting to roll down the side of a steep (and loooooong) hill. What happens? It picks up speed as it increases its mass or density until… near the bottom, it’s a gigantic snow mountain ready to crush anything in its path!!!

But… suppose half way down that mountain, as the snowball is picking up speed, the mountain flattens out into a plateau. What’s going to happen to the snowball’s momentum? Obviously, the snowball is going to slow down from its thundering path down the mountain and may even come to rest. What caused the loss of momentum? Things “flattened” out. Our attitude; our work ethic; our commitment can “flatten out” too! Doing too much of the same thing is going to get tedious. Kids would say, “Boooooooooring.” As a coach organizing your summer workouts, you need to find ways to eliminate the possibility of hitting a “plateau.” You do that by 1- keeping things “short and sweet” and 2- changing things up while keeping them the same! What???!!!!

You continue to work on the same skills: lifting weights; conditioning/speed/agility training and on the field skills and drills (IF allowed in your district!)… but, you find different ways to accomplish the same goal!

I’m confident that you change up your weight room workouts already! I hope so!!! How about conditioning? Sprints and nothing else? Try to be creative. We used to play “sharks and minnows” in a limited area. (That’s “tag” if you don’t know what I mean!) Competitive relay races. Run “L’s” or “J’s” around the edge of the field instead of gassers across the field every day. Even if you can’t use a ball (use an “invisible” ball!) and run up and down the field just “faking” dive or zone or trap with your offense. Sprint 15 yards; set up and run it again… and again… till you get to the end zone. We even let the linemen play their own game of 7 on 7! But, they had to keep running. NO walking!

Your workouts don’t (and should not!!!) be as lengthy as your “official” practices which usually begin in August. Keep them short and crisp. Cover 1 side of the ball each day. An hour to 90 minutes is plenty of time to work on skills and drills. Try to play 7 on 7 once a week— either against another school (if allowable) or just divide up your players and go shirts and skins.

One KEY thing: When I was a head coach, I gave the players the week off just prior to official practice starting. I let parents know well in advance so if they wanted to take a family vacation… THAT was the week to go! While the players had the week off, this was when I met with my staff to finalize things for practice. This allows the players a chance to get away and “re-energize.” It gets them excited about official practice beginning the next week; i.e., something to look forward to! Just like those last few weeks before Christmas. (“The anticipation is killing me!!!”) It’s a chance to reboot the energy/enthusiasm level in your players’ minds and… yep! get that “momentum machine” geared up and ready to start rolling down that hill again!!!

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