Practice Tips For Football Coaches!

A team plays like it practices, Period! No exceptions. If a team practices soft, it will play soft; if it practices hard, it will play hard. Check out these awesome practice tips for football coaches.
A team plays like it practices, period! No exceptions. If a team practices soft, it will play soft; if it practices hard, it will play hard. If this person or that is excused from contact, drills or conditioning, the younger players learn through conditioning that such behaviors are acceptable and are likely to emulate them.

If a player shows disrespect or contempt for ANY member of the coaching staff and is nevertheless allowed to play in the following game, underclassmen again learn bad behaviors are tolerated, even encouraged. Adversely, if such behaviors are dealt with swiftly and harshly, players learn not only that bad behaviors limit playing time but that good behaviors can increase it as well.

As is evident in the preceding paragraph, this coach believes good practices begin with good attitudes. They also involve good contact and strenuous conditioning. A team should practice in the rain and snow if they might play in it that weekend. To practice moderately indoors all week, then expect a team to take the field in sub zero temperatures and perform to its peak is, simply stated, poor coaching. However, to practice in freezing sleet, exposing players to the rigors of the elements when the weekend game is in sunny Florida is counterproductive as well. In this instance outdoor activity should be confined to short and intense scrimmages. Surely, all else can be reformatted for an indoor environment.

It is important to have a routine in place for daily practice sessions. Of course these routines are adjustable, but the main advantage of having one in place is it tends to deter wasted and unproductive time. Generally speaking I would recommend the following daily practice schedules for the various levels of play:

Recommended Daily Practice Schedules

Level Sun Mon Tues
Pro Game Off film, weights, conditioning, short scrimmage
College Off film, weights, conditioning, short scrimmage position drills, special teams, scrimmage, offensive inference
High School Off film, weights, conditioning, short scrimmage position drills, special teams, scrimmage, offensive inference

Level Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Pro position drills, special teams, scrimmage, offensive inference weights, conditioning, scrimmage, defensive inference special teams, substitutions Off - Travel
College weights, conditioning, scrimmage, defensive inference special teams, substitutions Off for Travel or repeat special teams, substitutions Game
High School weights, conditioning, scrimmage, defensive inference special teams, substitutions Game Off

As demonstrated in the above table, I strongly believe in contact and full speed scrimmages. Many coaches prefer not to dress out their team the day before a game. I feel that is unfortunate. A quarterback will never be allowed to throw the football in a game without his shoulder pads and helmet on or mouth piece in. Receivers should catch every pass with their hands, and with their helmet on. I do believe no contact, scrimmaging or weight lifting should take place the day before the game.

Descriptions For Terms In The Above Table:

Conditioning refers to any (usually) physical activity used to improve the physical strength and stamina of an athlete. Conditioning is one of the major components of gridiron success. Conditioning can be used as a punishment for a particular player or the team as a whole. It can also be intertwined with special teams. Running excessive punts, kick offs and returns "live" can serve as punishment, enhance conditioning, and improve special teams play all at the same time.

Defensive Inference:
Refers to the tendency to perform or emphasize special preference or attention to the defensive aspects of a setting.

The coaching staff will screen the film of the previous game and determine how much (if any), and which parts of the film are to be played for the team. Film footage of the next opponent should be viewed at this time as well. The entire time spent in the film room should not exceed one hour, and emphasis should be placed on the next game, not the last one.

Offensive Inference:
Refers to the tendency to perform or emphasize special preference or attention to the offensive aspects of a setting.

Position Drills:
Drills specific to offensive and defensive positions are practiced and demonstrated in half speed and full speed settings. The offense and defense are split into groups with perhaps the linemen kept together if necessary. Defensive drills might include ripping, swimming, bull rushing, pass rushing, reading blocks, tackling, fumble recovery and tip drills. Offensive linemen work on their various block types while the backs work to improve their specific skills.

A good scrimmage should last no longer than one hour and there are many possible recommended guidelines. One I recommend is the no contact below the waist rule.

Some coaches adhere to the rule of zero contact against the quarterback. I think this is unfortunate because I pose that it breeds a soft quarterback who is more easily injured or rattled if suddenly exposed to the rigors of contact. Instead, I simply add a few provisions. No contact to the back other than an open-handed slap. No other hand contact, no pulling or grabbing. No launching (leaving the feet and diving for the quarterback). No contact with any player's helmet or face mask.

This basically exposes the quarterback only to contact he can see coming, administered with the arms, shoulder pads or torso. I believe this will minimize the quarterback's risk to self inflicted injury while still preparing him for hostile contact. All other players are encouraged to initiate and sustain contact at full speed for the entire scrimmage. The level of intensity can be modified as needed - even gradually diminished as the week progresses.

On the first practice after a game, the scrimmage should be shorter than other days, perhaps 30-to-45 minutes in length. However, these scrimmages should remain intense. At this time the defensive coaches can introduce, modify or perfect various strategies and techniques that will be used for the upcoming game. Likewise the offensive coaches can begin to prepare for the upcoming opponent by introducing various tendencies and strategies that will be employed.

Normal, full length practices are usually team specific with the offense, defense or special teams receiving particular emphasis. On the day of defensive scrimmage, the starting defense opposes the 'scout' offense. Both squads use the formations, techniques, and strategies that are expected to be employed in the forthcoming game. The defense will run the sets it plans to use; the offense will run the upcoming opponents offensive formations and plays.

However, the scout team should not be limited solely to this formula, and should adapt to the situation in order to provide the maximum amount of competition for the starters. This should, of course, imply that all starters for the team of non emphasis (in this case the offense) should participate in the scrimmage with regular, liberal substitutions. In this manner, starters don't "take the day off" and substitutes can be assured of practice playing time in the hopes of catching a coach's eye. In the process, substitution drills are practiced.

Scrimmages should be the basis of deciding who will start and/or receive substantial playing time in a game. If non starters know that playing time can be won with excellent play in scrimmages, a higher level of intensity should prevail for all scrimmages.

Special Teams:
Special teams are addressed each and every day of practice. Punts, punt returns, kick offs, kick off returns, field goals and extra points are all incorporated into the daily conditioning rituals. This exercise comes immediately after team warm-ups. The day before a game, special teams are given extensive coverage in full pads with zero contact.

The depth chart should be common knowledge - public domain. Proper substitution should be adhered to throughout the week and intensified the day before a game. A player entering the game will yell out the name of the player he is "calling out." Since all non-asked-for substitutions are coaching decisions, the exiting player departs without question, relaying any necessary information to his replacement. A good drill is for coaches to call for massive individual substitutions during the running of all plays on this day.

The team should lift weights together at least once a week for at least 45 minutes regardless of time restrictions. Players are to have charts of their respective progress which they maintain themselves and which are monitored and kept by the coaching staff. Numbers validating progression of strength and endurance are expected and a failure of such progression should be seen as a lack of commitment to the process and brought to the attention of the head coach immediately.

It is important for the team to interact together in the weight room both to build camaraderie and maintain a sense of competition.

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