By Jeff Minter
Editors Note: Since 1998 Coach Minter has served as a head coach, coordinated all three phases of the game, and worked with the defensive line, offensive line, linebackers, quarterbacks, and wide receivers. In the past few years, Coach Minter has become one of the most popular and respected coaching bloggers on the web and is excited to be a regular contributor for X&O Labs.
The best teams are almost always great closers. They don’t just start fast, but they get better as the game progresses. This same logic can be applied to seasons as well. The teams that understand how to continue to get the most out of their players as the regular season comes to an end and the post season begins. So, with that in mind, I have put together a list of do’s and don’ts that should be applicable for any team, anywhere.
Practice Planning “Do’s”
Do… Film Everything
With the increasing access to technology, and the growing popularity of the iPad, it has become exponentially easier to film practice sessions for later viewing and correcting. You can now easily use apps such as CoachMe and Coach's Eye, along with any video app, to film practice for immediate feedback or diagram things on the go. Even if you're still using cameras, DVD duplicators, allow you to quickly burn anything for multiple players or coaches to watch at home. By using technology to help you teach either before, after, or during practice you are more likely to be able to coach on the run...which happens to be the next key idea.
Do… Coach on the Run
Don't take time to stop practice for each coaching moment. Especially if you are able to teach off the practice film, make sure you are coaching as practice is moving. Ever see a coach stop the whole offense to review something with one player? It kills the tempo of practice and can lead to players losing focus.
Do… Script Everything
Seems obvious, but it sounds like this doesn't happen everywhere. Scripting accomplishes a few things. First of all, you can control what your team is practicing as you aren't doing it on the fly. This gives you a better opportunity to spend quality time on reps your team really needs. Scripting also allows you to control the number of reps your team is getting. When you chunk a team time into 20 minutes you are likely to go the whole 20 or possibly over. However, when you follow the script you can avoid over repping your players by going longer than is necessary to accomplish your goal. Finally, scripting allows you to work in special situations or field position needs.
Do… Properly Label Scout Cards
How many times have you told your team where they will be and then run the play only to be told that the defense was in a different place? Fix that problem by being more specific with the scout team and give them more information. Tell the scout team they are "X", "H", or "32". Whether you use numbers or letters is up to you, but it's a lot easier for the kids to get where they need to be if they only have to look at one position.
Do… Use Your Terminology for Scout Teams
Whenever possible use your own words for plays, formations, and alignments so you can effectively communicate with your scout team. This is especially helpful with the scout defense and offensive lines. Your offensive line probably has a counter trey blocking scheme, so no matter what the backfield is doing, if that blocking scheme is being used make sure it is noted on the scout card.
Do… Use Two Huddles
If you have the players available use two huddles. Yes, your scout team won't be as good when it divides into two groups, but more players are active, more players are getting reps, and your first team is able to get more looks and reps as well.