By Don Bartel
Head Football Coach, Defensive Coordinator, Linebackers/Running Backs Coach
Eastlake High School (WA)
At Eastlake, we spend a lot of time considering how we can make practices more efficient and effective. Being teachers first, we always start with a good look at our staff (who we are, what we know, coaching style, coaching voice, etc.) and how we present material to our players (before practice, Hudl, meetings, practice, walk-throughs, etc.). After laboring at this at multiple levels of football for years, I started to believe that there has got to be a better way of doing this. Next, we needed to define exactly what "this" is.
As a staunch believer in the idea that we do not coach football, we coach young men; we took that one step further in saying we do not coach young men the game of football, we use the game of football to coach young men on how to be competitors. In fact, much of what we do now has to do with the following elements at the forefront: practice time, development of players/coaches, speed of practice, competition, and adversity. With those key elements being considered, we have created a situation where we not only maximize the time we have to practice, we actually have players from all levels of the depth chart saying that they not only enjoy practice, but it is their favorite part of being an Eastlake Football player.
Work Week Schedule
The first step in becoming more effective and efficient is to take a good honest look at what time you have to prepare your players. Based on our review of our time, experience of our coaches, and the schedule we have in the fall, our basic week has taken this form:
Saturday: Coaches meet at 9:00 a.m., Players in to lift/run and meet with trainer 10:00a.m., Team and Position Meetings 11-12:00.
Sunday: Teach tapes (O/D game plans) and individual position notes due on Hudl
Monday: Lunch meetings, players lift, 2-Deep practice 3:30-4:30, JV Game 4:00
Tuesday: Lunch meetings, practice 3:15-5:30 (Offensive emphasis)*
Wednesday: Lunch meetings, practice 7:00-9:15 (Defensive emphasis)*
Thursday: Lunch meetings, practice 3:00-4:30 (Helmets only O-D-SPT review/walk-through)
Friday: Pre-game lift after school, Varsity Game 7:00
*Emphasis practice means we have a 60-40-20-minute split between three phases of game
This is included to give you a basic overview as I will highlight a few of the things we do in the paragraphs that follow:
- Saturday Meetings
- Teach Tapes
- Scout Books
- Lunch Meetings
- Coaching in our System
- Practice Procedures
As a head coach, I have been meeting on Saturdays for quite some time. We have decided to involve the players on this day as well; although, our meetings generally last until 3:00 or later that afternoon. We bring the guys in to get their bodies back on track, find out who is dealing with injury, and put the game from the night before behind us. We meet for 10-15 minutes as a group to highlight some great play, some issues, and some progress made. Before we break off into position groups, I give them the focus of the upcoming week which typically is tied to the process, the growth, and the challenges of getting ourselves ready for the next challenge. Position meetings last no longer than 20 minutes, and sometimes we will meet as an entire offense or defense as well.
As a staff, it is our job to get our game plan completely finished, plan what sessions we will need for practice each individual day, and get all materials ready to implement. If we do this, Sunday can be a day for focus on our position groups, and it can serve as a day to do any additional work at home. We also have Monday before and after practice to complete scout books and opponent plays based on tendencies and areas of concern for our defense.
As a coordinator, it is my responsibility to create a video game plan/teach tape for our entire team. I do this with two groups in mind: our players who will watch this to prepare for the opponent’s offense, and those who will watch to be the opponent’s offense. Both my offensive coordinator and I have Microsoft Surface Pro 2s that we use along with video screen capture software called “liteCam” (liteCam.net), OneNote from Microsoft, and Hudl to relay all information to our players each week. We post those on Hudl each Sunday, so the players can review, message us with questions, and prepare themselves for Monday’s meeting. Typically, the tapes are no longer than 10-15 minutes, contain only the essential information about the opponent and our game plan, and are designed to not only give them a resource that they can return to; but it also takes the place of the traditional Monday meeting we used to have that our entire JV team would miss each week.