Sunday, October 26, 2008

Are Your Practices Organized And Productive? (Part III)

Why do a “word of the day”? Why have a “cheer drill”?

I’m sure these were questions you may have had after reading my last entry about organizing practices. Let me explain the “method to the madness.”

For starters, I highly recommend spending some time on Coach Hugh Wyatt’s website -- Wyatt is a football coach who is an expert on the “double wing offense”. We have run this offense primarily on my 12-year-old’s football team for the past five years, so the coaches have become disciples of his philosophy. Perhaps more valuable than his expertise on the double wing, is the insight Wyatt provides toward conducting productive practices and successfully motivating youth players.

This website is a little cumbersome, but there’s some valuable information here and we’ve found some of his videos and publications to be useful. He is also VERY prompt in answering any questions you want to e-mail to him as long as you identify yourself (that’s his big rule!).

The “word of the day” provides some direction for the theme of the practice. We’ve found words like “focus”, “commitment”, “drive”, “hustle” and others to be general starting points. The beauty of this little exercise is that it is only limited by your own (and your assistant coaches’) creativity. Use this tool to set a tone and direction for the practice. You’ll be amazed when you start to hear the players actually referring back to the word during the course of practice!

If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know I firmly believe in the importance of warm up preparation at practice. No one can dispute the value of warming up as a means of conditioning and injury prevention.

The “cheer drill” helps build camaraderie among team members by forcing players to cite something positive about another player at the conclusion of the practice. As the players get to know one another better, you’ll find they are more eager to make positive use of this exercise.

I also like to use tools to recognize individual effort in the practices that follow games. There are a variety of ways to achieve this through “game balls,” “shirts” or simple verbal recognition. “Mr. Hustle”, “The Big Stick”, “Bonecrusher” and “Web Gem” are examples of creative ways to recognize individual effort. You will be amazed at how players will compete for this type of recognition.

Hopefully, I’ve provided some helpful direction in these last few entries toward running successful practices.

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