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Maximizing offensive practice time. (Football).

CAN ANYONE NAME A football coach in America who feels that he has enough time to get everything done during the week?

We are all time hogs and I am the worst. But practicing four hours a day is not a viable option. The situation clearly calls for meticulous planning and organization, particularly on the high school level where most of us practice kids on both sides of the football every day.

Since our multiple I-Back offense requires a great deal of repetitions and attention to detail, we have to stretch out every minute of our practice time.

Time constraints are particularly strong during the week preceding a game. To derive the most out of the allotted time for offensive practice, I would recommend the following key points:

1 Do your talking in meetings, not on the practice field.

One thing that high school football coaches do not do enough of is hold meetings with their players. Much can be accomplished in well-organized meetings, particularly in introducing adjustments to your offense.

Too many coaches try to do too much -- introduce, teach, practice -- in the two hours after school. They spend half of the practice talking when their players could be getting valuable repetitions.

I always make it a point to introduce anything "new" ahead of time (in pre-practice) so that when we hit the practice field, we do just that -- practice. We obviously will instruct our kids with each repetition, but we'll do it as we walk back to the huddle.

2 Pre-practice (post-practice, if necessary).

Every coach uses the time immediately before practice for the kicking specialists. We do this, too, but we also have our QBs, receivers, and defensive backs on the practice field 20 minutes prior to practice.

Our pass offense is more involved than it is at most high schools and we devote a great deal of time to details. We'll focus upon individual QB and receiver drills. By doing them before the official start of practice, we are able to spend more of the actual practice time on specific techniques and patterns.

The exploitation of pre-practice time has very definitely allowed us to get more work out of our practice day. We will also have our linemen and/or running backs occasionally report early to work on an area of specific need.

3 Script all group/team periods.

Another time-management tool that requires significant planning and organization is practice scripts. We script all plays into group and time periods. For example, we'll script our offensive line and running backs vs. a particular defensive front, as well as our pass-skeleton drills and offensive scrimmages.

Planned scripts prevent us from becoming bogged down on one or two plays. We know the things that must get done and know that we have to stick to the script to do it.

Scripts also prevent coaches from talking too much between plays. We want to coach our kids from the conclusion of the play all the way to the huddle. If a player needs more instructions than that, the coach should put in a sub for him and take the player over to the side and coach him.

4 Script situations into practice.

Many coaches like to scrimmage on certain situations such as goal line or red zone at some point during the week. Rather than practice our entire team offense and then go to a situational scrimmage, we will script those situations into our team-offense time.

On Tuesdays, we script the following situations into our offensive team time: 3rd and medium, 3rd and long, red zone (+20 and in).

On Wednesdays, we will script 3rd and short, 4th and short, goal line.

Another helpful idea in scripting offensive practice is not to rep the entire offensive package in a full scrimmage. Due to the extensive nature of our passing attack, we rep only our top few pass patterns in a group skeleton or team offense.

5 Practice organization through game planning.

We will always break down our opponents' film and have our initial game plan notes ready for printing in the players' scouting report by Monday morning. This includes all insertions, deletions, and adjustments to our offensive package.

All of this new information is placed into our players' hands at the film meeting Monday afternoon, enabling us to set the offensive practice schedules for the week. This includes the scripts for all periods, group and team.

I firmly believe that whenever we cannot insert a particular concept into our practice schedule, it is simply too much for our offense. We make this decision early in the week to avoid wasting practice time.

We will, of course, adapt our scripts and schedules when needed. But the bottom line is that to maximize practice, we have to plan.


Football coaches are the most organized coaches in sport. No other sport requires the planning of so much in such a short period of time.

Poor planning and wasted practice time make for lazy and unprepared football teams. We coach our kids from the time they enter the locker room until they leave to go home at night. We capitalize on every minute of our time with them. That is the only way to win ball games.
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Author:Mizer, Mike
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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