Practice

img_6fundamentals_practice

Before you walk onto the practice field, you should have a well-defined plan of your goals and objectives for the practice and be mentally prepared for dealing with a large group of kids. Prepare your plan either mentally or on paper, although the later is preferred. If you prepare a Practice Plan on paper, then an assistant coach or another volunteer could continue the team development in case of your absence.

This plan should include:

Provide objectives that should be accomplished during the practice. This can include both subjective and non-subjective goals.

Outline the goals and requirements of the basic activities and the amount of time you would like to devote to each.

Prepare a list of the equipment required. This helps ensure you only take what you need and makes sure you get what you need if you should be in a hurry.

The Practice Plan form gives you an area to take notes as to what aspects of the practice went well, what didn’t, or maybe ideas you had to make the skill development simpler for the players. You can also take notes about the players’ responses during your Team Talk regarding the next practice. Keep these forms for a reminder next year

Stretch & Warm Up (15minutes). This is especially important in developing long-term physical fitness awareness for your players and greatly reduces the risk of injury to your players. If your team is like most, the kids will ‘wander’ onto the practice field. Do low impact ‘games’ with them while waiting for everyone to show. When the warm-up ‘officially’ begins, first demonstrate the exercise and then begin the exercise. Be sure to explain the exercise in words the players can understand. Sometimes you will have to teach them new words for this to work. Be sure that you participate with them, because the players will learn quickest by example. And if you can, get the parents to participate as well!

Team Talk (2 minutes, 1 minute to get them quiet!) Have a brief Team Talk with them and let them know what you want to accomplish today and what you expect of them today. Keep it simple and in words they can understand.

Skill Development (25 minutes). Begin skill development drills and exercises. Spend the first 10 minutes improving skills taught in previous practices. You will need to focus on the less-talented players at this time to help them improve at a quicker pace. Consider providing these players a ‘mentor’, another player that can show them good execution of the skill. This mentoring approach also keeps more players busy and ‘engaged’ providing more fun and participation.

After the review, begin introducing a new skill ‘game’ or regimen. You should strive to introduce one new skill, or a variation or refinement of a skill at every practice session. This may require a brief Team Talk with the players to provide a foundation of words or expectations. First explain the skill, then with other assistants, if necessary, demonstrate the skill using proper technique. Then turn the players loose to try it themselves.

Once they begin the skill development exercise, try to keep further instruction and refinement to a minimum, and spend your time one-on-one with the players. Having other volunteers and coaches manage the ‘team’ allows you to spend some ‘quality time’ with each player while they are striving to learn. If you have an exceptional player or two, place them in a mentoring position