This week begins our football staff’s Winter weekly meetings in preparation for Spring practices in March. While everyone on the staff is eager to talk X’s & O’s, meeting one focuses on the non-football-specific drills used during Spring practices: Dynamic Warm-up, Movement Training, Plyometrics, Sprint Mechanics, Conditioning Games, and Static Stretching.
Doing an annual audit of these categories is equally important as auditing our offense, defense, and special teams. We’ll certainly get to those elements in due time, but our “continuous process improvement” or “CPI” efforts need to take a holistic view of the program. Reviews help us stay current with newer trends in athletic performance training, implementing them in our practices and removing or replacing outdated elements. These drills are critically important in creating a safer athletic environment and minimizing injuries, especially non-contact injuries. We’ve found these exercises create a more efficient athlete, and the diversity of activities also maintains interest and motivation. Not every athlete is going to have a 40-yard dash that starts with a 4, nor do they need to. We emphasize training our athletes’ ability to accelerate, decelerate and change direction more efficiently. Think of the Shuttle Run, also known as a Pro Agility or a 5-10-5. That is a drill where we want all of our starters, regardless of position, to have a time that begins with a 4.
Over the years we have found a player’s Shuttle Run score is a much stronger indicator of athletic ability and pre-determinant of on-field success than the 40-yard dash. The Shuttle puts demands on the body at a neuromuscular level we cannot duplicate with linear sprints. The other point of emphasis is coaching techniques in warm-up and stretch with the same attention to detail we do in our football-specific drills. Standards are standards, and if we expect our athletes to meet them in large endeavors, we need to ensure they meet small ones as well. For example, we coach and hold our athletes accountable to only change direction with their lower legs and feet, and NEVER permit them to touch the ground or cone with their hand while changing direction. (We wouldn’t expect an athlete to put their hand down while changing direction on the field, so do not do it in the drill… We want our athletes to practice the way we expect to play!)
Next week, we will turn our focus to defense and the drills we use to make our players better on that side of the ball.
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!