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Winning Football Offseason Planning

Updated on April 26, 2013
Drill 1
Drill 2
Head Coach
Warm up/Stretching
Asst. HC/O-line
Wind Sprints
Rabbit Runs
OC/ Backs, Ends
Up Downs
ST/First Aid
Obstical Course
Run downs
Equip/LB's, DE's
Angle of Pursuit
Table # 1 - Coaches Responsibility List

Day 1 Training Camp

Coaching Points
Warm Up
1 Lap & Stretching - Instruct on Proper Stretching and Lap
Coaches Remarks
Explain Focus. Run at all times. Never Jog on the Field - Always run. Properly Fueling your body
Endurance and Instruction Stations
15 Minutes each station. Water at each station. Keep them moving at all times.
Station 1
Wind Sprints
20 Yards all at once. 10 Seconds rest. Use starting cadence, Get into 3 point stance as soon as they cross the loine. Off sides is 10 up downs for entire unit.
Station 2
Drive Blocking
With hand pads and boards. Emphasize , proper base, good inside plant step, hands on man, elbows in, stay low, moving feet, running steps.
Station 3
High step with ball. Continous movement
Station 4
Form Tackling
Straight on - walk through. Get the man down. Emphasize proper form. Head up and on ball.
Station 5
Rabbit Run
10 Yard cones. Teach proper holding of the ball. Knock the ball out of runners hands. Fumble and 10 up downs for entire unit.
Team Endurance
Obsticle course. 2@4 minutes. One minute rest.
Coaches Remarks
Great practice. Fuel and rest. Be on time tommorow. Weigh Heavyweights.
Table # 2 - Day 1 – Mouthpiece – Helmet – Shorts – Cleats

Day 16 - training Camp

Warm up
2 Fast Laps, stetching and warm up
Coaches Remarks
Coaches opening remarks. Talk about the difference between how they act on the football field and how they act off the football field. Ram Pride does not mean Ram Arrogance. Turn the football player switch on and off.
Endurance Stations
Ten minutes each, break into two teams
Obstical Course
10 minute cycle, continuous movement
Rabbit Run
20 Yard squares, backs carry the ball properly, try and knock it our. Linemen carry ten pound medicine ball in front of them.
Coaches Remarks
Explain objective for the rest of practice. Offense and defense instructional stations
Defense instruction stations - 30 minutes
D- Line
Angle of Pursuit/Pass Rush
Review Base D, Formation Recognition, Skeleton Drill
Offensive Instruction stations - 30 Minutes
Line - interior 5
Pass blocking - Emphasis on Base and Punch. Getting overpowered create 45 degree angle block.
Introduce Bubble Package
Special Teams
Goal Line defense
Closing remarks
Team pictures coming up. Be in uniform, no pads. Great Job - Ram Pride. Turn the switch off - Show Respect to others
Table 3 16 - Day 16 - Full Pads

Offseason Football Practice Organization

In a previous post called Winning Football Practice Organization I discussed the three seasons of a successful football coach: Training Season, Football Season, and Planning season, and the importance of properly organizing a football practice. If you have not read this post, click the link above to view the basis for the information included here.

This particular post will deal specifically with planning season, as without proper planning and organization during the offseason, a football coach cannot have a truly successful training camp or actual season. First, simply for clarity, these three seasons need to be defined. The first and most obvious is football season. This is the time of year on the schedule when you will play your regular season and playoff games. Pre-season games and scrimmages are not included in this season because rosters are still being set, positions are being decided, and game plans are still being installed. Pre-season games and scrimmages are played during training season.

Football season starts with one pre-season or scrimmage game left on the schedule. This is when the players will learn the exact routine and expectations of practice schedules that will occur during the actual playing season. Training season will begin with the first day of training camp and will last until there is one exhibition game left. This point will not be belabored, as it is self-explanatory. The only other point is that, for this discussion, mini camps or spring practices are not considered part of training camp. They occur during the planning season, and should be treated as such. More about spring football in another post.

This brings us to the planning season, more commonly referred to as the off-season. The planning season starts the minute the final bell rings in the last game of the season. Yes, there are lockers to clean out, evaluation meetings, equipment turn-ins, banquets, and every other post-season ritual one can think of. However, the truth of the matter is that this is all part of planning for next year. A successful coach does not so much as put a single jockstrap away without thinking what he needs to do with it for next year.

The planning season, or as some call the off-season, can be broken into several categories: Equipment and administrative duties having to do with the previous season, equipment and administrative duties having to do with the following season, interviewing, hiring and continuing education of coaching staff, recruiting and public relations, and organizing the actual training camps. Breaking the duties into smaller sections allows a coach to approach the offseason with a plan of action. As a coach takes care of their responsibilities in each of these areas, he is then assured of the thoroughness it takes to remember everything.

An assistant coach should be put in charge of the equipment and administrative categories with the head coach responsible for and working closely with the assistants for the rest. Many times a coach will have an offensive, defensive, or special team’s coordinator organizing the actual practice schedule. I would warn that if you do this, make sure to get a detailed plan in writing and review it carefully to ensure it contains all aspects that you want covered and complies with the mission of the team and the head coaches vision. Equipment and administrative duties can be done by an assistant, and then quickly inspected by the head coach for quality and consistency. This allows a head coach the freedom he needs to work closely with the other coaches on the actual planning of the practices, picking and training of coaches, and recruitment.

When looking at training coaches, my advice is to not leave completely it up to them. One of my requirements to be a coach on our team is to participate in the offseason program. If a coach is in a paid system, it is not too difficult to achieve this, but many times I have heard that volunteer and part time coaches should not be required to do this. I disagree. A head coach must treat his coaches and players as if he is paying them. You, as a head coach, have every right to expect your coaches to be at practice on time, help with recruiting, develop their craft, and properly train themselves to suitably prepare the team. You would never let your players arrive late or not participate in required offseason workout sessions and you are not paying them either.

I usually require one overnight training trip to a coaching clinic where I do not insist on specific courses, but I do urge certain ones. If a coach makes the effort and lays out the hard-earned money to attend one of these trips, I will not stop him from learning whatever he wants to learn. I do ask, however, that he keep a detailed notebook at each clinic and share it with the rest of the staff. These trips greatly solidify a coaching staff in more ways than can be described. When a coaching staff travels together, eats together, and learns together, the unit that develops is extremely cohesive.

The next training I require is to complete at least one online coaching course or read one coaching book of their choosing. There are numerous X and O books and websites out there dedicated to our craft. A coach on my staff is free to use whichever one suits him. This is in addition to any required learning by the school district or league. I have come across coaches that have been teaching the same way for twenty or thirty years, not even realizing how techniques have changed. The only way to learn the latest advances is through continually educating yourself. This type of preparation is invaluable when it comes to furthering both the education of our coaches, and by extension, the quality of the teaching of the young men in which we are entrusted.

Our coaches also required to attend four meetings in the offseason. We have two coaches meetings and two parent and community informational meetings. We usually hold one coaches only meeting about a month after the season ends to grade each other, and one about a month prior to training camp to discuss the upcoming season. Additionally, I like to have two parent meetings held on different days and times. I do this because not all parents can make a meeting at a certain time. I employ local churches and boys and girls clubs to hold these meetings. They are always willing to help when needed.

If an assistant coach cannot do any of these things he is not automatically out. As a coach, you cannot turn down help, but depending upon his level of expertise, and quite frankly, your comfort level with him, he may not be able to do more than run drills and work as a backup position coach while he learns. A coach will have to know his staff and feel them out as far as how much responsibility each can handle. As your staff grows together over the years, and you bring in new coaches, you will be able to ascertain the amount of continuing education needed each year. The most important points are to do it and keep it consistent.

Just a small note on interviewing – Do it. Many times a coach is so desperate for assistants and help that they accept the first person that comes along. This can lead to an array of problems. If that person shares a different vision than the head coach, or has a different idea of his or her role in the team, then it can create riffs in the staff and end up being a problem. A coach has the responsibility to his team and the rest of the staff to get this information up front. A coach has to let a prospective assistant know what his responsibilities and limitations are from the beginning to avoid any unintentional problems. A coach is better off doing the extra work himself, or modifying what he does than allowing an untrained or inadequate coach on the team. I have found that if a coach maintains his standards in a staff no matter what, it may take longer to build the staff, but they will be stronger for the effort. I will write more about interviewing and picking coaches in another post.

So now, the groundwork is laid. The equipment is maintained, put away, cleaned and ready for next season. The new equipment order is ready, the administrative work is done, the last season has been evaluated, our staff is graded, trained, and in place. Here is where the successful teams are separated from the rest of the pack – Training camp organization.

How a coach breaks up learning stations depends entirely on the number of coaches on the team. Start by writing each coach’s name down on a paper, then next to it his area of expertise and any particular drills you want him to teach. A spreadsheet is perfect for this, but just hand written list is fine to. The important part is to do it. My list will look something like the first table on the upper right.

In this particular case, there are six total coaches, so the practice would be broken up into five stations. The head coach can take a station, but it is better if he works his way around to every station to ensure the drills and instruction are up to standard. If the head coach is running a station, he is not free to observe the other coaches and sub-par instruction is likely to happen. Additionally, having an extra coach allows the plan to go on as scheduled in the above odds chance of a coach not being at practice on a given night. The head coach then would be able to step in and take an instructional station.

The practice plan is then broken up into ten or fifteen minute mini sessions with groups of players rotating to each section. I like to break groups up into no more than eight to ten players each. I also like the groups to be ability specific. I know there are many different schools of thought regarding the grouping of players, but I believe that it does a boy with little or no experience being whipped by a stud no good. At the same time, what good are you doing the better player if you ask him to lay off a little to give the newer player a chance. Athletes grow by challenging themselves and having little victories.

Once again, this is an area in which you have to experiment, and not all players and teams work the same way. It is important that you have an overall feel for your players. There is a coach at each station allowing the players to work with, and get to know, every coach. The coaches in turn, will be able to get to know each boy they work with as well. A typical training camp practice plan might look like the second table labled Day 1.

This is for the first day of training. It is better to script out the complete training camp and pre-season right up to the first game. We have a separate plan for each day of practice. We print them out and put them in a binder for the coaches at the pre-season coaches meeting. This will ensure everything is covered and nothing is left out. I cannot remember the number of times while reviewing this, which I left something off that an assistant coach was able to find. Better to fix it ahead of time than at practice.

At the top of the chart is always the day of training and what equipment will be worn. I do not give out equipment until the second or even third week of practice, as there is no need for it. In my opinion, there will be plenty of time for equipment and hitting. The first couple of weeks of training camp are for conditioning, mental preparation, and learning the basic skills of the game.

It is also advantageous to use day numbers instead of dates. This allows a team to stay on track if there are interruptions such as rain, pictures or board meeting to attend. The 12th day of practice is the 12th day of practice regardless of the date. If a day of practice is called off for any reason, a coaching staff can easily pick up where is left off. Conversely, if the whole camp is scheduled by date, this can cause confusion if a day or two are cancelled.

After the camp gets to the phase where the team is breaking up into individual skill positions, the format stays the same, but how the stations work is a little different. After about day ten or twelve our 5- coach format might look like the third table for the 16th day of practice.

I like to balance the practices out with equal time going to offense and defense. We also make it a point to work on some phase of special teams every night. I realize that it has been repeated many times, but I have seen poor special teams’ preparation lead to more losses than any other phase of the game. Many coaches do not realize it, but simply the stating position of the offense or defense after a special teams play can determine the play calling on both sides of the ball, the availability of certain plays, and ultimately the outcome of the game.

Some coaches prefer to alternate days and work all offense one day and all defense the next. This is more of a personal preference, but I seem to have found that if the players learn in smaller chunks more consistently, they will retain more. Additionally, a coach might find the need to concentrate more on one side of the ball. Regardless of the situation, it is imperative that you implement a consistent plan and stick with it. Once again, do not forget special teams - the payoff is huge.

There are many ways a coach can spend the offseason. The most important thing to remember is that you can set your practice plan up almost any way you want to, but it is important to have an organized plan, no matter how you choose to do it. The only way to make sure that a football team is fully prepared, and all the aspects of the team are installed is to go about it in a planned fashion. Be sure and check out my next post where I will discuss running a highly effective training camp in more depth.


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