Everything looks good on paper. Practice plans and Mission Statements are no exception. One time, a parent/coach looked at my practice plan and said, “It looks very dull”. He wasn’t wrong. All practice plans look dull on paper. They are just words with time slots. What’s exciting about that? It is your job as the coach to make those words come to life. It is your job to make the practice NOT dull. This is where the fun is.
Getting creative, adjusting on the fly, adding whatever you think will make practice enjoyable and effective for the learning process. Here is another news flash: not all kids learn the same way or have the same level of enthusiasm, aptitude, natural ability or attention span. It is the differentiated execution that makes practice plans essential. The catch is – you still need them. Without them, you have nothing to change when the sh*t hits the fan and things aren’t working according to what is on the paper. At the very least, you’ll need something to write your new plan on.
It doesn’t always have to be the greatest practice plan ever written. Just get A,B, & C down on either on paper, into your phone, or onto a cocktail napkin from Ireland’s 32 Pub and Grill – whatever you got, just get it down. There is a 99% likelihood that you will be changing it before or during practice right when you find out that you are short a coach or four players don’t show, or it is raining, or someone else booked the field or, or, or…
The key to a good practice plan is to outline it according to a timeline. Include your talking time, water breaks, and don’t forget transitions to shuffle 12 kids onto the next station. Always keep an eye on the clock. When you notice you’re running behind, or even ahead of the plan, adjust immediately. Have your topics of discussion and your practical application written down. Sometimes you may end up only getting one thing accomplished because the players just didn’t grasp it or they were really enjoying it. That is OK, too.
Here is what a solid practice plan includes:
First and foremost, you need 5 important variables figured out.
These include: Players, Coaches, Time, Environment, and Equipment.
- How many players are in attendance?
- How many coaches are available to help?
- How much time do you have from start to finish?
- What is the environment you have to work with? (Ex: Full field, open area, gym, batting cage.)
- What equipment do you have? Types of balls, cones, stopwatch, fungo, L-screen etc.