These 6 tips will help you run better practices

Jason McManus, creator of the Mac Attack Air Raid-RPO Offense and 4 time state championship winner, knows what it takes during the week to win football games on Friday.

And it’s probably not the week you would imagine.

Take a look at how he organizes his team’s practice week:

It might surprise you that they are only in full pads one day.

And even more shocking than that is the fact they don’t even practice on Wednesdays!

But this works for them.

And while this is a great plan, here are the practical measures you need to take to get any practice flowing smoothly.

1. Equal times for offense and defense.

It’s easy to neglect one side of the ball if you’re a coordinator or run one side of the ball as a head coach.

But you’re going to hurt your team in the long run.

2. Indy to Group to Team.

Have a natural progression of practice that builds the skills from Individual periods to Team periods.

Script everything you can and watch how your players will become better as the practice goes along because you have planned almost every move they make.

Notice your assistants not looking at the script? We have a “code” word so I don’t have to embarrass the assistants. If I say, “Hey Coach Smith, we are on play 7″….what I am really saying is: “Get your script out and follow along”.

3. Share players.

There are always players, even if you have two platoons, that can play on both sides of the ball.

Often, however, they play just one side and you miss out on what they could have done.

So, set time in the practice to share these players with the other side of the ball and use that time to teach them on a need to know basis.

4. Make scrimmage time competitive.

As much as possible, go live and good on good.

Going against a scout team offense or defense is helpful to get looks for the upcoming opponent, but there needs to be a time in practice where the players are competing.

SMALL ROSTER? Use Half Lines as much as possible. Now your starting right tackle is blocking your starting left tackle (who has moved over to defense). Focusing on all run plays? Then remove the “lettuce eating” DBs and WRs. Put them all on defense. They may be small, but they are quick and will avoid 2nd level blocks…forcing your Twinkie Eating O-Linemen to use their feet.

5. 100% Vertical Integration from Middle School to Varsity.

You might not have access to your town’s middle school team, but from the lowest level available to your varsity program, they all need to be doing the same thing.

The same schemes and strategies as well as attention should be given to these levels.

6. Don’t neglect special teams.

There is nothing worse than having a great night offensively and defensively, but losing a game to special teams.

Give special teams the time it needs in practice and it won’t be an issue.

Final Tips

  • Get a timer on the field (often times I hand a schedule to an injured player and he tells me when 10min has passed)
  • Film practices (again, injured players)
  • Play some music
  • Setup before practice
  • Plan how you will divide up the field
  • Go no more than 2 hours
  • Make practice Up Tempo!

Practice deserves the same amount of planning you give your games.

That doesn’t mean each practice should take 20 hours to practice, but that your practice planning and game planning are intertwined and you use the time given you efficiently.

Become the master of efficient practices like Coach McManus by taking his course here.

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