Several years ago, we took our team to the USC practice ran by then head coach Pete Carrol. While our players & coaches were enamored with the amount of talent, there was one thing that really stuck out in my head….USC was constantly conditioning their players during the entire practice!
My daughters were really into basketball and both were very talented. My youngest received a division 1 scholarship and her talents allowed me to enter the world of basketball. I attended many clinics, coached some club ball, met many college coaches, and was part of the NIKE family for one summer.
The very successful coaches had the same philosophy as Coach Carrol…condition during practice and with a ball. Make your conditioning match the exact skills used in the game. Sprints, gassers, lines, bear crawls were a thing of the past.
Since we adopted this concept, it has been instrumental to our success. We are winning and our fastest individual player is a 4.9 forty. We are wearing teams down in the 3rd & 4th quarters. But most importantly, football is fun!!! Our players enjoy practice more.
I do not understand why every youth coach in America doesn’t get this. Isn’t making the game fun suppossed to be the #1 GOAL of every youth coach?
Keep all movements in the 6-7 second range with maximum effort & only 30 seconds for for recovery.
Goals in drills is that nobody is standing in line. Get enough bags or balls so everyone is doing the drill.
Team offense goal is to run 2 plays every minute. We have ran 3 plays per minute on some days.
Team defense has 2 offenses running at them. While 1 is running the play, the other scout offense is getting the next play, so our defense barely has enough time to sprint back to the huddle.
Coaches have to coach on the fly. Buzzwords are very important. If a kids really needs to be shown something, get a sub in and show him. Practice never stops.
If a player is injured, 1 coach is assigned to tend to the injury. Practice does not stop.
The keys to these ideas is a very fast practice pace, no wasted time or movements, small groups, lots of technique perfecting form instruction/drills and lots repititions. To teach all the above we use the scheduled practice time as most of our conditioning within the fast paced confines of our regular practice or within the context of a fun evaluation or team building game like relay races.
The first year we went to this idea we were a bit nervous, we had always been conditioning fanatics. We were always going to win through better conditioning, but our results were always mixed. Even though we do some other form of light conditioning at the end of practice, the main dose is done during the time frame of the scheduled practice.
The results where incredible and we were able to spend much more time teaching the kids