3 Keys to a Better Football Practice


For some of us coaches, this may seem obvious, but it’s worth pointing out as we begin developing our football practice plans templates. How can we make football practice more efficient?

Well, here are 3 tips that everyday coaches shouldn’t just say they plan on doing, but that they should actively implement.

Better Football Practice Key #1

3 keys to a better football practice

Your Practice Should Be Efficient, Just like a Game

Place a water bottle/source at every station, and let kids get water between reps.

Given the safety concerns of extreme heat, and shrinking football practice times, this should be readily implemented. The guy who finishes the bottle has to go fill it, that’s the rule I like to live by.

This eliminates group water breaks, which makes you as coach more efficient. You have to plan your individual sessions by the minute and be prepared for them. It eliminates wasted time on your behalf that you could get away with before with a 2-3 minute water break.

I encourage something where water squirts out (and doesn’t hit a mouth of course). Also, always have 2-3 extra ones for kids who aren’t feeling well, so the rest of your team doesn’t catch their cold bug – or whatever they have.

For those who don’t buy into this, let’s break down the time. If you have VERY efficient water breaks, it’s still going to take at least 2 minutes for the kids, and you need to have one every 15 minutes, so you’re looking at between 7-9 water breaks a practice for roughly a 2 hour period. Even at just 7 water breaks, that’s nearly 15 minutes wasted. As an O-line coach who always needs more individual time, it looks like I may have just found it!

Now imagine you have 50 football practices total in a offseason + regular season, all of them lasting about 2 hours.

Let’s say you take 15 minutes total for water breaks a practice… thats 750 minutes for your entire football season. Or 12.5 hours of football practice – basically 6 and a quarter practices (math majors – don’t hold me accountable for rounding errors or other math mistakes!).

Better Football Practice Key #2

Hold yourself to coaching points as the players jog back to the line.

If you limit what you say to players to about 10 seconds, or coaching on the fly, you’ll prevent reps from getting wasted by you being a chatter box. Again, think about the math here.

Some coaches I’ve met say they want the kids to look them in the eye while they speak to them (or basically yell at them for these types of coaches – but that’s another blog post on why we shouldn’t just yell).

What a waste of time, for the entire team. The kids can look at you while they run, but don’t expect them to make eye contact the whole way as they navigate to their spot in line – it’s just not feasible with this type of football practice.

This includes group drills (maybe even especially groupd drills). Coach on the run. Especially in today’s Hudl and video age, leave your coaching points in the program for the players.

Remember, if you’re having a major breakdown by everyone, YOU DIDN’T TEACH IT WELL. So you need to fix that, and you can’t get upset at the players over it. Take the time to fix it and get it right, then move on.

Better Football Practice Key #3

Take 3 minutes as a position coach to explain to the kids the plan for the day.

This let’s the kids know what’s going on. Some kids perform better that way, and it won’t hurt the ones that aren’t phased by it. It also tells them you planned out their time and you want to be efficient.

If they have concerns, they can be raised then.

It would be ideal to have a 15 minute pre-practice period where you could walk this through with them, but I know a lot of schools don’t have that luxury.

If you have repetive drills you do every day (everyday drills), you can explain it during this period since many of the drills are automated by the players. You can still coach them up, but the ones that care will listen.

This will save you a lot of time explaining drills later. The kids will know what to expect. They can think about how their going to get better (tell them why your doing this).

Conclusions on having a Better Football Practice

Overall, it comes down to preparation. Even if your head coach or coordinator isn’t organized, you can still be. At least plan out the 2-3 football drills you want to do that day and start from there, and use percentages to figure out the time.

For instance, if I know I roughly get 20 minutes for individual a day, I can say “25% of my time will be on every day drills, 25% on down blocks, and 50% on kick slide”. Then when I find out that I have 30 minutes, or – as it usually goes – 10 minutes, I can still get my individual football practice plan organized.