Football Practice Plan: 6 Steps to Success


I think we all need to be organized as coaches to an extent. Some guys don’t plan much, while others plan every single detail early on. I’m in between. I think planning is good, but you must be flexible. Therefore, your football practice plan does not get built just the day of or the day before practice. It will take a little more time, but by setting up a loose plan earlier in the week, you can quickly identify if you are meeting core objectives to ensure your success in the upcoming game.

Football Practice Plan: Planning for the Week Ahead

Your football practice plan should priotize objectives for the week ahead. An objective is something we’re shooting for, not necessiarily a measurable goal. Were we able to get our playmaker in space? Did we find ways to control the run support. From a defensive perspective, objectives include things like, controlling the offense’s best athlete, or having multiple answers to the offense’s different formations.

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You also need to look at the previous game. How successful were we at our objectives last week? Did these objectives provide a meaningful benefit to the success of the game? What objectives did we fail at and why? Was it poor play calling or something else?

Football Practice Plan: Create Measurable “Micro” Goals

We need to layout measurable “micro” goals that could easily impact your team’s success on the field, and things that we can use the football practice plan to help reach. Obviously winning is critical, but I consider that a macro goal (same as getting 200 yards on the ground). But maybe you want to improve the success rate of your bread and butter play (AKA for running plays: more than 4 yards on 1st down, more than half the yardage needed on second down, and converting 3rd downs). Maybe you expect the average running yardage gained on a blitz that’s supposed to be effective against the offense’s best running play to be 2 yards or less. Maybe it’s as simple as forcing the quarterback out of his drop or to throw the ball early (a hurry essentially) on 30% of his passing attempts.

I caution you to suggest goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T. definition of goals. See the image for a quick definition. It’s also important to be realistic. If you know you’re not going to be able to run your bread and butter play because they have two division one defensive tackles where you want to run, maybe you should reconsider the success rate of the goal (or it as a goal in general). Maybe instead of focusing on that play, you say you want to be able to run Midline option as a successful play (see the prior definition) because you can read one of the tackles rather than block him.

SMART Goals - Football Practice Plan

Use SMART goals for your football practice plan

Regardless, make goals that are realistic and measurable. Make them specific. Finally, make sure you can incorporate items into your football practice plan that can improve their success rate (working on veer releasing to the linebacker for the midline option is one example).

Football Practice Plan: Loosely Plan Each Football Practice

Setup your agenda for each day in your football practice plan. I usually like to keep the agenda the same from practice to practice on a week to week basis, so the kids are more familiar with it (film and basics on Monday, more hitting on Tuesday and Wednesday, etc. …).

Keep it general and plan for issues ahead of time. If you know your best player goes to an academic catch-up meeting post school on Tuesdays, plan ahead for that. Also, identify the core coaching points. For instance, on Mondays, we might focus on the strengths and weaknesses of our opponent from a schematic stand point. On Tuesday, we address their playmakers, and show the technique in our drills on how we’ll defeat them. Just have a loose idea of what you plan to do each day. Have it written out and available.

Football Practice Plan: Plan the First Day of Practice

Creating that first football practice plan of the week is important. Being organized is critical because it’s always the most interesting day. A kid may be suspended, you may find out your tailback got hurt. Maybe you quickly realize your best play won’t work. Regardless, being organized ahead of time, and knowing your goals, will allow you to adapt on this day.

Make sure the assistant coaches have planned their periods. Give them the contraints of their goals and the time allotted for individual for the first day, but let them figure out what drills they will run and for how long. Have them turn that into you (this applies for everyday of the week. You, the play caller, should make sure that these goals matchup with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Football Practice Plan: The rest of the week

Prepare your football practice plan after your practice completes and the details are fresh in your mind (ie do we need to work on combo blocks more), or if you film practice, do it after watching that. Analyze your goals, and if you are prepared to accomplish them on game day. Again, get your assistant’s practice plan early so you can build it into your main sheet.

Football Practice Plan: Midweek

By midweek, you should have identified the core plays, concepts, and strategies for your opponent. You should be incorporating these into your play call sheet. You can still add or remove plays, but give the kids an idea of what you plan on running successfully.

Football Practice Plan: Conclusion

In conclusion, make sure you follow your plan and measure your goals and see if you completed your objectives from week to week. You may have goals that even run over many weeks. Regardless, being organized and efficient with your football practice plan will only give your kids confidence that you guys are ready to play. They’ll see the plan at work, even if you don’t tell them the specifics. Also, make sure you download Strong Football’s free football practice plan template!

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