A few weeks ago I was driving home from a practice and thought to myself, ‘boy that was a bad practice.’ There was too much standing around; not enough intensity and we got done maybe 50% of what was on the practice plan. And there was no one to blame but me. As I went over the practice in my mind, I was able to pick apart the moments where the train came off the tracks. It was painful to think about given the time and effort I take to plan practices. As many know, I care deeply about practice and want to be sure all players get the most out of every session. I want to leave feeling that every player either learned something, or got in good quality reps to reinforce something they already knew. I definitely did not have that feeling on that day.
I believe that it is imperative that every coach do the same reflection after each practice. Did you get done what you set out to do? Were the players engaged? Were your coaches engaged? What could have been better? What went well that you can take and apply to future practices? Asking yourself these questions leads to better practices. Better practices leads to player development. And player development leads to happier players.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe many coaches have this self-reflection. In fact, I don’t think many coaches take more than 10 minutes to prepare for practice. I am always left scratching my head when I see a coach without a practice plan written/typed out that they keep on them. If you’re not preparing for practice, you are more than likely not reflecting on your practice. And you’re not properly serving your players.
For your next practice do two things. First, take 30 minutes to properly plan your practice. Write it down and have it broken out by minute. What are the drills you are going to do? For how long will you do them? Where will you do them and what do you need set up for each drill? Do you need to have players broken up into specific groups? If so, do that before practice so you’re not stumbling to create groups on the fly. And second, REFLECT after practice! Take a look at your plan and do an HONEST assessment. Maybe you’ll find some issues. Maybe you’ll find some successes. You’re doing this to become a better coach; but ultimately, you are doing this to make better players.