Building good practice plans is vital to being a coach and running a team. The time spent training and being together not only helps player development but also sets the culture of the team.
There are so many factors to consider when creating a practice plan. First, think through the goals you want the players to achieve. Then you want the players to have a good experience.
What makes a Good Practice?
Let’s start with what makes a good practice. So we have all had those players that leave practice and a parent asks them how it was. The dreaded question, and the answer is “it was fine.”
To measure success of practice, focus on what you want to achieve. The goal is for the players to be better both as individuals and as a team. Your practice plan should focus on how to improve player development and performance. So how do you do that.
Building a Practice Plan
It is always good to have a plan of action before you get to practice. This means that you want to plan your practice ahead of time. When I plan practice, I usually break it into 3 chunks:
- Warm ups – this is a very important part of practice. How a group warm-ups, is how they play in a game. If you are lazy with your throws or passing, how are you going to perfect these skills then carry them over to a game. The other benefit of a good warm up is to reduce or limit injuries.
- Stations – this allows some connected themes in smaller groups. If you are trying to focus on shooting, your station can focus on shooting from different angles. It also allows for more touches on the ball. Stations allow for players to be split into smaller groups. Smaller groups allow for more touches. And more touches allow for more development. Strive for drills that can accommodate a certain number of players to limit idle time.
- Game Plan – pull the lessons from your stations into your game drills. This way the players can see how the work prior to the game drills feeds into the bigger picture. It also allows the team to have fun and work together.
We pulled together our list of tips and tricks to build your practice plan.
Tip 1: Make Practice Plans Fun
Yes, you read that correctly. Make practice fun for the players. When players are younger, they want to be competitive and have fun during practice. This could mean mini competitions amongst each other.
Tip 2: Make Warm Up An Important Part of Your Practice Plans
An easy way to ensure you have a good warm up is to do your drills as shuttles. It is an easy way to break into smaller groups and run through a lot of skills quickly. It also allows for many reps, more reps, the more the players develop.
Tip 3: Lots of Touches – Develop Stations
Stations are a great way to break into smaller groups. Being in smaller groups allows more 1:1 work. This helps player development by allowing your coach to be able to focus on what went well and what needs to be tweaked. Stations also keep practice fresh. By changing drills every 10 to 15 mins, you can keep players engaged longer.
Tip 4: Engage Your Coaches & Players
One thing I like to do is get my coaches and players involved in practice plans. Our other coaches like to provide input and some drill ideas to ensure we are all working on things that need developing. It also provides empowerment.
For players, I like to ask what they like about practice and what they don’t like. It helps them feel involved in what we are working on. This also empowers them and helps to move to a player led team.
Tip 5: Provide Specific Feedback in Practice
Has a coach ever said “good game”. And you were like “that was not a good game” or “what does that mean?”. Well, providing specific feedback is so much more helpful. When you structure a solid practice plan, providing specific feedback to players helps development.
We hope that our tips were helpful to easily build a practice plan. We love to get drill ideas from others. Check out YouTube or Instagram for ideas.