As a head coach the off-season can get uncomfortable, because you feel like your not doing enough to help improve your program – even though there isn’t a lot you can actually do.
When I first became a head coach, late in the summer and heading into the fall I started to plan out what the pre-season was going to look like. I watched the games and some practices from the previous year in the spring and summer, went through my notes, and figured out what we needed to do better and what we needed to do differently in the year ahead.
A few weeks before practice started, I would go over practice plans from the previous year and start to plan out what we were going to do once practice began. I put together a six week plan for all of the practices heading into our first game, starting with the big picture – how much we wanted to have in and when – and breaking it down to the point where I’d put the practices together. By the time practice started on October 15th, I had all of my practice plans set – this is how long we are going, this is what we are putting in each day – to make sure we were fully prepared to win once our first game tipped off.
Then, right after the first practice was over, the entire plan went up in flames.
Inevitably certain things in practice would take a lot longer to implement and get right than I had anticipated. And some other stuff would go in seamlessly and we’d be able to move forward quicker than expected. I’d go back to my office after the first day of practice, look at the long-term plan and pretty much tear it up. The second day of practice would have to be structured on what our team got through on the first day, not what I had hoped to get through when I was planning it in September.
Every year was different. Some years when we had a lot of veteran guys we’d move through the teaching stuff very quickly, and the young guys would just follow their example and pick things up. Other years we had a lot of new guys and even though I anticipated having to go slowly, we had to go even slower. Ultimately, it became too hard to plan out long-term how our practices were going. As much as I wanted to feel prepared for the season, making a long-term plan for practice was a waste of time.
Always remember this – if your players don’t know the plays or don’t understand the concepts, it’s your fault. Not theirs. If you are trying to win games with guys on the floor who don’t yet know the plays it’s on you. Planning ahead to make yourself feel prepared for the beginning of practice doesn’t always translate well.
I’ve learned that those long-term weekly or six week plans are often a waste of time. What you do in practice today is going to have a lot to do with how your kids responded yesterday. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to get through a certain amount of stuff each day – it can affect your ability to teach your concepts correctly.