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Common Mistakes to Avoid at Practice

High school coaches often wonder if they are truly getting the most out of precious practice time with their student-athletes. There are instances when too much time is spent standing around and doing nothing, while some drills can simply be repetitive and not worth spending the time.

John T. Reed, author of numerous sports coaching books including Coaching Freshman and Junior Varsity High School Football, notes the most common mistakes made by coaches in a blog on his website and makes suggestions on how to ensure they’re not wasting valuable practice time by focusing on the wrong things.

One main priority coaches should keep top of mind is to not spend practice time on conditioning and less important drills. Instead, conditioning and working on low-priority skills should be worked into more intense drills. For example, running a no-huddle football practice would allow coaches to condition their players while accomplishing more meaningful tasks at practice. “You have limited time to practice with your team, so that time must be used efficiently,” says Reed.

Keeping time efficiency in mind, coaches should ensure that they are spending enough time with specific position players and special teams “so they can master their assigned skill,” according to Reed.  “For example, [in football] each of the three strings of centers, long-snappers, and QBs must get a minimum of 1,200 reps of the snap before the first game.” Additionally, Reed suggests a minimum of 15 minutes per week spent on the “special teams” of any sport, from hockey and football formations to working one-on-one with softball and baseball pitchers and catchers.

Head coaches also need to be wary of exactly whom they hire to serve as their trusted assistants. According to Reed, prospective assistant coaches should not even be considered if the head coach does not have a preexisting relationship with the candidate—especially if he or she played the sport in college or have children on the team. “Most of them will argue endlessly with you about everything. The dissenters will often go against your instructions when your back is turned,” warns Reed, who often sees situations like this. “If you stand firm against some change they want, some will go to the board and try to get them to order you to do it your assistants’ way or to get you fired.

“Every year I hear from coaches whose main coaching problem is internal, adult politics,” continues Reed. “The best way I know to deal [with] it is an ounce of prevention.”

Though Reed details many more common mistakes coaches make in his blog post, he concludes with a reminder to find ways to win instead of looking for excuses for losing. To do so, Reed suggests videotaping all games and some practices identify problem areas and address them. “Never say or tolerate statements which follow the format: ‘We have no hope of winning because of the following facts which are outside of our control: _______,’” declares Reed. “Either focus on finding ways to win among the things which are in your control or get out of the way and let someone else do it.”

Click here to read the full article.

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