Practice Planning: Deep Dive

  • January 30, 2020

On Tuesday, February 11th join us from 7-8pm for a special 1-hour webinar about. Practice Planning: Deep Dive.

How well do you really plan? This webinar will get you thinking about your individual practice plans, goals, feedback, and coaches’ roles. Planning is often a deciding factor to how well you or your team progresses. Join Master Coach Developer Kathy Brook as she unpacks the practice plan.

This is a free webinar and participants will receive 1 PD Point on their Locker transcript.

Meet the Speaker:

Kathy Brook is a Master Coach Developer with the NCCP who has a Master’s of Physical Education. She has been delivering NCCP workshops and coaching for 20 years, and has supported the development of over 3000 coaches. Kathy is a Certified Professional Coach and is a mentor in the Change the Game program.

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Coach Responses

What are three practice planning tips you would share with a new coach?

Share your tips and best practices!

Darren – Soccer – Surrey – 9 Years

“…Don’t do the same drills for every practice. I have coached soccer for 9 years. Two years ago my son did baseball. I volunteered to be the third coach. The head coach did the same thing every practice, and wondered why the boys were getting bored and horsing around. He couldn’t handle it, quit, which gave me the opportunity to be the head coach. A spring season of head coach of baseball, ball hockey, and soccer. 8 sessions a week. I think it is mandatory to come to practice with a plan. However, even using TeamSnap where you think you know how many players are coming, sometimes things come up and you have less players than you think.

You just have to adjust on the fly. And when a drill is not working, change it up. Lastly, I see a lot of coaches spend a lot of time talking. I’ve been listening to a soccer coaching podcast where they talk about ball rolling time. Let’s minimize the long chats, minimize lines of players, let’s get them playing mini games.”

Al Samsa – Basketball – Mississauga – 35 Years

“…1. Have a water station. Somewhere away from parents if they attend practices like ours.

2. Have a plan including warm up, skills, X’s and O’s, and warm down.

3. Have fun. Competitions help spice it up.”

Barbara Cooper – Squash – Toronto – 50+ Years

“…Be flexible. Change the plan if it is not working.

Have more activities than you think you need.

Coach your athletes, don’t just execute your plan. Your plan is only the vehicle to more effectively coach your athletes.”

Malcolm Sutherland – Ice Hockey – Thunder Bay – 35 Years

“…Number one, do it!! Plan, re-plan, over-plan! Build and use library of resources as a go to reference including plans. “Each of us stands on the shoulders of the giants before us.”

Anchor to standards like your yearly plan, phased development model and long term and athlete development needs.

Adapt your objectives based on “constraints” and challenges considering the holistic needs of team and individuals.

Create a realistic practice plan using stretch type goals. Implement “comfort rituals” and fun activities including random, variable/open ended rehearsal into 25% of practice. Place cues and specific feedback and deliberately organize equipment, assistants and data capture including psycho-social/motivational increments. Evaluate, seek feedback and self-reflect.”

Glenn Gabriel – Curling – Toronto – 14 Years

“…1. It’s always better to “over plan” a little than not have enough drills/activities in your practice plan. Sometimes your athletes will run through your activities more quickly than you expect and will be standing around looking for something different or more challenging to do! Have something in your back pocket.

2. Think about ONE goal that you want to achieve at that particular practice. While a practice might be a combination of different types of activities (warm up/cool down, game play/scrimmage, skill development, mental training, etc.), try to focus on one overall goal for that practice. More than one goal will be confusing. And having no practice goal at all reflects the lack of an overall training plan.

3. Never forget to have FUN, no matter what age level you coach, but especially for the youngest kids in your sport! Some will argue that you can’t plan for fun, but if you don’t at least consider it in a practice plan (and think about what kind of activities are fun for the athletes), you’ll be missing out on a major motivating force for athletes AND coaches.

A fourth tip would be to always consider the safety and well-being of the athletes you coach.”

Jonathan – Swimming – London – 20+ Years

“…1) Always understand what the main purpose of each workout is, and how it contributes to your overall goals for the group.

2) Understand how long each part of your workout will take

3) Do skills near beginning of workout, and reinforce them by having kids apply them in their main set or part of workout”

Gord Staunton – 5 Pin Bowling – Midland – 30 Years

“…Have a meeting with your athletes and go over what you are doing during your practice. First I would run some warm up drills with the bowlers. This is very important to loosen up their muscles. Second, split up the group using 2 lanes and have one of the lanes do one task while the other group is practicing another task. Keep going back in and forth to keep both sides going and give them proper instructions . Thirdly, after completing the tasks you have set up to do during practice. Wind down and have a fun game and make it a friendly game to end your practice. I find it more constructive doing it this way so they can learn and have fun all at the same time during the practice.”

Joe Benedetti – Softball – Hamilton – 30+ Years

“…Plan more activities/drills than you think you need for the practice. Stop drills when your athletes STILL want to do them     (so you can use it later and they will be motivated to perform). Make the practice like the real thing so the real thing will be like the practice (simulations).

Paul McNamara – Athletics/Basketball – Guelph – 30+ Years

“…Have a measurable outcome that the athlete can articulate. Be flexible with the practice schedule/items to accommodate contingencies.  Get feedback from the athletes as to how they understand/experience success.”

Louie Gialedakis – Hockey – Woodbridge – 23 Years

“…#1-Send/give the practice plan to my athletes before the practice. #2-Measure the Goal. #3-Make sure the the entire staff be on the same page.”

“We use the Training Peaks online for athlete training schedules which is a great communication tool however, three important elements need to agreed upon.

1) Athletes agree to share motivation level and stress level for each training week.
2) A trust and open dialogue is part of the system
3) The bare minimum face to face contact per month is 1x/month which is fundamental to see how athletes are feeling, looking and communicating their training to coach.”

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