At the end of the season you will look back at your preparation during preseason, and the season's success or lack of success will often be determined by this preseason preperation.
Success in football, more than any other team sport is based on how prepared you are as a coach, which leads directly to how prepared your players will be.
When planning your preseason start with the date of your first game and work backward to the date of your first practice, this is your preseason. Most leagues will have 2-3 weeks from the time you get your roster to the first game, so time is limited, but you can plan accordingly.
You will have 9-12 practices, maybe even less before your first game, so it is wise to take advantage of each practice. You will not be able to install your entire offensive and defensive schemes before the first game, but you can install the fundamentals and build upon them throughout the season.
Plan for Practice
The head coach is responsible for planning what will be included in every practice. It is a good idea to overplan, and cut back if time is short. What you don't accomplish in one practice you can pick back up the next. This prevents you from accomplishing everything on your list and still having 15 or even 30 minutes of practice time left, which without a plan can be wasted, or at least not used to maximum potential,
It is also advised to keep your offensive schemes related at each practice. For example, running plays in a specific sequence will help your players associate one play's relationship to the next. You could start will basic inside dive plays, then off-tackle power plays, then outside sweeps and finish with a play action pass off those run plays.
You could also teach a variety of sweep plays or off-tackle plays in one practice. Remember to not give your players too much to learn early on. Repetition will be your key to consitency, it is better to run 10 plays perfectly every time than to know 100 plays but misexecute them.
Add some New, but more Old
At each practice you should plan to add something new, but you should also make sure to repeat the old. As stated earlier, the more repetition the better your team will perform as a unit on gameday.
Do not be overly concerned with perfection from the beginning as it will take time to progress and gel as a cohesive unit, and the more repetion, the better. The key is to make some sort of postive progress each practice, thus building your teams confidence, therefore you should also never end practice on a negative, such as a fumble, interception or loss of yardage.
Be flexible Too
During and after each practice you need to be evaluating what is working and what is not. If it works, keep it, maybe even do it more often, however if it doesnt work you need to drop it as it is wasting valuable practice time. Not everything will flow as expected and you will have to make changes, planning ahead will make these changes easier for you and your players.
Start small and end big
At the beginning of your preseason, you will focus on individual player skills, such as running, passing, ball handling, tackling, etc..
You will then move into position groups, such as backs and wide recivers, linemen, quarterbacks, etc.. In these groups you can work on specific skills, such has making handoffs, running routes, etc.
Then as the first game nears you should be working as a unit, offense and defense, running your playbook that will be used on gameday. This will prepare your team for gameday and give you the big picture of what to expect from your team.
This does not mean you should abandon indvidual player drills, they should be included at every practice, however use less reps or less number of drills, but do not stop this work all together.
The season is upon us so take advantage of every practice during the preseason to maximize your team's potential this year.
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