Coach Lew Johnston (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)
Lew Johnston wants to see GOOD preparation
Taken from Lew Johnston’s blog “Coaching the little things”.
by Lew Johnston, a special contribution to recruit757
Two topics have come up in conversation in the last few days. I will take up one of them today. I’ll see if I want to cover both in this post or wait. Wait till I see how long this first topic goes.
What I want to share is: what is your practice philosophy? That is, what do you think the purpose of practice is?
Those of you who have been reading these for a while know that one of my foundational principles of coaching/learning/success is: “The 5 P’s of Success.” PROPER Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!” I just discussed this in detail a couple of posts back.
Monday through Thursday (in-season) is our time to prepare. We are preparing to play (and hopefully win!) our game on Friday night/Saturday afternoon. Are you preparing properly?
What I want to focus on is the concept of repetitions and the need to correct mistakes. Let me take you into your classroom for a minute and create an analogy. I will use Math class as my example.
The teacher calls four students to the front of the class to work out problems on the board. Each student works diligently and in a couple of minutes, they are done. Three have completed their assigned problem and the fourth just stands there frustrated and embarrassed because he could not come up with an answer at all.
You, the teacher, look at the class and say, “OK. We need to move on. I need four more students to come up and work out an equation. We have to give every student in class a chance to come up to the board and work out a problem.” WHAT? No feedback? No correction? No praise for the students who got the correct answer? No help for the one who had no clue what he was doing? NO! The teacher has a goal of getting everyone to the board to do a problem! We MUST achieve our goal. We only have 30 minutes to complete this activity. Let’s go!
YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!
Is this an example of efficient teaching? Is this an example of effective learning? If YOU were one of those four students, how would you feel when your teacher told you to “go sit down. We have to move on.” I know what my response would be? How about you? “But, Teacher…. did I get the answer correct?!!”
Let’s apply this to football practice. The head coach has allocated 30 minutes for Team Offense. In those 30 minutes, he wants to RUN (we’ll come back to that!) 30 plays. That’s the objective of this “lesson plan.”
Scout D gets lined up. Offense breaks the huddle, lines up, snaps the ball and runs the play. A linebacker shoots through the B gap and pops the ball carrier 4 yards deep in the backfield. No whistle blows (which is another subject in itself!). The coaches just yell “stop. Stop!” The O-Line coach tells Jimmy while he’s running back to the huddle that “you need to block down when a LB shoots the B gap on you. OK?” Jimmy responds while getting his spot in the huddle, “Sure, Coach.”
What if Jimmy doesn’t know what blocking down means? What if Jimmy doesn’t know what a LB is? (I know what you’re thinking but… kids don’t know as much as you assume that they do!) Finally, do your kids understand where the B or C or A gaps are? You know what they say about “assuming” don’t you?
So this continues throughout the 30 minute period. Run a play. Someone messes up. He gets corrected with nothing more than a verbal explanation… and on to the next play. The head coach feels good because he got all 30 plays run in the allotted time, but how much was actually accomplished? NOT MUCH! And he wonders why his execution on game night is so poor!
Most high school programs are not afforded the opportunity to have meetings with players before and after practice, and during the school day. This is when college programs can go over mistakes via video and white board. They don’t need to STOP PRACTICE AND CORRECT like high schools do. Thus, the nexus of what I’m driving at.
You cannot expect your players to improve unless they know; i.e., SEE, their mistakes and…. be SHOWN how to do it correctly!
I’d rather perform 15 plays correctly (even though we had to stop and walk through it again) than race through 30 plays…. just to say that “we completed our objective.” When creating my game plan, I’ll know to focus on those plays that we executed the best! This is why I’ve always encouraged coaches to: “Get really good at just a few things!“
– Lew Johnston
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