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Three Easy Targets

by Ben Slade

It’s the end of the day, and it feels like nothing has been accomplished. Teammates barely listened to instruction, drills were sloppy and unfocused, everything took twice as long as it should have, and you walk away with a sick taste in your mouth, directing your anger and frustration towards the most vocal trouble-makers. That’s right, you’ve just experienced another bad practice. 

We’ve all had this feeling before, and while you’ll probably have it again, there are ways we can reduce the severity of the bad practice. I think that there are three main enemies which can subvert your practice time and cause your players to lose focus, and they are all (partially) under your control. These three problem areas are poorly chosen drills, lax leadership, and too much wasted time between activities. 

First things first. If you are a college or youth team, odds are good that there are not enough Frisbees in the air at practice. Many drills are ill-suited for your needs, and they all revolve around the same theme: two (or more) lines, one frisbee, and lots of players watching a single actor while waiting for their turn. This is exacerbated 1) for clubs that are large or almost big enough to split into two teams, and 2) for clubs that share practices with their B team due to time/space considerations. 

Actively campaign to maximize the "touches" each player gets in a single practice, especially early in the season. Split "line drills" in half or in thirds to increase productivity. If the drill requires a lot of space, combine it with one or two compact throwing/running/catching drills, and rotate players every 15 minutes. If you have 25+ players and limited space, consider building four or five 3 v 3 fields (30x20 w/ 5 yard endzones) perpendicular to your field instead of a single scrimmage. Invent drills that let you move in ‘waves’ across the field, then sprint back to the beginning, so that discs are always in the air. Split your team into thirds and have 2/3 scrimmage each other or play endzone games while the other third runs a drill, and rotate on the clock. Always be pushing to get more discs and people moving, and it will translate into confidence when it matters. 

Regarding lax leadership: this should go without saying, but if you wait until everybody shows up to start practice, you are doing your team a terrible disservice. As a player, you should ask your friends to come 15 minutes early to each practice to "help you with your throws," and, as a captain, start running warm-ups in the first minute of your scheduled practice time. If your leaders are late, your team will be late. Always. Elect punctual captains. Elected captains: create a culture of earliness and refuse to start practice late. 

Finally, if you want to reduce dead time in between drills, you need to always tell your players the next thing that they will be doing. You can minimize that awkward dead period in between drills by planning ahead and by giving a defined break time (e.g. "90 seconds to get water, then we are doing a 3-man breakmark drill"). Captain-coaches, this means that you have to duck out of the present task five minutes early to set up the next drill. If you are lucky enough to have a coach, encourage him or her to take care of it. 

If you can get more discs in the air, make use of your full practice time, and always tell people where and when they are headed next (and have it ready for them), you will be amazed at how much more productive your practices are. In my experience, players are generally motivated to work hard, and will exhibit good practice attitudes if you keep them busy and keep them moving. 

huddle issue031

Mon February 28th, 2011

Practice? We Talkin' About Practice?
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Full Focus, Full Effort
by Greg Husak

Practice Planning Musts
by Tyler Kinley

Take Control of Your Practice
by John Korber

Managing Intensity, Concepts, and Fun
by Peri Kurshan

Getting More Out of the Practice Warm-Up
by Pat McCarthy

Planning Youth Practices
by Shannon O'Malley

Parts of a Whole
by Shane Rubenfeld

Three Easy Targets
by Ben Slade

Planning Ahead
by Ryan Thompson

Minutes Are Precious
by Ben Wiggins

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Throwers: How to Plan a Throwing Practice
by Melissa Witmer




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