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Practice Planning Musts

by Tyler Kinley

1. Write it down.
This helps you remember your plan, creates a document that you can return to, and can be emailed to the team beforehand if you feel it would help. 

2. Specify time allotments for each segment of practice.
This creates a schedule, and is easier on you (you know when to start/stop a drill) and your team (they know there's a plan to stick to). 

3. Don't perform a drill for more than 15 minutes.
Attention spans are short. Realizing this, and not fighting it, is important. However, running a drill for 10 minutes, then adding a new element/twist, can allow for longer drilling on a certain skill while keeping interest level high. Say, drilling a skill first without defenders, then adding a mark, then adding full defense, can give three iterations of a drill over three 10-minute periods while still changing it enough to maintain interest. 

4. Allow for feedback... after practice.
Everyone's a critic. When someone tells you how a drill should be run, or why it sucks, remember that they want the same thing as you -- to have the best practice possible -- and let them know that their criticism is valuable, but best heard after practice is over, when you can spend time discussing how to improve or add drills. Giving a critic the responsibility of planning a drill often opens their eyes to how difficult running a practice is, and is a valuable tool to getting them on board. 

In addition, seek feedback from the team. Ask players what they think of practice, what they want to work on individually and what they think the team should work on. An "open mic" team meeting can often be a great means of soliciting ideas for drills, for skills to focus on, and for team buy-in. When a player sees the drill s/he recommended use at a practice, they are that much more invested in the drill's success and will show it in their own effort. 

5. Let practice plans come from strategy meetings.
Assessing the goals, strengths, and weaknesses of your team as a whole can often make practice planning seem easy and obvious, whereas before it seems daunting and complex. Early season? Use practice time to assess your strengths and weaknesses with ample scrimmage time. Mid season? Use early tourney performance to guide what you need to work on and reinforce. Late in the season? Write down everyhting you'd like to work on, then look at how many practices you have left, and create a plan for what you most need to work on and focus on that. 

6. Feeling overwhelmed?
Ask for help. In many ultimate communities there are some really smart people out there that would be both flattered and excited to help you out. Buy 'em a beer and chat about what you'd like to do, and what advice they have for you. 

7. You'll be fine.
Planning a practice, then running it, are difficult, and can be scary. When I helped plan and run drills for the first time as a second-year player / first-year captain on Sockeye, I was nervous and felt out of my league. But, after time, and after some successes and some failures, I realized what I could offer and what I should and could rely on others to offer, and established a place for myself as a practice leader. Being nervous means you care; don't let it prevent you from running great practices. 

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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