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“ The Keepers of the Game”

Varsity Practice Organization:


Reps! Reps! Reps!
Kim Nelson, Head Football Coach, Edina High School, Edina, MN
In twenty nine years a head coach, I defense continues to watch film, unless
have been trying to improve the tempo they are specialists
and efficiency of our practices. I think that A. Specialists = Punters, kickers,
we are finally getting close to something holders, snappers, and returners work on
I like. For many years, I organized my their specialty
practice like I remember my college B. Offense = “Noose drill” – QB’s, RB’s,
practices. Something like this: Centers and all receivers
Our tempo was slow, with a lot a. Centers snap to QB, then steps to
of players standing around coaches block a nose guard, receivers work on
standing around while the head coach or release and in a five yard area, he plants
coordinator stopped the play to correct hard and squares up to QB. QB works on
something, or walk through the play. We footwork and throws to receiver; receiver
really didn’t get a lot of repetitions, just a tucks ball and turns straight up for five
lot of talk. Water breaks lasted from five yards. All offensive linemen are centers,
to sometimes 15 minutes, with players other and we go as fast as we can. (10
and coaches taking a break together. minutes, 20 plays)
Warm up and stretch took 20
minutes while the players drew it out
“The Old Days” C. Receivers move to releases, route
running or stalk blocking.
as long as possible and the coaches D. Defense is doing similar
waited for it to get done. Individual Warm up = 10 minutes breakdown work (10 minutes)
drills often were good drills that we Stretch = 10 minutes 4:30 = Special Teams – Punt team
copied from colleges at clinics, but they every day – Scout defense vs. punt #1
didn’t always carry over to our system. Individual = 30 minutes and #2. Left over offensive players go
The worst periods were group and Group = 30 minutes to the other end and run screen drill,
team time, where the coach would routes on air, PAT-N-GO, or blitz pick up.
select plays at random and we would be Team = 30 minutes Rest of team = Drink water. (10 min., 20
lined up against our defense anywhere Special Teams = 30 minutes plays)
on the field. The offensive starters and 4:40 = Inside/outside – Scripted 7
the few who rotated in would run the on 7 – (1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2)
plays, while defensive players made up Conditioning = Until the A. Two groups of QB, RB, and
the scout team, while starters waited coach was happy receivers go every other play, defense
on the sidelines for their turn. rotates in the secondary while one set
I believe the old way really limited of linebackers plays coverage, the other
the number of repetitions each player set is involved in inside run session.
or nose guards. All work at about half
got on a daily basis and our tempo made B. At halfway point, QB, RB and LBs
speed.
the day seem to last forever! We lacked switch from inside (run) to outside (7 on
4:15 = Warm up – Defense comes
enthusiasm and I think our players got 7) and vice versa. Plays are repeated.
out, all players go through a warm up
stale and bored. C. Both inside and outside are filmed
consisting of position specific drills with
A major change was for us to use the from end zone, if possible (20 minutes, 40
their position coach. Any stretching
summer (June/July) to work hard on our plays)
needs to be done during this period, if
drills. We work out three days weekly and 5:00 = Special teams #2
necessary. Each coach is responsible for
have to two week camp in July. Those A. Another special team works against
warming up his players. (15 min.)
days are built around drills to start each a scout team.
4:20 = Individual – Each position coach
workout. Because of this, we don’t really B. Rest of offense goes to the end of
gets this period to rep our offensive plays
do many drills when pre-season practice the field for
for that week.
starts. We just review them for 5-10 a. Screen drill, routes on air, blitz pick
A. Offensive line can continue dirlls,
minutes per day. The rest of the practice up, etc. (10 min., 20 plays)
but must get to the plays of the week,
is getting reps.! A typical practice looks C. Rest of team – Water (10 min.)
or protection of the week during this
like this: 5:10 = Team – Scripted
period.
3:45 = Defense starts watching film of A. Offense vs. Scout Team
B. QB, RB line up on the line split hose
our opponent a. Receiver coach sets secondary each
and each back runs each running play
4:00 = Specialist and offense go out, play
we have two times. QBs snap to each

42 - Minnesota Football Coaches Association


b. Offensive line coach sets defensive players We obviously adjust the time segments
front seven and places the ball on proper c. Players must be taught to drink every during the season depending on what
hash/yard line chance they get between plays, or drills kind of things need more work, but we
c. Offensive coordinator follows script 2. Use a timer try to keep the actual practice time under
i. Back up QB signals in plays a. Get an automatic clock, if possible 90 minutes.
ii. 20 minutes, 40 plays b. Use a manager with an air horn Our players love it.
B. Defense vs. Scout Team c. When horn goes off, everyone must Our coaches love it.
a. Younger coach is scout team QB move We get more plays run.
b. Plays are run from cards 3. Coaches must coach on the run, We condition while playing the game.
c. Defensive line sometimes stays on can’t stop the tempo, especially the head We hydrate better than we did before.
line scrimmage so LBs and DBs can see coach We watch more film (best teacher
backfield action (20 minutes) a. Use a pre-practice meeting to go there is)
C. Both groups are filmed over stuff We stay fresh (mentally and
5:30 = Film of that day’s practice – 30 b. Talk during film session at end of physically)
minutes practice Good luck and I hope you can use
A. Offense/Defense in separate rooms, c. Can’t fix it on the field, must be done some of these ideas -kimnelson@edina.
if possible in film meeting, can’t run it “one more k12.mn.us
We have used less time than the time”
old format, we actually start full speed 4. Script Everything
physically practicing at 4:15 and end at a. Each coach and managers has a
5:30. One hour and fifteen minutes of copy
repetition has really helped our execution b. Coaches can take turns scripting a
improve. More players are involved and session each day
learning. We have run approximately 140 5. Set up field before players arrive
offensive plays in one practice, if all goes a. Train your managers
well. We are still trying to improve our
Keys to efficiency: practice schedule every year, but I think
1. No water breaks we are getting a lot more done than ever
a. Water must be portable before. Our players get accustomed to
b. Managers must move around the fast pace and we actually get in shape
practice at all times, pushing water on by practicing faster.

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Minnesota Football Coaches Association - 43

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