Posted by: petemangurian | March 15, 2012

Columbia spring practice, “The Next Step”

Twelve days is all you get. Twelve days, and four of those are with no pads. Twenty hours a week, three hours a day, two to practice and one to review the film ( I know…it’s video now, but I still call it film).  An hour and a half on Tuesday and Thursday to install for the next practice is not much time. Monday is a review day. I’ve never had a good practice after the weekend in pro or college football, so we will get their minds back in focus and install for Wednesday and Friday practices.

We move into a whole new phase now, whole new mindset, whole new set of challenges. Can we take it from the classroom to the field?  That’s what it’s going to be about during the season, because there are no do-overs.  We have to get Tuesday’s practice on Tuesday, no going back on Wednesday, we’re moving on. Pressure, pressure to learn, pressure to execute, pressure to get it right the one time it may come up in a game. We will not run a lot of plays in each practice, we have to get it right the first time, we will see if we can.

But it’s not just about running plays, it’s about execution, fundamentals and technique. Creating habits takes time and tough work, because there is no short cut, it’s about repetition. This is where the time restraints can get you if you aren’t disciplined, both as a coach and a player. How we teach things, how we say things, the picture we create for our players, so they learn faster and more efficiently, that’s as big as any drill. How we teach our most fundamental skills – blocking, tackling, carrying the ball, catching at its highest point, carrying it in the proper hand, stripping the ball, recovering a fumble, covering a punt – it all has to be taught exactly how we want it done. You can do things right or do them exactly right, we want to do them exactly right.

The mental part of the game is where we should excel. Situation football gets a lot of “talk”, but not everyone really lives it. To be aware of the situation, during the stress and pressure of the game, is a challenge all its own. To know what the answers are, in that specific situation, is another challenge. To execute with the game on the line and “nail it” takes a lot of work and preparation. As coaches, we have to make the players aware of the situation and make them understand what the right response is. We must develop and practice their pre-snap sequence before every play.There is a huge difference between memorizing something and understanding it. If you truly understand , you can apply that thought process in any situation.

The physical part of practice will reveal it self over time. Physical playing style is easy to see, some guys have it, some don’t. I have coached good players who were not physical by nature, but they made themselves do what they had to. What I am most interested to see is how tough we are.  Can we show up and play when we are sore or tired? Dependability is more important than ability, can I trust you to be there no matter what?

Twelve days to take the next step towards becoming a team. We will see who we can count on,who can take it from the classroom to the field, who will pay attention to the details. Our goal is to identify the right players, learn how to practice and sustain concentration for 120 minutes.

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