Practice Tempo – While Saving LegsErick Streelman
Hey Guys, Thanks again for checking out this post. I really appreciate it. I love talking football with you guys. Today we are going to look at Practice Tempo.
The topic for today’s post is taken form an email conversation that I had with Coach Jeff Nations this week. He recently went through our installation guide in fall camp. If any of you have gone through the install, you may have come across a similar issue to the one he describes.
Part of running the air raid is getting as many reps as you possibly can. Our practice tempo has to be as fast as possible. We have to get enough reps so that our guys feel confident and can perform on Friday night. This is the real advantage of this system. It allows your practice tempo to be really fast. It’s simple, so you don’t have to practice a lot of concepts, but you do have to practice the concepts a lot. The rule of 10 is a good barometer. If you want to run a play on Friday, you should have successfully run it 10 times during the week.
But how do we hone in on the perfect practice tempo. How do we balance up-tempo, pass heavy, segments, with saving our guys’ legs? How do we make sure that we are keeping them fresh and still getting enough reps? This can be especially difficult if you are thin in the receiving core.
This is the issue that Jeff raised as he went through his install. So, here are a few Practice Hacks…a few ways to cheat…to get more reps without wearing your guys out. If you are struggling with this, try a few of the suggestions below.
Practice Tempo tip #1 – Only use two receivers for Routes on Air, Quick Game, and Mesh periods. Line up in the standard formation but alternate which receivers are live. So, instead of all 5 guys in the pattern, call out who you want to run the route. You can cut the field in half for mirrored routes. Or, call out the routes that need to work off each other. For example, if you are running mesh, run one rep with just the H and Y running the mesh routes and then the next rep with the X and Z running the corners. If you are running smash, cut the field in half. Run Smash right and then Smash left, but let the backside receivers rest. This will give your first two QBs the same amount of throws but the WRs will only be running half as many routes. This is also a really good method if you only have 2 QBs in the program that can execute the drills effectively.
But, here is the key coaching point…make sure your QB is still going through his entire progression and not just cheating the system. So, say you call Ace H levels. On the first rep you have the H run the shallow and the Y run the dig. One the second rep you can throw the 1 step pre snap fade to the Z and the post to the X. But, don’t let the QB just drop back and throw the post…make sure he looks at the shallow and the dig, even though no one is running those routes. He needs to get used to his eyes moving through the progression.
Practice Tempo Tip #2 – Don’t be afraid to let your 2nd and 3rd string guys get a ton of practice reps. I like an 8 man rotation during 7 on 7 and team. I let my first team guys run 4-6 plays in a row and then give them 4 plays off. I rotate the RB every 2 plays as well. So, they go hard for a minute and then rest for 45 seconds. If you have enough guys, you could work a 12 man rotation. The WRs need reps, but the QB needs the most reps. Plus, this makes practice fun for everyone. Everyone gets time and feels involved.
Ok, the last two are a little more controversial.
Practice Tempo Tip #3 – Let your WR’s rest on the backside of any run plays during team period. for me, this isn’t a huge issue as I like to get my run reps in 9 on 7. We only run about 1 in every 7 plays during team. But, you can still save their legs every few plays if you allow them to rest on the backside. The only danger is that you might create bad habits if you want them to block on the backside in games.
Practice Tempo Tip #4 – Ok…this is the one that might take the most adjustment. Get rid of post-practice conditioning. If you practice at tempo, you really don’t need to run gassers after practice. They will be in football shape because you are practicing so fast. Of course, there are other reasons to run…brotherhood and teamwork and pushing through adversary. But, I do think that running for the sake of conditioning is a little bit of overkill. I have also found that kids practice harder if they know that there isn’t any additional running after practice. Game like conditioning is the best way in my opinion.
I think that by applying a few of these principles, we can continue to out rep our opponents while saving our guys’ legs and keeping everyone fresh for Friday night.
Thanks again for reading guys. Have a great week!