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Categorized | Coaching 101

Top 3 Reasons Why Your Practices Suck

Joe Rice

Having experienced the thrill of coaching thousands of practices and watching others do the same, here are the top reasons why some practices fail while others are very successful.


1) No one told me about avoiding the 3 L’s

Ask any veteran coach and this will be the first piece of advice they give rookies. Avoid the 3 L’s of coaching; Laps, Lines, and Lectures.

Laps: When coaches make kids take laps for making mistakes, they are instilling a culture of fear. Kids will stop trying to push themselves, try new things or try to further their development for fear of being punished for making mistakes. Unfortunately, these coaches don’t understand that making mistakes is part of the learning process.

Lectures: Sure coach, 9-10 year olds need to hear every option there is to every possible game situation and yes, they are really impressed with your vast knowledge of the game…NOT! Keep instruction to 1-2 main concepts and then get them executing that concept.

Lines: Having 10 kids in a line with 1 ball will not only bore the bejesus out of the kids but skill development will not occur. Obvious, right? Yet watch Saturday rec practices and you will see kids standing in long lines. Coaches, make sure you have enough balls to enable smaller lines and more reps.


2) Facilities and Practice Plan don’t match

Your practice plan calls for full field work and you find out you have to share the field with another team. Or you want to have a lot of shooting and you find out you only have 1 goal, not the two you thought you would. Or worst, you can’t be outside and you end up inside on a basketball court with 40 kids. These are the times when coaches need to have the flexibility and the inventory to make changes on the fly. Coaches should always have a contingency plan to make the best out of these situations. Anticipate these and be ready to make the change with minimal disruption to the players.


3) Too confusing and disconnected

OK… we have all been in the situation where we are caught totally unprepared for practice. Those meetings ran late and you didn’t have proper time to plan. So we show up and try to wing it. Kids will quickly see that you are not prepared, Drills will be random and unconnected. There will be more down time in between drills. The explanations will be longer and why not kill more time with violating the Lecture rule. There won’t be any flow and eventually coaches succumb to the lazy sin of, “OK! Let’s scrimmage!” Note that scrimmages in practice are the equivalent of popping in a video for a classroom teacher. They both seem like a good idea for the first 5-10 minutes and then the kids get bored and that initial excitement leaves. Coaches who scrimmage for more than 10 minutes are coping out of their coaching responsibilities…but I digress.

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