If you think your team is the only one that’s clueless then you might be surprised to learn that even the NFL has to practice simple “what should you do now?” quizzes.
Check out 2 ways to really help your players know what plays they should be making, and when.
A few years back, HBO aired a documentary, Hard Knocks, on New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. It was a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, and within the first few minutes they showed him quizzing his players at training camp on game situations. He gathered the team together and started asking them questions such as: “on 3rd and long from the 40, what do you do?”, “on 1st and 10 from the 15”, etc. You can hear him tell an assistant coach that Brady might know what to do on the play and Welker might know what to do on the play, but they need to make sure they are on the same page!
These are professional football players and yet Belichick felt the need to constantly quiz them. That’s a great lesson for all of us. Too often I think that coaches assume their players know what they should do in a given situation when in fact, the results often show otherwise.
So if this sounds like something that might work for your team, then here are 2 simple quizzes you can use:
- Pop Quiz – This type of strategy quiz is just what it says, you simply stop practice at any point and throw out a situation – either offensive or defensive – and pick a player to answer it. If you pick an offensive situation that involves a baserunner (or runners) then pick a person to tell you what the batter needs to do and a person or persons to tell you what the runners need to do. Get the answer right and 1 less sprint for those players (or something like that).
- Pressure Ball – I got this one from a good friend of mine – Paula McGovern – who coached Australia’s 18U Women’s National Team. Paula came up with something she called Pressure Ball that involves a multi-sided dice-looking thing that’s made of foam and has a number on every side (picture 1). To coincide with each number she had an Offensive and a Defensive print out sheet that contained as many different situations as there are numbers on the foam dice (picture 2). NOTE – you can list whatever plays you want to list. The quantity and the difficulty should match the skill level of your team.
- She split her team up into two teams, with one team rolling the dice and trying to successfully execute whatever play they rolled, while the other team tried to stop them. She switched between using the Offensive and Defensive Play Cards, and did it for about 10-15 minutes, tops. The team who executed the most number of successful plays won. Her players really loved playing this game as it made them think and execute in a way that’s unique and different.
While both of these examples show different ways you can involve strategy in your practices, feel free to develop your own methods. If you have one, please share it with all of us by commenting below. The key isn’t that you have to use one of these two examples but that you need to do some kind of strategy-type exercise every practice with your players so that you know what they know, and they know what they should know!
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