Saturday, June 14, 2014

Try lots of stuff

I encourage all coaches to try new stuff all the time and take notes on what works (or what doesn't work). You never know what will and won't work when dealing with young kids. I think that's the most surprising thing I've seen with coaching: you just never know what will or won't work. Some examples:
  1. In our flag football league, there are certain zones that are "pass only." In one game last year, I tried something I hadn't seen anyone else try at our age level: run the shotgun in the passing zone. Amazingly for 8-9 year olds, we didn't botch any snaps. The next game I decided to try it for all plays. Again, no botched snaps. And our running game got better. Voila! We did that entire season, and have done it this season with great success. And a couple other teams have adopted it as well. Never woulda thought.
  2. In hockey this past season, we realized that our inexperienced kids were not adjusting well to lots of body contact in the half ice game. So, we came up with a drill where the defense played without their sticks and skated around and tried to knock the offensive players down. In addition to it working, something else happened: for the first time, the offensive players actually picked their heads up, looked for teammates, and passed the puck! Who woulda known.
  3. I came up with a straightforward play in football this season with simple steps (basically a halfback option). Thought it would have been an easy play to implement and execute. Haven't been able to get it to work yet with the smartest, most athletic kids on our team. Go figure. I'm throwing it out.
  4. Helmet stickers in hockey worked awesome in getting kids' attention and to focus on details. Simply amazing. A total experiment at the beginning of this last season.
  5. In flag football, our kids forget how to pull flags unless we explicitly practice it in practice before the game. No kidding. I thought we were good at pulling flags, so a couple games I skipped our flag pulling drill. Di. Sas. Ter.
And so on. I have yet to run the same exact practice two times. If I find drills that work awesome, I will re-use those. But I also leave room in both my practice plan and my game plan to try new stuff. Unless it's playoffs or tournament, then it's game on :)

There's a side benefit as well: I think kids get bored of monotony. I see coaches get their kids to execute something really well by repetition. By the end of the season the kids are bored with it and it shows.

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