We as coaches regularly joke about “keeping it simple, stupid” (K.I.S.S.), but then we go out and run complex practices. Often, we feel pressured by limited practice time or oversized play books, so we attempt to fit in too much in a two hour practice. Start by establishing a habit of two to three points of emphasis per practice. Any more than that can be overload for players.
2. Stay Positive
Have you ever tracked how many negative comments you and your staff make per practice? I bet most coaches would be shocked at their ratio of positive to negative comments (Have a manager track each type of comment sometime. If you aren’t at least at 3:1, you might want to reconsider how you are communicating to your players). Use as many positive statements as possible. After all, you can’t ask your players to stay positive if you yourself aren’t regularly positive.
3. Be Unpredictable
Sports season can be long, especially at the higher levels. When practices are routine and expected, players can become bored. Uninterested players don’t put forth worthwhile physical or mental effort. It is your responsibility as the coach to keep things fresh. Try experimenting with different formats and competitions to keep players engaged and working hard.
4. Evaluate Regularly
“Inspect what you expect” is the common phrase in leadership. If you expect greatness, then you must regularly inspect players’ performances. Nowadays, there’s a stat-tracking app for every sport. Why not start keeping stats for at least portions of practice? Don’t expect players to strive for greatness unless you place regular importance on being great.