The last few games of the regular season are upon us. By now the players and coaches are starting to feel the length of the season kick in. It may have already set in for some in the last week or two.
But the season isn’t over, and many teams still have plans on extending the season up to six more weeks.
So how do you plan and prepare for this time of year and your playoff run?
One of the easiest adjustments to make is cut back on practice segments. A minute here, a minute there and all of a sudden you’re ending practice 15 minutes earlier and your kids and coaches can get home for a little extra rest. Some segments may be able to be cut altogether. Do you really need 15 to 20 minutes of Indy this time of year? I know I don’t.
If you’re fortunate and have an athletic period during the school day, perhaps some of your after school practice time can be shifted to be worked during the period. Work all your special teams or situations and get to the meat of what’s important after school.
Your practice schedule in week nine shouldn’t be the same as week one.
Keeping your players healthy and your coaches mentally fresh are two things you can do to help your team make a long run through the playoffs. Limit the reps of the starters and give the backups time to work, especially the younger ones returning next year. End of season and playoff practices are like bowl game practices. Yes you want to prepare to win this week, but it also serves as extra practice time for next year’s team.
Take a look at your weekend meetings as well. How much can be done by your coaches at home? Do you really need to watch all 10 games they played this season? Your coaches will appreciate being more efficient, and also give their minds the opportunity to approach each week with a freshness and focus necessary to keep going.
Now when you’re home, take advantage of this gift and do something for yourself. Read a book, watch a movie, and enjoy the time with your family. It is easy to allow this profession to get in the way of our mental and physical health. Coaches are emotionally intense people, and we must have our methods to release and express our emotions in healthy ways.
Usually by the time you get to this point of the year, you have a finger on what this team is able to accomplish. They have gelled and have shown exactly who they are. You can tell by the way they approach practice and the way they respond to each other. Where is their focus placed? There are so many distractions for high school athletes, the truly special teams have the ability to sift through it all. All we have to do is make sure we get these teams to the game on time and get off the bus.
Other teams need help. They need us to help keep them from those distractions. These are the teams we have to make sure get on the bus. They need a little extra help. Keep pushing them forward and keep them around those positive experiences happening in your field house and on the football field.
Whichever team you have, and however your season is turning out. Go into this last phase of the regular season and the playoffs with a positive end in mind. Keep the focus on helping your players and coaches be in position to get the most out of the remaining weeks.