This week, I have five friends coaching for a state title or a chance to play for it all next week. These elite coaches are either a member of Fast N' Wide or the Elite Coaches' Mastermind.
I zoomed with them early in the week and asked them a few questions that can help everyone else next year.
I will send out their responses in a series of emails, but today, we will dissect how these elite coaches keep their players...
'Today's players get bored quicker than ever. Teams get tired of the grind, and it is not uncommon for even team leaders to lose their edge. What are some things your program is doing to keep your players maintain a violent nature at practice but still fresh mentally and physically?'
Aaron Beck, Head Coach, All-Saints Prep
Fort Worth, Texas
All Saints is playing for the Texas TAPPS State Championship tonight!
"We started doing a.m. practices a few years back, and it has made a tremendous difference."
"I know this will be controversial with most coaches, but we only play a 9-game regular season to give us two open dates."
"When the playoffs begin, we shorten our practices some. We still have a level of contact, but we shortened our practices. This is a big boost to their mindset."
Chris Yeager, Head Coach, Mountain Brook H.S.
The Spartans are playing for the Alabama 6A State Championship tonight!
"We believe most injuries in practice come from the 'second hit', so we use 'landing pads' on tackling drills whenever possible.
Starting around week nine, when our junior varsity season ended, we began to finish each practice with a ten-minute JV scrimmage. Our varsity players coached and called plays. The JV guys loved it, and the varsity players did as well. Every day ended with lots of juice."
Sean Driscoll, Head Coach, St. Mary's Catholic
The Spartans are playing for the Massachusetts 6A State Championship Saturday night!
"At St. Mary's, we have many multi-sport athletes, so they are used to always being in competition mode."
"FNW has helped us practice faster than ever. We have trimmed a few minutes from practice, but our players enjoy the pace more than ever. No one is bored and all are engaged mentally, and this is the first time I have ever been able to say this in all my years as a head coach."
Dennis Dunn, Head Coach, North Desoto H.S.
Coach Dunn's Griffins are playing in the Louisiana 4A semi-finals tonight!
"The no-sweat Wednesday practice philosophy we implemented after joining FNW has helped a bunch. The physical and mental break in the middle of the week recharges our batteries for our contest on Friday."
"Uptempo practices with lots of moving parts keeps everyone on their toes!"
Neil Weiner, Head Coach, The Dunham School
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Tigers are playing in the Louisiana 4A semi-finals tonight!
"Our players love our culture of toughness. They would be alarmed if we pulled back on the intensity level of our practices, so we do not change much."
"We do a drill we call SWAGGER DRILL on Tuesdays and Thursdays that is 'game-like'. Our only change is we do fewer reps than we did in the regular season."
The magic of elite head coaches is they know how to 'read the room' of their team and change the thermostat as needed.
'Success leaves clues'. These five veteran coaches pushed and pulled back, so their teams still performed at the highest level but stayed locked in a long playoff run.
Next week, we will see what else they had to say about the mental game, advice to young coaches, analytics, communication, and more!