By Tyler Fenwick, Head Coach
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Another focus technique we used which was fun, yet a little more taxing was the “Simon Says” method to the song “Roxanne.” We played the song Roxanne in the stadium while they were in their stretch lines. Each player started in a push up position. When the song said “Roxanne” they had to do a push up and when the song said “red light” they had to do a mountain climber. You don’t realize how many times these two words are used until you go through the exercise. The point of the exercise is to focus the mind on the directions and be disciplined and away from everyday life off of the football field. You can find any song to play and come up with whatever exercise needed to get the discipline accomplished.
Once the pads come on we can change up the focus technique to more football-specific competitive methods. As soon as the stretch period is over we will have what we call a “3 Play” drill. We have the first offense and the first defense out on the field. The drill can last as little as one play or at the most 3 plays. The offense is trying to get a first down and the defense is trying to get off of the field. For example, on the first play the offense completes a pass for a first down, the drill is over. The offense wins and we go to our individual period. Or, if the defense creates a turnover on first down then defense wins the drill. If the drill gets to third down, whoever wins that down wins the drill. The drill creates an immediate focus on competition and football.
Another example of narrowing the focus to start practice is what we call speed ball. Speed ball is where we put the ball on the 30 yard line. Have the offense and defense on the field and run plays as fast as we possibly can. I have one of our student coaches spot the ball about 8 yards up after each play is over. If the offense gets a big play the ball is placed where the big play occurs. The ball is always moving and down and distance is not taken into account. I tell the student coach to place the ball on the hash where the play was blown dead so the play caller can correctly call the play based on the hash. We want to create chaos and stress the communication between players. Coaches are yelling to hurry up and get lined up, get the play called, get the call from the sideline, get lined up, etc. We may go 8 plays straight with the first group and 8 plays with the second group.
2 Point Play
We have also used the 2 point play situation to narrow the focus. Give an end of the game situation where the offense is going to go for 2. There is a winner and a loser after one play. You can have the 1st and 2nd group go since it is only a one play series. Our players are immediately focused on executing their assignment and accountable to their side of the ball to win the drill.
I don’t like to start with an overtime period, but if we didn’t start with a focus drill to begin practice and feel like the team is not focused, I might pull the overtime period in the middle of practice to get them focused. The best way we have done this is to put the 1st offense and the 2nd defense on the same team and vice versa. This method can teach your offense and defense to pull for each other as a team, rather than always competing offense vs. defense. This can create conflict when things aren’t going well in a game if you don’t have the right chemistry make up. When the 1st offense is on the field, the defensive players are now pulling for the offensive players to be successful, and the offensive players on the opposite side are pulling for the defensive players to be successful because they are all on the same team now. We usually put some kind of conditioning on the competition. One year during fall camp, we had an early morning pool workout. The losing team from the overtime period had to attend the earlier workout and the winning team got an extra 30 minutes of sleep. You would be surprised how hard the guys would compete over 30 minutes of sleep.
The idea of narrowing the focus to start practice will allow you to get the most out of your practice mentally. We don’t do this every day, but when I feel like it’s going to be needed. It gets practice going with some intensity and competiveness. The situations you can use are endless and you can be as creative as need be. I like them to be quick and I’ll usually carve out 5 minutes on the practice schedule. If the drill finishes in less than 5 minutes then it gives our coaches a couple of extra minutes in the individual period that follows. We want to quickly shock the physical and mental system of the players before we get into practice.
If you have any questions regarding how we use the flipped teaching method or narrow the focus for better practice, you are more than welcome to contact myself or our staff for further detail.