Components of a Practice

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Building a practice is almost like trying to make a season.  There are things to work on like speed, acceleration, strength, and patters (game plays).    Without going into too much detail about macro cycles of a training season, the simplest thing is to do hard things first.  Hard means effort or challenging. The body is rested so maximum energy can be given to these efforts.  This should also give the biggest adaptations. 

To start a practice:

Begin with a warm-up.  Light with some dynamic stretching.

Then, hard efforts: sprinting, acceleration or agility.  To break it down further:

  1. Acceleration takes a very short amount of time.  However, the energy requirement is very large.  A full effort requires a recovered state. 
  2. Sprinting is the hardest effort. Top speed is crucial.  Typically distances are short so many repeats can be done.
  3. Agility causes the brain to think.  This if done correctly will lead the athlete to do it effortlessly.  However, thought requires a split second delay in the motor pattern.  Too much fatigue and the athlete will fail to make any gains.  Build this in with the other two or keep it on a separate day.

The rest of the practice can focus on recovery, strength, skills and drills.

In the early parts of a season, more focus should be on recovery: so short to medium length drills where speed is not as crucial.  As the athlete becomes better conditioned, they can handle more hard efforts and longer drill lengths.

Keep practices simple.  Have a focus for each one and relay that message to the athlete.  Doing pre-season and mid-season testing is a good way to find out how the athletes are improving.