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practice pace and hard hitting?

  • I've wondered about a couple things but don't have a great football mind so I never bothered posting to ask people's thoughts. But, I don't think I have heard much (if any) discussion on these two things so maybe it will be some not so stale discussion material.

    Then again,. maybe I am an idiot.

    1. Practice Reps
    Something I have heard repeatedly in the pre-season practice each of the past couple years is that due to our youth and lack of experience, practice will be held at a very fast clip in order to get as many reps in as possible. It has seemed to be a trademark of practice that Joker wished to instill, IMO.

    This has left me wondering, especially as the last two seasons progressed, is it possible that in an effort to work fast and cram in so many reps that the actual instruction time for individuals has diminished? Diminished to the point of negating the additional reps. In effect, has Joker's inexperienced drive to instill so much resulted in a lot of "pencil whipping" when it has come to actual instruction?

    I think, I got the feeling that maybe Minter (last fall) and Summers (this spring, maybe) pushed back a little against this but I can't really place any quotes...

    Anyone? Comments?

    2. Hitting Hard in Practice
    I know this is a thing that fans have screamed for on the boards after a game where we would be terrible tackling (especially with arm tackles) and after we would appear to be pushed around. I also know that many were excited when Minter came in and said that if we don't sound like a hard hitting team in practice then we won't be, or something to that effect. I also remember seeing words that Papa Brooks was shocked and none too pleased with the amount and degree of hitting we were doing. I also believed that he may have tried to limit it when he was coach. I have also been left with the feeling that Joker has wanted that "tough" image to be an icon and has pushed us very far into that hard hitting and that it may have affected or injury rate..

    This leaves me wondering how many of our injuries might have been avoided with less practice contact. Even if many of our injuries were not in practice (although I think most of our preseason OL injuries were, well, in preseason...), could it be that the extra beating and hard hitting has left us more susceptible with perhaps ligaments and such ready to tear due to such hard practice?

    Honestly, I don't have a clue, but I've wondered.

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  • In reference to the first part of your post, one of the things Joker was talking about was to try and get younger players used to the speed of SEC football during practice. I also think he is trying to instill a work ethic that expects players to run on and off the field at a full pace during practice and treat every play as if it were the last. That was my take on it. As far as trying to install more plays etc I really do not know. I think its a good post.

  • Most teams hit hard in practice and others don't hit at all other than in drills. I think that most people prefer that practices be physical cause you are going to play the way you practice more often than not.

    I think the practice reps had more to do with moving between drills and breaks more so than it did speeding up the actual tempo of the individual drills. The staff has been very good about stopping the action and both encouraging and correcting a player from reports I've read.

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  • 1. You do lose some instructional time on the practice field when you ramp up the tempo. You do lose the immediate instruction, but there is a couple advantages: a) more reps as stated b) less time to think promotes more reaction. Often younger players spend so much of their time trying to reason through plays, coverages, routes, assignments, etc....instead of just reacting which is ultimately how you want to play in the future anyway. In essence you want to #1 teach them how to do something, #2 have them do as quickly and efficiently as possible without thinking so much, and repeat steps #1 and #2 as much as possible. It can be a very effective strategy.

    **But keep in mind that the practices are taped and often time there is classroom instruction during position mtgs.....also not everyone can practice at the same time....often as soon as you rotate out in practice you can get direction from a coach while the rest continue to practice....instead of stopping everyone from practice to instruct 1 guy**

    2. You want to promote physicality...whether that means hard hitting or not. However you can get it is probably the best way to go. Especially right now when the vast majority of injuries can be taken care of before the season. Many programs have tougher Springs and easier Falls. You can promote physicality other ways as well. When running WR against CB drills you promote sparring quite a bit. They are not likely to get injured while not making full body contact. Same with the o-line vs d-line.....get them to spar and clash, but in a safer singled out from the rest of the linemen.

    *Warning* (Soapbox Moment) Also, I am a fan of physicality, but not of "hard-hitting" as many know it. I would rather see a beautiful form tackle that is effective rather than when a defender balls himself up like a missile and body punches a guy. For one thing....go for the sure tackle, not a highlight play. For another thing often the hardest hits in the game come from tackles or hits that don't look all that hard on film.

  • While I was at Cumberland College playing NAIA ball coach King always gave the freshman alot of reps and had his staff provide them with a ton of one on one time if they were indeed going to play. If a freshman wasn't in the two deep he was pretty much a scout teamer... It sucks as a freshman to be thrown into the 2 deep in week 3 and be expected to know the package eventhough you only played the position for less than a month, trust me... I moved from FB to OLB at the end of three a days and found myself in the two deep during the third week of the season on a Wed... Talk about being confused... It's a steep learning curve for a true freshman when you haven't had 20 total reps with the 2-deep but are forced into action because both second string OLB's go down with neck injuries...

    I really feel for some of these true freshman that are forced into action during the middle of the season because 2 or 3 guys go down... I know exactly how they feel, only difference they are in front of a 100K on saturdays and I was in front of 1500-6000 people... Personally I always favored a fast paced practice... Almost all football players seem to learn quicker when physically going through the motions instead of being in a dark room listening to a position coach. JMO... One thing I have to say though is there's no excuse for a kid to be in a system for 2 years or so and still not know the package. It kills me when I hear that, most the time that's just bad work ethic...

    This post was edited by todd 22 months ago

  • 1. Joker wanted to speed things up for a couple of reason... He wanted the freshmen to get used to the speed of the games and also wanted to emphasize that you have to do the little things like hustle to be good, then he also wanted it to aid in players getting in and staying in better shape than they normally would be. Now if you are going very fast all the time then it could result in lack of time for instruction by the coaches. I don't however percieve this to be the main problem. I believe the main problem is that they are repping too many different plays in practice. I had a player tell me before that they practice plays that they don't even call in games.... I don't know if that's because the opportunity just didn't present itself in the game to call those plays or what, but in general its usless to practice plays that you don't intend on using in games. They need to rep the heck out of what they will run in games.

    2. I'm not 100% sure how Joker handles hard hitting in practice but if its anything like Rich Brooks then its fine and shouldn't be changed. You don't want to hard hit all the time in practice because you will come up with more injuries than UK had last year. But you will have individual periods where you would do some hard hitting. How Rich Brooks did it and my former coach Coach Kragthorpe did it our periods of practice to really hard hit was when the DLine was going against the Oline, or in the run fit drills. When there is a team period came which is when the whole offense and defense came together we didn't hit hard but we did what they call "Thud" which is when you still hit the guy but you don't take him to the ground, on RBs and WRs you can't hit them but have to almost catch them in your arms and hold them and the defense persuits to the ball and breaks, on the QBs you can just two hand touch them but can't touch there arms or coach will be down your throat in a hurry. To me this is all the physical play you need in practice any more is accessive and unneeded.

    I we had 2 games, one against Minnisota and another against Okalhoma where we tackled horrible and our DC which was Todd Graham (who is in Arizona now) made the whole defense come out to practice 10 minutes early and run tackling circuits everyday in practice except for fridays until the year was over with. We ended up being way better at tackling and didn't have a lot of injuries either.

  • Good post, and I agree with those philosophies. We need more posts from guys like you who have the personal experience. Please post more often, especially where you can provide personal experience about why and how things are done around a D1 program.

  • I agree the above is the reasoning behind the increase in tempo,

    I just was not certain that it was done properly and had a feel that some of our guys did not learn enough or get enough out of their in game reps early in the season. I was left with the gut feeling they got reps just be be getting them.

    But, I have no personal means of making such a judgement.

    But, do you think players just stood around and did nothing for Papaw Brooks? I don't. But, with things changing, they won't stay the same. I thought it quite possible that the distinctive change made to practice tempo could have (unintentionally) resulted in a change to time allotted to individuals amid all the moving and changing around at a different pace than was previously done. If everyone, i.e. the staff, is not on the same page and looking for these things, I could see how time for (at least some) individuals could suffer.

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  • first paragraph
    Play the way you practice. I understand that fully. But, I noticed reports of the hitting being distinctly different than under Papaw and wonder if perhaps we hit too much during the fall and season. But, this is a little more in depth (a lot more, actually) than I am qualified to properly judge. This thread is a learning experiment for me. :D

    second paragraph
    That is what I hope. However, I do wonder during the first fall with Joker as head coach, if everyone (the staff) was on the same page and it actually happened the way it was drawn up to happen. But, I take will your word on your reports.

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  • Does being put on the scout team ever have the side effect of "retarding" the growth of a player because one is focused on mimicking other teams instead of personal development?

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  • Thanks.
    I had not thought of the difference between being more physical in spring than fall or of the difference (safer) when singled out as opposed to groups.

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  • 2. I am quite certain that hitting is harder than under Brooks. I know Joker has mentioned the intent to do so, Minter has mentioned his belief in the necessity of hitting hard in practice, and I believe I remember seeing a quote or two regarding Papaw's unease with the amount of hitting being done now. But, perhaps my memory is mistaken.

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  • Thanks for all the responses.

    Perhaps, when I get more questions, I will add some more questions or just wait for more feedback.

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  • Are you serious??? Sorry if you are, i've been called stupid and ignorant on here so many times it's rattled my confidence...

    If you are serious, my answer is no scout team doesn't "retard" a players growth if anything it helps. It gives a kid a chance to get reps against better competition and forces them to become better or break... It also helps the starters because they are getting to see the schemes they will face that saturday.

    I always took pride in Scout team what time I was on it... At C-College our HC would give the top scout teamers a break during conditioning if they provided the starters with a good look because all HC's know it sucks for a HS star to know they may not play at all for a year or more... One reason the BAMA's and LSU's are better than everyone else is because their scout team is so strong... It's a synergistic effect, the better the scout team the better the 2 deep... Kids can also use being on the scout team as a tool for the future. Once they become starters they'll know what the other team is doing (unless the other team has a coaching change). It also gives the coaching staff a chance to see young guys that they may have over looked due to having close to (or sometimes over) 100 kids on the practice fields... Staffs will also take 5 to 10 off the top scout teamers and place them on the special teams, the two deep can't play every snap in all phases of the game. I hope that helps, I also hope this isn't another attack that I didn't catch onto that makes me look like a "retard" and a nice guy at the same time...

  • Yes, I am serious.

    I understand that it helps the team get stronger. I understand that, in general, all these things happen and can make a player better. But, I am asking about the possible existence of exceptions to the rule. My intuition tells me such things exist but I was looking for examples.

    More specifically, take this example: An individual is working hard and wants to be in the two deep but he isn't good enough. If he spends all week (each week) working at playing how another team plays its defense (for example), how much better will he get at playing his teams defense? Or, if working on playing as a scout member of a different team's defense all week, how much does playing on special teams improve his ability to play in one's own defensive scheme? It can always be stated that one can just work harder to reach that next level but there are limits to how much harder one can work. Some players will have more talent and more upside. If a player is putting forth all his effort to get to the point he has gotten, is it possible that he won't get better at playing an "end" in a three lineman defense if he spends his time on the scout team playing a tackle in a four lineman defense? If he were instead playing on a team that used a four lineman defense and played tackle in a four lineman defense on the scout team is it possible that he might grow into the position he would be playing on the field (other than special teams) a little faster?

    I'm not questioning the general rule of how this works or the general rule of using it as motivation or the great importance it is for developing a team, because I fully agree with it. Rather, I'm wondering if it might actually have the unintended result of slowing down a player's growth from time to time. There are a hundred guys on the team practicing and playing at countless positions some of which are better suited and some of which aren't. So, in the spirit of open discussion without trying to prove anything, I was asking what my intuition told me.

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