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Maximize Your Practice, Coach

Does your quarterback look indecisive on the field, are your pass plays hit-or-miss, or is the win column paltry? You might have a talent problem or a coaching problem. Then again, maybe it’s a practice problem.

For 15 years, I observed hundreds of football programs ranging from youth to Division I and made a critical determination: Successful programs share several things in common, but the most crucial to QB consistency and pass completion is a well-planned practice.

In a three-part blog series, we’ll look at the practice guidelines of a championship program:

  • Tempo
  • Organization
  • Attitude

From the first whistle in the spring to the last snap of the fall, these three qualities are visible in every segment of practice. Players know where to be, what the segment purpose is, and always move with a sense of urgency. Many gameday quarterback issues can be solved easily in practice and the key is sticking to basic rules. Here’s how:

Create a Common Language

Communication is priority number one with your quarterback and players. Coaches running multiple teams at different levels with various offensive systems, coaching styles, and different terms for the same positions generate mass confusion and slow learning curves.

Your offensive philosophy and language should flow through your entire organization. Every level must understand, in key terms and consistent names, the following:

  • Fundamental coaching terminology
  • Routes
  • Plays
  • Protections
  • Coverage recognition
  • Defensive personnel
  • Formations
  • Offensive base formation

Certainly, personnel will dictate play calling and flex within the system, but don’t let confusion and individualism tear apart teams and staff.

Attitude: Be Creative in Simplicity not Complexity

Coaches can be their own worst enemies. We love our knowledge of intricate plays and schemes enough that we get lost in our own greatness. Resist the temptation: it’s what the players can manage that matters, not our egos.

Simple is effective, which doesn’t mean you tell your QB that he has only one read on a given play.

Simple is having a clear system of processing information, identifying defenses, and laying out expectations for each play’s design. A common language between staff and players is what’s most important - it keeps coming back to communication.

Your vision and your QB’s vision must mirror each other during games and practice. What you see and what your QB sees will be two completely different things unless you work to gain two-way understanding.

Do any of these concepts seem foreign? Please reach out to us at 925.855.9376 or email us at nfacoach@gmail.com. We at NFA are here to help you maximize your QB performance with coaching advice and specially designed camps for your athlete. This summer, NFA will be holding 50 intense development camps, as well as giving athletes the chance to qualify for the Future All American Bowl. Learn more.

In Part II, we’ll look at how a practice should be outlined in order for your players to improve on an individual and team basis.

Will Hewlett serves as the Director of Player Development for NFA and is the lead coach for elite players at NFA camps. Will regularly works with quarterbacks in the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 as a private quarterback coach and has been a guest coach at the Nike Elite 11. Will is a nationally recognized speaker on the Glazier Clinics tour for the past three years, and is regarded as one of the top throwing mechanics coaches in the country. His passion for the game is deeply rooted, having been the first Australian Quarterback to travel to the US and play NCAA football. His playing career extended to the pro ranks, with a stint in the Arena 2 league. His college experience included University of Nevada-Reno and University of Dubuque. Follow Coach Hewlett on Twitter @WillHewlett or email wrhewlett@gmail.com.

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