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Adapt or Fall Behind

It's become inherent in our nature to adapt to life's many challenges. It's not new, but one might argue it's become more prevalent in recent years, and necessary the last 12 months. This is true in the sports world just as it is in our homes, our children's classrooms, and many other industries.

Football in particular has seen a fast-moving evolution in how it's played, practiced and taught. Safety has taken over, making field time a premium as limitations on contact push coaches to get creative with how they use their time with the team. Take away the option of physical interaction with your players, and the challenge becomes immense.

Some have conquered this challenge and were already adapting before it become a prerequisite. We've found new, (some better), ways to accomplish things outside of our usual routine while juggling the balance of stability and inconsistency.

Practice can now be virtual. Not all of it, but it is possible to use technology away from the field to keep your team working. We know this because we HAD to do this. And like coaches do when faced with a new challenge, we made it work.

While players can work on their physical technique away from the field, they need the fundamentals to practice right. So field time needs to be maximized now more than ever. The more we can get their hands in the dirt at practice, the better foundation they have to work with.

This means they need to be ready at practice. To get the most out of their players, (and GIVE the most TO their players), the most successful coaches focus on one common thing: PREPARATION.

Not just leading up to games, but every day for every practice.

Most players have no problem getting 'hyped up' to ready themselves for practice, but it's the mental work between practices that some struggle with. Where to be, what to look for, where to go, what to which play?

Film session and team meetings typically bring out these uncertainties, or at least provides the answer if the player is focused and listening. But without team meetings, we need to adapt. So we send out playbooks, videos, and links, and tell them to study up.

But do they?

Our schools have been adapting for years. Look at how kids are learning and studying on their school-issued devices at home. Learning games and apps engage them in an approach they understand and enjoy (pssst...this was happening long before distance learning became the phrase of the year.)

By making it fun, they'll do the work.

We've taken the same approach to teach players their playbook, giving them a 'turf' they're comfortable with away from the field. They'll fail, multiple times, but that's how they learn. And when the failing occurs within a mobile game, instead of on the field in front of their peers, they'll go back and do it again until they get it right. Or, learn it.

It's well known that if you don't adapt to your audience, you'll lose them. With participation rates in sports falling, we need every effort to keep players in the game. They're looking to us to keep them working toward their goals.

Learn, adapt, and move forward. Give your players the playing field to develop on their own, and you'll find your practices more productive with players ready to go.

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