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Practice Priorities - All high school coaches benefit from the practice plan developed for the NFL High School Player Development program presented by the National Guard© March 2014
What are your priorities when designing an early-season practice plan? Do you try to build a collection of proven drills that safely and efficiently teach fundamentals while challenging your players? Do you incorporate teaching techniques that you may have learned from a top college coach at a clinic session? Do you have printed materials and video that every member of your staff can use to gain a thorough understanding of your drills and how to conduct them?
If you’re a coach at an NFL High School Player Development camp, you have all of these tools at your disposal.
Every year, the NFL works with a prominent FBS coach and his staff to prepare and present a practice plan designed specifically for HSPD camps, which take place around the country from May to August and are free to all participants. The practice plans incorporate actual drills used by the collegiate program and are presented in a print format and on a DVD that help HSPD coaches translate the drills to the high school athletes who attend the camps.
Universities that have previously provided practice plans for the HSPD camps include Georgia, Temple, Alabama, Vanderbilt, and Miami (FL). This year, the staff from the University of Washington worked with the NFL to prepare the HSPD printed practice plan and DVD using the same drills that the Huskies used in their practices.
The practice plan serves a dual purpose – it is a blueprint for the HSPD camp sessions and it’s also a way for the NFL and the National Guard to give back to the game at the grassroots level. Each year, the NFL sends out a copy of the printed practice plan and DVD to every high school football program in the country. “The support of the National Guard makes the distribution of the practice plan and the DVD to all high school coaches possible,” according to Jerry Horowitz, the NFL’s Senior Director of HSPD. “It’s a great service to the football community and a great way to bring proven, top-quality training programs to football teams everywhere.”
Coaches who have participated in the HSPD camps have universal acclaim for the practice plan and how it helps make the camps the best in the nation. “The incorporation of the practice plans is unmeasurable in terms of its value to the success of the program,” said Tony Truilizio, who coaches at the Buffalo HSPD camp. “The plans all have a fast tempo with less standby time, more workouts, and more learning. I have also improved as a coach due to the high level of instruction.”
Dave Marean, who coaches at the Wayne HSPD camp in New York, agrees with Truilizio on both counts. “Having a practice plan available that is developed by a college coaching staff is critical to the organization of the HSPD Camps,” he said. “The high school coaches benefit greatly in teaching these drills, so the camp is not only great for high school student-athletes, but also for high school coaches who want to fine tune their craft.”
The result of having the college-level practice plan is better instruction for all players, but especially those who desire to play at the next level. “The kids really enjoy the fact that the practice schedule and drills are given to them by the university. They feel as though they are working at a collegiate level - which is a dream of most high school football players,” according to Randy Coleman, Head Football Coach at Jonesboro High School (AR), who is site manager at the Jonesboro HSPD camp.
HSPD Regional Director Dennis Grubbs said the athletes embrace the college-level drills. “They love them. They like the challenge and the opportunity to be exposed to a higher level of learning.” Tony Truilizio points out how the challenging nature of the drills can be a wake-up call for some athletes. “Knowing that a DI coach created the plans gives the student-athlete a realistic point of view on expectations and, in some cases, the realization that they need to improve in order to play at the next level,” he said.
The college-prepared practice plan is a great example of the NFL and National Guard’s support of high school football through the HSPD program. Not only do the printed plans and DVD provide coaches at HSPD camps with the finest instruction available anywhere, they are shared each year with every high school program in America. When your practice plan and DVD arrive this year, consider how it can help your program next season and how your athletes will benefit from attending an HSPD camp this year.
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