It is easy to look at your team schedule and see when you have a competition or performance coming up, and decide that the week or two before that you “plan” to be fully prepared for that event. That is your macro plan; you have the big picture of what you want to see from your athletes! Awesome! That is the first step to planning productive practices! Now that you know the big picture, how are you going to spend the limited amount of practices leading up to that event? Micro planning is the next step in planning a productive practice. Here are three things we suggest you focus on in order to set your micro day-to-day (or practice-to-practice) plan.
- Goal Setting
Write down at least three goals you wish to see your team accomplish that practice. Make them specific and attainable. Share these with your athletes so they know what they are working towards that day. After a goal is accomplished make sure you positively reinforce your team. It is always good to start your next practice off by reminding them what they accomplished at the last practice, and then sharing the new goals set for today. These goals are easily set by looking at your macro plan and deciding what you need to focus on first to help you prepare for your event.
- Time Management
Account for every minute of practice. You have a limited amount of time with your team; if you want it to be productive… don’t waste any of it. Schedule time for warm ups and set an allotted time for each of your three goals you set above. Be sure you have a back up plan; you might be (pleasantly) surprised when you’ve allowed for 30 minutes of working on goal #2 and your athletes accomplish it in 10. It might be beneficial to set a timer for yourself to ensure you are on schedule. Over planning is often better than under planning. Plus whatever tasks you don’t accomplish can be carried over and used to plan your next practice.
- Know Your Athletes Schedule
In a perfect world, no athlete would ever miss a practice. However as coaches we know that this is not the case. While we don’t encourage our kids to miss practice, sometimes there is simply not a choice. Family vacations, school projects and other activities always seem to arise. Make sure your athletes inform you of these dates, and be sure to write them down after they tell you. As frustrating as it is to have them gone, it is an even bigger headache having set a plan to work on something specific to that athlete and then finding out at practice they are performing in a choir concert that night. Understand that most emergencies and sicknesses cannot be planned for, however if you over planned like we suggested above, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Always remember to be flexible with your plan. Practices should be structured to contribute to helping your team progress and prepare for their event. If you aren’t seeing progress within a couple of practices, reevaluate your goals. Make sure you are setting specific micro goals that closely correlate with your macro plan to ensure success at your competition or performance.