Giving practice planning the right amount of time

One of the things you hear as a coach – probably regardless of the sport – is that you should spend about twice as much time planning a training session as that session is scheduled to run. That may seem like a lot of planning, and it is. That’s kind of the point. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m not going to say you need to specifically sit down for 4 hours of writing down drills and games if you’re planning a 2-hour practice, though. Those hours of planning will likely be spread out over the time between your last contact with the team and the forthcoming one as you consider recent developments, priorities moving forward, etc. Depending on your coaching experience, and where you’re at with your team, the actual process of putting together a realized training plan might not take very long at all. This past year I usually took about 30 minutes to plan 1.5 to 2 hour sessions.

Actually, that brings up something I figured out along the way.

It’s possible to give yourself too much time to develop the actual practice plan. I found myself actually taking way more time than necessary because I gave myself way more than necessary. In other words, I was using all the time I allowed. I got much more efficient with my planning when I constrained things. I began sitting at the kitchen table and deciding on that evening’s drills and games about 40 minutes before I had to leave for the gym. It didn’t change the sorts of things I did in training, but I certainly spend way less time developing my plans now than I did before. That lets me be productive in other areas.

That’s just the actual practice plan development, though. Nothing changed in terms of thinking a lot about recent developments and the things I wanted to focus on with the team, and individuals. I still think a great deal about all the background stuff that goes into my priority-based practice plans. That also feeds into my being able to adapt a training plan dynamically.

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John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John most recently coached for an NCAA Division II women's team. That followed a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

3 comments

  1. John Forman John Forman says:

    I have read Wooden and watched some of his video stuff. He’s definitely worth paying attention to for coaches in any sport. The planned feedback bit may have just given me some material for a future blog post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Oliver Wagner says:

    I agree that the planing of the drills doesn’t take much time. Some months ago I read an article on Mark Lebedew’s blog about basketball coach John Wooden. Some researches watched i.a. his methods of feedback and found out that every feedback was preplanned. I am not able to do that, but I am trying to walk this path. And I assure everybody: This takes a lot of time. Here is the link to Mark’s article: http://markleb1.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/the-definition-of-a-great-coach/

  3. Coach Marko says:

    Hello everyone!
    I visited this web site first time, and I am glad to see some of the topics here, and wish there would be more coaches to share ideas and thoughts. I have group created on LinkedIn where I shared some of my thoughts about many vb topics. One about planning in volleyball is highlighted .

    All the best

    Coach Marko

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