Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day of Rest

What is your approach to off days?  This being Sunday, I thought I'd write about the various approaches that coaches have to taking days off during the season. 

  1. No Days Off.  When I was an assistant coach at West Texas State during the early 1990s, NCAA rules allowed a team to practice and play every day... so we did.  Our head coach felt we could always find something to improve on, and since we ran four presses, three half-court defenses, seven BLOBs, six SLOBs, and 30+ offensive sets, it did take us awhile to work on that stuff.  And we were not unusual in that respect... most college coaches today have similarly complex offensive and defensive schemes.  For System teams, however, this is not a sound approach.  We believe that rest is as critical to performance as work.
  2. Sundays Off.  When the NCAA legislated to require one off day per week, many teams began taking Sunday off, unless the game schedule makes it necessary to take off another day (example:  You play on Monday, so you practice Sunday and take off Tuesday).  At ONU, being a church affiliatated, we were required to take Sundays off... which was fine with me!
  3. Day Off After a Game.  Andy Hoaglin at Jackson Community College told attendees at the RunandGun Clinic this fall that his team always takes a day off after a game.  His feeling is that this gives players a routine, and is something for them to look forward to.  "But" asked one coach, "what if you have multiple days playing every other day?"   Andy pointed out that his team did indeed have a stretch of games like that for almost two weeks, during which they did not practice!  I think it was something like 7 games in 11 days, and as I recall, JCC won them all.  No practices at all, just fresh legs and happy kids.  Of course, he was winning a lot too, and how this would work after a loss is hard to project.  But I like the concept.
  4. Change of Pace Practices.  Instead of an off day, at ONU we would sometimes just have a different type of practice, usually involving some type of contest.  One day it might be our "Skittles Free Throw" contest, where players could earn Skittles based on how many free throws they made during a certain period of time.  Or we might have a Free Throw Tournament, with brackets and playoffs.  Our favorite was the annual, "Dodgeball Day" in which we divided into teams and played the old favorite.  We did have one rule:  No hitting in the head. :-)
  5. Surprise Days Off.  Our other approach at ONU was to occasionally surprise players with an extra unscheduled day off.  After a weekday win, we might post on the locker room door, "Have a nice day!"  One time, we had the team dress out, shoot some free throws, then gathered them together and told them they could go home if they wanted. They didn't.  Instead, ten minutes later as I walked back through the gym, they had chosen up sides and were scrimmaging.  But the big kids were playing guard, and the guards were playing inside.  Needless to say they were having a blast. 
The point is, when you get to the place in System ball where your kids want to come in on their own even if you give them a day off, you've got it made.

Have a nice Sunday!

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