I received a message on Twitter asking about practice schedules at the Ironman level. I believe there are two trains of thought: to split or not to split. What I mean by this is do we split our practices in half with first half being offense and the second half being defense or do we have a separate full-day defense or offense day.
I believe in the split theory. On Mondays we will hold a mixed practice. This practice is a variable. We break our two hours and twenty minutes into different segments each week. This is a day where we can: lift, watch film, chalk talk, work on the kicking game, focus on fundamentals, the turnover circuit, and GHP, tackling, and blocking.
On Tuesdays we install our defense. D-days are “thud” in indy and group with “live” during team period. We try to keep the high-contact hitting to a minimum mid-season. Tuesdays always have 20 minutes or so of the kicking game, and we rep our ‘defensive’ kicking (PBR, FG Block, KO).
After kicking, we move to form tackling. Every player learns to tackle from the ground up (ie. from knees working on throwing hips and hands, to their feet as we step through, to “one motion” contact). We then rep angle tackle in a controlled three yard box. Every player gets a rep at angle at 50% before “thud.” For open-field tackle, our DL and larger LBs work the top-down approach and this spring we will teach smaller LBs and our DBs gator roll. During indy periods we keep our players off the ground as much as you can.
During group periods (pass skel, inside run) we stay in thud. We often have to rep 1/2 line to keep players fresh and limit contact. We then practice our pursuit drill which is a non-contact whiz drill. We then move on to team period. Team is short- maybe 15 minutes, but “live.”
On Wednesdays we install our offense for the week. Being a small school we usually put in one new formation or motion, one new run play, and occasionally a new pass combo. On offense days we try to stay off the ground as much as possible.
First we break off into the offensive-minded kicking game (FG/PAT, Punt, KOR) for 20 minutes before coming together for the blocking circuit. We teach our guys blocking very similar to the way we teach tackling. Ex. everyone starts from the knees working on shooting hips and throwing hands for their punch. We then get in a 2-point stance and work on taking a step (lead, zone) and a step&punching. We then allow them to get in their positional stance and make contact. One we’ve done ‘form blocking’ we will do a fit and drive drill and the yo-yo drill.
As an offense, we go to a square and work on the chicken coup which has a quicker guy trying to use spins and cuts to get past the OL in a small area. This is designed to keep competition going (whoever loses the most has bear crawls or sprints), and to get our lineman to move their feet instead of lean and lunge.
Next we will work on offensive indy where we install our game plan. We then break off into inside run while the WR work stalk blocking on the sled and 1on1’s. Most of our inside run period will be half-line to keep 1’s on 1’s. We switch to pass skel where we rep pass blocking with the OL in 1on1’s. After skel we move to team vs air, then team O which is a “thud” period.
On Thursdays we do the usual walk-through in just a helmet. We go through all of our kicking game, and rep offense on air, and defensive pursuit and formation adjustment.