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Practice vs. Games: How Your Coaching Approach Should Change

Game day is here, and your team is ready to get onto the field or court and put their hard work in practice to the test. Players always look forward to games, and oftentimes so do coaches. 

But effective coaching during a game is different from practice. While your role stays largely the same — helping your team improve their skills and enjoyment of the game — the approach will be different. 

Attending coaching schools can help you differentiate your coaching approach for games vs. practices. Knowing the objective of each practice or game will help inform you of your coaching approach to best help your team succeed. Here are some coaching tips for games and practices this season. 

Coaching Tips for Practices

Practices are a team’s opportunity to put in the leg work and focus on improving their skills. As a coach, use practice to fine-tune skills, focus on minute changes or try something new. Practice time should be dedicated to hyper-focusing and being specific during drills. 

Effective coaching for practice should be more hands-on and strict. Encourage more discipline and repetition among your players as they develop and refine their athleticism and skills. You should lead your players in team-focused drills as well as allow the opportunity for individual development and improvement. 

Take players aside and help them in small groups if you notice trends among your team. Use beginnings and ends of practice to develop team chemistry, strategy and global concerns, while the middle of practice should focus on specific drills, individual practice and refining certain skills and aspects of the game. 

As a coach during practice, you run the team and determine the plan for the day. Take the opportunity to lead your team and help them develop skills and improve their ability, so they’ll be ready for their next game. 

Coaching Tips for Games

During games, your role as a coach will change slightly. You still need to be hands-on, acting as a leader and mentor. However, this is not the time to offer any sort of new advice, mix up a team strategy or try a new player in a new position. Instead, effective coaching during games means providing consistency, reminders and encouragement. 

Game time will be less lesson-based and more goal-oriented. Give your team a goal to work toward during the game, whether it is the number of shots taken, goals scored or beating your rival. Goals provide a clear objective for players to work toward individually and as a team, making the game more fun and meaningful. 

Additionally, give your assistant coaches a goal, too. Instead of overwhelming your players with two or three coaches shouting instructions on the sideline, assign one coach to be “the voice” of the team who shouts encouragement and helpful directions during the game. Another coach can take notes about everything they see on the field, whether it is a great play you want to call out later or trends you see that you want to address during your next practice. 

Coaching during a game takes a different approach than practice, but it is still a very involved and important role for your team. 

Find Coaching Schools Near You

Whether you are a first-time coach or you’ve been in this role for many years, you can always find ways to improve your approach and find effective coaching tips for practices and games. Just like your players may always have something to work on and improve, so too can coaches refine their skills and make each game and practice better. 

At Trusted Coaches, we provide coaching tips, concussion training and background checks that many coaches can benefit from when they’re looking for coaching schools. If you are ready to begin your season and want to have your best coaching year yet, enroll in a course with Trusted Coaches today.