Practice Efficiency

Submitted by Ziff72 on March 17th, 2010 at 9:20 AM

I've never seen a Michigan practice and this is more a general question than Michigan specifically because I'm sure most teams are doing similar things, but watching the little practice videos I wonder how much benefit they get out of some of these drills and if their limited time could be put to better use.

For example they showed the video of the defense firing off at the snap of the ball and then having all eleven guys chase the ball down the sidelines.

At this point I would think they know they need to hustle if they want to play at Michigan and they are getting their conditioning in with Barwis so these seem remedial things to be doing.

It just seems to me that they should do a lot of this fundamental work on their own and that practice should be dedicated to learning schemes and having guys battle one on one so the coaches can see their weaknesses and work on them on the spot. Having all these guys go thru drills half ass seems like a waste, but maybe they are getting more out of it than it looks.

Also it appears some of the stuff they are doing could easily be turned into a workout by Barwis, does anybody know the rule on this. For example if Barwis had Q.Washington staying low under those little canopys pushing a medicine ball, I would think that would be a good workout that also doubled as a position drill.

Could that be considered illegal?



March 17th, 2010 at 9:26 AM ^

is warm-up drills. nothing more nothing less
EDIT: i'm actually wondering, have you played a sport before? because in all the practices i ever took part in or ran we always did some sort of warm-up that would look similar to this in terms of effort

Arizona Blue

March 17th, 2010 at 12:22 PM ^

just because i mentally know how to tackle someone does not mean that I will be able to do it. In the case of your hustle example, the coaches, along with warming them up, are trying to psychologically condition their players to hustle at all times when they see the ball.


March 17th, 2010 at 9:50 AM ^

Played football, basketball, wrestling, baseball and coached football.

In doing all these sports my whole life, I thought kids got more out of doing something live and then being taught about what happened then doing drills. I sure did.

It was just a talking point. If you read my post clearly I'm not saying we're running practice poorly or we're doing anything different than anyone else. Coaches are constantly trying to improve their practices.

I just wondered if people thought they were getting much out of what you saw in those videos. It looks like stuff you'd be doing in 8th grade football.


March 17th, 2010 at 10:08 AM ^

it was just warm ups and they are just getting the guys back in gear, but as we all know they only have 2 hours on the nose to get everything done. I just think they could get more benefit doing something else besides jumping around while RR blows his whistle.

These are all big boys they can get warmed up in 5 minutes on their own.


March 17th, 2010 at 11:40 AM ^

You do realize that what you just suggested was one of the areas we got dinged by the NCAA, right? It was a point of contention whether or not stretching and warming up before practice counted toward the practice time, and it was determined that it does count, likely because it's mandatory to do it.

So no, big boys or not, they cannot just warm-up for 5 minutes on their own before practice. As if that would be enough anyway.

Nosce Te Ipsum

March 17th, 2010 at 12:27 PM ^

That first sentence seems like a lie to me considering what you've stated in your OP. If not then your teams must have not been good and your coaching probably wasn't much better. There is no way that you can be taken seriously on a sports blog after saying that stuff.

To completely debunk what you've said you're coming from a standpoint where a pitcher doesn't need to warm up and do stretching and long toss before a practice. Lets just put him on the mound and tell him to fire it in there. Jeez, buddy.

Six Zero

March 17th, 2010 at 9:26 AM ^

Don't you know they keep a suggestions box outside Shembechler-- just write down how you think they should practice, stuff it in the slot, and ZING! you're in charge. It's that easy!


March 17th, 2010 at 9:38 AM ^

Your actually seeing a drill where the players have a certain route to the ball if the defense of play breaks down. it prevents a big run play.


March 17th, 2010 at 9:39 AM ^

Like the other comments, basically these are warm-up drills. Practice is where you do drills though. Especially at the beginning of the season. Muscle memory is very important. You have to make sure everyone is on the same page with the basics, or else you have nothing to build on.

That being said, I understand your concern about making practice efficient but take baseball as an example.

Does hitting off a tee sound like something one should spend time doing in practice? Or should they be facing 90 mph fastballs?

They should be hitting off the tees to warm up, even getting their swinging motion, eye focused on a dot on the ball. Doing this, warms a player up, and adds to muscle memory. This way when they're in the batters box, all they should be doing is seeing the ball and hitting the ball.

His Dudeness

March 17th, 2010 at 9:40 AM ^

"It just seems to me that they should do a lot of this fundamental work on their own"

Well they do have that school work stuff I hear so much about... and everyone once in a while they probably like to play beer pong or hit on the young ladies...

Double Nickel BG

March 17th, 2010 at 9:53 AM ^

is the pursuit drill. Its one of the most important drills you can do as a defensive coach. You will see every single coach in football start out with a drill like this. Theres a book written by Ron Vanderlinden, the DC of Northwestern while Danielson was there and DC under Paterno. Its called Football's Eagle and stack defenses. Its a great read on how you build your defense.

Early in the year, you have to build the mentality and makeup of your defensive team. If they strive to be great and make plays down the field, it breeds a sense of responsibility and mental fortitude.

No matter how talented your team is, if they aren't going 100% balls to the wall on every play, your going to have breakdowns.


March 17th, 2010 at 10:03 AM ^

I did it every year during football 7th thru 12th grade, which I guess is my point. By the time we hit high school it was yeah, yeah we got it coach run hard, don't give up leverage...blah blah.

I guess with a new team every year in college it's something they feel they need to do.


March 17th, 2010 at 9:58 AM ^

Not Only is Rodriguez Breaking Practice Rules, He's Doing it Wrong, Too
Special report to the Detroit Free Press by Michael Rosenberg, Mark Snyder

(AP) In a stunning bit of investigative journalism, the Detroit Free Press has learned that Rich Rodriguez and staff have not only been breaking NCAA rules regarding how much time can be put into practice, but they've been doing things half-assed as well. Michael Rosenberg has revealed in an exclusive interview with former Michigan players who remain anonymous that they wasted time doing warm-up drills. Although Michael Rosenberg and Mark Snyder have not participated in any organized sports since middle school kickball, have not contacted any other schools across the country, nor have they ever attended any practices at other schools, they assure readers that they're sure that things aren't being run well in practice. Part II of this blockbusting report will run tomorrow.

In other news, glowing reports have started to filter in from East Lansing about the sparkling, military precision of the first spring practice under the dynamic leadership of Mark Dantonio. In one drill, all eleven men on offense hustled down the field after the snap chasing the ball down the sidelines. This is undoubtedly a unique drill in all of Division 1 football, and reveals the magnificent mind of a master tactician at work.


March 17th, 2010 at 10:13 AM ^

Answer me this. What is a better use of 5 minutes for this defense Mr.Fundamentals?

Clapping your hands at RR's whistle or working with Obi and Mouton on their reads of possible route combinations while they are taking their zone drops?


March 17th, 2010 at 10:25 AM ^

A) Practice runs longer than a 2:30 video clip. I'm guessing they can do both.

B) This was the first day of practice. You've got freshmen who haven't stepped onto the field in college yet. Probably best to work them into the flow of things before working on zone drops.



March 17th, 2010 at 10:58 AM ^

that they do warm up drills outside of practice 'cause they don't really count as practice is exactly what the NCAA investigation was about.

Advice: Don't quit your day job to become a compliance officer at a football program.

Litt1e Rhino

March 17th, 2010 at 10:59 AM ^

These non contact drills are very important because its more of a mental workout then physical. This allows players to understand what is going on. but the most important part is that no one is getting hurt. In full contact players are alot more likely to roll a knee (we cant afford any more injuries).


March 17th, 2010 at 11:25 AM ^

I don't know guys, he might be onto something here... Why introduce everyone (especially the youngins) to practice slowly to prevent injuries when you could just throw them into the fire? You know, sort of a welcome to college you maggot! now keep outside contain on Denard! thing. Learn by doing!


March 17th, 2010 at 11:28 AM ^

the question by noting your own experience, and then refined it a little. . . because it's pretty general, comes off a little naive. But I had some of the same questions.

My observation was: wow, this is a HUGE operation to organize; helps me see why some coaches might and some might not get it right, also why it could take a while--esp. for a brilliant coach--to install his system. Constant tweakers might f up more than drill-day dullards, ya never know.

They don't call them "reps" for nothing, though. It's not only a matter of knowing how to do it, but awakening that old muscle memory. If you watch RichRod at the start you can see there's also a simple old element of fun in getting going.

Six Zero

March 17th, 2010 at 11:38 AM ^

Football teams don't have 'managers,' they have coaches.

Coaches love coaching, and sitting through all the dong-punching without being able to do something about it clearly drives Rich crazy. So he's happy to be back there on the practice field, and it shows.

Let's all do our best not to judge a work in progress.


March 17th, 2010 at 11:32 AM ^

there's a reason rich rod is the coach and we're sitting here talking about this stuff on a blog. he knows how to run a practice efficiently because its his job. I'll trust RR and his boys on this one and leave the stupid questions to people like you.

steve sharik

March 17th, 2010 at 11:44 AM ^

For example they showed the video of the defense firing off at the snap of the ball and then having all eleven guys chase the ball down the sidelines.

This is the pursuit drill, and, yeah, if they've done it a hundred zillion times, it may seem repetitive. That, however, is the point. The coaches are trying to create muscle memory, and we learn best by repetition. The coaches are making pursuit second nature. That's why they're called "drills," because they're trying to "drill" it into the players' heads.

This is also the modern way of warming up. Back in the day, you would stretch, do some warm-up exercises, and then drill/practice. Now, you lightly warm-up the muscles (called "dynamic warm-up) and get drills done at the same time. What they're doing is actually making practice more efficient.

The best team I've seen in getting 11 hats to the ball in the last 20 years is the Mississippi State teams of the late '90s/early '00s, and they drilled the crap out of pursuit at full-speed, every practice, every day. At Milford, we preached pursuit, but the best we ever were at it was the year we put pursuit drill into our practice. Up to that point, we, too, thought it was something boring that the kids had already done and that we could practice pursuit through large group and team drills. However, when you're coaching large group and team drills, you're focusing on alignment, assignment, and execution. Pursuit drill allows you to focus and concentrate on hustle and angles. As you might have guessed, I am a huge proponent of pursuit drill.

The only thing I might disagree with is doing it only during warm-ups, as I believe you want to simulate pursuit angles at full speed. For all we know, however, they may be doing it at full speed while there are no cameras running.


March 17th, 2010 at 11:43 AM ^

The thing that bothers me is when I go to watch a basketball game and the team uses the first 20 minutes stretching, doing layups & shooting. Can't they do that on their own time? What a fucking waste of my time!


March 17th, 2010 at 2:12 PM ^

You are right I noticed that the guys that come off the bench and lay on the scorers table and start playing usually get injured immediately or give up loads of points to the "warmed up" guys.

It is a comforting routine at best.

So give me the proper time limits for a warm up. If the qb is sitting on the bench for 10 minutes is he cooled back down or is his heart rate still up? So when the defense makes a stop I always notice the qb puts his helmet on and then the ref allows him 5 warm up throws to get loose.


March 17th, 2010 at 12:14 PM ^

This can be very useful for the coaches to get a look at the attitude and work ethic of the players. It isn't the whole picture (it's probably only a few pixels) but along with everything else that HAS been mentioned twenty times the pursuit drill shows coaches which players always hustle always always and which ones revert to going through the motions.


March 17th, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

I don't mean to hate, but are we really questioning what drills should and shouldn't happen at Michigan's practice? Is this what we have become, the dad who sits on the sideline of every practice with his arms folded telling all the other parents how he would run the team.