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Deflections: Playoff preparation - Part 2

So the guy says to me, “I, like, need a drill.”

“We all do,” says I.

“Well yeah,” he says, “but you’ve been doing this for, like, forever.” And I’m, like, wondering why everyone these days needs to, like, use the word ‘like’ all the time. But, like, I digress...

“Your point?” says I.

“You know lots of drills,” he says. And he waits for my worldly knowledge to spill forth and fill the vial we call his brain, which may or may not have leakage issues.

“I make up lots of drills,” says I. “ Most of  'em. In fact, nearly all.”

“From what drill book?” he asks, which means he heard but didn’t listen.

“I call it ‘By Richard Bercuson.’ Only one copy though,” says I.

“Oh,” he says, getting it and sounding very disappointed because I have no kernels of drill wisdom to give him. He may have to think up some. This will take effort. Darn.

Then he adds, “We’re, like, on the verge of playoffs. I need some new drills.”

“Too late.” says I. “Do you want the kids to learn more or execute better?”

“Both?” but he’s not sure and is fishing for an answer. He’s tossed out the line and wants me to bite.

I am happy to oblige. Why? Because he needs help, he knows he needs help, and he knows that I know he knows he needs help. He just can’t come up with the words “Help me, please.”

So here’s what I say to him: Playoffs are a big deal to some parents and maybe to some of the kids, too. Maybe even to most of them. They may believe there’s a lot on the line. But in truth, unless they’re playing high level competitive bantam or midget with scouts watching, the trophy you win is worth just a few bucks. You won’t make anything selling it on eBay and the bragging rights are good for a few days. Twenty years from now, those kids will remember little of it.

The lead-up to playoffs is the most challenging time for you. You need to keep everything in perspective yet ensure the kids’ skills and attention to game plans, such as they are in minor, are honed somewhat. There’s no point trying to teach anything new, not even a new drill. The excitement of looming playoffs makes it tough for kids to focus.

So you need a different tack in practice. Address how prepared the kids are for the first few minutes of practice, much like for a game. Look at tempo, application and execution of key principles you’ve already taught.

Then he says, “I never did any of those things before. Aren’t they new?”

“Not really. You’ve been doing them without paying attention to them. Playoffs are a perfect time to give them some real thought.”

“Okay. How?”

Next week: Part 3 - Bringing it all together


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