OX Sports Presents “The Mental Side of the Game”
Q&A With Glastonbury (Conn.) Coach Scott Daniels
By Dan Guttenplan
OX Sports allows coaches to reach players away from the field and academic setting. With players spending more and more time on devices, it is the perfect avenue for coaches to share learning tools through photos, videos, scouting reports and customized tips.
Each month, OX Sports sponsors a Q&A with a prominent high school coach.
Glastonbury High (Conn.) football coach Scott Daniels started his eighth season as head coach this fall. Like many coaches across the country, he adjusted his team’s preseason practice schedule due to severe heat and humidity.
In a conversation with FNF Coaches, he reflected on one of the pillars of OX Sports – coordination.
How do you typically map out a preseason practice schedule for the week?
“We sit down and look at the different blocks of time we have available. We schedule incremental hitting and conditioning. Everybody is required to have five days of conditioning. We might split the practice into one-hour blocks and rotate between conditioning and football.”
What precautions do you take on especially hot days?
“Transitions take longer in weather like that. We’ll tell the players to pop the hats off and rinse the head down. We take more water breaks. It throws a monkey wrench in the schedule, but we abide by the modified practice plan that is provided through the state.”
How often do you transition throughout practice?
“In a regular practice period, we have eight or nine different periods. Those run from 10 to 20 minute each. Then we’ll have a special teams period. Then we might finish off practice by running flex, or two-minute offense, or inside runs – depending on that week’s game plan.”
How much do you hit during those periods?
“We only hit for a certain amount of minutes. We’re really meticulous with time. We’re very efficient. You can’t keep them out there for three hours, or you don’t get anything back. It’s the law of diminishing returns.”
What do you do when you need to spend more time on a certain drill to make sure the players grasp what you’re trying to teach?
“You have to be extremely efficient. There’s a time to slow down, and that’s during instructional periods when you’re inserting plays and schemes. Walk through it. Pops the hats off so they know it’s a thinking period instead of a physical period. It’s time to think and use your brain. Let them know you’re allowing the brains to cool down so they can think. With the added awareness of injury risks in practice, we have to make sure we’re very efficient.”
What is the rationale for limiting practice periods to 10 or 20 minutes?
“It will start to get monotonous. We like to go fast, at least offensively. After a 20- or 25-minute block of time, you’ll lose them. We’ll sub in the second-string guys for a team period when that happens. I might revisit it during a team period. An example of a practice period might be special teams or third-and-short. Maybe it’s just a base offense period.”
How do you avoid having guys stand around if they’re not involved in the drill?
“If we’re doing a special teams period, we’ll have kickoff and scout return. That’s 22 guys. When we do that period, we’ll have a third-string quarterback who is not on special teams take the receivers with the receivers coach. That guy will have a 10-minute period with third- and fourth-string receivers. We’ll take the line coach and the linemen who are not on special teams and have them run through a coach’s choice drill. If I need a lot of the big guys for PAT, I’ll have the first-string receiver with the first-string quarterback. We have nine coaches, so we have the man power.”
How do you communicate the practice plan with your assistants?
“I send out a script every day. I script it every morning and send it to the defensive and offensive coordinators. I might say, ‘I want you to run Cover 4, Cover 3, Cover 1 – whatever it is that day – for this amount of time. They tell the position coaches. We meet on Sunday morning and map out the entire week.”
Nothing Is Set in Stone
While Daniels devotes a good deal of time to scheduling his practice time, he’s not afraid to make an adjustment on the fly. Sometimes, he realizes he did not account for how long a learning period might take, so he has to prioritize the remainder of the practice schedule.
“Sometimes, we have to adjust when it’s not enough time,” Daniels said. “As the head coach, that’s part of being a reflective coach. We have meetings prior to the preseason. ‘Here’s a 20-minute period on this day. And here’s what we’ll do the following day on offense.’ It doesn’t always work out that way.”
Daniels has a process for which he prefers to install plays. He wants to present the play first on the whiteboard. Then he talks about it in the classroom, installs it, and runs it on the field.
“Some players like visuals, some need audio, and some have to physically do it,” Daniels said. “For some, once they execute it, they have it. That’s not happening for others. One guy might be ready after one rep, but if it takes another six reps, we need to run it six times.”