When I was a kid, I remember my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Stein, regularly opening up a spiral bound notebook on her desk to guide her through the day's academic plans, topics and objectives. I always found it odd that this person I considered an expert in her field needed self-authored guidance of how she wanted to steer her day.
I would later come to learn that this basic professional behavior plays a crucial role for educators, coaches, CEOs, salespeople and anybody striving to create a marriage of objectives and efficiency.
If we turn the page 35 years forward from that day in Mrs. Stein's class, I once again was reminded of the importance of a lesson plan -- but this time as a challenge in my position as a high school head strength, speed and agility coach.
I was approached by both the head coach and defensive coordinator, who were quick to compliment me on my contribution to the team but challenged me regarding my "wing it" approach to training the boys. In a "check your ego at the closed door" session, both of these great coaches reminded me that my sessions needed to be planned.
I was asked to chart to the minute how we would pack the most efficient, fluid and comprehensive training sessions into the one hour of time we had before the boys started school for the day. For me, it was one of the most important lessons and constructive feedback sessions I have had in my life, so many years removed from that day of heightened observation in the fourth grade.
My motivation for this article is that despite this month's 100-degree temperatures, the days are getting shorter, and autumn is subtly suggesting her presence as countless soccer and fall sports teams have begun practicing. This covers a range of athletes from 4-year-olds running in packs chasing a single soccer ball, to scholarship-caliber athletes getting their last showcase before universities come knocking. It benefits all coaches to have a written lesson plan.
There is no better way to run an efficient practice as thinking about the skills and associated drills you wish to cover that day. Assigning tasks to a helper or assistant coach should also be part of your written plan. The written lesson-coaching plan is a terrific way for all athletes, whether pee-wees or in high school, to maximize the little time that you as coaches have with them. It also keeps the coach "on point" when breaking down the season into the total number of practices he or she will be leading and the skill sets to be taught.
The whistles are warming up, the lines have been chalked, and we're only days away from autumn classic sports days, and Friday night lights. For any coach, a lesson plan that takes 10 minutes can be one of the best decisions you can make in developing athletes and helping young athletes get the most from your time with them.
Bill Victor is the owner of Victor Fitness System Professional Fitness Trainers, Flashpoint Athletic Speed & Agility Specialists, and Performance Nutrition Consultants. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and online at http://theflashpoint.org and http://VictorFitnessSystems.com.