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Daylight Saving Time brings all sorts of changes with it.
Dark sets in a lot early. Sweatshirt weather. Hot cocoa nights. Halloween ends and turkeys start scrambling for their lives.
If you're going to be still playing into late November and early December, then you've had a fine football season. If you won't be in the playoffs, then hopefully you enjoyed the heck out of the last few weeks of the season.
How do fight that late season fatigue that sets in? Sometimes kids start looking toward their next sport. Or, just getting the season over with. Some coaches start the job hunting process early. Parents are tired of driving their kids to practice, and wives are getting antsy to get their coaching husbands back home.
But you need to finish the season strong. Here are two ideas to fight late-season fatigue:
1. Switch things up
Boredom is an accelerator to fatigue. Many coaches get into a routine and want the players in a routine. But changing things up as your season moves on keeps kids more interested. If you start and stop the same exact way from July until December (if you're one of those very fortunate teams to be playing so long), your players and coaches are more prone to getting bored, and thus more prone to allowing fatigue to set in.
Another thing to think about regarding your scheduling: football games really aren't predictable. Years ago, I had a team that was starting games very slowly. On all three "sides" of the ball, we were losing the first quarter battle. As I discussed this with our kids, they pointed to practice as the culprit. "It's how we start practice too, coach."
And they were right. We were starting with a very slow, static stretch. (This was in the old days before dynamic stretching became the norm.) So, we started switching up practice. We would jump right in to something different every practice. We literally took our old practice schedule and changed the order to everything and found that the kids loved it.
It was a bit confusing. We were still having the same number of periods. We were still practicing for the same length. We were still demanding of the kids. We were simply switching it up. And we noticed a direct correlation to how we started the first quarter, and the effectiveness of practice.2. Shorten things
Another reason fatigue sets in is because the season is long. If you're 10-0, or 0-10, it is still a long season, moreso today with how much football seems to be a year-round endeavor.
I visited a Holiday Bowl practice a few years ago. It was just a few days before the game, in beautiful San Diego. I was really surprised at how brief it was. They had about three weeks to prepare for that game, and they were college students. But as I spoke with a coach after practice, he said something that really struck me: "We would rather be too short than too long at this point in the season." When I asked more about what that meant exactly, he said "We want to keep the kids crisp."
I really thought a lot about that on the drive home. Are your practices shorter or longer the farther into the season you go? Practice should become shorter the farther you go in to the season. Sure, we always need to work on blocking and tackling, and other position-specific drills. But we also have to work smart. Individual times and team times can probably get shorter as the season progresses as long as you have coached up your kids the first six weeks plus training camp.Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.