How many times as a coach have you meticulously planned your practice only to run out of time before you ran out of drills to complete or skills to teach? This has happened to me more times than I can count; and this is coming from a guy who plans every practice to the minute.
From the first whistle to the last, for years I have had a written plan for every practice. No matter whether I am coaching high school varsity, summer travel or a clinic for kids in kindergarten, the plan is written down. Maybe it is my training as a teacher, but it is core to what I believe as a coach that "failing to plan is planning to fail." Credit to Alan Lakein for that last quote - but I believe it.
So what to do about staying on time? My first solution was taking a Timex Triathlon watch, removing the band and attaching it to my whistle strap. Since I always have my whistle with me at practice, this worked well. There were still times however that I would lose track of the time even though it was 18 inches from my eyes.
This winter we hosted a series of indoor clinics and were limited to 60 minutes on the space we had rented. I wanted to maximize the time so I went looking for a better solution and found a great app on the App Store - Seconds Pro from Runloop.
We run the app on an iPad (it runs on iPhone and Android as well) and set it to make loud beeps when each drill is coming to an end. This was just what we needed to stay on time and get through all the different drills we had planned. We built a custom timer in the app to represent the practice plan for the day. Then we tapped the start button to begin practice and the app did the rest, counting down each drill and alerting the staff when it was time to move on to the next. The app will even speak the name of the drills to you if you set it up to do so.
Here are a few more aspects of using the app that we took advantage of:
- Copy and paste an existing workout to modify it for the next practice (this enabled us to build a library of many different workouts over time)
- Export the workouts from the iPad (this way we could share the workouts across the coaching staff)
- Skip ahead in a drill (or pause the timer) if we needed to move along or reinforce a specific skill (we aren't totally locked in to the timer)
- The numbers on the iPad are really easy to read, even from across the field so it was simple to know how much time was left in a particular drill