During the first couple weeks its important to install as much of your gameplan as possible. The players should know the offense, defense, rides, and clears. These are very important pieces for everyone to understand. But another important element is ensuring your team is ready to show up for a game. This is why I recommend you practice your gameday.
It is important to define your warmup and have the players run through the actual pregame in practice before gameday. Having the players run through ensures you don’t waste time and helps the players be autonomous.
It also allows you to time your pregame warm up to see how long you will need (typically I aim for 20-30 minutes including stretching). Without practicing you may not accomplish what you want, and players may be confused leading to more time wasted.
Lastly, it keeps players in a comfort zone. Gameday is one big distraction. Bringing the players back to something they have practiced a number of times helps the players minimize their emotion and increase their focus.
First 5 minutes
I learned this from my college coach and I love it. We’d come to practice some days and after warm-ups we’d roll right into an inter-squad scrimmage. First 5 minutes is simply a scrimmage for 5 minutes. This is the perfect addendum to practicing your pregame. Have the players know their colors/teams before you start for the day. Inform the players the day before so they come prepared knowing today we are going to practice our pregame and finish with first 5 minutes. Both items that they players could run by themselves if really was necessary.
This again puts the players in a position where they not only practicing warming up, but they practice the warm up with the intent to play a game. We want to set the tone those first five minutes and this practice should help us get what we want accomplished. The more we practice it, the less we have to think. And of course, there should be a competition going on here with the losing squad being reminded its good to win the first 5 minutes.
Practice is a coaches tool to ease the tension and unknown of gameday. The more you make it routine, the more success it will generate. Practice your pregame and practice your game. This 30-45 minute kickoff to practices once in a while will help keep your team sharp and ready to start right out of the gate.