The excitement of the first days of practice and the promise of a brand new season have worn off. For some teams, faced with the certainty of a losing season, practice has become drudgery. For other teams who still expect to have success or are competitive in their games, practice is still enjoyable. For now.
As the season wears on, and the rate of improvement slows with each passing practice, players, teams and coaches can become stale. This can translate into burnout, injuries and a sense of fatigue that a single good night’s sleep cannot alleviat.
To fight end of season fatigue , injury and staleness, consider days off whenever possible, shortening practice with an emphasis on quality and not the length of practice. As often as possible, introduce competition into drills to make practices fun for the players. Without adding new concepts to learn, introduce a fun drill or two that are meant to be games.
Sometimes change of routine can work wonders as well. Try running a practice backwards! Do everything you would normally do in a practice, but in the reverse order that you normally use in practice.
Stress to your players the importance of eating right, getting enough sleep and taking care of any nagging injuries they might have. Find ways to spend time together as a team that does not involve physical practice or games but is fun.
Finally, be sure to take care of yourself as well. The stress of coaching can wear down a coach just as the grind of the season wears down the players. Illness can become a problem when stress and fatigue has reduced the ability of our body’s immune system to fight off a virus.
Plan to deal with this issue with the same seriousness you would an upcoming opponent. In many ways, end of the season fatigue is an opponent!
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