After the season ended, you said goodbye to your seniors. You created your off-season programs for returning players, and they began the process of building their bodies for next year. And now, you’re planning which 7-on-7 tournaments you’re going to enter in the summer. If your guys were on the basketball court, the track or the wrestling mats in the winter, it’s time to get them the reps that will prepare them for a competitive summer.Beyond getting your skill players reps on both sides of the ball, what else should you look to accomplish before spring practice begins?
Create Next Year’s Identity This Spring
In your off-season analysis of last year’s performance, you identified areas where you need to get better, and determined some of the changes you need to make because next year’s juniors and seniors aren’t simply plug-in replacements for last year’s seniors. If your secondary could hit but was vulnerable in coverage, you can emphasize coverage techniques. If you were good in coverage but didn’t swarm to the ball on D, you can emphasize finishing as a team in the defensive backfield.
One coach of a team that graduated 37 seniors said that spring 7-on-7 is all about forming good habits and breaking bad ones. “We had a lot of players last year whose experience made it easy for us to simply say, ‘assignment and alignment,’ and they started each play in the right position, playing the correct leverage and depth,” he said. “When kids move up from JV, or they didn’t get a lot of reps as backups on varsity, they don’t value attention to detail the same way as more experienced players.”
Install Base Concepts
On the offensive side of the ball, 7-on-7 is an ideal way to install base concepts. Turnover on the offensive side can affect not only how you scheme your old plays, but it can also dictate changes in your concepts, especially when your new quarterback has a different skill set from your old one. If you’re replacing a 6’2” receiver with three 5’9” guys, passing concepts may change.
March and April provide opportunities for new players to get to know your old and new concepts from different formations, so they’ll get reps running each play multiple ways. And you’ll know that your quarterback and receivers are getting increasingly in sync as they increase their completion rates now that your offense is no longer just throwing for timing but is throwing in competition.
Know Your Personnel
Spring 7-on-7 provides you with the chance to know your personnel, not just based on what they do in the weight room or what they’ve done in the past, but on what they can do now. The fact that kids get older doesn’t necessarily mean they get better. Come springtime, kids who are juniors academically need to think of themselves as seniors athletically, and what they do will tell you who is ready to make the jump from varsity backup to starter, who’s ready to make the jump from jv to varsity.