Coaching with Multi-Teaching for Multi-Taskers

By Mike Muetzel,

OK, can we agree that the players we are coaching today are different? To be most effective we need to understand the changing nature of our players. Most of them have short attention spans, love to text message, do their homework, and watch TV all at the same time. As the old adage goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I might humbly suggest that all of this is not going to change, so why not integrate these characteristics into practice routines and drills. It is going to help the kids improve, be more fun, and save all of us a lot of yelling and frustration.

As for the attention span, shorter fast-paced drills that change every day are now the norm for most NCAA coaches. With a little planning and creativity, we can do that.

The Next Level: Multi-Task

The most successful coaches have taken these concepts to the next level and incorporated a multi-task approach to their drills. Perhaps a better term is 'multi-teach.' As we change our drills, we often focus on a primary purpose and one or two key teaching points. To really play to the multi-task nature of the kids, we can do more. All it takes is a little thought and planning on your part, but here are four examples that might help you get started.

End Every Drill with a Clear

Perhaps one of the most difficult and frankly boring parts of the game is working on clears and rides. In our recent interview with Coach John Paul from the University of Michigan, three-time MCLA Champions, this multi-teach, multi-drill philosophy has served him well. Whether it is 4V4 or a 1V1, every drill is ended with a clear. So now drills have at least two parts, the fundamentals of the drill itself and a clearing and/or riding mentality incorporated into each of them.

Multiple Phases to Each Drill

We originally learned this concept from Coach Mike Pressler. In his typical transition drills, let's discuss a 3V2 drill for example, the players start from the far restraining line and sprint 70 yards to get back in transition both offensively and defensively. Now we have a fast break transition drill. Immediately, the same players stay on the field, a ball is rolled out, and we quickly play 3V2 from a settled set in the offensive end, almost a slow break scenario. Following the second set, really just 10-20 seconds to a shot, we immediately go into a third variation, a clear and ride scenario to go past midfield. This can be done by adding a defender to the clearing team or with the players on the field. And the next group of five comes streaking down the field.

Integrate Other Fundamental Skills in Every Drill

One of my favorite ways to accomplish this in a multi-task approach is to combine the smallest, key fundamentals in each drill. For example, if we are running one-on-one drills, often we have a lot of players standing and waiting for their turn. That does not equate to paying attention, and our frustration level may begin to move up the back of our necks.

As an example, if we are running a variation of a 4V4 drill, the drill does not begin by the coach rolling or passing the ball to a player who then passes to the attack. Instead, to start the drill the first player must take his defender outside and drive. He cannot simply begin the drill with a pass. This incorporates driving skills into a larger drill or scrimmage. Teaching points include taking the player outside as well as protecting the stick and in many cases a one-on-one dodging, all integrated with a mandatory drive variation to the drill. In many cases, it also immediately incorporates a slide-and-recover feature to even a 4V4 even drill.

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