...aND SOMETIMES WE DON'T EVEN DO IT
A GLIMPSE INSIDE GAME PRACTICE SYSTEM (GPS)
AN INNOVATIVE RESTRUCTURING OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL PRACTICES
CHAPTER FOUR: INDY/OPPS
“Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject.”
The term Indy/Ops, its concept, and where it occurs in the practice model (much like the rest of GPS) is unique.
To clarify, Indy is short for individual period, and Ops is short for opportunity.
In GPS an individual period for 1 on 1’s, or the small group teaching of fundamentals and skills is placed at the end of practice . We feel, and the data supports it, that an isolated teaching of a skill better fits when it is taught from a whole game-like scenario - as in Shells. However, there will be times where a player is not “mastering” the needed skill to operate within a full team concept. This is where Indy/Opps comes into the S2A GPS. Traditionally, football practices have placed concentrated individual time at the front of a full practice, The GPS method places it at the end of a practice.
The rationale behind an end of practice Indy/Opps
Part of the GPS method of practice comes from an educational theory, called Mastery. In part, “Mastery” contends that a student is given a concept to understand and apply, then the student is tested and evaluated for mastery of that concept. The law of averages says that a large segment of the students will indeed master the age/level appropriate concept and graduate to the next level and/or task. However, a certain portion of the group of students will not achieve mastery and thus are placed behind the others. This is where reteaching and reassessing of the concept takes place. In the GPS method of football practice, the same premise of mastery occurs.
The phases of a full GPS practice progress from the introduction to a concept, the mastery of a concept, to a possible reteaching, or Indy/Opps, of the concept.
Indy/Opps is the equivalent to re-teaching a concept in the educational classroom. From what we have already covered in our philosophy and beliefs about drills, it is our strongly held belief that not all athletes are created equal, and thus they should not be coached/taught that way either. Therefore we contend that young players, back ups, and main substitutes can more acutely be brought up to higher playing standards in this style of practice procedure.
The GPS system contends that:
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Let’s say that the X receiver (the lone isolated receiver to the left of the formation in diagram 4.1) is struggling picking up his quarterback’s signaled audibles to change the initial route. The X continues to run the called slant even after the quarterback has called for a front door change to a quick out. Throughout the rest of the practice, extending into S27, and 11-11 situations, this X receiver continues to bust assignments. Subsequently, the other receivers are picking it all up and succeeding in their called for executions. This will be the perfect situation for Indy/Ops for this particular X receiver.
The residual positives of Indy/Opps
“Opps” is short for opportunity. This period should always be deemed as a positive that will help an athlete to get better and improve his chances for success and playing time. This is an excellent time for younger and less experienced players to get more attention and feel “coached-up.”
Indy/Opps should be no longer than fifteen minutes. Again, players should never perceive this time as a punishment. It should be noted that coaches do have the option of ending practice and sending to the locker room those players that have achieved mastery during periods 1-12.
Advice on Indy/Opps
Encourage older and more experienced players to stay out on their own to either assist the players that are struggling (“old teaching the young”), or to work on things they individually feel they need to work on. An example would be a quarterback throwing a fade to his other wide receivers. This time will foster leadership and ownership into the older players.
It is important to never convey a connotation of negativity when a player is asked to stay out for Indy/Ops. The coach should always refrain from making threats that if a player doesn’t pick it up he will be staying for Indy/Ops instead of going in with the rest of the team. Ensure you have established a culture where players staying behind for Indy/Opps never feel singled out or embarrassed, by any other players, or by anyone on the coaching staff. There is a difference between effort, attitude, and skill/concept mastery. Punish a player for lack of effort or a poor attitude, but teach a struggling player mastery through providing him an opportunity.
Celebrate when a player that has struggled, and has diligently stayed out for Indy/Ops, makes a great contribution in a game. Stress to the rest of the team that through extra hard work in Indy/Ops that player has helped himself and his team become successful.
As with the athlete, the coach too must master the proper use of Indy/Ops in S2A GPS.
Indy/Ops takeaways from Coach Hargitt:
Indy/Ops is the last 15 minutes of practice. It is entirely worth noting that this individual time is situated at the end of practice and not at the beginning as is the case in many programs’ traditional practice models. Standard operating procedure has always been to have the position coaches go out and work individual fundamentals before the start of practice. In GPS, we choose to reserve this time for the end of practice. The reason for this is quite simple: we want the Indy Op to “stick” with the player. Let's say that an offensive lineman has a poor day of kick sliding in pass protection and it was something he struggled with all practice long. If that was not the offensive line coaches emphasis at the start of practice then that player struggled with a technique all practice long and then gets sent home without having that issue reviewed before he leaves. In our Indy Ops period, the offensive line coach will have identified this problem with his players throughout the practice and then will take the last 15 minutes of practice to give that player the individual opportunity to work on his kick slides and get better. The great part of Indy Ops is that it allows the players and coaches to “fix” problems and reinforce good habits before the player leaves for the day instead of waiting until the start of the next practice a full 24 hours later.
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