Maintaining Tempo

maintaining tempo in football

Experts say that any game is won weeks before the kickoff ever happens. Teams start the winning process during the conditioning and practice sessions weeks before the season begins. Solid practice is essential in making players both physically and mentally strong enough to compete and win. And one of the keys to having a successful practice, is maintaining the tempo.

Maintaining the tempo of practice means there's no downtime. Not a second is wasted as the team moves from one play to another or repeats the same rep until players get it right. 

There are three reasons why tempo is so important for the game of football.

1. Energy--Maintaining the tempo of practice is good because it keeps the energy of the entire team up. Energy is infectious and having a strong, vibrant energy will take a physically talented team to the next level.

2. Get in more reps--Maintaining the tempo of the practice means no down time, so a team can get more reps in. More reps mean more opportunities for coaching tips to stick.

3. Keeping players engaged--Being able to maintain the tempo of practice helps keep players minds engaged on what's going on. Rather than getting distracted or bored, athletes are able to focus on the task at hand and truly engage throughout the entire practice.

Spring Approach

Spring Ball #hear2win

Although successful seasons can -- and often are -- forged in spring football, there is no set routine to the way spring camps transpire. Unlike the college football season -- when the game each Saturday dictates, to a great degree, how coaches structure their preparation week -- spring camp allows coaches to get creative with how they work out their teams. 

Each program gets 15 practices in the spring. Usually, programs try to schedule two or three practices per week, and there's typically a spring break to negotiate in there, as well. Years ago -- and it's still somewhat true today -- programs just waited for spring break to end before they started their camps, working four weeks non-stop. But that approach can eat into important recruiting and evaluation periods. 

So many schools will start spring practice in late February or early March and work around the spring break. Some will practice for a couple weeks, let the players go on break, and then return to practice after coaches have evaluated a few weeks' worth of film. Some programs choose to practice during spring break -- like Michigan, which moved its operation to South Florida for a week, allowing players to enjoy the beach when they weren't practicing. 

Many programs -- although not all -- turn the 15th practice into a game with officials, a game clock and sometimes a big crowd. Ohio State, Alabama, Nebraska, Michigan and Auburn are among those programs that draw the biggest crowds, and those schools tend to turn those spring games into recruiting events that attract prospects to campus. And Kansas State chose to take its 2015 spring to a soccer stadium outside Kansas City. Other schools -- generally smaller -- prefer something more scaled down for a final practice. 

What programs choose to work on during those 15 spring practices can also vary. Some, like Ohio State, like to have a firm depth chart by the end of spring camp, so the environment -- and the meaning of the spring game -- is pretty significant. Other programs ditch all concerns of depth charts and just have players focus on improving their skills day to day. That generally means competition is moved to the first part of fall camp. 

When it comes to deciding how much or how little a coach should install of his offense or defense, you'll find differences, as well. Some programs prefer to focus on what they do well already -- their identity, if you will -- while others underline where they struggled the previous season and focus first on that. Strength vs. weakness is perhaps one of the biggest differences in approach. 

No one method is better or worse, necessarily, so long as coaches and players communicate well and know the expectations. 

Top 100 Recruits

top 100 college football recruits

Where are the top prospects headed this year? For the answer, we examined Scout's Top 100 players in the nation and tracked where they signed scholarship papers. Here is a list of where those players landed:

7 Top 100 prospects

6 Top 100 prospects
Florida State

5 Top 100 prospects
Ohio State

4 Top 100 prospects
Penn State

3 Top 100 prospects
Notre Dame

2 Top 100 prospects
Texas A&M

1 Top 100 prospect
Michigan State
Mississippi State

What does that list tell us?

While a winning culture and playing style attract top recruits, having additional tools available to potential players can also help incentivize these young athletes. 
The decision whether or not to attend a particular school can be made more easily when young recruits and their families know that teams are invested in the full development of the athlete from college to beyond.