3 Day Install and Practice Planning

Each year in Spring Ball or the earliest part of Summer, High School’s across the country begin installing their base offense. More and more teams are beginning to use the “3 day install”. This is a popular way that many colleges (and now High Schools) go about installing their offense. They break the offense apart into 3 total days. I first read about the 3 day install from a Smart Football post by Chris Brown  here back in 2011.  I have used a rough version of this since then but this year was by far my most organized/OCD spring to date.

The basic idea is to put it all in 3 days, and keep repeating that 3 day rotation.

  • Divide offense into days A, B, C
  • on Day 4 start back over with A
  • follow the rotation throughout Spring

Now I will discuss how I broke everything down for my days, how I installed, and how I have continued to use this progression into the Summer.

The Science behind 3 day install.  

Some people might think you are better off mastering one basic skill, or base play before moving on to add more.  This is an “old school” way of thought that is often referred to as blocking… this would be AAA, BBB, CCC learning.

The same skill concept 3 days in a row, before moving on to something new.  On the Surface this makes sense but modern educational research studies have shown that interleaving, “mixing it up” or ABC, ABC, ABC learning (rotating the skills/concepts being taught) is the most effective for skill and concept mastery.

This is applicable to education, learning musical instruments, and sports.  A more detailed article explaining this study can be found here.

Now that we understand why mixing it up works best, we can begin to apply it to an offense.

Deconstructing My Offense

The first thing I did was to make a spread sheet with every single personnel group, formation, motion, and play I wanted to install during Spring.

I had an ambitious install plan for the Spring in which we would install over 90% of the entire possible offense.

I broke the offense up as follows

3 day rotation ( A, B, C)

Each day would include

  • 2 run plays (grouped by family)
  • 2 quick game plays
  • 2 drop back plays
  • 1 “other” pass… screen, boot, power pass

After the 3 day rotation we have the potential for 6 runs, 6 quick concepts, 6 drop concepts, and 3 “other” concepts.  If you do not want to install that many plays… then “double up” on certain plays.  We did this with the quick and dropback game.  Each play actually got included 2x during the 3 days.

Day A: 

This is our Gap Scheme Day.  We work power and counter, as well as play action off of that.  We picked passes from the menu I created.

Day B:

This is our Zone Scheme Day. We work Inside and Outside Zone.  We work screen game off those actions and I picked passes from the menu I created.

Day C:

This is our “other” run game day.  We work buck sweep and toss on this day.  We rotate the passes again.

Formations/Personnel:

We started by teaching all of our 21 and 11 personnel formations during the first 3 days of practice.

Day 4, 5, 6:

Moving on to the 2nd time through our rotation… days 4, 5, and 6 we began adding more personnel/formations.  We added our split back, 12, 10 and 30 personnel groups/formations.

The order of the plays we worked stayed the same… The formations became the new learning.

Day 7, 8, 9:

Moving on to the 3rd time through our rotation… days 7, 8, and 9 we began adding in motion.  With our personnel and formations installed, the various motions became the new learning and how the motions related to the concepts.

Why I love this rotation:

I love this 3 day rotation because it makes scheduling practice… both the drills, and the scripts much easier to manage.  By splitting the offense up like this it narrows the focus down for each day… both in terms of Indy reps, and group/team reps.

I am an Offensive Line Enthusiast!  We have more skill development work to do than any other position.  I can not come close to working all of the various blocks we need in our tool box in a single day.  By splitting up the schemes, it lets me break down the Indy time to work on exactly what they need to do that day.

To put it in perspective… let’s look at just the run game.

On a gap scheme day (A) we work down blocks, gap doubles, and our pulls.

On a zone day (B) we work base blocks, combo blocks, and reach blocks.

On our “Other day” (C) we work different skills, fast reaches, Fb Logs, and perimeter pulls.

By narrowing the focus of what we will run during inside run and team that day, I can narrow what I need to work on during Indy.

It makes my time scripting plays for run, pass, and team periods much easier as well.  I do not have every play to choose from.  I have no more than 2 from each category to choose from, this lets me get multiple reps of the plays in, from different personnel groups or formations.  This also makes my practice planning much easier, and take up less time.  I don’t create a new practice plan each day.  There’s a practice plan and script for A, B, and C.  I can copy and paste these (using google drive for both) and make any small changes I need for that individual day.  I am never starting from scratch.  Having the schedule and script for A, B, C stay mostly the same lets me knock out any small changes or additions in less than 10 minutes, then I am printing it out and ready to roll for practice.

Moving into Summer:

Now that we have moved into Summer I have kept the same basic rotation but I will be tweaking it in one small way.

We practice 4x a week.  Monday – Thursday all Summer long.

So far I have stuck with the exact rotation (adding small wrinkles here and there, but the core is the same).

Mon A

Tues B

Wed C

Thurs A

Mon B

Tues C

Wed A

Thurs B

Mon C

Tues A

Wed B

Thurs C

 

What I will begin doing from Mid July on, is to “test” my players more.  Currently practices are focused on INDY and small group time with very little “team” going on.

I will begin starting the ABC rotation every Monday, and rather than restart on Thursday… I will use Thursday as a “review of ALL concepts” day.  I will use more team and group sessions, mix all of our schemes, and use this to really test how well things have sunk in with my kids.  This will be my assessment not just of how well they are learning, but more importantly how well I am teaching.  This will act just like a test in the classroom, and let me know what I need to spend more time working on on the white board, and on the field.

Mon A

Tues B

Wed C

Thurs: Review all “test day”

Moving into the season:

Once We begin school and move into the season I will have to get off my this Spring/Summer rotation because we are more limited in the days/time we have to practice.  I won’t be able to give each group of plays it’s own day, and practices will be about the game plan and match ups.  In season the focus shifts more to the opponent, but now… in the Spring/Summer portion of the off season, their is no opponent, it is all about learning for yourself and this system of installing an offense has been the most productive I have ever used or seen.  We were running plays better after 10 days of spring ball this year, than we were to start the season in 2015.