Another Myth – Long Practices


Jonathan Hewitt sent me the following question in response to my post on Quantity or Quality. What do you say to the coach that thinks if they train their team to play 5 quarters then they will have no problem playing 4 quarters? That is precisely the mastodon mentality that buries the athletes. If the game is two hours then you practice three hours- WRONG. What happens when you do that is that you send a message- The message is that it is about enduring, surviving rather than thriving. The athletes pace themselves and gear down the effort to make it through the practice. It contradicts everything we know about motor learning. I want to see high quality efforts, executed at game speed with precision. What I see in long practices is mindless work, going through the motions and repetition of errors. Jack Blaterwick, Conditioning coach of five different Olympic Ice hockey teams, including the 1980 Miracle team, has a concept he calls “overspeed” by that he means the ability to practice at a speed greater that you are currently able to play in the game. You start with small periods of this and gradually increase this until the game slows down. Gus Hiddink, the coach of South Korea in the 2003 World Cup and current coach of Russia uses the same concept in soccer. Not really rocket science, it is common sense. Eventually you should be able to execute technique while fatigued. To do that you establish a sound technical model in the skill of the sport (learn in non fatigued state). Build sound tactics on that. Add strategic awareness. Then you play faster. It is a process. It requires patience and long term development. It will and does work at every level.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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