Spring practice is a two week period where you work on fundamentals, find out who is ready to start in the fall, try out new players and establish your base offenses and defenses.
It is also a time where coaches can lose their patience and sanity. Players coming and going with spring sports, upcoming exams, park league baseball. Coaches leaving for other jobs. And that one guy that was going to be the wide receiver you needed, just decided to play travel basketball full time.
In the midst of all of this, does it help to play a spring game?
Spring games have changed down through the years. It started back in the 60’s with the Spring Jamboree, where four teams would come together and everyone play a quarter against the other teams and then later on play one team a whole half. We finally progressed to where you could play a complete game against another team. Some teams do jamborees and play more than one school. Some don’t do any kicking plays. Seems like everyone does it different.
There are some good things about playing.
Excitement– The players always look forward to a game. It gives them something to be excited about and might get them to practice a little harder or at least show up that second week when it gets a little tougher.
Evaluations are Better– You can evaluate your team against whatever type competition you can schedule. You can schedule a bigger school or someone you are very competitive playing. Or maybe you can find someone you can beat. You might schedule a rival who isn’t in your region or classification that is reluctant to play you in the regular season or that you couldn’t work out to get scheduled.
Money– You can make a little extra money. Depending upon the opponent you are playing, the little extra money can be helpful, particularly at a smaller school.
Opponents of the spring game may feel just as strongly.
Preparation– You don’t have enough time to properly prepare for an opponent. You may get by if you have an older team. But if you have a young team, it could be tough to get enough work in to play in just 10 days against a quality opponent. Some coaches just simply don’t want to give up practice evaluation days to prepare for a game.
Injuries- They can always happen. But if your star QB gets a substantial injury in the game, your great season could turn bad even before you get to June.
Playing Time– If a player didn’t get to play as much as they thought they should, they may choose to quit before they get to summer. In the heat of battle all coaches want to play their best guys so they can win. If you play an intra squad game, it is much easier to control playing time.
Whether or not to play a spring game is strictly up to the head coach. There is no right or wrong way to do it. The most important thing is that you have a method to finish spring practice that you believe in and it fits into your overall coaching philosophy.