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  • Writer's pictureTerry O'Neil

Louisiana Shows Interest

Practice Like Pros presented last week to Louisiana coaches at the annual Louisiana High School Coaches Association (LHSCA) Convention in the Shreveport Convention Center.

The clinic coincided with the start of mandatory mini-camps for nine NFL teams, givingPLP founder Terry O'Neil a hook to roll video of the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks.  These mini-camps are conducted in helmets only -- no pads -- as required by the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement.  And amazingly, players execute drills full speed without colliding.

Several Louisiana coaches had seen this format in a New Orleans Saints practice and were astonished that players could go full speed to within inches of each other before avoiding contact. 

"It's football ballet," said O'Neil.  "It was invented by (San Francisco 49ers Coach) Bill Walsh in the '80s.  He believed his squad would only appreciate the timing, spacing and choreography of his plays by practicing them full speed.  He called this format 'Full Speed to Contact,' meaning full-speed effort until the moment of imminent contact, at which point the players veer apart."

Under Head Coach Pat Shurmur, the New York Giants call it, "Hands, Feet and Leverage," meaning that players can engage lightly with their hands and move their feet full speed to gain/maintain leverage on the opponent.  Pointedly excluded is use of the arms, chest and shoulders.

Strategies like these from the game's highest level are subtle, sophisticated, but Louisiana coaches agreed they can be taught to high school players via Practice Like Pros videos.

Coach Benjy Lewis, Defensive Coordinator, Neville High School, Monroe, LA, said, "I feel it's our responsibility as coaches to make sure that player safety is paramount.  By using the non-contact and 'thud' coaching techniques, we give ourselves the best shot to be healthy on game nights.  The thought of having all your players healthy should be exciting to any football coach."

Louisiana is one of four states, including New Hampshire, Delaware and South Dakota,that currently mandates no limits on practice contact.  The day after the clinic, Head Coach Gabe Fertitta of Catholic High School, Baton Rouge, tweeted, "Listened toPractice Like Pros at the LHSCA Convention yesterday.  It's time Louisiana adopts limits on contact minutes in practice.  The safety of our kids and our game is extremely important.  It can be done.  You can be a nasty, physical team without full contact every day."

O'Neil concluded, "I'm not worried about Louisiana.  The coaches understand.  And they have tremendous leadership in Eddie Bonine, executive director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association."

Next Up

Practice Like Pros will present Wednesday, July 17, in Greensboro, NC, to the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Football Coaches Association (NCFCA).  Terry O'Neilwill be joined by Dr. Josh Bloom, a former Dartmouth linebacker, now a sports medicine practitioner in Cary, NC, and member since 2005 of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA).

Two weeks later, Wednesday, July 31, in Charleston, SC, PLP will present to the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Football Coaches Association (SCFCA).  This will bePLP's third appearance in South Carolina during the past year. 

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