Module: Planning Effective Practices

Module: Planning Effective Practices

Planning Effective Practices

If practices are to be effective, they must be directed at the needs of the students.  Objectives defined for the season plan needs to be incorporated.  Instruction is both formal (planned) and informal (not planned) and can occur during practices or competition.  Virtually any time students are in your presence, there is a potential for teaching and learning.

More effective teachers organize and plan their instruction prior to meeting with their students.  But, this does not mean unplanned instruction should not be used.  In fact, unplanned events often present ideal opportunities to teach important skills.  One can turn an unplanned event into an excellent learning opportunity.

Features of an Effective practice

Each practice session requires that you select both the content of instruction and its method of presentation. To do this effectively and efficiently, each of your practice plans should:

  • Based upon previous planning and seasonal organization.  Basically, review your plan for the competition season.  Or, what do you want the student to know (knowledge, skills or promotion requirements).
  • List the objectives that will be the focus of instruction for that practice
  • Show the amount of time allotted to each objective during the practice
  • Identify the activities (instructional, drill or randori) that will be used to teach or practice the objectives.
  • Identify important performance cues that you want to emphasize.

Format and Inclusion in a Lesson Plan

Several items should be included in a lesson plan.  They are: the date, the objectives and key points, drills or activities, amount of practice time devoted to each objective and a plan for evaluation.


The date is helpful to maintain organizational efficiency.


The objectives are the reason for conducting the lesson and must be clearly in mind prior to selecting the activities, drills or situations you believe will develop your students’ competencies.

The key points of each objective you desire to have your students achieve must be clearly in mind.  It also helps to have them written prominently on your lesson plan.  In addition, it helps to communicate the essential features of a practice to many different individuals.

Practice Time
            Allotment of time to each objective during practices is a difficult but important decision.  Sufficient time needs to be allocated to result in the majority of your students making some significant improvement on each objective identified on the lesson plan.  Assigning too little time, results in an exposure to an objective, but often results in little change in skill acquisition.  In working with younger students who characteristically have short attention span, you will need to have frequent changes in practice drills or activities.

Instructional Activities

The selection and implementation of instructional activities, drills, nage-komi or randori should consume most of the time and energy devoted to each practice session.  The achievement of your student’s will be directly related to our choices and actions in these important areas.  Drills should be selected or developed to include several important features.

The features of a good drill are:

  • Require a relatively short explanation
  • Provide an excellent structure for mastering an objective
  • Match skill, knowledge or fitness requirements of the activity
  • Keep the students “on task time” high
  • Can be used with large, medium or small groups
  • Are easily modified to accommodate skilled and unskilled students
  • Provide opportunity for skill analysis and feedback to students.

Drills that are selected or developed should be written on independent card’s (separate) or sheets of paper.  It is also helpful to organize them according to objective, group size (individual, small group, large group) attack or defend or strategy.  When you find or develop a good drill, classify it, and add it to your collection.

Equipment Needs

The equipment needed to conduct a drill or activity should be recorded on the lesson plan.  Sometimes it is frustrating to realize, after you have explained and set up the activity or drill, that you do not have the necessary equipment.

Therefore, after you have planned all the activities for your practice, you should review the lesson activities and develop a list of essential equipment to carry out the plans.


The evaluation/comment portion of the practice plan can be used to highlight ways to alter the practice to accommodate the students at skill level other than those expected.  Or to note changes that should be made to improve the plan.  It also provides a place for announcements or other information that needs to be communicated to your students.


Effective planning is the foundation of successful teaching.  It requires practices that include clear communication of what is to be learned, a continuous evaluation of your student’s performances on the objectives of the lesson, a systematic method of instruction.

Systematic instruction includes


  1. Establishing attention and content credibility
  2. Providing precise communication of what needs to be learned
  3. Providing many practice trials and abundant, specific, immediate and positive feedback
  4. Evaluating the achievements of our students.


Guidelines for Effective Instruction

As you provide for practice and feedback to your students, you may wish to use some of the guidelines for instruction that have been revealed by recent research to be effective in improving student learning.

The Nine Guidelines Are:

  1. Set Realistic Expectations
  2. Structure Instruction
  3. Establish an orderly environment
  4. Group your Students
  5. Maximize on-task time
  6. Maximize the success rate
  7. Monitor Progress
  8. Ask Questions
  9. Promote a Sense of Self-Control


  1. Set Realistic Expectations

The expectations that instructors communicate to their students can create a positive climate for learning.  Clear but attainable objectives for success and effort for all your students will facilitate achievement.

As the teacher, you must expect that you will significantly improve the performance of every student.  Secondly, set realistic achievement tasks for your students.  Make a commitment to help each player achieve these tasks, and expect improvement.

  1. Structure Instruction

Achievement has been strongly linked to clear communication of the intended outcomes of instruction (objectives), why the goals and objectives are important (essential or prerequisite skills), and what to do to achieve outcomes (instructional directions).  Effective instruction is based upon the systematic organization of the content to be taught.  The critical steps to take are:

  • Select the essential skills, fitness, knowledge of the rules and strategies
  • Clearly identify the elements of acceptable performance for each objective
  • Organize and conduct your practices to maximize the opportunity your students have to acquire the objectives.
  1. Establish an Orderly Environment
  • Maintain orderly and disciplined practices
  • Maintain clear and reasonable rules that are fairly and consistently enforced.
  1. Group Your Students

Typically, in groups of mixed ability, the student with average ability suffers a loss in achievement, while the student with low ability does slightly better.  The critical condition for grouping to be effective is to have students practice at the skill levels needed to advance their ability.  This involves groups of similar ability being appropriately challenged.

  • When a skill, rule or strategy is being taught, use a single group for instruction
  • Divide the team and place students of similar ability in small groups
  • Establish learning stations that focus on specific outcomes to meet the group’s needs.
  1. Maximize On-Task Time

To maximize the use of available time, one should:

  • Reduce the number of students waiting in line.
  • Clearly outline and diagram each portion of the practice
  • Reduce the transition time between drills by planning your practices
  • Order is established and maintained
  • Tasks that are to be mastered must be clearly understood
  • Many opportunities must be provided for practice
  • A means for giving immediate, specific and positive feedback.
  1. Maximize The Success Rate

Research has shown the relationship among successful experiences, achievement and motivation to learn is very strong.   As a teacher, you should expose students to new learning situations that will yield 70 to 90 percent successful experiences. The level of success will motivate them to want to continue to achieve.  Suggestions to improve success ratio.

  • Reduce each skill, rule or strategy into achievable sub-skills and focus instruction on those sub-skills
  • Provide feedback to the students. Positive feedback
  1. Monitor Progress

When students are left to work on their own, they often spend less time engaged in the activities for which they are responsible.  When teachers are actively moving about, monitoring progress, and providing individual and small group instructional feedback, students will make greater gains.

  1. Ask Questions

Asking questions of students also may enhance their achievement.  Questions must promote participation or establish, reinforce and reveal factual data associated with physical skills, rules or strategies.  When using this teaching technique, pause of three or more seconds before you ask for a response.  This gives the student time to think about their answer.  Students capable of answering questions will feel good about themselves, even if they don’t have ability to perform the skill.  The sense of control can be developed by;

  • Organize your instruction to result in many successful experiences.
  • Teach your student that everyone learns at different rates and to use effort and their own continuous progress as their primary guide for success.
  • Encourage students to put forth their best effort.  Reward efforts with a positive comment, pat on the back, thumbs up sign or other means that will communicate your approval.