Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post The end of two-a-days: good, bad, or just not that big of a deal?

Wednesday July 14, 2010

The media met with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo today, and Marc Weiszer noted a change in the practice routine that I saw first mentioned in a DawgVent post by Anthony Dasher a few weeks ago: preseason practices won’t involve any two-a-days.

The NCAA limits practice time, even before the season. Programs that choose to hold two-a-days end up practicing fewer days in order to get those concentrated days of practices. Even those that do use two-a-days are scheduling them for only a small portion of preseason came. You can look at this 2009 preseason schedule for FSU and see that there were 16 days of practice planned. Only four of those days involved two-a-days, and those were never on consecutive days. Georgia’s previous preseason schedules were similar. It’s not like Georgia is going from 50% two-a-day practices to nothing.

Instead Georgia will start a little earlier – July 31st. They’ll have fewer days off and get into a more season-like routine of practice during the week and a scrimmage on Saturday. Why? There are a few possible advantages to going to one practice per day:

  • Coaches have more time to evaluate and correct between practices. Every action in practice is filmed and broken down between sessions. With two practices a day, there is much less time to go over that first session while you’re preparing for the afternoon session. “You’ve got time to review that film and then come back install the next morning and walk-through the next morning,” explains Bobo.
  • Practice will be spread over 35 days. Georgia won’t practice or even meet on every day of course, but starting a week or so earlier than usual will allow for more teaching and evaluation time.
  • Players should be sharper. Two-a-days are grueling, and fatigue causes mental mistakes. There’s a flip side to that though – more on that in a second.
  • Injuries brought on by fatigue should be reduced – dead legs should be less of a problem.

The obvious objection to this approach has to do with toughness. “You might not get them as tough as you would like them,” admits Bobo. Pushing players during preseason camp is supposed to prepare them for the physical and mental demands of a long season and a competitive conference. Now some of that objection comes from the “water is for the weak” school who think that the only appropriate way to practice is how it was done decades ago. But there’s no question that the only way to improve in certain areas is to challenge and push through limits, and the demands of multiple practices in a day helped to accomplish that objective.

There’s also a sentimental angle. The demanding conditions – the “hell” – of preseason two-a-days in the heat of summer can and often do forge some of the most intense bonds and memories in a player’s career. It’s similar for any group that goes through that kind of concentrated drilling together from drum corps on up to the Marine Corps. You can hear a bit of that from Bobo. “You talk to the older coaches on the staff, they had four-or-five-a-days,” he said. “That’s how Coach Searels and Coach Garner had it at Auburn.” Those who went through it surely hated it at the time, but making it through is a point of pride and a shared experience with your teammates.

It’s an interesting topic because it’s not the first time Georgia has wrestled with the structure of practice. If the Bulldogs struggle this year, especially if close games are involved, you can be 100% certain that some fans and media will be right back to this issue as a root cause. Injuries during the 2008 preseason led the staff to tone down the intensity of practice, and sloppy tackling proved to be a fatal flaw several times during the year. Mark Richt revisited that decision following the season.

“We practiced different this year, and it was attributed to the number of injuries in camp,” said Richt. “We addressed that in the way we practiced for the bowl. We tackled more in our bowl practices than we did all season long. I think our defense improved in that time frame. They tackled better, had more of a swagger in that game. That’s part of it, practicing the way we need to practice.”

Now of course going from two-a-days to one practice says nothing about the intensity of that one practice. Coaches know they’re going to have to accomplish a lot during that single session. They’ll also have to find ways to bring about the growth and mental toughness that came when two-a-days pushed players to the edge. It’s still another adjustment that will test the coaches’ ability to find that balance and make sure that, as Coach Richt said, Georgia is “practicing the way we need to practice.”

Your thoughts: will the end of two-a-days turn out to be a good or bad decision, or does it just not matter?

3 Responses to 'The end of two-a-days: good, bad, or just not that big of a deal?'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  • I’ve never played a down of football (obviously) & never witnessed more than a handfull of practices so my opinion is absolutely worthless. That being said, from the way you explained it, it sounds like a great idea. Clearly w/ a new D, new QB & thin WR corp they’re gonna need the extra time & teaching to install new schemes. As for the toughness/intensity issue…somehow i don’t envision Grantham, Searles, Belin or Garner being soft, ever, regardless of whether they practice once or twice a day.

    I’m honestly more concerned with conditioning anyway. The last few years have been atrocious, and i’m not talking ab weight room stats. Most know the story ab Searles from last season & i’ll never forget watching Rennie “made of steel” Curran get IVs at Oklahoma State BEFORE the half (as well as several other players throughout that abysmal game). Even yesterday on twitter Mike Moore was joking w/ a player ab the fact we’re still pushing chocolate milk on players instead of protein shakes. Like we still even w/ a Nutrition expert on staff, haven’t joined the rest of the athletic world in properly teaching athlete nutrition, strength & season-lasting condition. Sigh.

  • Ubiquitous GA Alum

    July 15th, 2010
    11:43 am


    I say what’s the big deal. For comparison Bama had 3 2-A-Days last year and check out this nuggett from Saban …

    “Today was the first day that we are allowed to have a two-a-day,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said following the morning session … “We usually don’t practice in pads two practices in a row, so we will be in shells tonight and it will be a little different type of practice.”

    Sounds more like a “teaching” practice rather than building endurance and yadda yadda yadda …


  • Good info. I saw Mark Schlabach tweet today that VaTech hasn’t held two-a-days for several years. The 29 practice limit has really changed the approach.