Coaches’ Corner: Getting The Most Out Of Scrimmages

There are a lot of ways to add value to your scrimmages at practice.

Photo: Jeff Bell —

This article is part of the Coaches’ Corner series from UMass coaches Tiina Booth and Russell Wallack. See every article in the series here.

UMass practices consist of five components: huddles, dynamic warm-up, conditioning, drills, and scrimmaging. The only specificity to the order of these activities is that a huddle and dynamic warm-up always come before the other activities. Beyond that, we heavily integrate drills and conditioning into our scrimmage time. Drills put our players in positions to develop, and then scrimmages double down on the developmental opportunity. The aim with our combinations of scrimmages and conditioning is to increase the adversity and diversity of the situations the players face. Players are not “being trained for every situation,” but they are developing their ability to adapt their training to any situation.

Our Basics for Scrimmage Design

Every scrimmage is an opportunity to practice competing. If players are holding back in a scrimmage, they are building bad habits, and they are not challenging the growth of their teammates. No matter how smart you think your commentary is as a coach, if your players are not pushing each other, you are missing out on a lot of value at your practices.

Over the past few years on UMass, we have implemented well over 20 different scrimmage varieties — every time we have chosen a new variation, it has been for a reason. With any scrimmage design, this might be the most important part: know what you are trying to accomplish with the scrimmage.

Here are a couple of examples of scrimmages that we use and why.

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  1. Russell Wallack
    Russell Wallack

    Russell Wallack is the co-coach of the University of Massachusetts Men’s team. He began playing ultimate at Tiina Booth’s camp in 2000 (when he was 10). Since then, he has captained Kenyon College SERF and Boston Ironside and won national and world championships. He has coached in the U.S., Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Germany, where he will be launching the first ever session of GUTC (Global Ultimate Training Camp) in 2018. He lives, coaches, and works in Amherst where he is developing regional chestnut production, helping companies to adopt regenerative agricultural, and supporting young athletes in their development.

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