LaPolice: Adjustments are needed to be ready on short week

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Paul LaPolice
8/12/2014 9:15:00 AM
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For the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, they will have to play on what we call a short week.  They will play a game only five days after their previous game.  This is something every team in the CFL will have to deal with at some point and being able to handle these short weeks is crucial to being a contender for first place.

When I was a head coach and the newest schedule would come out, I would evaluate and break the season down by how many days off between games. For example, you wanted to know that we have five days between games twice, six days between games three times, seven days between games eight times and so on. 

I would do this for not only my team but also all the teams in the League and be able to see how each team's schedule was set up for days between games.  If we had four, five day turnarounds between games and no other team had more than two, I was going to take that up with the CFL schedulers and ask for that to be changed in the next version to match the other teams five day turnaround schedules.

Let's talk about some of the things that affect a team playing on a short week.  One of the first things that would happen the day after a game is you get an injury report from the athletic training staff and that will tell you the status of players' injuries and whether they will be ready to play.  Short weeks make it very difficult for injured players to get healthy in time to play. 

In a seven or eight day work week, you can have two or three extra days to get an injured player ready to play.  That could be all the time in the world, for the training staff to get him ready to play.  So one of the biggest downfalls of short weeks is injured players may have a hard time being ready to play.

Another thing that has to be adjusted is the practice schedule for the week.  With only five days between games, you really have only four days to prepare because the fourth day is the travel day.  Most teams do one of two things on the day after a game on a short week.

Most teams would bring the players in the day after the game and review the previous night's game and correct mistakes and evaluate the film with the players.  Some teams may give the players the day after the game off and will show a few corrections to be made the following day. 

That leaves you with only two days and you have to combine what are usually three games of practice into two days.  So the team will get less reps of their base offense usually and will still have to work on all situations. (Goal line, Red Zone, Backed Up etc.)  So it is very hard for the coaches to communicate and teach the game plan with one fewer day to prep the players. 

I never had the players put the pads on during five day turnarounds because the players are still sore from the previous game and I wanted to do my best to make sure the players are ready to play the next game. 
From a game planning standpoint, coaches will actually try to do as much work as they can before the previous game knowing that they will have such a short turnaround the following week.  Scouting reports and video breakdowns and whatever early paper work can be done is finished before the previous game.

Another thing about game planning on a short week, many teams will have a smaller package of plays because they don't have time to practice and teach it all.  I have found that is actually a good thing because we as coaches tend to put too much into our game plans.

One advantage of the short week is if you lost the previous game, you get a chance to play again quickly and get back on track with a win.  Short weeks have to be planned out and structured the right way, but are part of the unique scheduling of the Canadian Football League.

Blue Bombers celebrate (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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