Second-year Detroit coach Dan Campbell took a different approach to training camp earlier this week. On Monday, the Lions conducted a player-led practice with team leaders guiding their teammates through a series of individual drills and team periods. There were no assistant coaches on the field, with Campbell simply observing from the sidelines.
Although the practice schedule and scripts were provided by the coaching staff, team leaders were responsible for overseeing the drills and making sure everyone performed up to the standard.
“Well, he told us this morning that the players were gonna go out there and run their own practice,” Lions veteran left tackle Taylor Decker said on Monday, via MLive.com. ” ‘Here’s the team scenarios that we want to get done and you guys are gonna go out there and run the show.’ I think it’s awesome to do. Because honestly, on a game day, we’re out there, we gotta communicate, we have to be accountable to one another.”
This kind of unique arrangement fosters the commitment, accountability and trust between players and coaches that is needed to perform at a high level. Moreover, it forces players to master their leadership and communication skills. Given how today’s society often communicates via text or various social media channels, coaches should to spend more time teaching their players how to talk to each other between the lines. In addition, the player-led sessions challenged the team leaders to be very clear and direct with their instructions and expectations.
“He just told us, he was like, ‘This is what the practice — these are the periods we want to practice and the coaches won’t be out there.’ That’s pretty much it,” Decker said. “Just left it at that. So, OK. Like I said, we come out here and we work every day. It doesn’t matter if the coaches are out here or not. We know what to do and how to do it. Obviously, we need coaches. But we shouldn’t need them out here to be able to get good work in. Because we’re professionals. I don’t need a cheerleader to get me to go. Pretty cool. I’ve never seen anything like it, so it was fun to get out here.”