This should not come as a surprise to anyone. It follows with more or less anyone in more or less any field. Think about the amount of time and effort people invest in hobbies that seem weird to everyone but themselves. And when they do invest that time and effort, the quality of their work is far above what they would do for tasks they are compelled to do. Now think about your players. How much attention do they invest in drills they like opposed to drills they don’t like? How much do you think they improve in those areas compared to areas?
So how does that information affect the way I approach my own practice? There are two main ways. Firstly, when players are doing their own thing before practice or during breaks, don’t interfere. Even if what they are doing is something you would never allow during ‘real’ practice or during a game. Secondly, every so often (for me it is the last practice before a match) allow time for players to do whatever it is they want to do. Those extra few repetitions may seem meaningless, especially as they are certainly not ‘good’ receptions, but the chances are they will lead to extra improvement.
In short, give players some time for themselves in your programming. They will pay more attention to what they choose to do, and likely improve more and faster.
The collection of Coaching Tips can be found here.
Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.