6 Benefits of Keeping a Consistent Schedule

Lots of drill teams don’t keep consistent schedules. It’s usually a completely random schedule, based on what facilities are available. For instance, if there are no areas for practice (pretty impossible–you’ll see what I mean in Finding Places to Practice) then there will be no practice, or practice will be held at a different time (in the morning, for instance) or different day to accomodate. Of course there’s constant competition with other sports teams for school facilities such as the gym, but that’s not a valid excuse for not practicing.

By a consistent schedule, I basically mean a “class schedule”. Your first period class might be everyday, from 8-9am. This is how drill practices should be; for instance, Mondays to Thursdays, 2-4pm. No changes. Read How to Schedule Practices for more information about this method.

So here’s the six benefits of keeping a consistent schedule:

1. No surprises
No one’s going to come to school late and say, “but… I didn’t know that school started at 8am…”; likewise, no one will come to practice (or not come at all!) with this excuse. And no one is going to plan something at this time unless it’s the last resort. The main reason for missing practice is not knowing when practice is. So, if someone knows exactly what days/hours practice are, then she can plan accordingly and schedule appointments whenever there isn’t practice. So no surprises. No “I didn’t know” excuses.

2. Happier members
No one likes having an inconsistent schedule. It’s like having your manager at work give you crappy hours! No one likes that. It’s just frustrating and hard to work with. If people know exactly when drill practice will be held, they will know when they are busy and when they are not. If someone asks me if I’m busy on May 15th and it’s a month away and I have an inconsistent drill schedule, I won’t know. I’ll probably have to delay my answer on that question until the new schedule is released. And if this date is supposed to be for a project or other type of appointment, it’ll probably be too late by the time I know. If, on the other hand, I do have a consistent drill schedule, then I’ll just have to know what day of the week May 15th is, and I’ll be able to give an answer on the spot. People are naturally happier when they know when things are happening. What if school started a different time everyday? Wouldn’t that suck?! Same with drill. Keep it consistent!

3. Immediate notification of conflicts
If someone can’t attend practice on a certain day (with a good excuse, of course!), then she can tell you right away. For instance, if a member planned a doctor’s appointment on a Thursday three months away (because, well, her doctor is all booked and closed on Friday–or another acceptable excuse), she can notify you immediately. This way, you can decide whether it’s worth it to cancel practice to accomodate one member; in addition, you can have time to think about this and plenty of time to notify the team. I was often afraid to tell my captain or coach that I had to miss practice because I would end up scheduling a doctor’s appointment a month in advance, and a month later when the schedule came out, I’d realize that I’d be missing practice. I’d often be scolded with a “why did you schedule at such an inopportune time? Can’t you change the appointment? Didn’t you know that there would be practice that day?” Ugh. I didn’t really like being confronted in this way. As you’ve probably experienced, some events have to be planned a weeks or months in advance, and sometimes they just don’t work out. It’s really frustrating dealing with this kind of situation, and this is mainly why people are scared to confront their coach and they end up procrastinating on it . . . until the event is tomorrow (and then you get scolded real bad . . . oops).

4. Less stress on others
By others, I mean family, rides, friends, your manager, etc. Families have to deal with drill schedules, too. Family events must be planned accordingly–if there is no consistent drill schedule, it’s very hard to do this. The people that are responsible for bringing members back home also have to work around this. They can be busy people! Not a good idea to stress them out. Also, lots of drillers work (how else can you pay for that uniform?!). They might have managers that schedule their hours for them. If practice is inconsistent, it’s hard for the manager to do this and hard for the member also. She can’t tell her manager that she’s simply not available Mondays thru Thursdays from 2-4pm. If the drill schedule is inconsistent, she’s going to tell her manager something more like, “I might be busy on that Friday . . . I don’t know how long though or if I even have practice”. That doesn’t impress your manager. You’ll probably get fired soon for not having enough time for that job! It’s always a good idea to keep consistent so there’s room to do other things, like work.

5. More room for other activities
An inconsistent drill schedule is very inconvenient. It basically makes sure that you don’t miss school, and that’s it. It doesn’t care if you’ll miss an appointment, a piano lesson, a club meeting, or whatever else you do. Drill is time consuming, but it shouldn’t take up all your time. Usually drill doesn’t take up all your time, but with an inconsistent schedule, it blocks out all the room you have for other activities because of the random schedule. You can’t plan to join the club that’s everyday after school on Friday because you’re not sure if there’s practice and you can probably only attend half of the meetings. If you know exactly when there is practice, then you can add more room for other extracurricular activities. If, for instance, practices are Monday thru Thursday, you can know that Friday is okay for joining a club, scheduling lessons, volunteering, etc.

6. Happier coach/captains
You get to be happier, also! There will be less stress on people missing practice and not showing up because the schedule is not working for them.

I’m sure that once you’ve tried the consistent schedule method, you won’t go back. It’s so much more convenient for everyone, including you. There is a clear sense of when you’re busy and when you’re not. No more, “hmm . . . is there practice? The schedule isn’t out yet, so I don’t know . . . “. It’s a good feeling.
Comment and tell me how the consistent schedule is working for you!

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