30 second time outs

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT PRACTICE

Coaches need to constantly discover ways to improve their drills or get the most out of them. All coaches have their own sets of drills that teach their basketball philosophy, but there are many ways that you can create more intensity, enthusiasm, discipline, etc. This can be done by evaluating all the factors involved in a drill. Drill what fits your own offensive or defensive philosophy. Believe in what you are doing. Practice things you'll be trying to do in actual games.



Give all drills a name so players can identify the procedure and purpose of each drill. For example, "Two-Ball Power-Ups" drills on inside power moves, using two balls in the lane area. Don't waste time on the floor going from drill to drill. Discipline your players to sprint to the next drill station. You don't want to find yourself spending too much time explaining how to run a drill. Demonstrate all new drills on chalkboard prior to practice or give the players a page for their playbook the night before, to avoid confusion on the floor. 



Break down drills and design them so that all your players are working. Take full advantage of the gym's side baskets and your assistant coaches. Many times you can use players not in certain drills as outlets or feeders. Or have them shoot free throws. Obviously, though, there will be times when you'll want them to just watch and listen to all instructions and criticisms. Always do drills on both sides of the court, so that footwork, ball-handling and vision are properly developed. 



Never allow players to complete a drill without having done it properly at least once. Coaches must demand proper execution before we can progress with any amount of success. Having players do a particular drill right a few times builds confidence that they can do it. Repeat all drills throughout the season. Repeating drills correctly, with intensity, develops habits that are hard to break.



Never allow your players to become bored with a drill or to lose their intensity because you stay with it for too long a time. Come back to that drill the next day rather than have your players lose interest. Talk about critical mistakes made in the drill in pre-practice chalk talks, rather than on the court.



We all have players who ask questions during drills in order to take a break. We encourage questions and suggestions from our players about how we might do things better, so long as it done off of the court. To help this we have "teaching drills" where questions and explanations are encouraged and "competitive drills" where it is more game like and the players need to self correct and make adjustments on their own.



You must communicate on the court to be successful and organized. Be sure all coaches and players speak the same language. For instance, some teams may use the word "Go" when switching; other programs may just use "Switch." Constantly be aware that the same words trigger different reactions from different people. Be sure all players understand exactly what your key words mean.



Try to make all drills as much like a game as possible. Using the scoreboard AND calling fouls create game-like situations and may help your players react better in actual games. All players love drills with something on the line, such as a sprint or push-ups. This competition generates enthusiasm and intensity. End all drills with a rebound, turnover, basket, foul, offensive charge or transition. All fouls should be called during practice and offenders penalized as in a game. We like to assign a few push-ups to a player who commits a foul. This reinforces our concern for playing tough defense without fouling. Develop transition into your half-court drills so your players will react to turnovers and push the ball up the court. It also motivates the defense to force errors and capitalize. Also, players seem to enjoy transition basketball.



Keep statistics in practice. This added pressure forces players to concentrate. Evaluate daily stats and post them in the locker room. Keep cumulative stats as well, to provide goals and weekly standards. It's extremely important that your players be aware that you're constantly checking their numbers on field goals and free-throw percentage, rebounds, assists and turnovers.



If you videotape your practices, you'll be able to see the whole court and evaluate how all your players performed at practice. Taping your practices also allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of your drills.



Add options to all drills that will give each a different look and a different emphasis. These additions will generate enthusiasm among your players.



Going 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 puts added pressure on the defense because you remove weak-side help in most cases and force the defense to cover a larger area of the floor. Setting drills so the defense or offense is at a disadvantage forces tremendous intensity and execution to complete the drills successfully.Demand that all drills be run at full speed. Constantly check defensive positioning and talk about breakdowns as they occur.



Never put players in situations where they're consistently getting scored on, or constantly being stopped. Do everything possible to build confidence for both the offensive and defense.

Always demand a maximum effort from your players, both mentally and physically, in practice drills. This will prepare them to face all game situations successfully. Drills should be your best conditioner. If you demand hustle and push your players to execute properly, they'll be in condition to play full games.

We believe in the following rules for our players during practice: go at full speed; never criticize a teammate; always try to compliment a teammate; be positive and enthusiastic. The same goes for our coaches, with an additional rule: Give constructive criticism ("Liked your effort, but here's a better way").

Reward your players daily and weekly with positive verbal reinforcement, plus actual awards of some kind, such as: Weekly Rebound Award ("Chairman of the Boards"); Weekly Free-throw Award; Draw The Charge Champion; Defensive Player Of The Week.

Be able to take time for a "fun" drill each practice session. This will help boost team morale and create a positive practice atmosphere. As coaches, we can better prepare our teams for the tough grind of a season through the effectiveness of our drills. We can make it so our players enjoy drills and practice more through the constant evaluation of our practice sessions.

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