How do you plan an effective practice?

Do you plan out your practices, or do you “wing it?”

An effective practice can be executed in many ways.  For me, I always liked to focus on consistency and structure.  I found that if you establish these two things every practice, you put yourself and your team to get more accomplished in the time you have together.  Having nearly four decades of experience as a basketball coach, I wanted to start off my #CJJblog Coaching Tactics mini-series with some tips on how you can run an effective practice.  Enjoy.

  • Pre-practice meeting.  Usually in the beginning of the week, you can have a quick, maybe 5–10-minute meeting to go over; 1) The Theme of the week, 2) Quote of the week, 3) Objectives for the practice, and 4) Non-negotiables.
  • Scoreboard.  Using the scoreboard in the gym helps establish structure and efficiency in between drills.  It also establishes good habits for your players to pay attention to the clock during gameplay.
  • Organization.  I split up every practice into eight segments: 1) Shooting, 2) Fundamentals, 3) Man-to-man defense, 4) Man-to-man offense, 5) Zone (offense and defense), 6) Special (end of game) situations, 7) Transition, and 8) Full court press (offense and defense).  How do you break out your practices?
  •  Game prep.  As we got closer to the upcoming game, I would start to add things that pertained to our opponent (game tape, plays, defensive schemes, personnel, etc.).
  • Coming together.  In certain drills, we would work on a specific skill separately, or in small groups, then come together and perform as a whole.  “Break” and “whole” is how we coined this concept.  This increases the number of reps each player can have.
  • Competition.  Always keep score and have consequences for the losers.  How do you make your practices ultra-competitive?
  • Perfection drill.  Start every practice with a perfection drill that helps get everyone going and in the right mindset for practice.  For example, we need to do a three-man-weave and make X layups in a row.
  • Practice focus areas: 1) Make practice more difficult than a game, 2) Be consistent with vocabulary/phrases, 3) Speed (game simulation) during drills, 4) Praise when necessary (good box out, taking a charge, making the extra pass, etc.)

Did You Know?  Coach Jim Johnson will be delivering his Virtual Leadership Presentation on September 9th to graduate students at SUNY Brockport here in Rochester, NY.

Life Tip #8:  Treat people better than you want to be treated.

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