Preparing for practice is a key step toward success. Teaching time on the floor with your players is limited and valuable. Much time and thought should be put into each practice session to maximize productivity and make positive steps forward as a team. The quality of your practices will eventually determine how many games you win or lose during the season. The talent level of players, number of players, time, facilities, and equipment are all things to consider when putting your practice schedule together.
The following is a collection of ideas that will contribute to more organized and productive practice sessions.
KEYS TO ORGANIZING PRACTICE
1. Each day ask this question: What do I want to accomplish this practice session?
2. Certain aspects of the game should be performed every day. These include ball handling, shooting, defense, rebounding, passing, and setting picks.
3. Be a teacher on the floor and assume nothing when teaching. These four points are important when teaching: explain, demonstrate, perform, and critique. Use positive comments.
4. Teach new concepts early in practice sessions when players are most alert.
5. Once new ideas have been taught, repetition is the key to progress.
6. When showing a new concept to the team, walk through it first so players can see what is expected. This is the whole-part-whole concept.
7. Follow up demanding drills with free throws or less strenuous drills. Shoot free throw when fatigued to replicate game settings.
8. Simulate game conditions in practice so players are accustomed to these conditions. Use the game and shot clock to simulate various game situations.
9. Practice what you stress and believe in. Work on those things you will use in games.
10. Build conditioning into your drills to avoid excessive running after practice. Don’t make players dread the end of practice. Great teaching can be done at the very end of practice sessions.
11. Limit drills to 5-7 minutes. Half and full court team situations will take a bit longer, depending on your goal for that drill.
12. Explain the purpose of drills. Share with players the reason for drills and why they must be mastered.
13. Organize drills to minimize periods of player inactivity. Keep them constantly involved.
14. Stretching and warm-up drills should get players ready to practice and help avoid injury.
15. Meet with certain players before practice for needed individual or small group work.
16. Meet with your coaches before practice so that all teaching points and practice goals are understood.
17. Meet as a staff following practice to discuss how the practice went and identify things to be worked on or repeated the next day.
18. Construct a master practice plan for everything that needs to be covered throughout the course of the season. Break the master plan down into weekly and daily practice plans.
19. Consider the number of players, balls, and assistant coaches in order to utilize your facility to its fullest.
20. Use managers or student assistants as helpers in practice. Managers make great passers in practice.
21. Incorporate jump ropes, toss backs and blocking dummies into your practice.
22. The floor should be swept before practice and have towels and water available at courtside.
23. Use video tape equipment to tape practice so coaches and players can evaluate the previous day’s practice or scrimmage.
24. Include a saying or emphasis of the day on each daily practice plan and share it with your players
25. End each practice on a positive note. Team oriented drills give them a feeling of togetherness as they leave the floor.
Beginning coaches must devise a practical practice plan template that you can use daily. There are many ways to design your plan for optimal use and effectiveness. Select the practice plan that fits you and your staff’s needs best. As you organize your practices, attempt to stay with the original time allotted for each drill or activity.
Take your coaching one step further by writing notes or reminders after practice on the back of that day’s sheet. These changes, observations, and ideas may become a big part of your next big victory. They also come in handy when planning the next days practice and will provide insight into your own coaching for years to come.