Practice Planning: 3 Musts

No matter what level you are coaching, your ability as a teacher is vital!  All great coaches are great teachers.  Like a teacher, the coach must have a daily lesson plan or practice plan that carefully considers all aspects of the game including: offense and defense, both in half and full court, transition, rebounding, passing, screening, individual skill, out-of-bounds plays, special situations, use of the a clock, and conditioning. 

In addition to these “fixed” parts of practices, great coaches include some “musts” to make their teams do the little things that bring compound interest throughout the season.

1. Include Emphasis on Communication or a Communication System:

One of the most important things you can emphasize in every practice is communication.  Great teams communicate and talk with purpose to gain an advantage.  Great communicating teams win games by working together on both ends of the court.  Players these days need this more than ever in a “texting” generation, after all you can’t text another player during the game.  Place emphasis with all players and especially the ones who are not as confident communicating.  I made my teams POINT and TALK when communicating:  Example of screening, there must be a verbal and nonverbal signal to communicate a screen being set.  A fist signals a screen and the screener must say “screen”.  Use the rule of ELC:  Early, Loud, and Continuous throughout practice.  Making communication an emphasis and charting it will building synergy and trust.  Communication also creates an alertness or awareness in every team member.  Create a daily emphasis on communication from day one of your practices!

2. Build in Adversity in Every Practice:

Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we respond.  All athletes need to learn to deal with adversity in the heat of competition.  Physical, mental, team, and individual adversity.  Players handle adversity differently and both individuals and teams must be taught how to deal with adversity daily in practice.  Coaches must do everything by design and designing adversity daily for teams is crucial in learning mental and physical toughness.  Create drills that cause adversity, no calls, bad calls, and grinding through tough situations using the clock will be important daily. Individual and team resolve will definitely help you win games and teach players how to deal with life in general.  A great way to create adversity it to VALIDATE each game/drill/competition with a MADE FREE THROW BY THE WINNING TEAM.  If  the winning team/player who scores the basket must MAKE A FREE THROW  in front of the group to validate the win.  If the player misses, they can run or maybe decide that the drill continues to another possession or even turning up adversity by saying a missed validation is a loss!  In any case, this is a must for every practice!

3. Always Include the Teaching of  Basketball IQ:

All teams need a better understanding of Basketball IQ.  In general, a situational understanding, time, score, momentum issues, and learning to become a “Coach on the Floor” during games.  This must be practiced daily and I believe that the use of a clock in practice will help your players better understand situations, improved point guard play and team decision-making.  The best teams have had more repetitions involving less time and space. Teaching game-like situations with Time, Score, and Momentum involved will help coaches keep their sanity and allow players/teams to have a measurable understanding.  Spending time watching DVD or Game Tape as a portion of your practice will be of great help as well prior to practice.  Have your Assistant Coaches grade your practices and the various areas of a drills that give immediate feedback or grades at the end of practices.  Every practice must include coach perspective drills, read and react drills, use of the clock, and have start and stop moments.  Rather than teaching the players “plays”, first teach them “how to play” then plays.  An improved Basketball IQ come from repetition in practice with grading, reviewing situations before and after practice, and daily use of the game and shot clock.