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How important is basketball practice planning? Simply put, extremely!

by Brad Winters
Director, CoachLikeaPro.com

One of the tasks I grew to love as a coach was basketball practice planning. I have literally spent hours and hours studying and preparing for my next practice session. I learned early on as a rookie coach, that the more time and energy I spent preparing my basketball practice plan, the better I coached. And, of course, the better job I did as a basketball coach, the more success my teams had on the hardwood. So, in my opinion, basketball practice planning and preparation is a must for all coaches!

Let me describe to you the simple process I use to create my basketball practice plan. During my basketball practice planning period, I list all the skills, tactics, or attacks my team needs to improve on or prepare for. After careful analysis of my team's situation, I try to rank each area of need by what I think is the highest priority. This study helps me to see the big picture and plan my basketball practice wisely.

Using this information, I then evaluate my master basketball practice schedule and select the appropriate practice drills.

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I usually try to pick one or two practice drills from each category. Using this approach forces me to always practice the fundamentals (stance, footwork, dribbling, shooting, etc.) and keeps my players sharp in all phases of the game.

As a general basketball practice planning rule, I like to practice defense one day and then offense the next. Although both offense and defense are being practiced at the same time in many of my drills, my passion, eye, and emphasis is either on offensive skills or defensive skills.

Another basketball practice planning rule I keep is to alternate hard and easy practice days. Since Iím a firm believer in the theory that defense wins championships, my defensive practice days are more demanding and intense than my offensive practice days. Because I value great defense so much, I always begin the first practice of a new week emphasizing man-to-man defense and rebounding.

Besides alternating hard and easy practice days, I follow this same general rule with the order of my basketball practice drills. After every physically demanding drill, I try to follow-up with a fun and easy drill.

After selecting my drills, I then like to go back and review my coaching notebooks regarding the different skills, attacks, and drills I will be teaching. My coaching notebooks are a collection of basketball coaching notes I have collected over the years from basketball coaching clinics, books, videos, and scouting games.

While reviewing my coaching notes, I like to write down on my basketball practice plan the key points that I need to emphasize to my staff in our pre-practice meeting and later to my team during practice.

Upon finishing this simple basketball practice planning process, I usually have an excellent practice schedule. I am now focused on the task at hand and well prepared to lead my team. I also have peace and confidence in knowing that I'm ready to give my team my absolute best.

General basketball practice plan thoughts:

  • In general I like a fast-pace basketball practice style. The majority of the basketball practice drills I like can be completed in 5-to-10 minutes.
  • The basketball drills I like to use keep everyone on the team actively involved.
  • During practice, coaches should always be coaching and echoing the major coaching points listed on our basketball practice plan.
  • I like a loud gym filled with encouraging player chatter. I encourage all my basketball players to buddy coach and offer each other encouraging help... No one is allowed to yell and scream at players or teammates, make insulting remarks, or use profanity.
  • I encourage my basketball players to go hard while they are on the practice floor (basketball player expectations). Between sets, players are allowed to hustle off the floor and get water if they are thirsty or need to use the restroom. Due to the fast pace style of practice, I like to give my team a 5-to-10 minute rest break at the midway point of practice.
  • I think it is the coach's responsibility and duty to start practice on time and end on time. Practices should last no longer than 1.5 to 2 hours in length, but players should be allowed to stay on the floor and shoot for 15-to-30 minutes after practice ends.
  • Regarding discipline problems during practice, I simply tell the high school kid with the discipline problem to leave the gym. Kicking a player out of practice has been the most effective method I have used to maintain a positive flow in practice and to correct discipline problems. As a young coach, I would put everyone on the baseline and see how long they could run. Iíve since changed my opinion on shared suffering, and now I will not punish the whole team for the mistakes of a few.

In closing, value the task of basketball practice planning. Use these basketball coaching tips to develop your next basketball practice plan... You will see a difference in your efforts, and so will your team.

Visit Coach Winter's CoachLikeaPro.com website.

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