Practice Thoughts to Consider

What to Discover or Recall:

Discover that coaching is all about the players and not the system.
Learn about proven teaching methods and the laws of learning.
Find out the value of early time and how it sets the tone for a successful practice.
Learn about the vital importance of warming up and cooling down.
Realize the importance of player safety and injury prevention.


Before You Start

Being a coach carries awesome power and responsibility. Before you step onto the court, be sure that you understand the ramifications of the responsibilities and liabilities that go along with coaching.

Update and establish your offensive and defensive philosophies and goals along with player development and set your priorities. Make sure that they are clearly understood and implemented by your staff. Update your drill and playbooks. If you don't have them, create them. You cannot expect players to run anything that has not been covered in practice. Also, make sure your players understand your program's basic concepts and objectives. Your team's performance will reflect what is emphasized.

Up tempo transition game
Half court ball movement game
Outside shooting team
Strong inside game
Free throw shooting
Out of bounds situations
Pressing team
Person-to Person defense (aggressive, show & recover, switch, etc.).
Zone Team
On Ball & Off Ball defensive fundamentals
Team atmosphere & attitude

CAUTION: Choose wisely, since 4 or 5 will be the limit your players will only be able to perform effectively. It is better to do a few things well than a lot of things mediocre.


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Get Coaching Done Prior To, Not During the Game


Practices should be designed with the objective of preparing a team physically, technically, and mentally for game competition. Emphasis should be focused on execution and effort. Players must learn and develop the habit of working and playing hard at all times. Great teams are a result of the best players being the hardest workers.

Coach players not the system

It's not what you run, but how you run it that counts. Basketball is not a game of offenses and defenses, but a game of effort and execution. If you are experiencing problems during games, go back and work on basic fundamentals and execution. Do not change or add new plays.

Use proven teaching methods

Practice Preparation

Make up detailed practice schedules. Post and give copies to assistant coaches. If at all possible hold a pre-practice coaches meeting, Carry a note card to refer to during practices. Every drill must have value or purpose otherwise throw it out. Alternate physically tough drills with less strenuous ones. Be sure to include individual skill development in each practice.

Learn More Practice Organization

Starting Practice - Early Time & Warm-up

Starting a strenuous physical activity, such as basketball, without proper warm-up is detrimental to athletic performance and health. The purpose of a warm-up is to prepare for muscular activity, and is not an exhausting activity to bring on fatigue. Warm-up should be composed mainly of stretching and light running exercises. It should be of sufficient duration and intensity to adequately prepare players for the physical demands of the game or work-out.

Learn More Early Time Guidelines

Learn More Proper Warm-up

Ending Practice - Cooling Down

Cooling down and/or stretching after practice can be more beneficial to injury prevention than stretching at the start of practice. Think about ending workouts and practices by having players make 10 consecutive free throws. For younger players make 10 free throws. This will allow the players to cool down along as practice shooting free throws when tired. Players should never be allowed to leave the court with high heart rates.

Learn More Importance of Cooling Down

Injury Prevention and Player Safety

Unfortunately, in basketball injuries do occur. Most injuries will be minor; however, life threatening injuries can and do occur. Therefore, all coaches must be first aid trained and certified.

Learn More Player Injury & Safety



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Practice Thoughts to Consider

Player Knowledge

  1. A coach’s appearance and demeanor sets the tone for a conducive, learning environment.

  2. Motivation is the single most important factor in learning and perfecting basketball skills.

  3. Motivation is definitely enhanced when it is fun!

  4. To be successful, both the coaching staff and players must be industrious and enthusiastic.

  5. Bad habits can be practiced as well as good ones. Correct execution and footwork are very important. Recognize mistakes and correct them immediately.

  6. Do not overlook little details. You must prepare to win to be a winner.

  7. Defensive basketball skills and techniques require active learning on the part of the players.

  8. Nothing more important than the proper execution of fundamentals. However, to be effective, these skills must be learned and practiced at game speed.

  9. Repetition is a must. The greater the number of times nerve impulses are sent over the nerve pathways, the more firmly established they become until what has been practiced becomes automatic or a habit.

  10. Allow for individual creativity. Don’t be so rigid that players lose their initiative.

  11. Stress the importance of off ball defense skills. Over 90% of the time will be defending a player without the ball.

  12. The learning of motor skills requires visualization and mental practice.

  13. Use positive reinforcement. Give credit for successful defensive efforts at every opportunity.

  14. Confidence comes from being prepared and properly conditioned.

  15. Never become satisfied. There is always room for improvement.



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