Coach clipboard and basketball

Great play starts at practice: Tips for making practice more efficient and rewarding

Coach K just won his 1,000th game. Coach Calipari at Kentucky is undefeated as I write. Roy Williams is already in the Hall of Fame. Dean Smith retired in 1997 as the all-time winningest coach in college basketball history. The high school program at Oak Hill, Va., has produced more college players than any “high school.”

All of these coaches and institutions have one common thread: they RECRUIT! They can pick their players. As a middle school coach or recreation league coach, you don’t have that luxury. For the most part, you have to coach the guys who show up. I greatly respect the aforementioned coaches, however, my greatest respect goes to to the folks like you. You are constantly faced with limited time, resources and talent levels that change more than the weather in Boone, N.C., (look it up — it’s crazy).

There are many things we can all learn from the great college and pro coaches. Attending their clinics, listening to their interviews are always worthwhile. However, sometimes you need a slightly different approach dealing with a different level of player.

Here are five tips to make practice run more smoothly:

  1. Prepare for practice. Just like your classroom preparation you should have a practice plan. Down to the minute for each drill. You should know which players will be involved ahead of time.
  2. Keep practice moving. Drills should be short in duration. You will not get it all right the first time. Great coaches build on drills and execution each day.
  3. Don’t forget to recognize the extra effort by players. Remember, “What gets rewarded gets done.” Sometimes we spend so much time correcting that we forget to COMPLIMENT!
  4. Keep score as much as possible. Competition is good in almost everything you do. There should be a reward for those winning drills.
  5. Give your team time to scrimmage without stopping for every error. This is hard for all of us to do! Flow of the game is important to learn and understand.

Prepare, organize, move, praise, compete and scrimmage lead to a great practice. I will provide greater detail and other ideas as I write these blogs. Your ideas are always welcomed!