Coach with kids

How to survive the first day of practice

The first official practice is always stressful, regardless of the level you are coaching.

Here are a few tips to make that first practice more enjoyable and productive:

  • Use a timer. Have a practice plan that is timed to the minute for each drill.
  • Set goals. Know what you are trying to accomplish that day.
  • Immediately take control of the gym. The players need to know that you will expect their undivided attention. Players need and want structure to succeed.
  • Invest in a set of pennies, even for the guys. Players today have not grown up playing shirts and skins. (Only the old guys know what I am talking about!)
  • Set boundaries. If parents are watching, make sure you ask them to refrain from coaching during court time.
  • Do not bring on a parent to help on the court unless you have an official assistant. It will distract the parent’s child and could lead to potential issues later.
  • Get the kids moving with a layup drill that has a lot of movement. (More on this later.)
  • Be realistic. Don’t try to get too much done the first practice. Think small improvements!
  • Keep your talking and teaching to a minimum. Sometimes the first practice is a great time to continue your player evaluations.

The first practice will set the tone for your players. Being organized, focused and deliberate will let them know that the season will be one of learning and fun. I am partial to letting them know we will “play hard, smart and together!