Once in a while I take time to look at practices which our aspiring youth coaches are holding. I do this not to control their attendance or if they do practice at all … I do this because I believe, that I can learn from other coaches, independent of age, gender, experience or which teams they coach. Heck, I even think, that you can pick something useful for your practice sessions, if you are watching a Volleyball or Tennis practice. There’s always something new or different ideas you can implement in your daily practice routine.
So, over the last couple of weeks I’ve watched a few practice sessions of our U12, U13 and U14 teams. I was very satisfied with how our coaches, especially the younger ones, make use of their gym time.
This is what I’ve noticed:
They all make sure to use their gym time wisely by planning well ahead. Still they keep things flexible to adopt to special situations which might occur.
All of them start their practice sessions with properly warming-up the players. Due to the fact, that they are teaching younger players, our coaches keep things fun and game-like in the beginning. All warm-ups are done with basketballs so our players can work on their general ball-handling skills right away.
Properly planned, all drills are selected by matching the number of players available during the practice. Therefore high emphasis is placed on letting the coach know, if players are absent in the next practice session.
Emphasis is placed on the fundamentals and drill variation. We have a huge drill book which we hand out to our youth coaches in the beginning, so they can teach the necessary techniques while not boring the players with drills they’ve been doing day in and day out. As a “rule-of-thumb” you should at least have three drills which teach a specific basketball technique. This avoids dullness and decrease of the learning progress. Remember: You don’t practice for the sake of practicing. You practice to get better!
Our drills strive to emulate game-like situations with the same intensity. This is very important, because it lets our players know, what they are preparing for. We try to make practices harder than the actual games.
Our coaches play 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 on the half-court a lot. This teaches dozens of technical and tactical elements. It also constantly keeps players mentally involved in the game-action, as they have to find solutions for a myriad of situations.
Practice sessions end with a 5-on-5 scrimmage. After all Basketball is a team sports, which is played fullcourt.
Nothing is always perfect. What/who is anyway? Being very serious of their coaching jobs, some of our coaches tend to put in too much content into a single practice session. Also, they didn’t reserve any time to talk to the players and/or parents after the practice. I think, if our coaches can find more time to talk to everyone involved in the team, this can be a good basis for a deep coach-team-parent relationship.
I was very happy to see that our “next generation” coaches are moving in the right direction, bringing a lot of enthusiasm into the teams and helping to build team spirit as well as bonding with all involved. With the continued guidance of our senior coaching staff they’ll be a great help in preparing our players for succeeding in the game of Basketball.