How to Get More Done at Basketball Practice

One of my biggest frustrations as a basketball coach was finding enough time to teach everything.

You're constantly struggling to find time to teach proper shooting fundamentals, man offense, zone offense, press breaker, man defense, zone defense, end of game plays, passing, rebounding, free throws, and the list goes on. Time management is a constant battle!

It's frustrating, especially when you end up sacrificing fundamentals, which you know are extremely important for all young and aspiring basketball players.

So what do you do?

Let me share an extremely simple technique with you that amazingly enough, very few coaches utilize.

Start utilizing pre-game warms ups as mini-fundamental-practices.

Let me explain...and before you jump to conclusions, hear me out. Because this could be something that turns things around for you!

Think about it.

How much time do you spend before every single game just going through the motions?

On average, you probably spend at least 20 minutes warming up before each game.

Now if you play 20 games in a season, that's almost seven hours of additional practice time!

I'm amazed how very few coaches take full advantage of this precious time. And I don't mean just doing a few shooting and passing drills. I mean really teaching kids something.

I must admit, when I first considered this concept, I was scared of sacrificing everyone's focus for the big game (including my own focus)!

In fact, that was the biggest reason I didn't try it for many years.

But as I matured I came to a two very important conclusions:

  • Teaching kids the fundamentals is much more important than winning. This includes all those goofy coaching tricks to win the game, like yelling at the refs, trying to out-smart the other coach, trick plays, and mentally intimidating the other team.
  • Even though there are a million other things to do, spending more time on fundamentals will actually help us win more games.

So I finally decided to give it a shot and started aggressively working on fundamentals before every game. Let me tell you. It's one of the best things I've ever done!

I was finally getting time to work on those little things I never could get to.

I was teaching some of the offensive moves and footwork we just never had time to do. I was getting in defensive positioning reps, blocking out techniques, jump hooks, and a bunch of little fundamentals that were getting neglected.

As it turned out, the team showed obvious improvements and I believe that we actually won more games because of the extra practice time.

So I suggest that you to try it out too.

But before you get started, I have a few tips for you:

Tip 1: Treat it just like practice. Work with the kids closely and make sure they are learning.

Tip 2: Pick out drills that work in half court. Here are just a few that worked great:

  • Form shooting, for half of the team, and partner passing for the other half.
  • Defensive shell drill. Not only do you get more reps in but this reminds players of their positioning right before the game, which actually reduced our game slippage.
  • Big man moves for half of the team and zig-zag drill for the rest.
  • Any drill you can do half-court. Just think about the things you really wish you could work on and then pick out some half-court drills that will help you improve those areas.

Tip 3: Start getting to games a little bit earlier. I know it depends on your situation but when I coached sophomores, we almost always played the first game of the night, so we had plenty of time before each game.

Tip 4: Don't let the kids get away with things just because people are watching. Hold them to the highest standards so they develop good habits.

Tip 5: Plan ahead. Treat it like a practice and put together a practice plan with times, notes, and the whole nine yards.

Teach those kids fundamentals! That's what really helps your players in the long run. Things like teaching an advanced offense might seem like a good idea in the short term. But in the long run, it's not the best thing for those players. In fact, they might not use that offense ever again. Coaches change things all the time. Not to mention, coaches come and go all the time.

These little tricks should help you find time for those fundamentals.

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