Club coaching clinic

Today, we have one hour to train the coaches of the youth teams in our club, most of whom have never coached previously. The four primary messages are:

  • Show up and be on time – If you’re not early, you’re late (my dad has emphasized that my entire life).
  • Practice should be fun – the club is small and needs to attract more players. Players need to have fun to bring their friends. We want them to look forward to practice.
  • Avoid the 3 L’s: Laps, lectures, and lines.
  • Plan practice – it’s amazing that I have been coaching for 20 years, and I spend time every day planning practice, but the youth coaches – some of whom play for me and see me looking at my index card – who have have never coached previously do not feel that they need to plan.

Beyond the primary messages, we will show some drills and games to interject some activity into practice. One of the things that the club would like to add to the youth practices is a short fitness element. Many of the players do not work out beyond practice, and with youth practices only twice per week, there is not a lot of conditioning or physical activity for the youth players. Therefore, we will emphasize activity during practice, but also encourage the coaches to add a short fitness element before or after practice.

The goals of the fitness element are (1) to teach basic movements with good technique and (2) to make the fitness activities fun. Coaches will have to spend some time teaching basic movements like squats, lunges, and push-ups, but most of the activities will be challenging, hopefully fun, and easily incorporated into short games or relay races.

Here is a video that has some of the basic crawling exercises that we will use. Yes, we will use animals names to make the exercises more interesting for young children, and encourage the coaches to use their imagination creating fun ways to implement these with the youngest children.

Whereas I generally do not do tennis-ball drills with older players, I do think that they are great for younger children. We will introduce tennis-ball drops for acceleration and coordination:

We will also use tennis balls in single-leg balance drills, though we will play catch with a partner rather than throw against a wall.

We will also use tennis balls for plank tennis (called plank hockey in this video). When I play this game, I give the players a goal number of passes that they have to complete, and then they try to get the ball past their partner within a small space (basically as wide as they can reach).

Of course, we will add tag without the ball:

And tag with the ball in different variations moving from easier to harder:

A little more difficult:

And more difficult:


Of course, we will add the Mirror Drill:

For those who think fun is not important in training, and that fun drills cannot train important skills, watch this video of F.C. Barcelona training:

We will introduce some more drills and ideas as necessary, but these should provide a good foundation to accomplish the initial two goals: increasing physical activity and athletic development and making practices more fun.

By Brian McCormick, M.S.S., PES
Coach/Clinician, Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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