Pareto principle and practice design


The image above made the rounds on social media, as it popped up in timelines on LinkedIn and Twitter. I don’t know its origins, although the font and style look like the Breakthrough Basketball site. In many of the posts and tweets, the image was used, often by shooting coaches, to argue that less the should be spent practicing the dribble or practicing shots off the dribble. The posts and tweets implied that players needed to change their practice to fit with the above statistics.

To a large extent, I agree. However, I also see a subtle contradiction in these implications, which I spoke about here:

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice and Fake Fundamentals

3 thoughts on “Pareto principle and practice design

  • Brian, that is from our website. And great points! Ignoring situations where technical and mentality issues might require more block practice, I agree with your premise.

    Assuming, you have a shooter than can make 70% of his shots without a defense.

    What general percentage for shooting drills would you apply to each type? I know that it depends on the situation. I’m just looking for a genera idea.

    1 – Block practice.
    2 – Random practice without defense.
    3 – Random practice with a defender.

    Would appreciate your insight.

  • Joe:

    If the shooter is making 70% of his shots without a defense, assuming primarily block practice, I’d probably allocate upwards of 95% of the time to random practice. The 5% of block practice would be (1) day before a game; (2) pre-game; (3) if he’s having a rough day and needs to see some shots drop to maintain confidence.

    As for the 95%, it depends what you consider shooting practice. I use 3v3 and 1v1, and consider it shooting practice when the game is constrained to emphasize shooting. If we count that as “shooting practice”, my numbers would skew more than 50% to random practice with a defender. If we eliminate these drills from consideration, I’d probably be closer to 25% with a defender, primarily for practicality purposes, and because part of a good player’s practice time will occur without a defender present, because he’s going to be practicing on his own.

    With a shooter like that, however, I’d be pushing to include more and more defended practice.

    In my last team, as an example, I used the Oiler Shooting Drills at many practices as our initial warm up drill: It was a way to get the players running at the beginning of practice for a small dose of daily conditioning and to see the ball go through the basket. We’d do something like 4 spots, 3 players in a group, make 8-12 shots per shot.

    In our guard/posts breakdown, almost every drill for the guards was defended, unless it was the day before a game or I wanted to have an “easy” practice for some reason. Then we did more undefended shooting, block shooting, spot up shooting, etc.

    Our posts probably did more uncontested shooting because our posts were less-skilled and less-coordinated than the guards, and my starting post, who was skilled and coordinated, needed more recovery than anyone else because he got beat up every game. So, their practice varied a bit more from block to random to defended to live.

    The rest of our practice was SSGs, 5v5, situations, etc.

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