Every discussion, article, or lecture I hear about practice planning talks about the importance of having high quality practices. I am a firm believer in how a team or athlete practices is how a team or athlete will play in the game. There is no magic switch to turn on. Therefore, practice is the most valuable time for coaches. Here are some tips that I have incorporated into my practice planning from experience and the website, Teach Like a Champion.
- Plan Right – When teaching the skill or concept, what does the skill or concept look like when it is done at a high level? Pick 2-3 points of precision for athletes to watch during the demonstration and focus on when performing the skill. For this example, let’s say you are working on passing. 2-3 points are peeking at the rim, being on balance, and meeting the pass.
- Plan Wrong – What are 2-3 common errors associated with this skill or concept? Bringing attention to the errors will help the athletes avoid the common pitfalls. When speaking about the pitfall, be sure to always end with the correct way. Staying with our passing example, some common errors are not pivoting or being off balance and not anticipating the offense getting open.
- Plan Time to Gather Data – In a game-like setting, what does success of your skill or concept look like? If you are working on passing you may want to chart the number of bad passes because of not peeking at the rim, being off balance, and the receiver not meeting the pass. The data can be gathered in a scrimmage or a small-sided game that emphasizes passing such as Gael Passing.
- Debrief – I stole this concept from Mike McKay at Canada Basketball. Debrief by asking what went well and if we did the drill again, what would we do differently. During the debrief ask athletes to ABC every statement. A – agree, B- build, C-challenge. Debriefing builds knowledge as the athletes are reflecting on the experience.
Ultimately, our athletes will do what is emphasized. I found it is impossible to emphasize every skill. However, when we decide what we want to focus on the next step is to effectively teach the skill.
By Brian Hutchins
Campo Verde Head Girls Basketball Coach