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Seven Ideas That Will Make Your Basketball Season More Successful
By Sidney Goldstein
No wonder many coaches are overwhelmed each season: besides being a basketball expert, you need to be an expert teacher, organizer, floor general, child psychologist, and more. You probably have another job that keeps you busy. Here are several ideas that may make your life easier and your season more successful.
1. Don't let them do it!
That's right, make sure your players do things right in practice. Don't let players shoot from half court, shoot with faulty technique, dribble with their heads down, palm the ball while dribbling, and so on. If players can't do things correctly, don't let them do them at all. Ban shooting from more than three feet or dribbling, if you think its necessary. Remember: if your players practice improperly, then they become experts on doing things wrong (we call these bad habits).
2. Don't try to do it all!
Focus on fundamentals. Players need to learn how to shoot, pass, dribble, pivot, and so on before they can execute plays, moves, zones, and presses. Break each skill into as many teachable parts as possible. You don't need to synthesize skills. A player will learn more involved skills in only minutes after properly executing individual ones. Make sure to get a ball for each player, even if it is lopsided no excuses!
3. Don't play games or scrimmage in practice.
Learning not only follows repetition, it follows rapid or consecutive repetition. In games you do not achieve this type of practice because a player may only shoot, or dribble, or pass once every few minutes. In proper shooting practice, for example, each player can shoot 20 shots each minute. A coach watching 10 players in a game probably won't correct or even detect most mistakes.
4. You have no choice on defense.
Always play and teach person-to-person defense. Zones are more difficult, because players need to know how the zone shifts in addition to the person-to-person skills. Note that defense is easy to teach and learn compared to offense. After working on defensive position and movement, teach defense in each situation from the basket outward .
5. Condition your players.
Conditioning makes a difference. In the last few minutes of a game, conditioned teams make fewer mistakes and move faster than poorly conditioned teams. Conditioned players are better athletes. All conditioning should involve basketball skills. Transform even kamikaze drills into something useful by making players dribble.
6. Write down your practice plan.
You can get 5-10 times more from your players if you plan. Plan for the day, week, month, and season. All but daily planning involves deciding when to introduce particular skills. It's okay if you don't stay exactly on schedule. Some skills, like shooting and defense, need to be practiced every day. Others can be practiced every other day. Many team skills, especially plays, can be postponed. Make sure your plan keeps players involved all the time, not waiting in line for other groups to finish.
7. Give homework
Players can and will practice skills at home, even if a ball and court are not available. Assigning homework yields remarkable results. Here is a pivoting homework example: do 100 pivots25 forward, 25 backward, and then repeat using the other foot. Homework assignments should follow what you do in practice, not involve new material.
Coaching begins and ends with individual instruction on fundamentals. Teach each player like everything depends on it, because it does. Your effort will reap great rewards: players will improve and everyone will have a better season.
Your comments are welcome.
Sidney Goldstein, author of The Basketball Coach's Bible and The Basketball Player's Bible, has successfully coached both men's and women's teams over a period of 15 years.