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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Equalizer: Effective Practice Planning

Practice Planning: Why and How

We all have roughly the same amount of time and what we do with that time is what separates the best coaches from the average coaches. Time is an equalizer.

There are many considerations for how and why to plan practice. Each coach has generally the same amount of practice time whether you are in the professional ranks, college level, or high school. What separates the best coaches from the mediocre is what they do with those two hours of practice time. Organization and planning can make any practice more efficient and effective. Below are some considerations for coaches:

1. The most important – the length of practice – which should be determined by the time of season

2. Space available: one full court, 6 goals vs. 4 goals

3. Time available. How long do you have the facility?

4. Number of players to work with – 18-20 players requires different approaches than working
with a squad of 10-12

5. Number of returning players. Large number, you can allow less time for explaining drill procedures, rotation of drills, etc.

6. The school year schedule: holidays, concerts, and other functions that will take the gym. Considering these things in your master plan or weekly plan will help ensure getting what you need in on other days, or planning a day off.

7. When we think of conditioning, we consider both physical and mental. Through the year, we plan for and extemporaneously use tapes, records, talks by our staff, selected articles, and poems etc. to facilitate making the players more coachable.

8. We always try to begin our practices with flexibility and warm-up drills, and close with competition and fun.

9. One of the laws of learning is repetition. We believe in giving small doses and repeating frequently. Maximum effort for short periods of time.

10. We believe in small group or station teaching.

11. The most important considerations we can give to devising our practice plan is the organization of a drill so that the players are not standing in line for long periods of time.

12. Plan water breaks.

13. We try to make sure that all of our drills are applicable to our offensive and defensive systems and simulate game conditions. Don’t drill just to drill.

14. We believe in using drills that incorporate all or most of the fundamentals every day. The players know this.

15. We try to introduce new drills, or plays in the early part of practice. Most players learn better when they are fresh and not tired.

16. When presenting a new team system, we present the whole on the floor first, then work on the breakdown next, and present the whole on the chalkboard, before implementing the whole again on the floor.

17. Most importantly, record and file every practice for later evaluation.

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