From our video conference the other night with Coach Randy Brown, there were several ideas and concepts I took out of that mtg that coaches need to do in order to get themselves off to a great start to the basketball season. The first involves basic organization and planning. Randy advises that coaches put together their Master Practice Plan; everything that they want their team to be able to do during the year. For example there would be a section on defenses and here you might write in man to man, 1-3-1 half court trap and a 2-1-2 zone. For offenses, what are the schemes you want to run vs man defense, odd or even zone and any special set plays? There would be a section for skills and fundamentals, practice drills and types of small sided games. Basically everything that you use during the season…have in your Master Practice Plan. This becomes your source for how you schedule practices and what you cover in those practices. Developing a calendar of when to teach and reinforce those skills/schematics also needs to be done.
The coach should also seriously consider what are their “Top Three”? According to Randy, coaches should emphasis 3 concepts/skills and they should be prevalent at everything that the coach does. For example, if the Top Three were defense, rebounds, and ball movement, then everything in every practice should reinforce, support and focus on that Top Three. Any coach should be able to see your practice and immediately determine what are your Top Three.
Coaches should also focus on how they can best develop skills and higher basketball IQ in their players. They need to focus on building a solid basketball foundation in their players before focusing on the X’s and O’s. Too often, coaches worry about their set plays, their offenses or special situations rather than in teaching the game of basketball. They are focused on having their team ready for the first game. Too often coaches go right into 5v5 full court without first teaching them 3v3and then 4v4. (See previous blog article on the importance of 3v3 in practice) Coaches need to teach proper fundamentals, take those fundamentals into drills and progress into some sort of competitive game, especially if it is 3v3, emphasizing those skills. Unfortunately coaches are limited to time constraints and feel that they have to have their team ready for their games. That means a focus on X’s and O’s instead of developing basketball skills. In the long run, their players will suffer. A different approach would be to focus on skills and in teaching the game in 3v3 competition. Once they master those concepts skills they can progress to 4v4 and eventually to 5v5. However this may take a few more practices and yes, their first game may not be as smooth as one would hope. However in the long run your team will have the skills and understanding to handle the X’s and O’s needed. That coach will have built a solid basketball foundation.
One of the tools that helps Randy is his “40 Skills Checklist”. He has gone through and written down all of the skills he wants his players to master during the season. This list will change depending on the age and skill level of the players but it helps to keep coaches focused on their task of skill development.
Lastly, coaches need to remember the most important lesson/skill they can teach. It’s not about the basketball skill or knowing X’s and O’s but rather how to be a great team mate; how to be a better person. What will you be doing to teach/reinforce these important life skills?