Efficient Basketball Practice Strategies To Get More Done

Incorporating efficient basketball practice strategies into your practice sessions can help your players improve their skills and stay engaged. Planning your practice, incorporating game situations, focusing on skill development, keeping it competitive, and providing feedback are essential elements

How many times have you said as a coach, “I don’t have enough time to get everything done!” 

Well, if you have thought about this and shared it with your coaching staff you are not alone.  Trust that this is a universal feeling and that the goal we must aspire to is EFFICIENCY within our practice plans.

One of my favorite clinicians is Kelvin Sampson. Years ago, at a Nike Clinic, my path collided with Coach Sampson. After his session, I took the opportunity to ask him what I believed to be the million-dollar question,  “Outside of talent, what is it that separates the 3,000 coaches in attendance?” 

Without any hesitation, he replied, “Those that are most efficient at practice.”  Period. 

As a disciple of John Wooden, I had always respected the care that must go into a practice plan, but hearing Sampson’s words took it in a different direction. 

It is one thing to be the most organized; however, it is an entirely different thing to be the most efficient in practice prep.

So I am sharing two ideas:  

  1. Introspective on your part
  2. The one drill that can create the most efficiency in teaching.

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Best Time To Review Your Practice Plans

INTROSPECTION: I challenge you to review your practice plans regularly.

It’s like the old saying, “When is the best time to plant a tree? Yesterday. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Today!”

Consider how much time you spend working on different parts of teaching the game. This is an important question whether you practice five days a week or once or twice.

The common link between each scenario is TIME. The five-day-a-week coach and the once-a-week coach are both competing against the clock.

As you become reflective or introspective, I challenge you to live the words of Ted Lasso – Be curious, not judgmental.”

Being curious will allow you to better learn from past experiences. One suggestion in this process – match up the time spent on drills, skills, and plays in practice with the amount of time things happen in a game.

Using this metric – time spent on things in practice vs. how often those things happened in a game will be a huge step towards EFFICIENCY.

Want to learn how to run an effective middle school basketball practice and maximize gym time? Learn how to incorporate small-sided games and use the Teach-Train-Play framework to maximize learning and squeeze more in at every practice. You can see how it works inside the video.

The One Basketball Drill That Rules Them All!

If there was only one drill I could do (now that is efficiency) to teach basketball it would be 4 on 4 no dribble.
This drill can be done in the half-court or full-court.

The drill teaches:

  1. Spacing, timing, and angles -aka the game of basketball!
  2. Conditioning – it is a tough drill both mentally and physically.
  3. Movement without the ball- both offense and defense.
  4. Passing and catching. When you do this drill in the full court and get good at it – there becomes less of a need to spend a lot of time on “press offense.” Players are learning how to advance the ball, the areas of the floor to cover, and the success that comes from repeating the timing, spacing, and angles.

5 Efficient Practice Strategies You Need to Try

As a basketball coach, organizing practice sessions that engage your players and help them improve can be challenging. Finding the right balance between skill development and keeping things interesting can be a difficult task. In this article, we will cover efficient basketball practice strategies that coaches can try to help their players improve and keep them engaged.

1. Plan Your Practice

Planning your practice is essential to ensure that your players have a structured and productive session. This helps your players stay on task and maintain focus, and it allows you to cover all the essential elements of basketball.

a. Create a Practice Plan

Create a plan that includes drills, skills, and game situations that you want to cover in the session. A practice plan allows you to organize your time effectively, and it ensures that you cover all the essential aspects of basketball.

b. Communicate Your Plan

Communicate your practice plan with your players. Explain to them what they will be working on and how each drill or game situation will help them improve. This helps your players understand the purpose of each activity and stay engaged throughout the practice.

2. Incorporate Game Situations

Incorporating game situations into your practice is an effective way to simulate game scenarios and help your players improve their skills.

a. 5-on-5 Scrimmage

Incorporate 5-on-5 scrimmage games to simulate real game situations. This helps your players develop their decision-making skills and learn how to work as a team.

b. End-of-Game Scenarios

Practice end-of-game scenarios, such as last-second shots, game-winning plays, and inbound plays. This helps your players develop their situational awareness and learn how to handle pressure situations.

3. Focus on Skill Development

Skill development is an essential part of basketball practice. Focusing on individual skills helps your players improve their game and become more confident on the court.

a. Ball Handling

Incorporate ball-handling drills to improve your players’ dribbling skills. This includes stationary dribbling, crossover dribbling, and dribbling in traffic.

b. Shooting

Shooting is a fundamental aspect of basketball. Incorporate shooting drills into your practice to help your players develop their shooting form and accuracy.

c. Defense

Defense wins championships. Focus on defensive drills that teach your players how to move their feet, play good defense, and communicate effectively.

4. Keep it Competitive

Keeping your practice competitive is an effective way to keep your players engaged and motivated.

a. Small-Sided Games

Incorporate small-sided games, such as 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 games, to create a competitive atmosphere. This helps your players improve their skills while having fun and staying engaged.

b. Skill Challenges

Create skill challenges, such as shooting contests or dribbling competitions, to keep your players engaged and motivated. This helps your players improve their skills while having fun and competing against each other.

5. Provide Feedback

Providing feedback is an essential part of basketball practice. It helps your players understand what they need to work on and how they can improve.

a. Positive Feedback

Provide positive feedback to your players when they do something well. This helps build their confidence and motivates them to continue working hard.

b. Constructive Criticism

Provide constructive criticism when your players make mistakes. This helps them understand what they need to work on and how they can improve.

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