Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Practice Competition is the Key

During practice, coaches face a tremendous challenge in getting players to execute all drills to the best of their ability in terms of intensity, performance, etc. in practice. The ability to effectively accomplish this can be related directly back to a coach's style of coaching and personality. Some coaches demand intensity and focus because they are intense and focused in their approach and demeanor. Other coaches are more laid back in their personalities and, therefore, may struggle in getting players to perform up to their potential.

One of the most effective ways to motivate players to perform the fundamentals within a particular drill at a high level of efficiency is through competition. Here is a simple little experiment you can try in practice:

Choose a particular drill that you like to do in practice. Let’s say you are a basketball coach and you are going to run a 3-player weave. Divide up your team and tell them, “OK team, we are going to run our weave drill and I want you to run it as hard as you can and with no mistakes.” Let them run the drill and take note of how well and how intense they run the drill. Now run the drill again with the following instructions, “OK team, we are going to run a 3-player weave with the following rules:

1.     Each 3-player group is a team competing against all other 3-player teams.
2.     The object is to the win the drill by accumulating points as a team competing in rounds against the other teams.
3.     A round is completed when all team have had a chance to run the drill. Your team is awarded a point by completing a 3-man weave and converting the lay-up going up and back in the fastest time.
4.     3 seconds will be added to a team’s time for every missed lay-up or ball-handling mistake.
5.     A total of 5 rounds will be performed.
6.     Team with the most points after 5 rounds wins the drill.

You will see a tremendous increase in the level of intensity, concentration, enthusiasm, and desire to execute the drill properly from the first scenario to the second one. Competition is one of the greatest motivation factors that can be used to improve overall player performance. There are also a number of other benefits by making drills competitive:

1.     Players are trained to perform under game-like conditions.
2.     You are able to identify players who perform well under pressure.
3.     Players who are real competitors and have a strong desire to win will quickly be identified.