Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Creating Your Team's Perfect Practice Plan

There are different approaches to creating a master practice plan. The plan is generally broken down into three phases: (1) Preseason (2) Mid-season and (3) Conference and Postseason. It is important to remember that what you cover will vary from one phase to another. The following is a suggested procedure for creating a master practice plan:

A.   Playbook- This is where it all starts. You must have a specific system of offense and defense in place before beginning any kind of practice planning. It should include the type of team offense and defense you are going to employ, special set plays, or special situations, etc.

Using a simple Word document will allow you to create a playbook that you can edit, update, and store in a file in your computer for easy access. Word processing programs make it very easy to create a format that will make your playbook look truly professional. You can insert charts to help you create categories or topics to help you organize your system of play. You can even make multiple copies from your computer to give to your coaching staff and players.

Here is an example of a basic playbook that you can create using an Excel spreadsheet:



Set Plays

Full-court Pressbreak

Half-court Pressbreak

Man to Man

UCLA Hi Post

#1 Fist
#2 Lob
#3 Cross
#4 Clear

4 Across








Man to Man


10- 1/4 Ct.
20- 1/2 Ct.
30- 3/4 Ct.
40- Full Ct.

12- 1/4 Ct.
22- 1/2 Ct.
32- 3/4 Ct.
42- Full Ct.

B.   List of Fundamentals: Once you have your system of play in place, it is important to identify all the necessary fundamentals that your players will need to know to execute that system in a game. Both team and individual fundamentals need to be taken into account. If your offense against man-to-man defense requires a screen-and-roll to be executed, then that involves two players. This would be considered a team fundamental. You should also consider physical conditioning such as weight training. Your ability to break your system down to its component parts and identify the necessary fundamentals is crucial in determining what you will eventually cover in practice.

C.   Drill Directory: Earlier it was mentioned that having the right tool for the right job is important when it comes to the use of drills. Identifying the type of drill you are going to use to teach the specific fundamentals to your players is crucial to your success. There are a number of factors to consider in choosing which drills to use such as the number of players it will involve at one time, the number of baskets necessary, etc. Once you decide on your list of drills, you can then organize them into meaningful ways much as you did with the fundamentals list.

D.    Practice Calendar: The practice calendar will provide important information to you in determining your overall master practice plan. The amount of practice you have before your first game, stretches where you will be playing a number of games with very little practice time, and the amount of practice before your conference opener are all important factors to be considered. You also need to take into account practice time during holidays, mid-term exams, etc.

Putting It All Together

With these 4 steps, you can now begin to lay out a general plan of what you want to cover in your practices throughout the season. Using your list of fundamentals, drill directory, and practice calendar as references, you will have a much better idea of what you want to do and when. Some coaches will put down the specific fundamentals to be taught along with a few of the drills to be used.

An important point to consider when you are allocating time for different aspects of your system is to decide what percentage of time during a game you will use the things you are trying to teach. In other words, it is important to spend the majority of time on the areas that are used a majority of time in a ball game. At "Practice Planner Live" you can create your own customized practice plans for your teams in just a few minutes using the 4 steps previously mentioned.

Coaches: What do you do to organize, create, and keep track of your team's practice plans?

Remember, (for all you old-school coaches out there like me) computers and technology are there for our benefit. It is very easy to database your drill directory, practice calendar, etc. You are just a click of the mouse away to keeping your program organized and on track--if it were only that easy with our players!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Maximizing Your Coaching “Net Worth”: Online Resources

With the ever-increasing use of technology in sports and the explosion of social media, it is no surprise that the number of coaches using the internet is growing at a rapid rate. Exchanging ideas on philosophy, strategies, teaching techniques, etc., which previously took place in off-season clinics and conferences, is now taking place on a daily basis. It is not uncommon to find a high school coach from Minnesota sharing information on how to break a full court press with a club coach from Spain through e-mail or a LinkedIn discussion group. A coach’s ability to access information about his or her profession has never been greater in the history of the game than it is today. And with every new sports web site popping up daily on the Internet, we could be just scratching the surface.

Using the Internet to Benefit Your Program

As stated earlier, you can find just about anything about your sport on the Internet. It is helpful to search the web with a particular purpose; other wise it is easy to get sidetracked and wind up reading the latest standings in the Malaysian Professional League. The following list is an example of some of the uses that can be helpful:

1.     Exchanging ideas with other coaches: To improve your understanding of the game, there are a number of web sites that offer discussion groups, questions and answers, articles, and a number of other resources that can help you increase your knowledge of the game and how to teach it. Learn how other coaches teach your particular system of play or implement your coaching philosophy. You can find information on every topic from strength training to knowing what to say at half time to your team. It is a great opportunity to share ideas and possibly gain a different perspective on the way you already do things in your own program.

2.     Accessing resource information on offensive and defensive systems of play: From the motion offense in basketball to the 3-4 defense in football, you can find information on any system of play. This includes how to teach it, the necessary drills, the strengths and weakness of the system, the type of personnel needed, etc.

3.     Finding out the latest information on clinics, purchasing resource materials, etc: You can access a list of every book, video, software program, etc., related to your sport and order it right over the Internet. Find out when the Nike clinic is in town or where the next coach’s association convention will be held just by staying up to date on specific Facebook pages.

4.     Find a job, scheduling games and tournaments, etc.: Maybe the most important resource of them all is the coaching vacancy list! You can also find information on tournament openings, games wanted, summer camps and summer tournaments. If you are interested in taking a team to a foreign country, you can find out information on companies specializing in setting up tours. Connect with coaches on LinkedIn that have played in similar regions or against common opponents and build your coaching network!

5.     Accessing information on scouting and recruiting: There are a number of web sites that provide comprehensive and up-to-date statistical reports on one of your possible upcoming opponents. You can always stay current with high school players and college signing days via Twitter. Many high schools are beginning to post their own home pages, which can be a source of added information to your scouting report if you are an opponent or recruiting profile if you are a college coach.

You cannot afford to be a step behind the competition! In this day and age where the little things really do make a difference, you cannot allow your opponents any advantage, especially in an area where you can utilize the same resources.