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!

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