With the basketball preseason starting soon, I found 7 important philosophies to keep in mind and implement as you plan ahead:
1. Forget about tactics until your players learn technique
Fundamentals are important because they allow players to adapt to the many scenarios the crazy game of basketball puts us in. Teaching rigid plays and defenses before teaching footwork and defensive slides will lead to poor and inefficient execution. Brain McCormick of 21st Century Basketball Practice suggests a 70:30 split between fundamental training to actual game competition for youth and inexperienced players, and even a 50:50 split for middle school players.
2. Execute drills in a smaller area first, then a larger one
The advantage of teaching drills in a smaller area is that coaches can pay more attention to individuals and correct their technique. Moreover, with less players it ensures players are all involved in the action, rather than letting one or two players to take control. In particular, players need to be comfortable with playing 1v1 half court before moving on to 2v2, and adding on players, until progressing to a full court 5v5.
3. Tall players must learn the same drills as smaller ones
Big players will need to dribble, pass and take jump shots in a game, so it makes sense to teach them these basic skills in practice. Moreover, these drills teach coordination and on court awareness.
4. Pay attention to the balance of each player’s body
Rebounding, shooting, finishing and dribbling are all examples of skills that become much more difficult to execute consistently when done off balance and without body control. The game of basketball is linked to balance- NOT being balanced leads to turnovers: traveling, double dribbles, losing your handle, and even getting injured. Footwork drills must be taught from a young age to work on balance.
5. Explanations should be short but clear
Young players tend to learn best when they do. Allowing them to make mistakes in drills and then correcting them later is the most efficient way to teach them. Excessive verbal instructions can confuse them, so consider using demonstrations, models and the like to provide different ways to learn.
6. The teaching process must start with simple drills expanded to more complex ones.
Based off lesson number 6, if you’re taking too long to explain a drill that your players don’t get, then it’s probably too difficult for them. A complex offensive or defensive system is often the sum of many parts- so start from the bottom and work upwards.
7. Demand a high level of commitment and concentration from your players
It’s important for coaches to separate commitment to the game with a commitment to winning. Whilst focusing too heavily on results can detract from enjoyment in the game, the former can and should be taught at any skill level. Players who are members of your team should be committed to attending practice and team activities, and give their all in each and every game and training session. After all, these are life lessons that transcend basketball.
One last tip: always be learning! As I can attest to, this experience is as much a learning process for you as it is for your players. If you’ve got another coaching tip that you think others would like to hear, why not message us on Facebook or twitter?
Until next time, see you on the courts!
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