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This post was guest blogged by basketball coach and player Jeff Haefner, and owner of BreakthroughBasketball.com. This is reflective to Brian Schofield’s post on Basic Basketball Drills.
These Tips can also be applied to running or any other sport, especially the last 3 tips.
Tip #1 – Make the drill more competitive.
Many players thrive on competition and it’s a great way to get them excited and playing hard. Without the competitive aspect, players can become bored and lose both focus and motivation.
Adding a competitive flavor to a basketball drill can make it much more effective because kids will generally work harder and become more focused to master the drill.
It’s easy to add competition to a drill. For example:
- When running a basketball shooting drill, you can keep track of made baskets and award the winner.
- You can add special rules like 2 points for charges, 1 point for ball deflections, and 2 points for steals.
- You can award “permissions” every time you notice a kid working extra hard or doing a great job with the drill. You can then award three or four kids with the most “permissions” at the end of practice.
- You can award teams that do not drop a single pass during the entire drill.
- Agility drills can become competitions between groups of players with the fastest team, which maintains good form, getting to choose the next drill.
Tip #2 – Don’t forget your “points of emphasis”.
In the midst of practice, it is easy to forget important points; the things that you want to watch closely during your drills to make sure your players are performing correctly
However, without your points of emphasis fresh on your mind at all times, it’s easy to lose focus on all of the things you need to remember.
To help yourself remember, create a cheat sheet for everyone single drill that you run. I personally have a “points of emphasis” section on every practice plan.
Points of emphasis on a ball dribbling drill might be something like:
- Look up while dribbling… Don’t look at the ball!
- Always protect the ball with your free hand.
- Stay low and keep your knees bent so you can explode past the imaginary defender. (Staying low helps improve your quickness.)
- Strive to go at full game speed. But at first go at a pace that is comfortable for you – with time, you will get better.
- Make sure you are not palming the ball.
- Imagine a defender in front of you at every station.
It’s too easy to forget the fundamentals of each skill, and to forget to emphasize them, if you don’t write them down.
Tip #3 – Encourage good habits.
Don’t allow your players to run drills without supervision. Walking away, even if it’s to prepare for the next drill, allows players to develop bad habits and bad form.
For example, when running a shooting drill, make sure each player has their knees bent when they catch the ball. Make sure that they pivot correctly, square their feet to the basket, and take the time to hold their follow through.
When running a rebounding drill, make sure that they keep their elbows out after grabbing the ball. Make sure that they grab the ball with two hands, block out and always get good positioning for a rebound. Your players will no doubt slide if you don’t watch them closely and correct their slippage at all times.
You run drills to develop good basketball habits. However, it’s impossible for your players to develop good habits if you aren’t paying close attention to their performance.
Tip #4 – Variety is the spice of…practice!
Break the drills up during practice. Players generally lose focus after working on the same thing over and over again.
Add some variety to each practice. It will not only keep them on their toes, it will keep the practice more interesting for them and you.
For example, you could do 10 minutes of shooting drills and then change things up to a competitive rebounding drill that they enjoy, and then switch gears to run a defensive drill.
Tip #5 – Remember that simpler is sometimes better.
Often times the simple drills that have been around forever are the best ones.
Don’t forget those simple drills or overlook them just because they are simple. They are often the most effective.
Simple drills can allow your players to focus on the smaller aspects of a skill, which can often lead to big improvements in a players overall skill and performance.
Running a basketball practice is full of ups-and-downs and struggles to motivate your players shouldn’t be your biggest challenge. By employing these five tips, your practices can run more smoothly and you’ll see the kind of improvement in your players that you know they’re capable of.
Author, Jeff Haefner, an experienced basketball coach, player, and owner of BreakthroughBasketball.com, knows the difficulty that coaches face when trying to keep their players motivated and engaged. He is the author of Winning Drills, a free e-book available for download at his website WinningDrills.com. It offers 70 full color basketball drills with motivation tips, diagrams, and easy to use step-by-step instructions.