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How to Run a Basketball Practice

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How to run a college basketball practice

By: Tor Anderson

Running a successful basketball practice at any level is a daunting and difficult task. At the college level, it gets that much harder. The most important thing to do when setting up practice is to always know what you want to accomplish and how to make that happen. That may sound easy, but to someone who is a coach at the collegiate level, that's not the case. Here are a couple simple instructions on how to put a crisp and complete practice together. You will want to set up your practice into four parts. The pre practice/ warm up, your first half of practice, second half of practice, and your end of practice/ post game plans. Having all four parts planned out is key to having a successful practice. An ideal practice should last roughly two to two and a half hours so having things planned out early helps you stay on task and get things accomplished.

I. Pre-Practice/ Warm up (10 minutes)*

The first part, or warm up of your practice is one of the most crucial times in practice. You have to make sure your players bodies are warmed up and ready for strenuous activity. Beyond that, as the coach you already have to have everything in place. Some examples of what you need to have completed.

- Practice schedule for the day set up (Example Above)

- Reviewed film of upcoming opponent, or own team to know what needs to be improved on during that day

- Coaches meetings

- Any meetings with players on the team regarding school, basketball, or outside activity

Once all players have been accounted for, the best way to get them loose and ready to practice is by putting them through a dynamic workout. You need to be the instructor here, or appoint one of the team captains whom you trust to put the players through a proper warm-up. Here is an example of a good dynamic warm up.

(All exercises are performed to half court; jog the remaining half once completed.)

- Butt kicks

- High knees

- Straight leg march

- Karaoke

- Defensive Slides

- Toe touches

- Progression running (Increase speed as you run down court)

- Stretch

Once that has been completed, bring your team together and give them a little pep talk. Let them know what you want to cover and what you're expecting out of them during the days practice. Set a positive, but serious tone with the guys, break the huddle and get started with the first part of practice.

II. First Half of Practice (45-60 minutes)*

The first half of your practice is meant to get your players blood going and get there minds completely focused on basketball. This shouldn't be a time that your players enjoy and they should get a good sweat going and become pretty fatigued after a while. You will want to hit a large number of skills during this period, including offensive, defensive, passing, rebounding, dribbling, and shooting drills. Some good examples of drills to use that will get your players blood flowing would be

- 3 man weave (See picture below right)

- 5 man weave

- Three on two down, two on one back

- "Ozzie" drill

- Lay- Ups (See example below left)

- Pass return pass lay-ups

Once you have completed some of the following, drills specializing on offense or defense should follow. Here is a list of some good drills focusing on defense and offense.

(Note- Offensive drills are separated for your big men and guards, these drills will require a whole court to complete at the same time.)


- Shell drill (See top picture)

- Full court defensive slides

- Close outs (Emphasize close out to force man to sideline)

- Ball shadowing

- Help side charge taking

Offense (Bigs)

- Individual post moves

- One on one post moves

- Pick and roll slips

- Pick and pop jump shots

Offense (Guards)

- Stationary shooting

- Shooting off down screens

- Shooting off back screens (See bottom picture)

- Shooting off on ball screens

- Shooting off the dribble

Additional notes for first half of practice-All players can participate in drills during this time. During shooting drills you will want to make sure your players are moving full at game speed. Practicing at a slow pace won't get anyone better at all.

III. Second Half of Practice (45-60 minutes)*

The second half of your practice should consist of game like situations and scrimmaging. At this time you will want to have your top ten guys on the team on the court playing against each other. Most likely this will consist of your starting five players on one team, and the top five guys off the bench on the other. Move the players around as the time goes on, so people get used to playing with one another because in the game you will have different line ups in constantly.

Always start this time off with half court execution, make it a competition so that the only way you can play offense is if you get a stop on the defensive end. Another great way to ensure maximum effort would be to have a punishment



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