MAKING PRACTICE DRILLS EFFECTIVE

BY

TROY PEARSON
GIRLS BASKETBALL COACH
RANDOLPH, MN

BUILD CONFIDENCE THROUGH PRACTICE DRILLS

Never put players in a situation where they are consistently getting scored on or continually failing in a drill. Do everything possible to build confidence in your players. Some of them will need it more than others. You will never run the risk of building a player's confidence too much.

Be positive and instructional. A solid rule to follow as a coach is the following: For every one negative comment given, you should follow it up with at least three positive comments. In other words, when you knock a player down--pick him up!

Confidence is the result of hours upon hours, days upon days, and years upon years of dedication and relentless hard work. Reward hard work and effort.

Your players need to understand what Thomas Edison meant when he said, "I am not discouraged, because every wrong discarded is another step forward." As a coach, you must not let discouragement set in to your players. Be enthusiastic and excited for your players. Exalt their effort and praise their endeavor. As coaches, we do not like constant criticism and negative words; neither do your players. Confidence is gained by positive reinforcement, not negative feedback. Set your players up to succeed, not to fail.

VIDEO TAPE PRACTICE DRILLS

Have a manager or student volunteer to record certain segments of practice, including the drills. This can prove to be a valuable resource for you and your staff. Things happen so quickly during the course of a practice or a specific drill that you may miss part of the action. Having a video tape of the drill or entire practice will allow you and your staff to go back and dissect the part you missed. It will also allow you to view other facets by replaying the tape. You do not have that option when practice is live. This can prove to be a priceless and effective way to evaluate. You can evaluate individual players, team play, effort, skill development, and much more. Video taping will allow you to evaluate as frequently as you wish.

These tapes also allow players to visually analyze and evaluate themselves. Video tapes do not lie. Athletes see their strengths and their weaknesses before their very own eyes.

I had a situation with an extremely talented upperclassman that was not living up to his capability. He had all the tools of a dominant player, yet he failed to even come close to his potential as a player (or person for that matter). After trying everything we knew--talking, encouraging, yelling, disciplining, and much more, all without results--we decided to video tape him individually for a couple of practices. We taped him when he was participating in drills, scrimmaging, and even getting a drink of water. He was unaware of our candid camera. Following a couple days of taping, I called him into my office to view the tape. The screen revealed all of his negative actions: lack of effort, laziness, and bad attitude. He looked rather foolish, and he knew it. After a short time, we stopped the tape and had a heart-to-heart talk. This time, the tape spoke louder and clearer than I could. He finally knew (and saw) what I had been saying to him for quite some time. Needless to say, he changed. Before his career ended, he became a team captain, an All-Conference player, and a second team All-American selection.

A disciplinary problem is, however, not the primary reason to video tape players. Video tape in order to evaluate. You can tape the entire court to evaluate everyone and everything, or tape specific people segments, and/or drills to evaluate effectiveness.

DRILLS SHOULD BE GAME-LIKE

Try to make the drills you use in practice to mirror game-type situations. The entire purpose of using drills is to develop skills within particular phases of the game and utilize them in an actual competition. Therefore, you must create a game-like environment, which will improve your players' skill advancement and help them to implement and react correctly in a game setting. Create the illusion of actual competitive stress of a game by calling fouls, counting turnovers, using the scoreboard, and using transition.

Keep in mind that it is a drill, not a scrimmage. A drill is designed to teach and refine certain parts of your players/team's play. Do not be afraid to stop action, make adjustments, and challenge individuals. Drilling is tough, but if done right, it should make your squad game-ready. As a coach, you must demand will and teach skill. If a player is willing, he can be taught proper skills to be successful at game time. Remember, practie does not make perfect--perfect practice makes perfect.

DRILL AND PRACTICE RULES

Drill and practice rules are crucial! Structure is a vital element to the success and effectiveness of any drill. Construct rules and guidelines that allow growth and present improvement. Each team's practices are run differently, depending on the style of program and coaching. Institute a few rules that will help you reach your desired goal.

Here are a few general rules to administer:

1. Go hard
2. Never criticize your teammate(s)
3. Always compliment your teammate(s)
4. Be positive; be enthusiastic
5. Coaches must use constructive criticism only
6. Finish every drill
7. Have fun

Fee free to add additional requirements as you feel necessary.

Remember, players must always give a maximum effort, both mentally and physically when participating in drills. By doing so, they will be prepared to face, with success, a multitude of situations at game time.

Allow your players to take time to have fun each practice by conducting a "fun-type" drill. This will keep a balance, help maintain positive team morale, and create a positive practice atmosphere. Have Discipline and Be Demanding Without Being Demeaning.

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(Article used by permission of BASKETBALL SENSE, The Magazine for Winning Coaches. To subscribe, go to: www.basketballsense.com)