Practice. I can't hear that word without seeing Allen Iverson. "We talking bout practice man." Needless to say some of us have probably felt that way. As a player you've been through some tough practices. It's hard for any of us to remember a practice UNLESS something happened memorable. Usually a memorable practice involved something you wish you could forget.
Practices are the lifeline of any program. Talent is the blood. Put them together & you have a chance if the practice is productive. IF. That's where some people miss the purpose. Practice has to be productive. Just because you're practicing doesn't mean you're getting better or getting something accomplished. A lot of the time all you end up accomplishing is wasting your time. If you aren't practicing properly you are not going to get better.
Some summer teams try to cram an entire pre-season into 5 days. Here's a hint: SELECT BETTER PLAYERS. Get players committed enough to work on their own. Players should play, not prep to play in the summer. Find kids that will condition on their own so you can work on skills at game pace. You can't get a team game ready in a couple days. Same can be said for when you get your players from football. They can't be ready to play 32 minutes by practicing 3x a day.
Practice with a plan. What can we do today to make my team better tomorrow? Here are my 3 thoughts on how to ensure you don't waste a practice.
1. Practice to improve skill &/or athleticism
Practice time is sacred, or it should be treated as such. Don't get through practice, get from practice. I love the movies Hoosiers. "My practices aren't designed for your enjoyment." When Coach Norman Dale tells his team that every coach loved it. I'm not a sunshine guy. I have to work at staying positive. I also know that with today's player if they don't want or like practice they won't come. It's too easy for them to quit & just play pickup or on a summer team. Basketball players have the longest season. Practices have to be to improve. Don't waste practice time. If a team or player can't do a drill correctly pick another drill. If a play isn't working, do you keep running it in the game? I love my job. I love practices. That's why I'm not going to endure a miserable practice. Use that time to improve. If you're not improving, end it. It's that simple.
2. Anyone can make someone sweat
I have had the pleasure of watching some of the greats practice. I've attended practices at Duke, North Carolina, Indiana & Butler all in the past 3 years. They get it. I've also had the misfortune of watching some really bad practices. Sadly, most of those occur on youth or summer level. Those types of teams are when & where players are suppose to be improving. I've attended practices where at least thirty minutes of their hour and a half practice was spent with the team running while their "coach" is screaming, enjoying it. ANYONE CAN MAKE SOMEONE SWEAT. Heck, I can run anyone until they're sick. That doesn't mean they got a good workout or any better. That means the time you could've spent on skill work they spent throwing up. Did they get better? How about the team? Our program conditions. We don't just run to be running. We have a purpose.
3. Practice isn't to show what you know but to pass what you know on.
Have you ever been to a practice that served as a "look or listen to what I know session"? Practice is about the team. The Coach's time has past. Practice is about passing on what you know. Show them. jump in a drill to let them see how to do it then get back to coaching. Teach them. Tell them what to do but practice is about player improvement, not coach reliving the glory days. If your players are struggling with a drill or concept, maybe you aren't doing a good job teaching it? I catch myself all the time realizing I could've done a better job explaining something.
Players need to know the why, how & when in practice.
I'm not against conditioning. Check this out. Conditioning
Every program that is worth anything has players in game shape.
I just don't see the point in wasting time or ruining a great practice with mindless conditioning.
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