Practice Philosophy

Everything we do is done with a purpose and designed with the end in mind. To go from practice to game, we must get repetitions at game Intensity and Quality.

To reach that outcome, we take care to follow a comprehensive process in order to make the most of the limited practice time that we share.

Success on the court is not an accident. It is the product of the Intensity and Quality that we demonstrate every day.

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Give players the best experience possible by constantly improving practices.

We need to push each other to get better.

Practices are built on dedicated repetitions. Coaches outline the Rate of Perceived Exertion and athletic abilities for each practice and exhort players to reach their target heart rates. Players run hard, pressure the ball ninety-four feet and make physical plays. Practices should be as intense as games and the pre-season is the time to establish that tone.

There are staple drills to build familiarity and measure development but each drill is loaded differently for each player. The goal of the drill should be within the player’s Zone of Proximal Development. The skill should be challenging, but achievable. When the drill becomes routine, it is time for the coach to introduce a progression. It’s acceptable to fail because it means players are raising their levels of performance.

Drills are for both the offensive and defensive sides. If one squad does not play hard, the other cannot improve. Coaches help, but ultimately players are responsible to ensure that each rep matters.

We need to pull together.

Teams are built during practices so we want to incorporate our team building routines whenever we are on the court. Every practice should be a reflection of the team’s culture. Seniors should mentor younger players. Squads huddle with each other, teammates pick each other up off the floor and players share each other positive touches to give energy. When someone new enters the gym, everyone shakes their hand to thank them for their time.

Players interact with each other and coaches guide those exchanges (giving feedback, managing frustration, huddling together) as much as the skills performed on the court. Adolescent student-athletes are learning how to become better people as well as players so coaches must include the social and mental aspects of basketball in addition to the physical, technical and strategic sides.

When we play together, it is more engaging and fruitful. Fun is not exclusive of performance. Players have input in how practice is designed so that it is more meaningful. We organize games to test skills and challenge each other. Coaches have a sense of humour and we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

We need to compete.

The scoreboard and clock are used throughout practice. There is always a way to win the drill (scores, stops or other Key Performance Indicators such as taking a charge). Small-sided games provide players with more touches and opportunities. Every practice segment culminates in a competitive situation where the skills can be applied under pressure.

Tracking the results of competitions (Practice Player of the Day, Player Reward Board and more) enables the coaching staff to determine which players and combinations are fighting the most. The team participates in a variety of scrimmages (mini-games, modified rules, stop-score-stop, free throws, game situations).

Practices and training camp must prepare the team for games and tournaments. Coaches establish situations where players must confront adversity and overcome it as a team. We need to finish defensive possessions, take charges and hit the floor for loose balls so we will do the same during games.

We need to think the game.

Players must make decisions daily. Practices are structured so that the ultimate game situation is embedded in every drill. Instruction begins with skills and progressions to tactics and strategies. Coaches create game situations where players must read the defense and make decisions.

To inform those decisions, coaches provide specific and objective feedback. Sometimes, players are left to make their own choices because the international game demands that players be able to play smart.

Coaches assess players continuously. After practice, coaches debrief and plan how to make the next workout better than the last one. Players reflect and evaluate their own performance to encourage improvement.

We have to execute the little things.

Execute all skills and drills correctly, every time. There are points of emphasis for every drill and coaches remind players of those standards. Coaches monitor the quality of repetitions (there is someone watching the offense and the defense) and pull a player aside to give non-judgmental feedback. Taking the player out of the drill permits corrections without disrupting the entire activity.

Coaches are particular because the little things in practice become the thin edge of the wedge that drives success in games. A little tip, such as how to read the defense or understand how the official will call the game, can make a big difference. Every drill is a passing and a defensive drill.

The Yearly Planning Instrument contains curriculum on the court, in the weight room, in the classroom and in the community. The content in practice is chosen because it is a valuable step towards the team’s goals.

We need to respect practice.

Practices are planned in detail so not a minute is wasted. Practice starts and ends on time. Practice time is communicated ahead of time so team members can adjust their schedule. The gym and the equipment are set up in advance so practices run smoothly. Coaches plan for emergencies and ensure that the facility is safe.

Players change in the locker room – not the gym. Before and after practice, players put up game situation shots and complete other relevant pre-practice work. Phones are put in bags so players can be completely present.

Players keep a water bottle handy in order to minimize missed time. Active recovery time is scheduled to disperse lactic acid between drills. The team warms up and cools down thoroughly and utilizes rest and recovery principles. Players have healthy snacks before and after practice. The team follows injury prevention techniques and healthy habits.