Topic 2 – Elements of a session

Elements of a Session

There are many elements to each practice session.  Dividing up the practice session into different elements, with related activities within each element, is a good way to organize practice.  Organizing practice based on the activity being performed lets both players and coaches know what they should be focusing on at a certain time during practice.  

The first part of practice would focus on stating directions.  When stating objectives to players, it is recommended that the strategies discussed during lesson two focusing on communication are used.  By using such communication strategies players will have a clear understanding of what needs to be focused on throughout the practice.  While objectives are being stated, players learn the connection between the drills they are practicing, the skills are learned from the drills, and how to utilize those skills during games.

Next the coach will direct the players in warm up activities.  The activities in the warm up should be of little physical and mental strain, in order to prepare players for the later parts of practice that may be more strenuous.  Some light conditioning should be done without the ball in order for players to physically warm up their bodies for the many drills to come.  Then, players should be instructed to participate in simple basketball drills such as layup lines and stationary dribbling drills.  At this point players should be warmed up and practice should commence. 

First players will do individual work, or small group work of three to four players.  The groups should be made based on either skill level or the activity being worked on.  The drills worked on during the individual time should be as game-like as possible, which will help the skills learned during practice translate to games more seamlessly.  Individual work should be tailored to focus on a specific skill or activity that the individual or group could improve on.  

Next the coach should run team activities.  This would include many 3v3, 4v4, and 5v5 activities.  During this segment of practice, drills should focus on building team chemistry rather than individual skills.  The focus should also be on how the drill is done, rather than the outcome.  These team activities should focus on building toughness, effort, and comradery rather than the objective of the drill.  To improve chemistry one strategy to use during these drills is to switch up the groups, have different people working together all the time.  

For the last strenuous element of practice, coaches should run players through game-like situations.  The more a practice session is similar to a game, the better the skills learned will transfer when it comes time to participate in a competitive game.  Tough, physical drills are one way to prepare players for contact that will occur during games.  Progressively working upwards by the means of the number of people participating in the drill will also help players have game-ready skills.  Meaning, coaches should not just go straight from individual or small group work, to 5v5 action.  Coaches should progressively move players up from individual drills, to 2v2, to 4v4, onward.

To end practice players should go through cool down activities.  Generally this should begin with some light cardio, or other conditioning activities.  After cardio, stretching should begin.  During stretching coaches should be instructing players on proper form, or stretching could be ineffective.  During stretching coaches could also again state the main objectives of the practice and their goals moving forward.  Doing a wrap up meeting refocuses players towards the future.

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