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Monday, October 3, 2011

PRACTICE POINTERS #2: EMPHASIS OF THE DAY

As official practice looms for us all, we will run a series of posts on ideas that might have a positive effect on your workouts.

While at LSU, for each practice, we chose an “Emphasis of the Day.” It’s a simple way to make sure that your team improves in one area each day. That sounds simple, but think about it. If you could do something that would ensure that your team improves in one phase of the game each day, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

Well, we’ve had that type of success with this concept and here is how it works.

First, you must pick what you want to emphasize each day in practice. We have a couple of schools of thought in this regard. The first is obvious—pick something that you struggled with the day before. Maybe on Monday your team didn’t do a good job of blocking out. So on Tuesday you make blocking out your emphasis of the day.

The second way of choosing an emphasis is to look at your upcoming opponent. Maybe the next team on your schedule does a nice job of running with the basketball. Your next practice might have transition defense as your emphasis of the day.

Choosing the emphasis of the day is just the beginning...now it’s time to start emphasizing! This comes from several different means and they all need to be a part of the process for it to be successful.

First, when the players come to practice, they will find a sheet of paper with the emphasis of the day in their locker. On the way out of the locker room they will see that same sheet of paper on the bulletin board. When they walk on to the practice floor, they will see it taped up at each basket and at the water cooler. There will be no doubt in their mind that the coaches are going to work diligently that day to improve that area.
 
At LSU, we start each session with a “Pre-Practice.” In this segment, the team is broken down into smaller numbers for some individual attention and part-method teaching. Some of these drills will be devised to work on the days emphasis.

Following Pre-Practice, we will start regular practice by huddling up, at which time I will mention the emphasis of the day and why it is important. We will generally start practice with a drill that is specific to the emphasis of the day. Throughout practice, the coaching staff will constantly mention the emphasis in all drill work. The majority of the time, the emphasis will be related to a basketball fundamental: Blockout, Low Post Feeds, Shot Fake, Contest the Shot, etc. On occasion, it will be a mental emphasis: Concentration, Communicate, Listen, Intensity, etc.

We have also on occasion tied our video into the emphasis of the day. Before going to the floor for Pre-Practice, we might watch some video clips of what our emphasis of the day will be.

Below you can see a sample of our practice plan (click on it to enlarge it). At the top of the right hand corner, you can see our emphasis of the day. You can also see how it is worked into the fabric of that particular practice.