The philosophy determines every aspect of practice, the objectives of meetings, and finally the game plan. It is the cement which binds every activity of a coach and his team, linking practice drills to game performance. The preparation of a team begins with planning practices for it is on the practice floor that teaching the game occurs. The importance of planning practices can’t be overstated. A practice session’s objectives, expressed in a practice plan, must be determined in advance – and in detail.
I invariably schedule defensive drills first. It’s a small way to impress upon the players my belief that defense, as the key to team success, comes first. The drill work at practice, whether on offense or defense, is always made up of components of our defensive or offensive pattern. It’s important to break the game down into its basic parts, explaining the significance of each, and then drill, drill, drill. Once the components have been mastered, they can be fitted into the whole.
The tedium of repetition can interfere with learning. Fatigue affects concentration, and players need to have their full attention on what they’re doing.
Players like organization, they like order, they will work hard when they see the purpose of what they’re doing. When every player knows what’s expected of him and why, practices will be productive. And then even hard, physically demanding sessions will be fun, building the sense of common purpose and collective affection every good team has. When players and coaches feel good about what’s happening in practice, they will carry that spirit with them into games. I want every practice well organized, productive and conducted with the same intensity and commitment as a game is played.
A coach who allows players to depart from his plan at practice can expect the same thing in a game.Just as drills are the basic part of a team’s game, its style of play, practices, too, must reflect other demands a team will encounter in games. Teaching pace, an awareness of time and the significance of the clock, the importance of officials and score differentials, are all also a part of what practices must prepare for.
The preparation of a game plan begins with a study of the opponent’s style of play, it’s strengths and weaknesses. This analysis is a critical part of coaching. If an assessment of an opponent is inaccurate, the game plan will be inadequate. A sound appraisal can’t be made from watching a team play only once.The object of any game plan is to limit an opponent’s opportunities to do what it does best, while carrying out one’s own style of play.