Preseason basketball practice makes or breaks the team. A good pre-season will develop players - their conditioning, their fundamental basketball skills, their attitude and ability to work together. And it develops basketball teams. Because a team is more than just a bunch of guys wearing the same basketball shirt.
Coaching basketball begins with tryouts, not with
the first game of the season. It is at the first day of tryouts that you
begin to build your team. Know what to look for during tryouts - the skills and abilities that will be important for players to demonstrate - and organize your tryout practices with excellent tryout drills to help you make your decisions. Part of your tryout process may be to use basketball tryout stations to help you evaluate players during tryouts, an approach that I favor although for a coach in a small school, without help and resources, it can be a little challenging to carry out the stations smoothly.
It is these first few basketball practices that will inform you what skills you need to focus on and what abilities your players will be bringing to the team - be sure to perform solid player evaluations during tryouts and in the first few pre-season practices so you can set appropriate player goals and team goals, so all of your players - and thus your team - is able to develop throughout the pre-season.
Once your team has been chosen, it's time to really buckle down and get working. Every basketball practice is one more opportunity to improve, one more chance to become better than the opponents you will face, and you can't waste any of these opportunities. Plan well. Starting with your season overview, develop your practice goals, and work them into practice plans so that you consistently develop stronger players and stronger teams.
don't know if this can be stressed enough - practices need to be well
planned and organized, progressive in that you build on what you have
done previously, and ultimately each practice needs to push you towards
your overall goal. If you aren't organized, if you show up without a
plan and a concrete vision for what you want to accomplish, your team
will not develop to the best of their abilities.
For a great DVD package that will help you organize your season, check out Bob Hurley's Coaching High School Basketball DVD pack - 4 disks that include practice planning and program development, or take a look inside the practices of perhaps the most consistently successful high school basketball team in the US by checking out the DeMatha Catholic High School Basketball Practice.
Ultimately, the success of your team comes down to you, the coach. There is a saying in sports - "If the team wins, it's because of the players. If the team loses, it's because of the coach." Well, let's face it - we're not here for the glory. We do our job well, and people will comment on the incredible talent of our players.
Develop players to the best of their abilities, so when they get to the game they can be confident and competitive. Create good practice plans, teach your basketball drills well to develop good fundamental skills, organize your team on the floor so they can perform successfully.
If you do everything right, you'll probably win more games than you lose. But remember it's always an ongoing process - reflect on what works and doesn't work during practice, and make changes as you go along. Not only will your players improve, so will you as a coach.