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The Essential Ingredients of a Successful Basketball Practice

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Outlining a practice is a key ingredient to a successful season. In many cases, time is limited so you need to make the most of it. Keep players busy at all times.

The first step to planning a successful practice is to design a plan for your season. Second, you need to develop a general practice outline. Finally, you can plan your daily practice.

The key ingredients to a practice include a team meeting; warm up, individual skill work, team offense/defense, game situation drills, conditioning, and scrimmage.

Meeting. Have some time to discuss issues concerning the team, watch game film, explain a new play, or discuss a rule. This may be most effective at the beginning of practice before warming up.

Warm up. The warm up could be laps around the court that players can do when entering the gym. Players should stretch immediately after the warm up. A drill that gets all players moving is another great warm up.

Individual skill work. Players need to have a time during each practice to develop their skills. Using stations is a great way to practice several individual skills in a short period of time.

Team offense/defense. Take some time to get each player involved in learning the offense and defense. If your time is very limited, you may need to alternate between offense and defense each practice. Do what is important to you and your team.

Game situation drills. Prepare your players for game situations. Make these as game like as possible. Set a goal and make consequences for not reaching the goal to motivate players. You can include special situations such as "10 seconds left and you lead by 2pts." Expose your players to situations that can occur during the game and teach them what they need to do in that situation. This builds their confidence.

Conditioning. Many drills during practice include the conditioning element. However, a special segment should be set aside for those end of the game situations when you're tired and taking free throws. Practices at the beginning of the season require more conditioning time.

Scrimmage. Scrimmaging helps teach game situations and exposes your player's good and bad habits. You can also find out which players work well together. Bringing in tougher competition will help your team improve.

Be prepared to follow the plan you have made including the time for each segment. If a drill doesn't go well, move on when your plan dictates. You can go over it again the next practice. Vary your practice and teach new material early in the practice after the players have warmed up. Adjust for time and intensity as the season progresses. Always end on a high note. You want your players to look forward to the next practice.

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