Practice Planning 101

Yes Allen, we're here to talk about... PRACTICE

One of the things that I really came to enjoy doing this past season was planning practices. After being an assistant the past 5 years, I never really had much input into the practice plan so I just filled in to coach wherever needed. As a head coach, I think it's one of the most important aspects of the job. To me, practice time is sacred, I feel like the best way to evaluate a coach is to observe that coach running a practice. And so I take it extremely seriously as to exactly what I am teaching, why I am teaching it, and what I want the players to be able to do. There really is so much that goes into it, and here are just some of the philosophical questions to answer as you plan your practices:

- How many periods do you have in your practice?
- When do make announcements on housekeeping and logistical items (rides, fundraising, etc..)?
- Do you have an offensive practice and a separate defensive practice? Or do you do both each day?
- How do you setup your teams? Starters vs non-starters, or do you even up the teams?
- When do you do install periods - beginning, middle, or end?
- When do you do conditioning?
- Do you have closed or open practices where parents and other coaches can observe?

I don't think there are any right or wrong answers, but there is a lot that you should think about when preparing for the season, and for each practice. I will make this a 2 or 3 part series of posts (hopefully done over the weekend), and I'll start off by explaining a little bit of how I've structured my practice plan template. Below is the link that I used this past season for planning my practices and the rest of the post explains how it works.

Practice Template in Excel Format

It is an excel worksheet template and I use the same file for all practices in a week (we practice 2 times a week). The last sheet is a drill worksheet that lists all the drills that I use by category (ball-handling, dribbling, shooting, defense, 1v1, team, etc...). The drill worksheet is handy because when I start planning and want to look for drills that I want to use that week, I can just scan it and pick the ones that I want and paste them into the practice plan sheet. The template also includes small court diagrams on the second page when printed. I always print double-sided, so I get the practice plan for the practice on the frontside, then the court diagrams on the backside. That way, I can draw in any X's and O's on the fly on the backside if something comes to me just before practice, during practice, or after practice.

I always print off 2 copies of the practice plan (sometimes 3 if I have an assistant coach working with me). The first copy goes into the binder that I keep, and the second copy I fold up and carry with me in my pocket during practices. I often take notes during practice of what worked, what didn't work, etc.. I then go back to the copy in my binder and record the attendance, and write down any final notes. The folded up copy goes into the recycling bin. In my opinion, you must keep a recorded copy, that way when parents come up with any number of questions and concerns, you can go back to your records and show who was at practices and what they did during practice.

In Part 2, I will upload a copy of an offensive practice, and break down my philosophy of how I break down an offensive practice (and yes, I do believe in having an offensive emphasis practice and a separate defensive emphasis practice).