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2017-2018 bball schedule

Corner’s Corner gives you a chance to look inside basketball programs around the state and how they are preparing for next season. When the opportunity arose HoopCircle was lucky to reach out to former state Championship and Division I assistant Coach Cabral Huff, to give us a incite on how he and Duluth are getting ready for the summer and next season……..

April 9

The last blog in March dealt with the process of improving and growing as coaches through the mistakes we sometimes make as coaches. Here was the list I complied of mistakes I’ve made over my career:


1. Don’t assume anything you have done before will prepare you for the new or next task at hand
2. I told people the TRUTH before I had earned their TRUST
3. I got out of shape
4. I got out of the alignment between process and results
5. I tried to do too many things
6. I was afraid to do what I thought was best
7. I exhausted my daily decision energy on stuff that didn’t effect winning
8. I let the urgent become the important
9. I stopped confronting things that needed to be confronted
10. I forgot to keep myself charged
11. I didn’t realize how tight my friend circle would become
12. I slacked off on managing my staff up
We discussed in detail numbers 1 & 2. But in this blog I want to look at the following 5 & 6.
5. This mistake stems from years of trying to get better daily, yearly, etc., and observing & collecting ideas. I wanted to start this or implement that. I wanted to promote my program in this way or I wanted our locker room to look like this. We all have done this. What I eventually found out was you can’t implement everything as some things need to just be put down in a notebook for later thought or even the dreaded notion of that may work for them, but it will not work here for me. Many times there are drills I see from college coaches or that I did as a college coach that just won’t work at the high school level for various reasons. So many times what happens is we have team goals, game goals, position goals, 4 minute war goals, etc. For X’s & O’s, we have these actions and these defensive thoughts. The result of all this is many times we don’t know what to really focus on, what’s important & what isn’t and too many what ifs. This creates confusion for your team, staff and yourself as the head coach. The solution I learned was and is to SIMPLIFY. Once you start to strip away and get to what is important, your team can improve. We as coaches can try things for sure as you have to make mistakes to learn from them. But we as coaches have to learn as I did & have to not be stubborn or be afraid to be different.
6. As an assistant coach, I never had a bad idea exposed. Many of my suggestions were unsuccessful, but I was never asked about them by a reporter or my name was never attached to a message board about my game plan. However, the move over 6 inches as I say changes everything. Now as a head coach all eyes are on you. It’s your call and that in itself can be scary. As a young coach, I allowed that fear to keep me from trying new things. We all should have mentors we bounce ideas off of. The problem is that many of our mentors have no actual knowledge of OUR situation at our school even though they deeply care for us & want to see us succeed. There advice is usually off encounters they experienced. Nothing is wrong with them talking us out of bad ideas and into better ones. However at some point, to be successful, you have to trust YOU. Coaching is about trusting your gut even when no one else agrees sometimes. It means making a decision without consulting anyone at times. The lesson I learned a young head coach was to trust your instincts. You have to do what you believe in. Remember it’s your team. You as the head coach will be held accountable for the actions of your team. So, do what you think is best and what you can out your head on the pillow at night feeling good about.
Again by being transparent in my failings over my 19 years as a coach, I hope I am able to help a coach as I go through different pitfalls I encountered.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the MCAofGA Live Period Coaching Clinic Friday, April 26th 
                 3405 Bobby Brown Parkway, Atlanta,Georgia, 30344, USA

Basketball Clinic –  Friday, April 26, 2019 – 9 am – 3pm

Coaches Social – Thursday, April 25, 2019, at the hotel from 6-8pm

March 18 

The high school basketball season in Georgia has come to a close. The GHSA crowned 8 state champions for both girls and boys. Congrats to each one of those programs and communities. Now is the time many coaches make moves for their career and many assistants get to move over 6 inches to become a head coach. In both instances, there are many details that must take place. And as always, it s a constant work in progress. However as we go about this process or even the process of improving at the place we are; I believe below are some good lessons or mistakes that I have made over the years and for us to consider.

1. Don’t assume anything you have done before will prepare you for the new or next task at hand
2. I told people the TRUTH before I had earned their TRUST
3. I got out of shape
4. I got out of the alignment between process and results
5. I tried to do too many things
6. I was afraid to do what I thought was best
7. I exhausted my daily decision energy on stuff that didn’t effect winning
8. I let the urgent become the important
9. I stopped confronting things that needed to be confronted
10. I forgot to keep myself charged
11. I didn’t realize how tight my friend circle would become
12. I slacked off on managing my staff up
So for the next few weeks, I want to take a look at two of these lessons/mistakes weekly that I have made and dive more into them.
1. We all know what people say about assuming. Coaches understand that the job description of a head coach is completely different from being an assistant as well as that being a head coach at a different place requires a different job description. Many of my failures fell into this category whether it was my first head coaching job at Cedartown or the different stops as a head coach since. I believe knowing this as a coach could help someone as they move or transition. I am an organized and detailed person, so I had a form for this and that as well as routines so I could be efficient. I expected it to be the same until I learned it wasn’t. Understanding that my decisions as a head coach didn’t just affect the lives of my immediate family, but the lives of every player, coach, etc. was important. I also assumed that things would “slow down”. Things never slow down as there is always something to be on top of. It’s okay to be overwhelmed at times. That’s why there is a need to have coaches on your staff that have duties that can take things off your plate. So things I would do differently: spend more time reading/learning different leadership techniques and pay more attention to coaches I respected & picked their brain as to why they do what they do. These two maybe small details have become huge in now my 19th year in coaching at various levels.
 
2. I assumed from Day 1 with trust as one of my core values of any program I’ve been that telling people the truth before I earned their trust was okay. People only listen to people they trust, so it is all about relationships. A favorite quote regarding trust says, “Don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t have a dog in the fight”. Think about your life and any life long learning advice came from someone who earned your trust. I am not saying you don’t listen to others or consider their input, but again it’s all about relationships. Example: I had a team struggling with shot selection and i wanted to be clear what we as a staff viewed was an acceptable shot and what wasn’t. We showed film and pointed it out in practice as well as charting shots in practice/games and posting them. My intention since I believed we had team driven, high basketball IQ kids was that they could see the results & realize who needed the most shots and why. Result was it failed miserably and backfired. It separated the team more. Even the players that we felt needed the shots more hated it due to extra pressure. What I learned was the the thought process of the idea was good, but we hadn’t built up to that as a team where the players had earned the trust of their teammates, but once they did it was easier to accept. “They believe in and buy in after they trust in.”
 
By being transparent in my failings over my 19 years as a coach, I hope I am able to help a coach over the next few weeks as we go through these 12 different pitfalls I encountered. Again, I look forward to seeing many of you at the MCAofGA Live Period Coaching Clinic Friday, April 26th 
                 3405 Bobby Brown Parkway, Atlanta,Georgia, 30344, USA

Basketball Clinic –  Friday, April 26, 2019 – 9 am – 3pm

Coaches Social – Thursday, April 25, 2019, at the hotel from 6-8pm

March 5

As we gear up for the GHSA State Finals here in Georgia, we also are at that time of the year where there are many changes going around when it comes to coaching jobs as well as the role of coaches. We as coaches have to take this time to re-evaluate the season and their role as the leader of the program. This evaluation process made me think of Essential Roles of a Basketball Coach. Here are what I believe those roles are:

1. Philosophy & Leadership: Define & instill your program’s ideals. My first priority is to make sure that I have a clear direction & philosophy on which to build every aspect of our program around. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to make some changes each year when it comes to style of play, etc. 
2. Organization & Management: Maximizing the resources at your disposal. Operations, resources, budget, etc. are not the most enjoyable part of coaching, but it has to be handled well. Have a long term plan for funding in your program.
3. Individual & Team Development: Develop your players’ skills & attitudes within your system. Here at Duluth, we are big on the character of our players, so we implemented Character Development through the use of John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” where every Wednesday we would spend 15-20 minutes discussing the the pyramid & how it could impact our team as well as their individual lives. Develop, implement, & teach systems for team play that fit your players’ abilities & strengths. One major drawback I saw in our program here at Duluth this season was in our preseason development as I didn’t concentrate enough on the development part of the players as I should have. What I mean is our workouts/open gyms should have been more geared towards shooting as I knew that would be our struggle, yet because we returned only 3 players with major varsity experience; we did a lot of competitive defensive drills and live play in our 4 on 1’s instead of competitive shooting drills, etc. that would have helped us achieve more this season. I am never afraid to admit when I could have done things differently.
4.Role Definition: Assign roles that best fit each players within the system, work to keep them in those roles, & redefine roles as players change or needs of the team change. This role is the hardest for coaches and players, yet it is very crucial for the success of the team. I love having a reassessment “Come to Jesus” meeting with my players sometime in January about roles as games have been played & usually the team dynamic has been set. The biggest part of role definition is relationships.
5. Coaching Staff Development: Intentional professional development for the entire coaching staff. There are five areas for each coach to work on as coaches should have an individual development plan. Those five areas are:
             a. Technical Knowledge of the game
             b. Ability to teach the game
             c. Ability to bond a team
             d. Ability to develop players’ individual skills
             e. Leadership skills
The minute we neglect one of these five areas as a coach then we aren’t allowing ourselves to grow. We become stagnant in our way of thinking & in the process of getting the most out of our teams. So whether it’s clinics, reading certain books throughout the off-season or meeting with different coaches in your area to discuss new ideas or even how they viewed your team, these are ways to get better as a coach. We ask our players to get better, so we should as well.
6. Service, Promotion & Public Relations: Promoting the basketball program as a whole & the players individually. We don’t do complicated things, but strive to build relationships between our players & our community. The main thing is that you are working to create interest in & present your program in the best possible light. Don’t be afraid to utilize social media!
These roles are just an outline to helping me as a coach re-evaluate my plan every off-season. Be reflective as the off-season begins for many, and recharge your batteries before you get right into workouts as June will be here before you know it with summer basketball. I look forward to seeing many of you at the MCAofGA Live Period Coaching Clinic Friday, April 26th. We have a great lineup for you which we will be announcing soon.

December 18

As we head into the Christmas Holiday Tournament season, the season is halfway complete, yet far from being over here in Georgia. We’ve had some surprises and some mishaps along the way, but every team is working on being better while utilizing this time over the break to get locked in for the stretch run in January. Coaches your record may not reflect how your team is playing, but emphasize the positive. I took a look at the Bainbridge football team which entered the playoffs at 5-5, yet they finished the season as State Champions by defeating a team they had previously lost to earlier in the season 38-0 if I’m not mistaken. This was motivation for me as I prepare my team here at Duluth for the stretch run. Although a different sport, it is a prime example of getting better everyday and making the most of the opportunities put in front of you. That being said, here are some thoughts I think we as coaches should remember heading into the Holiday tournaments and January:

– Improvement creates momentum within a culture and organization.
– Great organizations are always evaluating and always inspiring.
– Improvement involves change, and people are not always excited about change.
– There is a big difference between a ‘personal commitment’ to something and a culture of something. Personal commitment means the person at the top or in charge is committed, but no one else is, but a culture is an attitude throughout he entire organization (program).
 
As coaches, we want players who serve to inspire those around them to do things that will make the team better. As a coach, we have to be the same way. So here are some ways to do just that & infuse passion into your team:
1. Keep your fire burning
2. Take charge of your moods
3. Listen to your coaches & players
4. Be there for others
5. Act with integrity
6. Be genuine
7. Refrain from excuse making
8. Mend broken fences no matter with whom
 
Coaches when we make it clear to our teams that a commitment to the process is the only key to success, we are giving them tools to be successful both on the floor and in life. As coaches, many times we fall victim to the power-empower-power cycle: coaches start out with the power then through trust & time start to empower some of the players within the team then when things aren’t going well we as coaches take the power back from the players. If we as coaches fall in love with power, our players will view us as the enemy rather than an ally. As the pressure to win mounts, we as coaches stop directing & start demanding. Yes, demand accountability, but if your players can discover how to pursue greatness on their own through the accountability of your program (culture),  will become a life-long virtue.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Be sure to check out the Big South Shootout at Duluth High School Dec. 28, 29 & 31. Visit  www.bighoopsshootout.com for the schedule and other information.

November 15

The games have officially begun in the GHSA as the GETOC and SWD Showdown were great events with packed gyms this past weekend. The Duluth Wildcats started the season yesterday with a victory over South Gwinnett 60-48 in a hard fought contest. As these early season battles continue with more tournaments over the Thanksgiving Holiday to take place such as: On the Radar Hoops Tip-Off Classic at Norcross, the Jared Cook Classic at North Gwinnett, the Hawks-Naismith Classic at Maynard Jackson, Holiday Hoopsgiving at Holy Innocents to name a few. I thought after reflecting on our game with the Duluth Wildcats the importance again as coaches of your practice plan. A major part of coaching is the ability to prepare our players & teams as that process takes place in practice. The limited time we have in practice is sacred. I realize that all situations aren’t the same for coaches; however, no matter the situation; the one common thread is for the coach to be prepared by understanding what they want to accomplish during each & every practice session.
Here are 12 tips all coaches should consider when developing a quality practice plan:
1. Develop time frames for each segment: At Duluth, nothing is ever over a 10 min segment.
2. Stick to the time frame: Sometimes this is hard to do because we want to fix, motivate, improve.
3. Try to mix up the time frames: Alternate individual & team drills or switch between offense & defense. At Duluth, we are big on team shooting drills throughout practice & not just in one or two segments.
4. Start possessions the way they start in the game: FT line or BLOB or SLOB. We go many times 5-0 offense to give them a chance to run (execute a play) into live defense on other end.
5. Every practice should incorporate individual drills: Skill development matters.
6. Implement advantage & disadvantage drills: Making practice more difficult will help your players.
7. Create competition in practice: At Duluth, there is a winner and a loser in every drill.
8. Try to create as many full court drills as possible: These drills usually are active & challenging.
9. Focus on what matters: What do you value/put emphasis on in your program/system? Then, you must scrimmage with an emphasis on those things in practice.
10. Make sure your players either love or hate each one of your drills: If they love it, they will automatically work hard. If they hate it, it will be good for them.
11. Make time for time/score situations
12. Always end practice on a positive note: CONFIDENCE matters. 
 
By all means understand that this is not an exclusive list, but I hope some of these ideas help construct your practice plan now that games have begun.

October 30

Tryouts are over other than for football players as most teams in GHSA are set. Now teams (coaches & players) are in preparation for the season as the first week of practice is over. At Duluth, we had our Midnight Madness after our last home football game to kick off our season. many other programs have events similar to this. Thus, coaches it’s time to establish roles, get “buy in” and develop chemistry. This week’s blog deals with just that: Playing with Purpose on Purpose.
Playing with purpose is important for what we do here at Duluth as I am sure it is everywhere. However, how do we infuse it into our team is the question. It involves efficient communication, goals clarification, and player/coach involvement. We try to incorporate all these in our program here at Duluth through community service with players & coaches, emails to our parents on a weekly basis regarding overall program happenings, GroupMe as a program, assistant coaches having a group of players that are their guys that they communicate with different from my communication, player to player role models where our older players pick a different younger player each week & spend time with them that week, “Open Mic Mondays’ which is a concept I got at the PGC Clinic last year from Head Coach TJ Rosene at Emmanuel as we invite our players to discuss the past week in our program among other things. These things we feel promote unity and “buy in”. Teams that play with meaning & purpose naturally develop their own unique identities. We have seen that here at Duluth just in one week with this years squad.
Here are some things I feel help in the process of “Playing with Purpose”:
1. What we want to accomplish: Discuss & decide the major things your team wants to accomplish. Remember as the leader of your program; the goals your team decides upon should be challenging but realistic.
2. Who do we have to beat: Identify the teams you must defeat in order to achieve your goals.
3. How we have to play: How do you need to play in order to beat those teams & achieve what your team wants to accomplish. This is very similar to what I discussed in previous blogs in regards to Jesse McMillan’s “Rent vs Own in your program. Maybe your list becomes like Pat Summitt’s “Definite Dozen” or maybe your list is condensed to 4 to 5 things.
These three things provide the purpose for virtually everything your team does & everything your coaches do. Purpose now drives all your meetings, practices, games, etc. Everything that is not consistent with your purpose should be eliminated. As you coach with a purpose, you will develop a consistent coaching style predicated on helping the team play with purpose in mind. Your players will learn to trust & depend on you with a better understanding of what expectations are as they will now be able to meet the challenges you present them. Players roles will be driven by purpose to help the team achieve its goals.
Once your team develops purpose, it is the ultimate win in team building as the gut feeling by the players of not letting down their teammates is a deep driving force. Their unity commitment to each other & team values/purpose is a unique, highly satisfying experience. An example of this is my former player, James Banks, who is now at Georgia Tech after spending his first 2 seasons of college basketball at the University of Texas. I had the chance to go over and watch Georgia Tech practice right before the GHSA season got going, and one of the first things he said to me was: “4 pebbles to the rock”. 4 years later he remembered our purpose in a motto we had when we got to the state tournament. The motto stood for the four pebbles although small each one was important in the task at hand as you had to have all 4 to reach the rock; the state championship. Coaches purposefully build your team, sacrifice and mold these young men & women.

October 17

We are 6 days away from the start of the GHSA basketball season as exposure camps, fall leagues and clinics are all coming to a close. I hope every coach and player has learned something that they can add to there craft with the season upon us.

This weeks blog is all about CULTURE as I believe to build a winning culture you have to change your people or change the people. Our motto this season at Duluth is “Organized Chaos 12-6-3: Like it, Love it, Live it.” Our motto is a direct reflection of how we want to play, what we believe in as a program (staff and players regarding the amount of time that must be invested in the game) and how you must feel about the game and our program. In addition, we stand by the 2 T’s: truth and trust. I’m sure many coaches have developed their motto for the season in various ways as I talked with new Marietta Head Boys Coach, Markus Hood, at the Atlanta Tipoff Club beginning of the season gathering last week and I picked up something from him as to what his “motto” or mantra for the season is and why. Coach Hood reiterated my beliefs that your motto isn’t just about a fancy saying or a slogan you put on your t-shirts, but something your program, your players truly believe in.
Therefore, this week’s blog is not about setting uncontrollable mid-level goals whether it’s through a motto or slogan, etc., but instead using your program to build a culture that values people. Here are what I believe are 5 commitments to make in your program to help build the CULTURE that transforms people, players and teams:
1. Be authentic & vulnerable to your team: Open up to your team about the journey you are setting out on. Tell them you want to be not only a better coach, but a better person. I believe by sharing your journey with them throughout the season, your players will gain a greater respect for you.
2. Go through a journey off the court together as a team: At Duluth this season, we are going to go through a 7 week process of “The Pyramid of Success Character Development” sessions where we use the pyramid of success by John Wooden as an outline to grow as one.
3. Use boundaries & consequences to develop self-discipline: Players will not develop self-discipline if they never experience consequences for their actions. Set a high standard for your players attitudes, work ethic & respect for others. When they fail to live up to that standard, encourage them & remind them of your CULTURE (your motto). If they continue, let them know they have lost the opportunity to get better that day & send them home. Therefore, we aren’t reinforcing a culture of entitlement.
4. Give your players a voice: Talk less & listen more. Use questions. You will be amazed at what you can learn about yourself and your program by listening & giving your players a voice. It can impact your culture greatly.
5. Stop chasing talent & start investing in grit: Stop determining your lineup, playing time or even cuts based on the talent level of a player. Start rewarding and valuing players with the traits you claim to believe to be the most important. What do you believe to be the most important traits for your team to reach their potential?
 
Coaches we survived preseason workouts & conditioning and now we truly get to choose the players that make up our 2018-19 teams. Wins & losses are important, but the legacy we leave with our student-athletes is far more important as we shape their futures.

October 9

We are 14 days away from the start of the 2018-19 season in GHSA. The excitement is brewing as players and coaches are ready to get going. Many schools have been on Fall Break recently and during mine I took the opportunity to visit some college practices since they have already started their season. By doing this, it made me think about the “try-out” process or even just evaluating your players as the season begins. Here are some questions to consider:
1. What time does the player arrive for practice?
2. What is their pre-practice routine?
3. Where do they shoot the ball from when they begin their practice/workout?
4. How soon do they go game speed once practice starts?
5. How do they work in breakdown drills?
6. How do they compete? (Do they go the same speed against each player on the team?)
7. How are they fundamentally on offense and defense?
8. What is their level of intensity during shooting drills?
9. How well do they get in help position & communicate?
10. How is their effort on zig-zag drills?
11. How hard do they run the floor?
12. How hard do they move without the ball?
13. How well do they communicate with other players?
14. What is their body language like?
15. Do they accept coaching? (From all members of the coaching staff?)
16. How well do they get along with others on the team?
17. What is their post practice routine?
18. Are they the first on the floor & the last to leave the floor?
19. What is their effort like in warm-ups?
20. Are they self-focused or team-focused?
21. Do they do the little things to help you win?
22. How well do they rebound?
23. How engaged are they during timeouts?
24. On the bench, do they stay mentally engaged?
25. What role will they play on the team? Will they accept that role?
These are just some of the things we look at when choosing players in our program here at the Duluth. Obviously, there are other factors that determine who makes up a roster; however, if your staff can remain open and honest by having the tough conversations about players and why they will fight into your program then I believe the “try-out” process those first days of practice will take care of itself. As a head coach, please understand that cutting players during the “try-out” process is one of our least favorite things to do. Many coaches have a system as to how they do it. I am a believer that my staff and I have a conversation with every player that doesn’t make our roster. It makes this trying time more personal as it allows that player to know what we feel through what we saw during the “try-out” process. Understand doing it this way doesn’t mean the player will agree with the staff’s assessment; however, they should be able to respect it. The next 2 weeks will fly by, so get mentally prepared for the grind that is the season. Take a moment to unwind, relax and prepare your mind and body for what I hope is a great season for everyone.

October 2 

20 days away from the start of official practice in Georgia High School basketball. The excitement is building as seeing colleges begin their practice really gets the juices flowing. I had the opportunity to go to the Mercer Coaches Clinic this past weekend where I picked up some great things to do within my own program as well as some great nuggets. Coach Hoffman and his staff really did a great job with different things to help the coaches in attendance. We also got to see the Mercer Bears practice. Coach Hoffman’s team has 10 new guys (8 freshmen I believe) and yet you could tell the attention to detail that those guys have had, and how hard they go.

A few things stood out to me after reflecting on this clinic and the Mercer practice:

1. How hard players went & how the drills were simple & detailed….this is big to me because many players now view the simple as mundane and not making them better. But what I saw was very contrary to this belief. What I saw was players understanding the simple two ball handling or zig zag defense with a purpose & intensity gets them better.
2. The following quote: “No one ever attains very imminent success by simply doing what is required of him. It is the amount of excellence of what is over and above the required that determines greatness.”
3. Coaching is about connection. If you can’t connect with your players, you can’t coach them. Build meaningful relationships; give them the security to learn & make mistakes; show them you care. Deeper connections will build trust & grow players who will give you 100%! I saw this with the Mercer staff as a whole as it made my belief in relationships and why they matter become stronger. 
Last week’s blog dealt with practice planning. This week I wanted to discuss the executing of your daily practice with 13 thoughts to remember:
1. You can’t be good at everything: Find three things that you want to excel in & focus on them. Your practices should reflect these priorities. So decide what’s important & frame your practices around those priorities, and always remember we are what we emphasize.
2. Coach both the ‘what’ & the ‘why”: Take time to explain both to your players as it will help buy in.
3. 90-10 Rule: Practice 90% of the time and only talk 10%. The new age player is quick to move on like a commercial so be mindful.
4. Have some part of practices stressful with consequences: Basketball is played under pressure, so practice those moments.
5. Situational Segments: Have your team ready for any situation by practicing it 3-5 minutes a day.
6. Utilize different groupings: The game is never as we script it so prepare in practice with different matchups/lineups.
7. Make your players think for themselves: Get your team to be more player led. Communication: E.L.C.: Early, loud & continuous. You would be surprised how much it helps your players think when they talk.
8. Praise extra effort: If you want your players to play hard in games & give extra effort, you must praise & reward it.
9. Focus on you & your stuff: It’s good to scout and know players and team tendencies, but make sure it doesn’t take away from knowing your stuff/execution, etc.
10. Drills should relate to what you do: Just because a drill is trendy doesn’t mean it works for you. “Know what you’re doing & why.”
11. Understand their will be good practices & bad: Every day should be better than the last. Build on great practices & learn and flush bad ones. We ask players to step foot on the court with a free & clear mind, so we as coaches must do the same or it can make for a miserable practice for the players.
12. Know when to stop: Some days practices or drills get bogged down. The season is a grind. Re-group and know when to push through when practice does get bogged down and when to shut it down. Use good judgement.
13. Repetition: Not every player will get it the first time. Repetition is the key to knowledge, so if you want your players to learn something, you teach it over and over and over again.

September 25

Coaches in GHSA we are less than 30 days away from the start of our seasons as college basketball practices begin today. Therefore, coaches it’s that time to start gearing up for the start of practices. Coaches decide what you want your team to be really good at & make a plan to do it. You can’t be great at everything. Trying for that will make you worse, not better. A great example of what this means is the statement from Jesse McMillan (Head Coach at Norcross HS): “Rent vs Own: what do you rent versus what do you own as a team?” Thus, make emphasis clear. Players want to please & perform, but they have to understand what their coach needs.
 
Every successful basketball coach is a master teacher of the game. Just as excellent teachers who teach any subject, the outstanding “teachers of the game of basketball” must be certain that he/she thoroughly teaches every facet there is of the game that he/she is coaching. To prevent the coach from omitting a minor or a major aspect of the game, the coach must also have a “game plan” for each practice session. This daily practice plan allows the coach to adhere to the specific foundations, techniques, skills, and strategies being taught, worked on, and/or prepared for in the practice sessions. Some of the major factors of successful practices are that each drill or activity in each practice should be:  
1) Organized, 
2) Smoothly flowing, 
3) Extremely time efficient     
4) interesting yet meaningful (and not boring to the players)
5) All-involving (for each and every  player)          
6) Educational and informative
7) Competitive
8) Physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging to every player 
9) Motivating to all  players 
10) Meticulously detailed and imaginative
11) Intermittently repetitive. 
In order that practices constantly have these attributes, a coach must carefully and conscientiously establish fundamentally sound practices for each and every day. He/she must be painstakingly detailed in his/her planning to achieve as many of the previously mentioned attributes in each of the activities of each and every practice. Coaches must follow these two old clichés:  “Plan your work!! , Work your plan!!, and Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!!”
 
There are three major components in the successful administering  of basketball practices. These vital components are:  
1) Practice planning (before the actual practice takes place). At Duluth, we discuss the next day’s practice plan based off what we saw that day in our post practice meeting which usually lasts 15-45 minutes depending on what needs to be discussed. Since school starts at 7:15am, we try never to go over that time as all other concerns with the next day’s practice plan can be discussed via our coaches group chat or email.
2) Executing of the practice plan (during the actual practice). Your style dictates whether you stay on a drill until it’s done right or are you the coach that stays strictly on the time schedule when it comes to the practice plan….There is no is right or wrong answer except be you as a coach. I, myself, am somewhere in between as it depends on what we need as a team that day. Example: If we are lacking in our side ball screen defense then I usually will schedule more time into our practice plan for it, but I want us to get it right so we may go over. In addition, I am a believer in ending every drill on a positive note: a stop, a make, etc. depending on the nature of the drill.
3) Evaluating and critiquing of the practices (done after the practice has concluded). As stated in number 1, we do this daily were we discuss the next day’s practice as well as the evaluation of today’s practice. 
 
It is of utmost importance to successfully perform all three components to have informative, worthwhile, and therefore worthwhile practices to prepare your players for absolutely anything and everything that could possibly happen in a game.  This is done in order for those players to be prepared and ultimately to be successful in their games.

This third component of the administration of basketball practices sometimes can easily be omitted, forgotten, and ignored. It is a requirement for successful programs to devise an overall master plan of each of the daily practice sessions. This tool aids a coach to plan ahead and also to keep a season-long summary of past practices to record every aspect and phase of the game. This ‘diary of the practices’ should illustrate the frequency and the quality of each and every drill and activity of every practice session. I find it very useful to go back in my notebook to a drill I’ve used in the past or just to see if around the same number of practices am I where I feel we should be based off previous years. Keep in mind I still have my practice notebooks from y time in college as I often look into that one as well. I hope this helps us all as me move closer to October 22nd. 

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