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  • Jack Fleming

How to Avoid Bad Practices

Well, last night's practice with my U16 boys club team we probably had our worst practice out of the 8 we have had. This happens, it can't always be looking nice like the drills on my Twitter feed. I should know better, but we're all human and it can't always be perfect.

When I say bad - I just mean not to what we are capable of.

When I look back, most of it falls on me - not them.

Here's some context:

We were fortunate to have qualified for our desired grade last week, therefore the next month will be practice games and we have no game this Friday.

It was most of the boys first day that morning with a 6:30am skills session for our State body, or an individual session the night before. We start practice at 6pm, so most are coming from school training or home for a short period before we begin.

It is their second week back at school, where everything is coming at once. School work, new classes, homework, school sport and club sport all coming at once.

So this session had some alarm bells coming in. My last tweet sparked this article.

Where I Went Wrong

Exhibit A: First Activity of Practice Sets the Tone

What did I start with? 5-10 minutes of video and some on air shots. We were asleep before we even got started.

What I would've done next time?

I would have still had these parts to practice - but I would have changed the order. There wasn't enough mental engagement. Yes there was questions, solutions, discussion in video but it's still not ideal.

We went straight into contested lay ups afterwards, I would've had that first and filtered in chunks of video in small groups during water breaks and saved the shooting for the end.

Exhibit B: Short Bursts Not Long Marathons

We played full court against the team down the other end, no problem I wanted to go into the full court. Except we played for far too long stretches of time, about the last 20 minutes with 1-2 timeouts.

What I would've done next time?

Played 4 minute games, with time and score situations. I would have put our team down by 6-7 pts to create some challenge, and change the parameters each time.

There's more but I won't bore you - here's what I learned.

My Top 10 Ideas for Avoiding a Bad Practice

  1. Mentally engage and ensuring competing in the first drill.

  2. Be aware of the warning signs.Plan accordingly.

  3. Keep the focus simple. Zoom in.

  4. Short time periods and targets.

  5. Use more open questions, have discussions. Provides physical breaks.

  6. Don't be a slave to the plan. De-load your drills, simplify.

  7. Provide player timeouts - get them to solve the problem.

  8. Have shared non-negotiable behaviours - not a thousand things.

  9. End on a high.

  10. Have empathy - we are not perfect.

"Strength in the face of adversity is a very different wish than a life free from trouble." - Jordan Peterson

What's Next for My Team

Now that the honeymoon period is over, we've identified where some barriers in our team have come up.

It's time to agree what behaviours will keep us on track, and how we will lead each other and hold others accountable.

What's do we stand for?

What will we do if somebody falls below the level? How will we get back on track?

I do believe in waiting for a period of time, to see where potential problems arise before going through this process on day 1.

Or else how will you know what's relevant?

What are the roadblocks for your team?

Good luck, I hope this helps you fix your next 'bad' practice!

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