Fourteen Things to Do in Your Basketball Practice

Perfect Practice Series Part II

basketball practice list of things to do

  1. Greet the players enthusiastically as they enter the practice space. 
  2. Huddle up for (in non coronavirus times) high fives, fist bumps, and talk about what’s important for the day. 
  3. Encourage players to be positive vocally, physically, and with their body language. 
  4. Get loose by starting slow and facilitate or make space for small talk that builds relationships. 
  5. Handle the ball, pass, and catch. Practice these skills on the move. 
  6. Finish fast break layups, offensive rebounds, post moves, and pay extra attention to the weak hand.  
  7. Teach and practice shooting from a set position, on the move, and off the dribble. 
  8. Teach BBHS offensive tools while practicing defensive situations. BBHS stands for Basket cuts, ball screens, handoffs, and screens off the ball. 
  9. Use dummy (non-live) situations into live play. Drill a concept such as playing a switch in a ball screen until it looks like you want it and then call, “live.” Allow for at least one trip down and back of live play. Much of a basketball game is played by converting from one end to the other. 
  10. Offensive 5 on 5 play with restrictions. The offense must meet a restriction before shooting. An example of a restriction might be three good screens off the ball or a post touch before a shot. Players should always get layups when they can. 
  11. Defensive slides into live play. I’ll take one of our defenses such as man to man, a full court zone press, or a 1-3-1 zone and slide versus an offensive pattern until I call, “live.” Again, I try to convert at least one down and back.  
  12. Practice live out of bounds plays with conversions. 
  13. End the practice on a positive note such as a player scoring, a great pass, or a standout hustle play. 
  14. Huddle up for more fist bumps, slaps, and take time to look back on the practice and look ahead to whatever is next.

The Perfect Basketball Practice: Part I

The Perfect Basketball Practice: My Beliefs About the Game

Part I

This guy Nate and I were supposed to meet to talk about coaching basketball. I didn’t know him very well, but we would soon be friends. It’s one of the best things about sports, that it delivers friends.  Nate and I live in the mountain town of Boone, North Carolina where I can drive twenty-five miles to the north and be in Tennessee and just a little to the east and enter Virginia. My friends back in Indiana where I’m from often refer to me as being an East Coaster. I don’t think they realize I’m pretty much south and just a little east of Columbus, Ohio, and it’s at least a five-hour drive to the beach from here. I used to live in New Canaan, Connecticut and also New York City. Those are the kinds of places I think of when I think of the East Coast. Nate and I were to meet at a coffee place called The Local Lion right across from Appalachian State University where we were both lecturers. Nate has since moved on to a job with a less flexible schedule, and I try to keep my late afternoons clear for working out my girls and coaching their respective teams. 

I arrived to The Lion first and chose a seat at a wooden table where I could see the door and watch for Nate. It’s a place that serves homemade doughnuts with names like “pumpkin apple cider” and posts videos online in which homemade chocolate glaze can be seen poured over one of their latest creations. I pulled out a notebook I call a daybook. I started calling my notebooks daybooks after I read a book called Write to Learn by Donald Murray. Murray was the first book I ever read about writing that I liked. He used the first person, told stories to illustrate his ideas, and he wrote in a conversational style that was easy to understand.  In Write to Learn, Murray wrote this about his daybook: “anything that will stimulate or record my thinking, anything that will move toward writing goes into the daybook.” When I am feeling a little high falutin, I say that I write down intellectual seeds in my daybook that I hope to grow. For my meeting with Nate, I’d written down a bunch of stuff I thought we might teach the girls. Some of the words and phrases included work on weak hand, pivoting, shooting technique, and jump to the ball. I tend toward the belief that it doesn’t do any good to teach kids a bunch of plays if they can’t dribble or pass. It’s a cliche for coaches to say they want to teach kids to play and not a bunch of plays, but it’s another thing entirely to put teaching the fundamentals into regular practice over a long period of time. Besides that, with only 90 or so minutes twice week, which fundamentals will the coach choose to teach? 

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That’s Nate on the left and me on the right with the team.

Nate arrived and came over to shake my hand. He’s a couple inches taller than me, probably 6’4 or so, and is an incredibly energetic and enthusiastic guy. We each had some experience with coaching basketball. Nate was a manager at Arizona when Lute Olsen was the coach, and he’d been a high school head boys coach in Maryland. I’d been a graduate assistant at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois where I’d played and then over the course of two decades had been a head coach and an assistant for boys and girls in both North Carolina and Indiana. The most impressive highlight I can share about my coaching career was that I was an assistant coach for Vance High School in Charlotte when that team beat a Chris Paul team on its way to the North Carolina 4A state championship. Nate had worked with the fifth graders the year before, and I had started working with girls through the YMCA in Connecticut back when my oldest was a second grader. We’d both learned that all of our high school and college experiences didn’t necessarily translate into planning effective and fun practices for the girls we would coach. After a trip to the counter for coffee and doughnuts, Nate and I sat down to talk.

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Nate’s iPad notes from the day we met to talk hoops.

For Nate’s notes, he came armed with an iPad the size of a standard piece of notebook paper. As I watched him pull out the pen that had come with the device, I remembered about how I’d read Steve Jobs always took a stand against the pen. He’d hold up his hand and wiggle his fingers demonstrating that people are born with natural pens for the iPad. With Jobs having passed away, the pen came to Apple. After some chit chat, we got down to the business at hand. 

“What’s your ideal practice,” Nate asked, “for these kids we are about to start working with?” I loved that Nate sat down ready to fire off questions. It’s certainly my style too, to be constantly asking questions of others and trying to learn. I’m going to use Nate’s question in the coming posts to try and get down some of what I’ve come believe about ideal workouts and practices. 

 

Torg Stories Podcast: Coaching Your Kids

Kent Chezem on the Torg Stories Podcast March 12th, 2020 Edition

In the midst of all this coronavirus news, I’m joined by my friend Kent Chezem. With stops including Clinton Prairie, Covington, and Loogootee, Kent has spent 25 years as a head boys basketball coach in the state of Indiana. His teams have won over 300 games and four sectional titles. Kent and I were teammates at Olivet Nazarene University where he is the all time leader in assists.

kent, dara cade

Kent Chezem, his son Cade, and his wife Dara

Kent was named the District 2 Coach of the Year by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association in 2014. Kent’s wife Dara became the Superintendent of Schools in the district where I went to high school, Eastern Pulaski Schools in Winamac.

This edition of Torg Stories is a basketball-centric podcast. We spend a fair amount of time talking about issues related to coaching our kids.

The Torg Stories podcast is also available on iTunes.

Hope you enjoy!

Podcast: Appalachian State University Women’s Basketball Coach Angel Elderkin

App State University Women’s Basketball Coach Angel Elderkin on the Torg Stories Podcast.

Angel Elderkin Appalachian State University Women's Basketball Coach

Appalachian State University Women’s Basketball Coach Angel Elderkin

 

Click the audio player below to listen to the podcast or download it via the podcast app on your iPhone.

 

Coach Elderkin’s Appalachian State women’s team is coming off a 22 win season during which they won the the WBI post season tournament. My conversation with Angel was in part guided by a project I do with my students in the writing across the curriculum courses I teach at App State. The students study discourse communities of their choice, and I ask them to interview prominent members of the discourse community. In this case, the discourse community is that of basketball coaches. One of the features of a discourse community is that there is a set of common goals. I started off by asking Angel about the short and long term goals of the women’s basketball program.

Angel Elderkin and Bill Torgerson Appalachian State University

Coach Angel and I standing proud in front of the big “A” at the Holmes Center

Knee and Ankle Pain in Young Athletes: Journal Entry July 1, 2018

For at least a year, my daughter Charlotte–age 12–has complained of pain in her knees. She said they hurt the most when she was doing lunges in gym class. My sense was that her teacher was pretty good about emphasizing proper technique. We used to do a lot of lunges but we stopped doing them because of Charlotte’s knee pain. We were still doing some leg strengthening exercises, but today we had probably our worst day with her knees.

knee pain, quadriceps, young female athletes, overtraining, ankle pain, physical therapy

image from OrthoInfo

Charlotte has added that she has pain in both ankles and her achilles. Some guesses about causes of the problems:

  1. She’s a young kid growing and it’s common to have pain in the knees. However, what about the ankles.
  2. She is overtraining and since I resigned from my high school coaching position she has been training on playground courts instead of gym floors. I have noticed my own knees and back give me more trouble training with my daughters on concrete.
  3. To save her favorite basketball shoes from getting outside dirty, Charlotte has been training in more cross trainer / running type shoes.

I will research some of these key areas: overtraining, young athletes, girls, knee pain, and ankle pain.

We probably need to take some days off and that will give me more time to research some aspects of getting Charlotte’s knees and ankles to feeling better.

I imagine I will be able to find some physical therapist related exercises to help alleviate some of what is causing the pain.

I can adapt our strength and agility type training to focus on the core and put less pressure on her knees.

7 minute word count: 270