This post is from Coach Mike Neighbors. He has one of the best basketball coaching newsletters out there. If you are interested in getting on his list, please email me and let me know.
FRONT OF THE LINE OR BACK OF THE LINE
I have referred many times to the book PRACTICE PERFECT: 42 Ways for Getting Better at At Getting Better as a valuable resource for all teachers/coaches/leaders.
This concept was one of the 42 Rules that I found we were able to apply to our basketball practices. Coupled with the concept of teaching PRECISION skills differently than you teach DECISION SKILLS, we implemented a FRONT OF THE LINE vs. BACK OF THE LINE philosophy in all of our PRECISION SKILL situations. A precision skill is one that we want to be done a certain way, every rep, every time, with no variation, and extreme attention to detail. For example, closing out to a great shooter. We have specific technique and language that we use every single time. We tolerate nothing outside of our acceptable standard of performance. We accept nothing short of perfect when working on this skill.
When doing VEGAS closeouts. A basic one player going 5 in a line behind drill working on the techniques that we teach. If the first player properly executes the closeout to a great shooter, she goes to the back of the line. The next player comes out and we proceed. Let’s say this player doesn’t have “high hands”… she goes to the front of the line and next player comes into the drill. While that player is going, a coach tells (or shows using a cell phone camera or flip video) that player what they did incorrectly. This player waits for the teammate on the court to finish and then she goes again. We keep repeating this front of the line vs. back of the line pattern until we complete the time allotted or desired reps.
Let that sink in visually for a second.
You probably have an initial thought. What about the kid who initially went to the back of the line? She might never go again. Correct… and answer… DO YOU CARE? I don’t. She got it right. Chances are she got more than one rep anyway but the point is, you get more reps with those that really need it.
We quickly saw marked improvement in all our PRECISION SKILLS employing this method. It also evolves quickly into a peer situation of players being the critics and pointing their teammates to the front or the back. They are actually tougher on each other than most coaches!!
As with everything we share, experiment with it and make it your own. Then share with the group the things you tweak or change.
For more information and background on the research behind it, check out the book by Lemov, Woolway, and Yezzi. You can see a sample from the book at Amazon by clicking the icon at the left.