Whether you have already started playing games or you still don’t have all of your players out from fall sports, I hope this post offers at least a few ideas to build on what you are already doing, or reminds you of something that you left off of your pre-season and early season to do lists.
If you have already completed your practices leading up to your first game, here are links to to 3 articles on Special Situations to cover once you have your base offensive and defensive systems installed:
Special Situations Checklist (108 Suggestions for situations to be prepared for)
Special Situations Daily Practice Template (A way to save time and be thorough in practicing special situations)
Being thoroughly prepared for your first game
Budgeting your practice time.
To be sure that you cover everything prior to your first game, you have to begin with the end in mind as Stephen Covey taught. You need to develop a list of everything you MUST have done prior to the first game because you won’t have EVERYTHING done prior to the first game.
This list is not meant to cover everything, but is a place to start to stimulate your thinking for your team and coaching situation to budget your scarce and valuable practice time. Your needs will not be exactly the same as I have listed, but hopefully you can use this as a working structure.
If you don’t practice it, you can’t expect your players to execute it in a game.
Calculate as close to exactly as possible the number of minutes you will have on the floor prior to your first game.
I will use 12 practice days and 120 minutes per day as an example.
That would give you 1440 minutes on the floor prior to the first game.
Prior to first game (12 practice days) MUST DOs
- I believe in individual shooting/driving/scoring and skill development for 30 minutes a day that takes (30 minutes x 12 practices = 360 minutes of shooting/etc… prior to the first game)
- Primary Offense man to man offense, catch-up offense, 5 quick hitters (15 minutes per day =180 minutes )
- Zone offense 2-3 and 1-3-1 (5 minutes per day = 60 minutes. If you know you will be facing a team that plays zone as the primary defense in the fist game, you will need to budget more time.
- Conversion Defense (5 minutes per day = 60 minutes)
- Transition Offense (5 minutes per day = 60 minutes)
- Primary Half Court Defense, catch-up half court defense (15 minutes per day = 180 minutes)
(Individual and Team Breakdown Defensive Skills and Drills such as Defending on ball screens, Closeouts, Help and Recover, Denials, Help the Helper, Blockouts, and everything else that is important in your defensive scheme)
- 5 on 5 scrimmaging. You have to have some time each day for players to fit your whole package into an up and down flow to be ready to play a game. (20 minutes per day = 240 minutes)
- Press Attack. The time you spend on this could vary depending on if you are opening against pressing teams, but I like to spend at least 5 minutes per day on press attack (5 minutes per day = 60 minutes)
That leaves 240 minutes for this example. That won’t be exactly the same for you, but use it as a place to start as you budget your time.
The remaining items on the list won’t take up as much time, but still need to be covered prior to your first game, so include the time for each in your practice time budget. I will leave it up to you as to how much time of your remaining floor minutes you want to devote to each one.
- Defending under the basket inbounds plays
- Catch up full court defense
- End of quarter/half plays
- Special plays to run at the end of a game where you need to score
- Half court trap offense
- 2 Under Out inbounds plays vs. man
- 2 Under Out inbounds plays vs. zone
- 1 side out game winner inbounds plays
- Pre-Game and Halftime warmups
- Time Out and Halftime Procedures
You still have stretching/warming, conditioning, toughness, attitude, communication, and all of the other areas that are important to you to work on during that remaining time. That is why it is crucial to determine what HAS to be in by the first game and then budget your time and remember, as Coach Don Meyer always reminded us, “You can do anything that you want, but you can’t do everything that you want.”
The most important thing is to develop your own practice budget chart making sure that you have your list of what you need to do to have your team thoroughly prepared.
Early season administrative responsibilities to complete or delegate.
- Scouting Schedule Video exchange and in person
- Paperwork: Physicals, consent forms, Player resumes, Stats Spreadsheets, videos
I have always made basketball resumes for our returning players with stats and other honors. That way, I always have their accomplishments at hand to nominate them for awards, to give to the media, to use to nominate them for academic or service scholarships, to give to college recruiters, etc.. If you have a team website, you can include those resumes on your site. In addition, another way to promote your program is to email college recruiters the links to your site. It is very easy to post some videos of your players on the site using YouTube. School coaches and ADs can get free access to a resource with the email addresses and phone numbers of college coaches at this link: Coaches Directory
- Game Night presentation: Establish dates for Youth teams to play at halftime, autograph night, Verify Bus Departure Times
- Individual Meetings with prospects and sheets
- Media/Picture Day
- Video person
- Parent Meeting and open practice Plan holiday and weekend practices to help families plan holiday activities
- Players notebook, basketball code of conduct
There are team management apps that allow you to have immediate access to player and parent contact information on your desktop workstation, tablet, or phone. Most parents and athletes are now comfortable with email and text as the primary method of communication for team info, which can dramatically speed up your job. However, there are other ways to make the job of managing the team easier as well. Team management tools, like TeamSnap, automate a lot of these processes for you. In addition to letting you create, update and store a team roster, tools like TeamSnap let you see players’ availability for games and practices, assign responsibilities such as post game food or snacks, and keep track of who has paid their equipment fees, and completed their paperwork.