By: The Coaching Toolbox

Here is a list of some ideas gathered from various sources to use to plan, execute, and evaluate our practices.  The list is not intended to be all inclusive for every situation.  Feel free to add a comment below if you have ideas to add or something that you disagree with.  The list is not in order of importance.  It is helpful to have these types of checklists to review both while planning and evaluating practice.
1. Set Expectations
Every day coaches need to be teaching players and setting standards in a way that will make them better and tougher both as individuals and as players.

2. Have a Goal to Reach
The goal is to practice every day with the technique, intensity, toughness, and togetherness of a state champion.  Have a sign in the locker room or gym.  Set standards high. Make it clear in players’ minds that an average or ordinary effort is not something that will be accepted.
3. Develop Skills
Spend 30 minutes in individual skill development every day.
4. Practice with Purpose
No purposeless possessions, drills, discussions.  If that is what is expected in a game, you cannot accept any less in practice.
5. Hold Players Accountable
Establish and make clear to the players a standard, score, or accountability measure for each practice activity.
Examples: If it is a pre-practice meeting, the players must look the speaker in the eye. If it is a warmup layup drill, establish how many makes in a row they need to complete the drill.   Design drills that can be made competitive against a team record, personal record, a team standard, or another player or players.

6. Challenge Players
Put players in as many situations as possible that are harder in practice than in games.
Examples: two ball dribbling, 2 on 1, 4 defenders guarding 5 offense, run our offense with no dribble, second team gets double the points for each made shot, etc.  Play at a disadvantage each night.

7. Measure Success
Videotape the practice and have volunteers keep stats that are significant, such as turnovers per quarter or defensive points per possession.
8. Mix It Up
Provide repetition with variety.  Vary up the drills so that things don’t become stale.
9. Evaluate Progress
Is everything contributing to team goals for this year?  Goals might be daily improvement, being the toughest team, making the year the most rewarding of each player’s basketball experience, etc.
10. Prioritize Activities
The emphasis should be on what’s important.  20% of the activities bring about 80% of the results.  Take into account what the individuals and the team needs to improve on and what needs to be done to keep sharp.
11. Talk Lots
Emphasize communication in everything.
12. Find Time to Teach
You do not want a practice with no purpose, one that moves so fast that you are not making any improvement.  You want one where teaching and learning is constantly taking place.  The process must be one where the players learn and then can react quickly and properly in games.
13. Express Respect
Have layers high-five at the end of practice and shake coaches hands before leaving the floor.
14. Huddle as a Team
Huddle up to start and end practice.
15. Keep it Fun
Play and teach basketball, don’t just run drills.
16. Finish Everything Strong
Play until the whistle in everything.
17. Develop the Body & Mind
Don’t ignore conditioning (psychological and physical).
18. Be Creative
Experiment with new ideas, drills, or games a couple of times each week.
19. Know Your Culture
What do you want to emphasize or prioritize?  What do you want to reward or recognize?  What is your program culture or mantra?
20. Think Positive
End on a positive note.

For basketball drills, activities, and coaching tips check out The Coaching Toolbox online at

Source: Steve Nash Youth Basketball Blog
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