Most of what I’ve been talking about are what I call building blocks. They are conceptual combinations of actions. I talked about why I don’t call them drills in a previous post. The building blocks are applicable to all teams. However, coaches must take these building blocks and design drills every day that accomplish their goal. I wanted to take a minute to list a few of the “variables” that coaches may consider in designing drills. These variables should be considered on a daily basis to create the type of learning environment that is appropriate for their team on that day. A drill changes every time you change a variable. The building blocks may be the same, but making slight changes in these variables can have an impact on how players think about the drill, which helps them grow.
How do players rotate in the drill? Offense to defense? Defense to Offense? Are there players watching the drill? Is it a reward to watch or a punishment to watch? Does the offense get the ball a certain number of times? Do players start themselves? Do they have to wait for a command? Who gives that command?
Length of time
How long does a drill last? Til one player reaches a certain score? Til one group reaches a certain score? Til the whole team reaches a certain score? For a certain number of repetitions/possessions? For a certain length of time? Until it’s done correctly once? Until it’s done correctly a certain number of times? Until a certain player or grouping does it right? Until everyone does it right?
Scoring the drill
How do you keep score in the drill? Do you award points for doing things right? Do you award points for doing things wrong? How many “things” are being tracked? How much does each thing count? Who’s keeping score? Players? Coaches? Managers? You can count actual points, touches for a certain player, 1 foot paint touches, 2 feet paint touches, travels, good screens, bad screens, good cuts, bad cuts, good rotations, bad rotations, good hedge, bad hedge, good shots, bad shots, good execution, bad execution, good position, bad position, face cuts, box outs, second efforts, dives on floor, charges, deflections, or any number of other things. You could choose not to keep score at all. Is there a winner and a loser? How is it determined? Are players competing against yesterday’s score? Are they competing against each other? Individually? In groups? Are they competing as a team against some standard?
Is it even or uneven? Does offense have the advantage or does the defense? How much of an advantage? Give offense or defense an advantage by restricting space, changing an alignment, or implementing rules? (ie the offense can’t dribble or #12 is the only player that can score.) Do you restrict the actions that players can execute? Per group? Per player? Per drill? Is there an action that must be included? Is there a specific order to the actions? Is there freedom to the actions? The list of rules that can be created is a whole different post.
Participation and roles
Number of Offensive players? Number of Defensive players? Managers? Coaches? Who’s live? Who’s not? How do players sub? On their own? Never? When a coach tells them to? Is the rotation set? How are teams/groups selected? Do they choose their own? Are they chosen on the spot? Are they chosen before practice?
Where does the possession start? Where does it end? Where does the ball start? How do you start the next possession? How does it end? How do you start the next repetition/possession? Does the offense rebound continuously? When does it end? What happens if defense gets possession?
Number of balls? Cones? Chairs? Pads? Heavy balls? Tennis balls? Agility ladders? Ball Racks?
Is this a lot of work? Yes I think it is. As teachers, we must answer these questions as we develop our daily lesson plans. There is value to consistency. There is value in familiarity. I would ask how many possessions in a game are the same? Shouldn’t we force our players to learn to deal with variety? Shouldn’t they learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable?
The question becomes, “What do you want to accomplish?”