Article-of-the-Month: “PHILOSOPHY on DRILLS”


by Coach   John   Kimble

ARTICLE # 17      

Published in Basketball Sense in 1999 /// and Winning Hoops in Nov/Dec of 2016



Every athletic team has practice to prepare for their games. What takes place is practice can and will make the difference in whether  that  team will succeed in the game or fail.  It is very likely that a large portion of each of these daily  practices will be the fundamental drills that I would like to discuss with you.  Drills,  the way the drills are taught and how they are incorporated in the daily practices will determine whether a coach is a good coach or not and whether the team has a chance to succeed in actual competition or not.

The following is a short composite of a philosophy of drills that has grown from 25 years of not only coaching basketball at the high school and junior college level, but also many years of coaching baseball as well as football. The philosophy has grown from observing college and NBA practices.  This is in addition to watching and learning from NBA, college and other high school coaches.

  • Make your practices as “game-realistic” as possible. Have fundamental drills and breakdown drills incorporated in all phases of the game you are coaching. TEACH at  your  practices.
  • Get excited as a    Be enthusiastic.  You must love to come to practice for the players  to love  to  come.  Players  must be  able to see  you love  to teach  the game.  Be  thorough  in your teaching.  Assume that your players know nothing.  Be a “stickler” for the smallest of details (in a positive manner).  Do not ask for, but demand full efforts from yourself, your coaching staff, and your players.
  • A good coach is a GREAT  teacher  and  motivator. 
  • Have a detailed practice plan and follow it. “PLAN YOUR WORK–WORK YOUR PLAN!”  Still, there are times when you must be  flexible  with  your  practice. 
  • Incorporate the “whole-part-whole” method in  your  teaching  of  the game.
  • Do NOT  ask for–DEMAND your  players’ attention.  They  must  give  you  their  “eyes  and  ears”  at  all  times.
  • Make your practices more  demanding  and tougher (both physically and mentally) than the  games  will  actually be.
  • Establish your drills so  that  your  players  must  concentrate  as they  perform    This  will  prepare  them  so that  they  will  be  able  to  concentrate  more  in  their  games.
  • Do NOT allow any players to stand around in practice, doing nothing.
  • Assume that your players  know  nothing  and  that they  have  no basic  fundamental    Start  with  the  basics  both  intellectually and skill-wise.  Stress  fundamentals  and  proper  technique.  Stress mental  and  physical  effort  ALL of  the  time  by  EVERY  player. 
  • Stress teamwork both on offense and on defense. Stress communication with teammates  and  the coaching  staff.
  • Give positive credit to  players  with  more  enthusiasm  than others, especially  when  they  have  shown  extra  effort–physically or mentally.
  • When a player does something  positive  a  couple  of  times, send  that  player  for  a  water    Have  the  other  players  shoot  “one and  one”  free  throws.  If  that  player  misses  the  front  end  of   the  “1 & 1,” have them run a  full court sprint.  If  that player makes the front end of  the “1 & 1,” but  misses  the  second  free throw, have that  player run  a  half-court  sprint.  If  that  player makes  both  ends  of  a  “1 & 1,” send  them  to  water  also. 
  • Often, reward the player or players that do something correct or  well, instead  of  punishing  the  player or  players  that  do not  perform as successfully.
  • Make sure that there is plenty of running and movement immediately before you send your players to shoot free throws. Make  sure  you  have  your  players  shoot  2  free  throws  at  a  time, as  the  players  would  do  in an actual game.
  • A drill is not  a  GREAT  drill,  unless  the  coach  TEACHES  the  drill in  a  GREAT  manner with GREAT enthusiasm and energy.
  • Make sure that you constructively correct a player when he/she does something  wrong  and  try  not  to criticize  that    Make sure that  all criticisms  are  constructive  and  not  personal.
  • Set standards for your  players  in  your  shooting    Set time limits  for  your  players  to  hurry  (but under control) and get  off  as many  shots  as  possible.  Set  accuracy  limits  for  your  players  to attempt to make a specific number of shots in each different  shooting drill.
  • Utilize many of your shooting drills  after  some  type  of  strenuous drills, so that  your  players  can  get  accustomed  to shooting  when  they  are  winded  and fatigued.
  • Make sure you can combine some drills with other drills, so that there are frequent opportunities to work on  “offense-to-defense” transition, as  well  as “defense-to-offense” transition.
  • Have managers record statistics  from  your  practice,  such  as many  of   the  various  shooting  drills  that  you    Post those statistics, so that players  can see  that  their  results  are  important to you  and  the team.
  • Organize and format many of your drills so that there will be different kinds of competition. There can be individual competition, small group competition,  and  team competition. Have  a  winner  and  a  loser  in the  majority  of  the competitive drills, with  the  losers  having  some  form  of  a light     The light  penalty  could  be  in  the  form of  small  sprints,  pushups, or sit-ups.
  • When you are about  to criticize  a  player, first  ask  him or her: “What  did  you  just  do  correctly?”  Then  ask  him,  “What  did  you do  incorrectly?”
  • Do not allow yourself to omit the physical conditioning of your players, because you ran out of time and some part of the practice had to be sacrificed. This can become an easy bad habit to fall into.
  • “Practice does not make perfect,” but “Perfect practice does make perfect!” Perfect practice comes from well-planned practice plans by the coaching staff. The practice plan is the coach’s lesson plan.
  • Implement a great deal of structure into your practice plans and practice routines, so that your players can have an idea of what to expect. Keep the practice lengths at about an equal length of time for each practice, with shorter practices and lighter physical activity the night before games and often the night after games.
  • Occasionally, during the long hard grueling part of the season about 2/3 or so through the schedule, call off a scheduled practice. Or have practice, and do something completely different. Play wiffle ball or watch a movie or have pizza for the team. It can be a tremendously positive “breath of fresh air.”
  • Remember to teach the following phrase by preaching it as well as by example, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
  • Do not finish practice on a negative note-not a poorly performed drill, or a missed shot, or a turnover. Do not finish your practice with conditioning work. Conditioning is extremely important, but it does not have to conclude a practice. The last drill or activity should be a positive, rewarding, and fun type of activity to give them the motivation for the next day’s practice. Make players eager for tomorrow’s practice.



These are  a  few  thoughts  and  ideas that I have learned from other coaches or have discovered over the  many years  that  I have participated either in  the  many types of  practice as either a player or as  a coach in  the  various  sports I have coached at the different levels that I have coached.  Utilize them into your philosophy and constantly work on improving your practice sessions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



























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