A Key Strategy For Winning Basketball Practice

While winning games may be your ultimate goal as a youth coach or player, you already know that success starts long before the clock does.

Even though we all want the most out of our practices, none of us really set out to think about having a “winning” practice.

But because all wins start behind the scenes, devoting just as much drive to these scrimmages, individual practices and sessions can make all the difference in seeing success on the court.

Like all teams, you likely already rely heavily on scrimmage and working together as a team is an important part of team growth.

However, scrimmages leave little room for real one on one basketball training that can your players the edge they need.

This is especially true if you have some players who have the potential but lack the confidence to see it through.

If you are looking to improve the effectiveness of your basketball drills, here are 4 key strategies built around creativity that can help you to draw out the best in ALL of your players…


Whether you are blessed to have a gym with 5 goals or are making due with the basic 2, every gym has the potential to be seen in segments.

Setting up stations in yours can help you to offer that one-on-one training that you otherwise can’t offer in scrimmages alone.

There’s a very good chance that your slackest player has a very good deal of hidden talent that you will not find by calling him out in scrimmage.

Stations allow you to coach one on one without so many ears and eyes on what is happening.

Other players will be focused on their own stations, leaving you plenty of room to work and discover areas of weakness you can foster improvement in.


Keeping your players constantly moving forward can keep the invested in their basketball workouts.

You can keep things fresh by ensuring that each station is unique.

Here is a sample sheet of what each unique station might look like:

Station 1: 2 player shooting – 3 minutes

Station 2: 3 player passing drills – 3 minutes

Station 3: Boxing out and defensive rebounding – 3 minutes

Station 4: Pick and roll defense drills – 3 minutes

Station 5: Foul line shooting – 3 minutes

Your stations may look different each week and keeping things fresh is always a good thing.

Even switching up the order of your stations can make coming to practice effective and engaging.

With each player moving forward every 3 minutes, you will have covered 5 key skills in under 15 minutes and done so at a more one on one level.


Sure, scrimmages will always be a big part of your practice runs.

However, breaking into even smaller groups can encourage communication among players that would not happen in a larger scrimmage match.

Having players practicing in these smaller groups leads to a greater deal of trust among team mates as well.

When your players trust each other off the court, they will trust each other on the court, learning to communicate and getting the ball where it needs to go.

Switch up these small groups each week to ensure that all your players are connecting and working together as a team.

Aside from communication, feedback becomes much easier in a smaller setting as well.

Not only will you be able to offer feedback one on one, but other players will be able to step up to the plate to offer feedback as well.


Small groups not only foster communication and prove to be very fruitful in polishing up squeaky skills, but they also help to improve leadership.

You will likely notice that in each small group that a leader will emerge.

They probably will not be the same leader each week.

Take note of the leadership being displayed in your young players.

You may even wish to privately make players aware of their leadership skills.

This encourages more leadership to emerge while not leading to inflated egos.

The wins that you want may come on game day, but the wins that count mostly happen behind the scenes.

It’s the skill that your players, and you, develop during practice that make them the team that brings home the trophy… or just the prize of knowing that you all did your best.

Keeping it small is a key strategy for creating a big skill set in all of your players.

Until next time, this is Coach Nolan.

Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to cover in future articles.


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