GOAL: Preparing for the playoffs!

First 10 Minutes

Talk to the players and encourage them to work hard and have fun. Concentrate on better technique today and tell the players what will be done during this practice.  Plus go over some new rule each practice, or something that might have happened in a pro or college game and how it applies to their level.  Also, review the previous games and ask the players what they think went well and what needs work and see if it matches what you were thinking.

Next 5 Minutes (Stretching)

Stretch legs for two minutes and stretch arms for two minutes. Stretching prepares the muscles to prevent injury. The last minute should be used to jog around the field once.

Some stretches:
  • Sit, with legs extended out flat on the ground in a V position. Lean forward, reach for the toes and pull back on the toes. Hold for a 10 count (have the girls count down from 10). Repeat. This works the hamstrings, calves and lower back.
  • Sit, with legs extended out flat on the ground in a V position. Reach and touch the right hand to the outside of the left foot. Mimic the other side. Hold for a 10 count on each side. This stretches the outside of the upper back.
  • Stand straight, bend a leg behind the body, grab the ankle and pull the heel toward the backside. Hold for a 10 count. Mimic with the other leg. This stretches the quad muscles.
  • Stand straight and extend the right arm behind the body. Grab the right wrist with the left hand and pull back and over toward the left side. Hold for a 10 count. Mimic with the other arm. This will stretch the front of the shoulder.

Next 20 Minutes

Especially at the travel level, playoffs are a fun time and take the game to new level.  Try to make practices about game management and going over fundamentals early in the practice.  Break out your early season shooting and passing drills.  I love to use the 3 on 2, 2 on 1 transition drill to get everyone running full court and it reiterates game conditions.

Next 20 Minutes

Opponent prep as best you can.  If the opponent is known, since you have taught them how to prepare earlier in the year, go over things as simply as possible and actually walk through scenarios so they can visualize what the opponent is planning.  If the opponent is unknown, tell the team that since you do something so well, such as the press or trap, how much trouble it will give an opponent, but be ready to make adjustments.

Next 3 Minutes (Water Break)

Give the players time to break for water. It is extremely important for the players to remain hydrated at all times. But have them hustle back to the court.  Foul shooting after break.

Competitive Foul Shooting

By now you have had chances to go over foul shooting, so break things up by making it competitive.  Divide the teams into 2 groups and have them shoot 2 at a time.  First team that makes 4, 5 or 6 in a row as a group gets to pick a conditioning drill for the loosing team to run.

Controlled Scrimmages

Make sure you use all your combination of players so that the team can prepare for injuries or foul trouble as well.  To many times a coach focuses on a game plan with 1 or 2 key players and 2 minutes into a game someone picks up quick fouls and you are not ready for a sub to fill in.  Practice is the time for everyone to get a feel for a position they might be a backup for and let them learn from trial and error what can be expected.

End of Game Scenarios

If possible, put 1 or 2 minutes on the clock, and one team up by 2 or 3 points, and let them play it out on their own.  Put one player on each team with 4 fouls and give each team 2 timeouts and each team shooting the bonus.  After it plays out, review what went well and what needs work and replay the scenario again.

End of Practice

Foul shooting when tired is the best way to simulate end of game.  Introduce end of the game plays.  Begin to show them plays that can be used in the last 10, 5 and 2 seconds of a game or quarter.  Start from half court inbounding. Then, while the players are drinking water, huddle them together for a talk. Take this time to recognize the work that was done well, but also discuss what needs improvement. Always finish the talk in an upbeat, positive way. Tell the players the next practice time and follow up with an email to their parents. Remember to place hands together and yell, '1, 2, 3 (with the team name)!'