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Coaches Corner: Late Season

Coaches Corner: What do you Change Toward the End of Season?

  • Date:
    Feb 25, 2020

Carla Berube (Princeton University)
Do you change your approach to practice or to players as the season progresses beyond the first few weeks or months? If so, how?  
Yes, practice tends to center around game plans for each upcoming opponent, with a lot less pounding on my athlete’s legs. Games takes care of that. We’re working on aspects of our play from watching film of our games. Practice is still competitive and challenging, and we try to get better every day. I don’t think I change my approach to my players at all. I try to stay as consistent as possible, so they know what they’re getting day in and day out.

Specifically, as conference tournaments or playoffs, etc., begin, are there thing you change in regard to that?
Practice becomes more efficient, shorter in time spent on the court. We are still working on our opponent while getting better and more time is spent on film, shooting, free throws, etc. In the Ivy League, you play each other twice in the regular season, and in the Ivy tournament you’ll see a team for the third time. You have to be ready to change up how you defend them and have some things offensively that they haven’t seen yet.

Matt King (Arizona Basketball Coaches Association & CCV Stars Youth Sports)
Do you change your approach to practice or to players as the season progresses beyond the first few weeks or months? If so, how?  
Yes. The mantra that we always tried to use with our staff when approaching our players late in the season was, “fresh bodies, fresh minds.” The season is long. Sometimes, it is really long. I found that often it is more taxing mentally than it is physically, so trying to find ways that refresh the body and the mind are really valuable. A day off, surprise trip to the bowling alley, or a 45-minute practice can really help your team play at its best when it matters the most.

Specifically, as conference tournaments or playoffs, etc., begin, are there thing you change in regard to that?

In the state of New Mexico, we would end the regular season and not play our first playoff game for seven days. That was tough and without a plan it could kill you. So, we would always do something fun instead of practice on day one.  One year, we did a 2K tournament for our team instead of practice. That gave our coaches a chance to watch as much film of our opponent over a 48-hour period as was possible. Day two and there were solely about us getting better with a ton of shooting and fundamental skill development. We didn’t say a word about our opponent. Day four and five (practiced for 90 minutes or less) were scout days and used to get prepared for who we were playing, both offensively and defensively. Day six was a short practice (60 minutes) – finalizing any prep and shooting. Day seven was a short pre-game, and then we played. When we won that game, we had to win three games in four days at the state tournament. Our rule was that we never went to a gym on a back-to-back days. Walk through was at the hotel, and rest was the priority.  It wasn’t always perfect, but I felt like our kids were always ready to play.

DeLisha Milton-Jones (Syracuse University)
Do you change your approach to practice or to players as the season progresses beyond the first few weeks or months? If so, how?  
My approach to practice or my players as the season progresses is very important to me. I keep a keen eye on how my team is progressing, as well as the health and development of my players, to gauge what we will progressively do each day. The foundation of my practices will always be the same in terms of how we start, but the drills we do and the length will all be dependent upon what we need work on the most.

Drills are always a part of my practice plan, but I’m very particular about making sure the drills are efficient and cover several skills in one.

Specifically, as conference tournaments or playoffs, etc., begin, are there thing you change in regard to that?
Once the postseason begins, I shorten practices tremendously to conserve energy and monitor the time my players spend on their legs. Being as fresh as possible for postseason play is a major focus for me. By this point in the season, our philosophies offensively and defensively should be vast, and the players should be comfortable with all concepts. This allows for practice to be cut in half (timewise).

Brian Robinson (Bishop McGuinness High School, NC)
Do you change your approach to practice or to players as the season progresses beyond the first few weeks or months? If so, how?  
As the season progresses, we try to shorten our practice time. The physical toll of a season is part of the thought process there, however, there is also the mental side of things. We want their minds to be as fresh and clear as possible. We figure that they should know the system by then, and there is no need adding extra minutes to their bodies and minds

Specifically, as conference tournaments or playoffs, etc., begin, are there thing you change in regard to that?

We may spend a little more time on the details of a scout once tournament time rolls around. Maybe there is a specific play or defense that we need to use a little more of our practice time on, but other than that our practices are business as usual. We have a philosophy of keeping things as normal as possible to not make it seem like one particular game, opponent or round is more important than another. Routines established on the first day need to carry into the postseason.

Ras Vanderloo (Sioux City East High School, IA)
Do you change your approach to practice or to players as the season progresses beyond the first few weeks or months? If so, how?  
I believe after your preseason and first two weeks of practice, everything needs to be geared toward refining what you do, implementing special scouting situations and getting better at what you do as a team. If you are a transition team, get better at that by doing specific transition drills and a lot of up-and-down work. If you are a “sets’’ team, breakdown your sets in the individual period, and then continue to make sure everyone knows the plays and the counters off the play. Once you have hit the midpoint of your season, I believe all practices should become shorter as you continue to build toward your post season tournament. Keeping your players fresh and sharp late in the season is more important than adding more plays late in the season.

Specifically, as conference tournaments or playoffs, etc., begin, are there thing you change in regard to that?
As you enter your postseason tournaments, each week of practice is game-specific, as to who your opponent is and the scouting that goes with it. A lot of times the turnaround in between games is much shorter in the postseason than it is during the regular season, so time and preparation are very important. Don’t be afraid as a head coach to delegate jobs to your assistant coaches in order to use the little bit of time you have in between games. Again, I think it’s very important to shorten practice times in order to keep your players fresh during your tournament run.

 

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