Basketball Practice Breakers are fun and challenging 10-minute activities that help break up the tedious practice schedule. The monotony of a set practice schedule might lull your players to sleep in some cases. These activities help breakup that monotony and serve almost like ice breakers at the start of any season.
Basketball Practice Breakers
Basketball Practice Breakers stem from a long-held classroom management technique from elementary and middle school. Every player will have their name listed on “The Practice Breakers Board.” They each get 1 Point for every “Practice Breaker” activity they win, including tiebreakers if necessary. At the end of the year, whichever player has the most points gets a symbolic reward or prize from the coaching staff.
What usually works best is an item or symbol that best represents the spirit of “Practice Breakers”, which is all about working hard as a team everyday, but having fun and staying loose as well. Something personalized that the players can wear in class on gameday is always a big hit.
For example, an old style sport coat embroidered with the phrase “P.B. Champ,” the more goofy looking, the better. Something inexpensive that will make your players laugh whenever they wear it or see it, but will also mean something special to them as a season-long accomplishment they have to earn. I encourage coaches at all levels to be creative in implementing new ideas for “Practice Breaker” activities and rewards/prizes. Here’s 3 fun suggestions that work really well:
Basketball Practice Breakers: Opposites
1) “Opposites”: A 10-minute scrimmage where every player can only use their opposite hand to dribble, pass, and shoot. Their strong hand can only be used to catch passes, and as a guide for shooting and dribbling transfers. Coaches ref the scrimmage to make sure everybody’s sticking to the rules. Every player on the winning team gets 1 point for “The Practice Breakers Board”.
This activity is hilariously fun, but also strongly encourages each player to work intensely on developing their opposite hand. It gets them in the habit of forcing the issue, and experiencing the intial ups and downs along with the rest of the team. “Opposites” is a tremendous team confidence builder, and is truely a blast. Have fun!
Basketball Practice Breakers: Half-Court Heroes
2) “Half-court Heroes”: 3 players spread across the halfcourt stripe. They will all back up several feet, and with a running start at the coach’s whistle, will each take a halfcourt shot at the same time. The challenge is for them to choose the proper height, distance, and speed that will allow their shot to arrive at a different time then their 2 teammates. Thus giving their shot a better opportunity to go in.
The only true rule is that all 3 players must shoot at the same time. Coaches ref this activity as well, and often join in with the team, which makes it even more fun. The player with the most makes at the end of 10 minutes, gets a point on “The Practice Breakers Board”. Your team will love it!
Basketball Practice Breakers: Stick and Pick
3) “Stick and Pick”: The coaches select a specific shot for every player to shoot. Whoever makes(sticks) it first, gets to pick the next shot for everybody to take until the next make, which can be any shot they want, regardless of the difficulty. The more difficult each shot becomes, the safer it becomes for the current leader to protect their point for “The Practice Breakers Board”.
There are only 2 simple rules. First, the shot must be attempted from no more than a few feet beyond the 3 point line, and must be shot from in bounds. Second, the line must rotate in order every practice, so each player gets the chance to be the first shooter. It’s very similar to “H.O.R.S.E.”, but is so much more challenging and engaging.
The last player to make a shot at the end of 10 minutes, will of course, get a point on “The Practice Breakers Board”. This is also another great opportunity for coaches to participate whenever they see fit. Enjoy!
Where can you find the best basketball coaching podcasts? I have always loved listening to podcast and especially podcasts that would help my basketball coaching. I look for podcast that not only inspire me, but also are inspirational, interesting and very entertaining.
Look no further! Every basketball coaching podcast you need is listed here! Some of the podcasts will be X’s and O’s others might talk about the psychological part of the game.
I like to listen to podcasts while I’m in the car, mowing the lawn or walking my dogs around he neighborhood. They’re perfect to fit into your day at any point when you are doing a task that doesn’t require your full attention….which during the Covid process is most of the time!
This is a new podcast but is by Drew Maddux and Virgil Herring and they discuss the extreme importance of mindset as it relates to sports, business and everything in between. They have a great book by the same name GET IT HERE
This is a shameless plug for my own podcast, but I am really proud of it and it comes out 5 days a week. It is a mixture of Coaching tips, interviews, Drills, X’s and O’s and everything in between. This Podcast will discuss basketball coaching with Coach Steve Collins. Coach Collins will do this with interviews and on topic discussions. (Discussion will revolve around basketball topics such as: Offense, Defense, Motivation, Team Building, Youth Basketball, High School Basketball, college basketball and much more…) We will publish weekly shows at 6:00 am….. Please check out our site if you like our podcast.
This podcast is an extension of the Coaching U education and training program. Coach Brendan Suhr moves the lessons off of the court and into your earbuds with interviews of coaches on their career journeys, coaching philosophies and challenges they have overcome. Weekly podcast featuring the best coaches in the world hosted by 2-Time NBA World Champion, Brendan Suhr.Each episode Coach Suhr and his guests give you insight into some of the best and newest trends, techniques, philosophies and lessons from not only the game of basketball; but also in leadership, culture, professional development and life.
A Discussion all about being and coaching Basketball at the High School Level Scrimmage, Preparation, Practice Planning, Parents, Getting your Players to Play Hard, and everything in betweenMUCH MORE….
Coach Raveling is considered by most as the godfather of college basketball coaching. On his podcast, Coach Raveling shares lessons for personal and professional growth through his conversations with other coaches. This is truly a hidden gem that I found several years ago…
The 1.Question Leadership Podcast is designed to highlight executive and organizational leadership with a heavy emphasis on college athletics. 1.Question is primarily hosted by @TaiMBrown, but features occasional guest hosts.
Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth have spent years exploring the weird and wonderful ways in which humans behave — Dubner as the host of Freakonomics Radio, Duckworth as a research psychologist and author of Grit. They both like to ask a lot of questions, and have come to believe there’s really no such thing as a stupid one. With No Stupid Questions, they put this belief to the test, with conversations ranging from friendship and parenting to immortality and whether dogs are better than people. The resulting podcast is incisive, humane, and occasionally charming. New episodes each week. No Stupid Questions is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network.
9. Hidden Gem (No Pun Intended) IDAHO BASKETBALL Coaching (Click Here)
Interviews about coaching high school basketball in the Gem State. If you are a high school basketball coach and would like to talk hoops, send a DM on Twitter or email at Idahobasketballcoachingpodcast@gmail.com.
This podcast go through the Funnel Down Defense and how it can change the way you coach the game. The defense can be used with any type of athlete and any team. It takes your opponent out of there offense in seconds
Coaching Culture The podcast for leaders in athletics. Sharing practical ideas on how to build character and leadership with a like-minded community.
Teacher Side Gig Do you have a side gig? I have colleagues who drive for Lyft/Uber, work in the service industry, clean houses and businesses, run online businesses, drive trucks, and work in all sorts of other industries during the Summer AND school year. Some have even left teaching because their other job pays more and provides better benefits.
Greatest Game Podcast
The Greatest Games Podcast. Our intention is to create a light and fun environment where we can just talk hoops, and hopefully offer some wisdom to young coaches and seasoned coaches alike about some of the lessons we have learned along the way. We really appreciate you coming by.
Developing a practice plan can be one of the most daunting tasks for a coach at any level. Coaches need to consider the talent of their team when assembling the plan. They also need to keep in mind how they want their team to improve over the course of the season. That improvement gets jumpstarted in practice with targeted drills. Coaches often have a set of their favorite basketball practice drills aimed to do just that.
Here are Coach Steger’s 2 Favorite Practice Drills and a couple of videos below to show their use.
Basketball Practice Drills: Closeout
The first basketball practice drill that holds a great deal of value is a basic close out drill. This drill should be a regular for any team playing man-to-man defense. In addition, this drill aids in the instruction of help-side defense.
In this drill, two players start on the floor, occupying the wings. The defenders wait in a line beneath the rim and one positions himself in the “help side” spot in the lane. The drill begins with a skip pass from one wing to the other. The defender is expected to run from his help side position to close out on the shooter.
This drill can use a coach as the passer, or rotate players into that position. Coaches should emphasize defensive placement and positioning when integrating this drill. The close out defender should not over-run the shooter, but stop just before with one hand up.
This drill can be altered to force the shooter to drive baseline. The drill can incorporate another defender at that point, who also moves into help side positioning.
Basketball Practice Drills: DeMatha Finishing Drill
The next of Coach Steger’s favorite basketball practice drills is the DeMatha Finishing drill. This drill can be particularly valuable as both a practice drill and as a pregame warmup drill.
This drill pits two players against one another in a simple clash of offense and defense. It’s a high-impact, fast-paced drill where the offensive player attacks the basket and the trailing defender needs to recover. The drill features two lines and usually a coach for passing. Players can stand in for the coaches as passers if need be.
The drill itself can be situated in a number of different spots on the floor. Where the drill starts can be dictated by the coach and what the team needs are.
The drill itself is simple. The passer feeds the offensive player, who must finish at the rim from their starting point. The offensive player can try a dunk or layup. The defender, meanwhile, must contest the shot as best they can. Physical play can be encouraged for the defense to help the offense improve finishing through contact.
So much goes into winning and losing basketball games. Coaches and teams prepare to the best of their ability, but sometimes the ball bounces in the other team’s favor. Wins remain joyous, while losses hurt for days. Coaches have a number of elements to consider in this regard.
Winning and Losing Basketball Games: The Winning Side
First 3 Quarters
Nothing should change strategically through the first three quarters, regardless of the lead size. The only change worth contemplating would be a slight shift in gears emotionally. Specifically, addressing any play or conduct that is only taking place because of the lopsided score. These play or conduct could either create bad habits in competitive games to come, or provide obvious motivation for future matchups against the same opponent.
Composure and Discipline
Avoid disrespecting or embarrassing your opponent at all costs. These mistakes in professionalism might inspire a comeback in the current game, regardless of how improbable. They might fuel future inspiration for many years to come, and possibly a lifetime rivalry.
Tim Hardaway once said that talking trash when the game is “nip/tuck” or when the outcome has yet to be decided, is completely respectable. However, talking trash when the outcome of the game has long since been decided, is 100 percent disrespectful. That’s because the main objective of winning has already been achieved.
Winning and Losing Basketball Games: The Losing Side
I can vividly picture the well-known TV Commercial Character “Captain Obvious” saying that being blown out in any sport is not fun. Thanks Captain Obvious. Although that is the truth, there’s actually a number of positive things that can come from being on the losing side of a blowout.
What To Take With You
A big one is being reminded of how hard winning really is. More importantly, how much consistent hard works it takes to win or even be competitive against today’s level of size and talent. How we apply these reminders to our team going forward makes the biggest difference. Physical, mental, emotional, and attitude adjustments must all be made at some point in the process to apply what we learn in the most humbling of defeats.
Many positives can actually occur while the blowout is still taking place. A great example is the freedom a blowout provides to give unproven players a chance to get some well needed playing time. They also provide time to experiment with new lineup combinations. The most important piece of a blowout for a team to take with them, is the memory of the blowout itself.
Embrace the carry-over, and every emotion that comes with it, good or bad. Mark it on the calendar, write it on the wall, save the tape, and don’t ever forget the feeling. Let every single second of that embarrassment be a driving force for future success. One of the greatest motivations for the joy of winning, is never wanting to feel the pain of losing ever again. Of course, that pain is just one part of the overall improvement process, but it’s a great place to start.
One of the best feelings in sports is being on the right side of a blowout. The team is on cruise control, smiles abound from ear to ear, and all seems to be right with the world. But one of the worst feelings is being on the wrong side of a basketball blowout.
Perhaps what makes being on the right side of a basketball blowout feel so powerful is the remembrance of how equally powerful the opposite feelings can be on the other bench. Hence, one of the worst feelings in sports is being on the wrong side of a blowout. The mind tries to assess the damage, and quickly produce a potential comeback strategy.
Meanwhile, with every passing second, the body takes a little longer to engage in the action because win probability has decreased so drastically. Motivation becomes increasingly harder to muster, and as the clock ticks away, the thoughts of most every player and coach turn from salvaging the present, to future revenge.
There’s far more to be played for in a blowout than just the final outcome. Seeds planted for future strategy and motivation. It teaches valuable lessons in professionalism that can often be the difference between winning and losing long-term.
The best teams are not only the teams that know how to win, but know how to win best.
Composure and Discipline
It’s very important for every successful team to be memorable. The key remains being memorable for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. Your opponent should only remember you for general things, like tough defense, team speed, or overall intensity. This will always be in their thoughts and preparation, but not likely to be an emotional focal point.
However, when your opponent remembers specific disrespectful moments, they will be much more likely to keep those memories fresh in their minds, and make them an emotional focal point for all future matchups against you.
This means that by consistently being unprofessional and disrespectful, especially in blowouts, your team could very well be freely providing enough motivation to inferior teams you’ve already beaten to one day turn the tables and finally beat you. Every season, teams with terrible records some how pull off a major upset against elite teams. Many of these scenarios occur because the inferior team had circled that particular game “Super Bowl” so to speak, based on a sour taste in their mouth from a past matchup.
4th Quarter and Finishing Respectfully
The best way for good teams and great teams to avoid this type of revenge situation each year is to finish every game respectfully, especially blowouts! Whenever the outcome of a game has long been decided. Take a page from football and run the ball until the clock runs out. All but abandoning the air attack, in order to finish a blowout respectfully. Of course, the basketball equivalent would be to walk the ball instead of run it, and eventually take the air out of the 3-point attack. Late 3-pointers can often be a source of great contentment amongst teams that are being blown out. It’s always best to simply finish the game quietly and respectfully, shake hands, and be on your way.
The TeachHoops.com community connects coaches throughout the nation and all over the world. In this basketball coaching interview, Coach Collins connects with Coach Marc Skelton to discuss his basketball journey and his approach to the game.
Coaching Interview: Marc Skelton
Marc Skelton is a former all-state basketball guard from Derry, New Hampshire. He graduated from Northeastern University, then served two years in the Peace Corps in Moldova. Skelton holds a master’s degree in education and Russian studies from Columbia University.
Coaching Interview: March Skelton’s Favorite Drill
Coach Skelton reveals in this coaching interview that his favorite drill one he calls “Popeye.” In this drill, a lone shooter spends at least one minute attempting to find the right angle for a shot that only touches the backboard and net. After a set amount of time, the shooter switches sides.
The drill continues with a dribble progression from there. The shooter uses a ball fake, then attacks with the dribble. The shooter is seeking the same “Popeye” shot off the dribble that they’d found in the stationary portion of the drill.
Coaches always need to consider data when evaluating their team’s latest performance. That data often instructs what the focus might be for the next practice. But any given basketball game provides hundreds of potential data points. These contests also vary wildly given external and uncontrollable factors. So here’s a look at 10 Ways to Evaluate a Basketball Game.
10 Ways to Evaluate a Basketball Game
Field Goal Attempts
Free Throw Attempts
These 10 ways to evaluate a basketball game may seem arbitrary but they each focus on specific production.
Turnover margin and rebounding margin both indicate how well your team is controlling the basketball. Naturally, your team wants to limit turnovers on offense and leverage turnovers on defense. The same is true with rebounding. If your team is securing more missed shots, then your team has more opportunities to score.
Tracking those scoring opportunities are important as well. Considering no team will ever make every single shot it takes, having more total shots shifts the odds in your team’s favor. However, not all shot attempts are created equal. Your team should focus on quality shots.
Having quality shot attempts will improve your team’s field goal percentage. This efficiency stat stands as a key market for in-game success. Furthermore, your team should be look to leverage your best shooter while minimizing the weakest ones.
Free Throw Attempts stand among the highest percentage shots available, so piling up those tries are key. But it’s not enough to get the attempts, great teams make their free throws at a high clip.
For defensive effectiveness, your team should look to limit the opponent’s scoring opportunities. What’s more, your defense should make it a goal to limit opposing players to no more than 10-15 points.
The three-point game stands as an opportunity to leverage effective offensive play. Look to get your best distance shooters open shots while preventing the opposing team from similar opportunities. Your defense should force opposing shooters into creating their own offense rather than standing still and hoisting from deep.
Your team’s floor game consists of getting loose balls, 50-50 balls, taking charges, saving the ball, etc. These moments can be hidden on a traditional stat sheet, but they create additional opportunities for the team.
The team should always look to help each other and create offensive opportunities for teammates. Creating those opportunities stresses opposing defenses. Likewise, keeping the opposing team from creating a similar offensive flow hurts their rhythm on that end as well.
And each of these builds to swinging the game’s momentum in your favor.
The internet holds a seemingly unlimited supply of resources for basketball players and coaches. But in an effort to gain mastery of the sport, players and coaches might need to turn to unlikely sources of information.
LEVEL 1: COGNITIVE MASTERY
I see this all the time in my math classroom. A student will see or hear something and they will think that they mastered it. But in reality, understanding is only the first step toward mastery. You have seen it with your players. ” I got this coach” but when they try it in a game or practice it does not work. It takes repetition and working on those skills to really understand your body movements. “Repetition is the mother of skill”
LEVEL 2 OF MASTERY: EMOTIONAL MASTERY
“Emotional mastery is where you start linking consequences and doing. You act on what you know instead of just know it. When you add emotion like pain or pleasure to repetition, the link becomes stronger and the action more automatic”. For example if your player does a action ( IN my world its a turnover )….They are going to get a negative reaction from my entire coaching staff. Pretty soon, they know not to turn the ball over.
Now, apply this concept to your team. Maybe you kept the wrong player, but you ignored what your instincts tried to tell you. What happened ? I bet you had enough pain from that experience that you think more carefully the next time you pick a team?. “But even if you’ve been burned once, does that mean you never get burned again? No. People repeat the same mistakes over and over because they haven’t yet associated enough pain with the problem, which holds them back from reaching the last level of mastery: physical mastery.”
LEVEL 3 MASTERY: PHYSICAL MASTERY
“With enough repetition, enough emotion, we can get to physical mastery Physical mastery, you don’t have to think about it, you just do it. It’s automatic. No extra effort required. This is the level of true mastery”.
We have all been there on the court when we just play the game and everything comes easily…You do not have to think about setting the screen and rolling to the basket is has become second nature. It is our goal as coaches to get this level. Where we have coached enough, felt the ups and downs, and just know what to do for our teams.
One of the most engaging aspects of the TeachHoops.com community is the ability to connect with coaches throughout the nation and all over the world. In this basketball coaching interview, Coach Collins connects with Coach Gene Durden to discuss his basketball journey and his approach to the game.
Basketball Coaching Interview
Coach Durden enters his 34th year coaching at the high school level this coming season. Currently, Durden coaches the Buford Lady Wolves. He’s headed that program for 15 years. During his time, Duden-led teams sport eight state championships in three different classifications. His teams have played in 10 of the last 12 state championship games. Furthermore, Durden’s Buford Lady Wolves have four straight state championships in class 5A.
Prior to his time at Buford, Durden coached at Dade County High School in Trenton, GA for 14 years. His Lady Wolverines team won seven Region Championships and competed in 13 AA State Tournaments. His teams competed in three Final Fours, and in three AA State Championship games.
In this interview, Durden discusses the three parts to becoming a complete player. He lists preparation of the body, skill development, and play of the game as those three parts. He says individual players are made in the offseason, whereas teams are made during the season.
Check out Coach Collins’ coaching interview with this high school basketball legend, Gene Durden!
Open gyms provide basketball coaches with a good look at potential talent for a new team. Although normally unstructured, an effective open gym needs rules and games in order for coaches to get the best look at the assembled talent.
Open Gym Rules and Games
One of the most difficult aspects of coaching remains the integration of unstructured time either in practice or during preseason. Too often, open gyms lead to players not working hard and poor decisions being made. It’s rare that an open gym features any kind of meaningful defense.
But players love the freedom of an Open Gym set up.
What our basketball program did several years ago was implement a set of rules or games players can use to improve specific skills during an open gym. They can play regular 5-on-5 and then pick a couple of these rules.
I remember the days of playing entire games during the summer and only using my “weaker” hand or only shooting baseline jumpers. I was trying to work on specific skills while still playing with my friends. (Those were the days when we used to go to the park and play, bring our boom box, and the big milk jug of water. Remember those days…)
That is how with the help of other coaches I came up with the MAGIC 25. Let me know if I am missing anything? ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here are the Magic 25 Open Gym Rules and Games
No Dribble 5-on-5
Zone On Makes, Man On Misses 5-on-5
5-on-5 Hockey (ball has to be dribble across half court by the person who rebounds it)
5-on-5 Run an Action
Beep Beep 5 on 5 (Have to shoot in 5 seconds)
Everyone must Touch before you can score.
Post must touch
Weak-hand Layup is worth 3-Points
1-2-3- Paint shots are 1 point, 3’s are worth 2, mid-range is worth 3 points
NBA Three is worth 4 Points
No 3 point shots- everything is worth 2 points
Everyone must cross Half Court if not the Offense Keeps the Ball, vice versa Offense doesn’t cross everyone the Basket doesn’t count.
10 Minute Games
Games to 1, 3, 5, 7 Points
21 players 3 Teams Of 7
No dribbles on Offense until the ball get inside the 3 point line
One of the most engaging aspects of the TeachHoops.com community is the ability to connect with coaches throughout the nation and all over the world. In this basketball coach interview, Coach Collins talks with basketball coaching with Liam Flynn in this wide ranging interview.
Basketball Coaching Interview: Liam Flynn
A brief version of Liam’s resume is below:
His International Experience includes NBA Consultant, Coach in the German Bunderliga and New Zealand NZNBL.
He sports six years of Australian NBL Coaching experience. He was an assistant coach with the Townsville Crocodiles from 2010-2012. In addition, he assisted with the Adelaide 36ers from 2008-2010.
Flynn has 15 years of State League/ABA Coaching Experience. With the Sturt Sabres, Townsville Heat, Southern Districts Spartans.
He has 12 years of experience with State Teams. Such as: QLD U/18 Boys, SA Metro U/16 Boys & U/18 Boys; South Australia U/20 Men
Flynn also has 20 years experience at Junior Representative Level, with Sturt (SA), Southern Districts (QLD) – U/12s through to U/20s
He holds a Masters in Sports Coaching from University of Queensland, as well as a NCAS Level 2 Coaching Accreditation.
One of the most engaging aspects of the TeachHoops.com community is the ability to connect with coaches from all over. In this basketball coach interview, Coach Collins talks with basketball coaching with Jim Boone.
Basketball Coaching Interview
In this basketball coaching interview, Collins discusses a variety of topics with University of Arkansas Fort Smith head coach Jim Boone. Known for his backline defense, Boone takes a no-nonsense approach to his team.
Boone enters his third season as the UAFS head in 2021-22. However, this is his 36th year overall as a head coach at the NCAA Division I and II levels. The veteran leader ranks eighth nationally in wins among active coaches, as well as 32nd all-time. In addition, Boone stands only 24 wins away from reaching a career milestone of 600 wins.
Coach Boone’s career record subsequently speaks to his success on the hardwood. But his real niche has been creating championship cultures. Coaching at NCAA Division II programs, Boone posted a 483-278 (.635) mark. He guided each of his previous four Division II stops to the NCAA Tournament, an unprecedented accomplishment. In addition, Boone’s teams have won eight conference championships. He also has five tournament titles. This is in addition to 12 postseason appearances.
One of the most engaging aspects of the TeachHoops.com community is the ability to connect with coaches throughout the nation and all over the world. In this basketball coach interview, Coach Collins connects with Coach Mark Cascio to discuss his basketball journey and his approach to the game.
Basketball Coach Interview
Mark Cascio stands as a championship-winning head basketball coach with 14-plus years experience in building elite programs, winning cultures, and developing leaders that create memorable experiences. Coach Cascio’s expertise lies in implementing innovative systems on both ends of the floor using advanced knowledge and practices to build winning teams.
Cascio recently joined the coaching staff at Appalachian State University. He arrived at App State after enjoying a successful career as a high school basketball coach for 16 years in Louisiana. He sports a career mark of 333-163 while posting 12 straight winning seasons. In his 16-year tenure, Cascio advanced to five Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Final Fours. This is highlighted by a state championship in 2012. His teams captured seven district titles. And he won seven Coach of the Year awards.
In 16 years as a head coach, he’s led his teams to nine, 20-win seasons and a pair of 30-win campaigns.
In his most recent stop at Catholic High School, he led them to an impressive 174-77 record since 2013. His teams advanced to four final fours, as well as capturing four district titles. And he won four Coach of the Year awards.
Cascio coached Christian Life Academy from 2010-13, where he posted a 75-20 record. In addition, he won a state title and three consecutive seasons with 20-plus victories.
One of the most engaging aspects of the TeachHoops.com community is the ability to connect with coaches throughout the nation and all over the world. In this basketball coach interview, Coach Collins connects with Coach Eric Bridgeland to discuss his basketball journey and his approach to the game.
Basketball Coach Interview
Eric Bridgeland is the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California.
Bridgeland arrived at Redlands as an esteemed NCAA Division III coach from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. There he led the Blues to three Northwest Conference (NWC) titles and six runner-up finishes. During the last five years, Whitman has qualified for the NCAA tournament each season and advanced to the Sweet-16, Elite-8, and Final Four. His 2019 seniors graduated as the winningest class in NCAA Division III history. And they contributed to three undefeated titles in NWC action and a 67-conference game win streak.
In 12 seasons at Whitman, Bridgeland posted an impressive record of 245-87 (.738) and an NWC mark of 132-44 (.750%). In addition, he owns multiple national, regional, and conference coach of the year awards. His teams consistently land among the national rankings, as highlighted by the No. 1 spot on the D3hoops.com poll late in the 2017 season.
Prior to coaching at Whitman, he served as the head coach at the University of Puget Sound (WA) for five seasons. After taking over a program that had one winning season in the previous nine, Bridgeland and the Loggers put together a stretch of three consecutive NWC titles, three NCAA appearances, and a No. 8 ranking.
Overall, Bridgeland has coached one national player of the year, 12 All-Americans, six conference MVPs, and 40 all-conference selections. He also sent another student-athlete to the NBA combine as one of only five Division III players to be invited in the history of the league.
Check out the Teach Hoops exclusive interview with Coach Bridgeland below. This discussion came in 2019, prior to Bridgeland’s joining the Bulldogs in Redlands.
Conducting an effective basketball tryout can be one of the most difficult aspects of coaching, especially at the youth level. Coaches want to be fair and unbiased in their preparation of tryouts. Coaches need to be ready to evaluate a wide gamut of talent, from kids who’ve never played before to seasoned veterans.
Often time, developing your tryout can be more difficult that even setting up a playing rotation. Tryout day stands as one of the hardest yet most important days on the calendar. How a coach assembles to roster has wide ranging implications for the season.
Conducting Effective Basketball Tryouts
The first question any coach needs to ask themself is: what type of team will you have? The answer to this question will largely influence the types of drills you select. These drills will be staples of any practice plan, but they’ll also be valuable evaluation tools during tryouts.
The first thing to consider is athleticism. Coaches need to implement some sort of transition drill into any effective tryout. Players need to demonstrate how well they run and what type of shape they’re in. From there, higher level transition drills can evaluate decision making skills as well.
Beyond transition drills, coaches should definitely include station work as well. This is particularly useful with multiple coaches on staff. But even if you’re working alone as a coach, being able to have the players rotate through stations will give you a glimpse at their skill level. These stations can include ball handling, form shooting and free throws, among other things.
Small game groups also provides the coach with a good read of the players during tryouts. Having the players play 3-on-3, 2-on-2, or even 1-on-1 brings together several of the evaluation elements you need to consider. In these small group environments, it’s harder for players to “hide.”
Another effective practice during basketball tryouts might be to teach a new drill or offensive set. This forces the players to pay attention for a long stretch of time. It also provides coaches with a look at who the most engaged athletes are. Coaches also get a sense of who the most “coachable” players are during these teaching moments.
Finally, adding some element of communication and teamwork remains incredibly important and valuable. These drills or situations can shine a light on players with leadership potential. They also provide players with an opportunity to stand out among the others.
What to Look For In Players
Assembling a roster can often be a difficult task. But the first thing a coach should consider, especially when working off a roster that has returning players, is, which of these new talents can fill a specific role.
Of these potential new players, are there any that clearly make the team better? Which of the player will the team community? What positions might these new players fill?
Coaches should always look for specific elements as well. Among those elements: Athleticism, Attitude and Effort are key. Beyond that, physical aspects like height and length play a role. Finally, does the player have an “X factor”?
One of the most engaging aspects of the TeachHoops.com community is the ability to connect with coaches throughout the nation and all over the world. In this basketball coach interview, Coach Collins connects with Aseem Rastogi to discuss his basketball journey and his approach to the game.
Basketball Coach Interview
Aseem Rastogi joined the Brandeis women’s basketball staff prior to the 2019-20 season as an assistant coach.
Rastogi coached girls and basketball at the scholastic level in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., for seven years prior to joining the Judges. As the head varsity coach at South County High School in Lorton, Virginia, he coached his team to a record-breaking season in 2018-29. The team achieved its first-ever ranking in The Washington Post (#18). In addition, the team set school records for points in a game (81), 3-pointers made in a season (124), assists in a season (308), and points in a season (1257).
Before that, at W.T. Woodson High, Rastogi helped the program host its first district playoff game. Also, the team appeared in its first regional playoff game in 5 years. During this time, Rastogi developed nine different all-district players. He also coordinated the first-ever girls elite camp in the history of Northern Virginia girls basketball.
Prior to that, Rastogi spent 2012-13 at Division I Virginia Commonwealth University as Director of Player Personnel and Interim Director of Basketball Operations.
Coach Collins sits down with Coach Patrick O’Neill of Ulster University to discuss developing basketball culture and practice planning. Coming from Ireland, O’Neill needed to developing his program’s culture largely from scratch.
Developing Basketball Culture
O’Neill says their team culture is comprised of three essential pillars: values, attitudes, and goals. He calls values the standards of behavior, often a judgment of what is important in life. Attitudes are defined as the way a player thinks and feels about something. O’Neill defines goals as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort.” Also, “an aim or desired result.”
O’Neill leaned on four keys during his coaching career. He says honest communication stands as one of the most important elements within his program. He also said he realized he needed to up his coaching game, focusing on preparation. The other two keys he relied upon were balance and understanding.
He empowered his players to take ownership of their own development, and he understood the individual circumstances for his players. O’Neill made it a point to make himself available and approachable to the players as well.
But O’Neill admits it wasn’t all perfect. He learned very quickly “shoehorning” a player into his philosophy could be counter productive. Good coaches adapt their approach for each new collection of players they come across. He also admitted being totally positive, especially in the face of defeat, did not work.
Coach O’Neill went on to discuss his approach to practice planning.
O’Neill approaches each session with a detailed plan of attack. He portions off practice segments with specific focuses. Some of the sections include warm up, skill development, and team-wide work.
Within each section, O’Neill’s practice plan lists the specific drill that will be conducted. In addition, he adds the points of emphasis during the segments and drills.
This level of organization allows O’Neill to maximize practice time and move seamlessly between focuses.
Planning any program’s basketball practice remains one of the most important aspects of coaching. No matter if it’s a preseason workout, in-season session, or postseason shoot around, a well-organized practice produces meaningful results.
Coach Collins sat down recently with veteran basketball coach Sean Doherty to discuss his approach practice planning. Coach Doherty currently serves as the head boys coach at Hamden Hall Country Day. Doherty sports more than 20 years experience coaching basketball, including stops as a former Division-1 assistant at Holy Cross, Western Kentucky and Quinnipiac. In addition to those duties, Doherty also served as a top assistant at Division II powerhouse Assumption College, as well as being the former head coach at Salem State.
Basketball Practice Planning
Coach Doherty urges all other basketball coaches to be organized. He suggests meeting with staff to discuss daily and weekly practice plans. If coaching without a staff, he still recommends detailed planning, including a written plan for players to see such as a “Daily Improvement Sheet.”
He calls it integral that coaches have a firm understanding of plays/drills need to be cover during season heading into their first practice.
Doherty also recommends a weekly plan for the team, which includes off the court events. He likens this to lessons plans for classroom teachers.
Doherty says: “Practice is where we create our winning culture.” He calls for accountability should be in all segments. He also recommends tracking Effort Stats. Part of the culture development includes teaching “great teammate” elements, such as: run to guys who fall/take charge, make a huge hustle play, bench up and down, high fives, emotion at right time, etc.
To handle winning and losing correctly, Doherty recommends competitive practice games. This also aids in accountability.”Enthusiasm and Energy is a huge part of all our winning habits,” Doherty says.
Youth player development can be an avenue for coaches to share their love of the game. But if a team is going to be successful, it takes more than just love. Coaches are tasked with improving players both individually and within the context of the team. And during the planning stages, including a favorite basketball drill might make practice all the more enjoyable.
Coach Nabil Murad has been working in the Education & Sports Sector for more than 10 years. Nabil has a proven track record of developing players to achieve their full potential using tailored development programs and a variety of motivational methods. Murad is currently in Austria working with Gmunden Swans youth basketball program to develop players along the player development pathway.
This is a full-court competitive practice game that allows coaches to install a specific play or set, while also practice key defensive principles. In the half court, the offense runs their first action against a full compliment of defenders. If this action results in a basket, then the offense and defense switch. But if the defense gets a stop, then it’s a full court game.
The defensive stop flows into transition offense as that squad seeks to score. Only points scored off of defensive stops count in this competitive practice game. This game should flow back and forth for several minutes before coaches change anything.
Emphasis: Defense. Basketball coaches that incorporate this competitive practice game look to establish the mindset that the team needs to focus on getting defensive stops before getting to the offensive end of the floor.
Finding an identity for a team stands as one of the most unique challenges for coaches. Building a Basketball Brand, Culture and Program, not matter the level, must be done on a solid foundation. Without clear principles, the program might drift along listless and without direction. For coaches, creating an environment to empower the student-athletes remains one of the most important undertakings.
In this wide ranging interview, Coach Neal discussed his journey to becoming the head girls basketball coach at Pea Ridge High school, in Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Neal went from Arkansas State University to the US Navy. He served for five years and deployed all over the world. That military training still informs much of his coaching approach.
After the military, Neal returned to the University of Arkansas to finish his degree. There, he became a student athletic trainer for the Razorback football team, then led by Bobby Petrino.
In his five years coaching at Pea Ridge, Neal’s compiled a 78-47 record overall and a finish in the elite eight of the state tournament.
An important foundation for any program to build upon is a definitive set of values. These core values inform everything within the program, from commitment to the players, to communication with families.
For Coach Neal, the core values that support his program are: Truth, Trust, Togetherness, Integrity, Competitiveness, Competition, Effort and Intensity.
“Confidence is earned through detailed preparation.”
In addition, Neal says building the program relationship driven. Connections within the community help build excitement. And that excitement ultimately leads to positive support.
Coaches must remember the importance of their position. A coach remains one of the most influential individuals in society. A coach will influence more people in one year than most people in a lifetime.
Coaches are great thieves. Resources, materials and terminology are often swapped online, at clinics, and even during basketball games. But where coaches can introduce the most unique elements comes in the specific development of a program’s culture. Building a basketball program comes down to what commitments a coach wants to make.
Building a Basketball Program
Coach Collins sat down with Coach Burton Uwarow to discuss building a basketball program. In this video on the Teach Hoops YouTube channel, the two went through the ins and outs of establishing an identity. This establishment involved specific commitments and focuses coaches need to consider when starting their programs.
Coach Uwarow, from Greenville, South Carolina, said the coaches he played for growing up and coached with greatly influenced his coaching philosophy. Uwarow also listed resources from Bob Hurley, Mike Krzyzewski, Pat Summitt, John Wooden and Morgan Wootten as significant influences as well.
Uwarow called commitment and passion his driving forces. He also acknowledged building a program also involves gathering resources. Supplementing budgets from an athletic department through fundraisers stands as an unwelcome but important task for any program.
Among the most important elements he named, Uwarow stressed organization, player discipline and parent-coach relationships.