Most youth basketball teams begin practicing in October so it seems like a good time to identify some of the things that youth basketball coaches should be preparing to get ready for the season.
Here’s our list: 10 Things Youth Basketball Coaches Should Plan Before the First Practice
1.) Be ready for your first meeting with players’ parents. It’s a great idea to get all of the team parents together so that you can walk through your coaching philosophy, your plans for the year, administrative issues and opportunities, and other plans. Prepare a one-pager that you can hand out that lists your parent expectations. These expectations might include: Demonstrate good sportsmanship at games by applauding good play from both teams, being respectful of the referees, not shouting out directions to your child. By getting everyone on the same page at the start of the season, you’re on a good path to having everyone understand your intentions and in a position to enjoy the season. The players’ parents meeting is also a time to talk about car pooling to practices, how many tournaments everyone is interested in and plans for making the season a memorable one for players. Prepare an agenda and require that at least one parent of each player attend. At the meeting, try to get everyone to participate by having everyone introduce themselves and say something about some topic of interest. Maybe, it’s their first experience with basketball or the favorite thing about their child.
2.) Prepare for your first meeting with players. In the same way that you’ve developed a list of parent expectations, also prepare a list of player expectations. For example, you might include things like be on time for practice, try your best, and respect your teammates, coaches and referees.
3.) Recruit assistant coaches. It’s a much more rewarding experience for both players and you if you have some assistant coaches to help you. It reduces the student/teacher ratio and you can get so much more done with the help of some assistants. Assistants can fill in if you’re going to be late or miss a practice, and more sets of eyes can help in practices and games. Meet with your assistant coaches before your first meeting with parents or players and outline your philosophy, approach and the type of help you’re looking for.
4.) Identify your team manager. In addition to your assistant coaches, it helps to have a team parent to handle some of the administrative tasks associated with managing a team. Your team manager might help you with tasks like collecting money from each family, team communications, party planning, tournament entries and other tasks. You’ll want to find someone who is organized and who can communicate effectively.
5.) Create your practice and tournament schedule. With some youth basketball organizations, your practice and tournament schedule might be completed for you by board volunteers. If not, you’ll have some work in identifying the tournaments you want to play and the times and places for your weekly practices. When the players on your team are identified, I’ve found it helpful to develop a wallet-sized card that on one side, lists all of the players names, their uniform number, parents names, and phone numbers. The flip side lists all of the planned tournaments and dates. If your team is formed with players and parents that don’t know each other well, it really helps to have the uniform number of each players so that parents will be able to quickly identify who’s who.
6.) Prepare your practice plans. Setting some time aside before the season starts to think what you want to teach your players this season makes a lot of sense. In broad strokes, think of timing — what needs to be taught right away and what can wait till later in the season. I’m a big believer in teaching team defense and individual defense first with the thinking that if we can slow down opposing teams from scoring; we can compete in most games. Thus, for my first practices with a new team; I focus on teaching defense. As kids can get bored quickly, I like to change directions in practice by having a series of exercises and moving aggressively from one exercise to the next. By doing that, kids get some aerobic work in without coaches having to devote separate time for them to just run laps or sprints.
Our 30 Youth Basketball Practice Plans is a great tool for planning the season and planning each individual practice. With this PDF that comes to via a download on your PC or Mac, you can just print out the 2 page practice plan and bring it along with you to practice. I usually just fold it and put it in my pocket, but some coaches prefer clipboards. It will give you an agenda for thirty 90 minute practices that you can walk thru on a minute-by minute basis.
7.) Plan events to make it fun. Year in and year out, players have enjoyed some of the events we’ve done as a team even more so than tournaments we’ve won. Most players are in it for the “experience.” Kick around some events with your coaches and parents like a “Parent vs. Player” game, attending a Halloween haunted house, going to a college or pro game with players and parents, or something else. When the newness wears off of basketball practice, try to instill some fun by having some themed practices like “Crazy Socks Night” where players wear their wildest socks, a “Contest Night,” or a “Motown Monday” practice where a boom box plays the Temptations and The Jackson Five during parts of the evening. Make it different, keep it fun, and players will respond.
8.) Reach out to neighboring teams’ coaches to plan scrimmages. By contacting other teams’ coaches in neighboring towns, you can agree on one or two scrimmage dates. Before our first tournament or game, I always try to have one dry run in the form of a scrimmage with a neighboring team. Sure, we do lots of intra-squad scrimmaging, but players get pumped up to play someone else and it’s good preparation for your team. You get a chance to practice your pre-game comments and see players competing against folks they’re likely not very familiar with. As a coach, you can walk your players thru how it’s going to work before a game, on the bench and after the game. At first scrimmages, I’ve had players who didn’t know that I expected them to come to each team huddle and listen. A scrimmage is a great way for players and coaches to get a feel for how a real game will go.
9.) Sharpen the saw. There are lots of resources available for youth basketball coaches. Take advantage of them. Check out websites devoted to youth basketball, go to YouTube and watch a video to see how others coach by searching on youth basketball keywords, or read a good book on basketball coaching. You can’t go wrong reading a John Wooden book. I really like Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court.
10.) Determine your communications channel for your players and your parents. Emailing parents seems to work well when you have to get some team communication out to everyone. Make sure to collect email addresses at your first parents meeting. When you send your first email, ask everyone to reply back to confirm correct email addresses and give them an opportunity to add other email addresses, e.g. a spouse’s email or work email. You’ll also have the opportunity to talk to players at practices, and with enough notice, you can try and meet with parents either before or after a practice.
Before you know it, your first practice will be upon you. Get your basketball lesson plan ready with a schedule so you know what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. Start your basketball practice planning now for a great season!
4 E-Books for just $39.99
1.) 30 Youth Basketball Practice Plans — A complete season’s worth of plans. These basketball practice plan templates and tips will have you ready for practice in 2 minutes!
2.) Never Forget They’re Kids — A youth basketball coaching book to share techniques on teaching, keeping things fun and creating memorable experiences for players.
3.) The Well-Prepared Coach Basketball Coaching forms — Shot tracker, players expectations, treat sheet, and more.
4.) Basketball Award Certificate maker — From basketball certificate templates, customize awards for your players, coaches and team parents and print as many as you like for your team. From “She (or He) Got Game” to “All-Universe.”