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Early Season Practice Plan

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

The preseason is coming quickly and as Fall Sports begin to wrap up coaches will be preparing their first practices of the season. In Massachusetts coaches will not begin practice until after Thanksgiving, giving them approximately two weeks to practice before their first games. These two weeks become critical in building the identity of your team. In this post I wanted to lay out a sample practice plan for this time frame of the year and then look at my reasoning for the time allotment and drill selection of the practice.

We have previously discussed the importance of this time frame in previously:

Early Season Practice Plan

Here is a practice plan from this "two week" preseason timeframe. As you can see we are looking to address each aspect of the game, while also provided opportunities for uncontrolled play.

Practice Planning Thoughts

Overall there are two guiding thoughts that are driving the organization of this practice plan.

1. Play, Practice, Play

Practice is designed to utilize the play, practice, play format. Players open the practice in some form of competitive play. For this practice we chose the '4/4 Motion Strong Stagger' action. From there we are focusing on the more detailed elements of our game model; transition, skill development, half court offense, transition defense & half court defense. The practice would also end with another full court play segment. In theory:

Play Segments = Minimal Coach Stoppage

Practice Segments = More Coach Stoppage

2. Four Macro Moments

The Practice is also designed to address all four of the game's macro moments; Half Court Offense, Transition Defense, Half Court Defense, & Transition Offense. In this two week timeframe before the game start it is imperative that we develop our identity in each of these game phases. As the season progresses we will have more time to focus in on trouble spots, but early in the season we need to utilize this practice window to truly develop our playing identity.

Drill Selection

2.0 Trips

This drill is a staple transition for us, especially early in the season. Each group gets 4 trips up and down the floor, three of them coming vs air and the final one vs a set defense. Each trip down the floor works on our progression of transition reads; Pitch Ahead, Attack the Middle Third, Play through the Trailer, & Flow into Offense.

Read more on Transition Reads:

3 Man Relocation

This is a San Antonio Spurs drill that works on drive and kick action and relocating to open corners after the penetration. We would this drill in our Skill Development portion of practice and work on the timing of kick-up passes, dribble stops, relocating, & then finishing or shooting.

To maximize the reps I would put two groups of three on each half of the court to keep everyone involved in the action.

4/4 Change

I would imagine that most programs have a drill similar to this in their drill library. We would typically use this drill in the half court defense portion of practice, however we could easily play this full court if desired. We would typically start the rep with a common action within our offense (or our opponent's if need be). At some point the coach blows his whistle and yells, "change"!

At this point the offensive player who has the ball slams it on the ground and both teams switch from offense to defense. The possession is played live from there.

Concluding Thoughts

Because of the short time frame of a two week preseason it is critical to build your practice plans around your identity. Choosing a few "core" drills that will build the identifying features of each Macro Moment will help drive those concepts home to your players. Designing your skill development portions of practice to reflect pieces of your game model will hopefully help players make connections in live sessions more often.

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Contact Info:

Michael Lynch

Boys Basketball Coach

Leicester High School

@LeicBasketball on Twitter

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