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Pre-Practice Skill Development

As a player in high school I never really did skill development and now that I have finished my college career I look back and see all the improvement that I missed out on as a high school player.

Sure as a high school player I would shoot around and work on my game but it would always be on my own and I wasn’t really sure what type of drills and workouts I should do. Why didn’t we work on skill development in practice, and as I look around at most high school basketball programs why are coaches still not working on skill development in practice?

The first thing you do when you get to college is get broken up into groups and put into “individual workouts” that are all about player improvement. I am going to make the argument that all coaches at every level need to designate a, “pre-practice skill development” time.

Before I start giving my arguments of why you should incorporate skill development into your practice I am going to explain what I am asking you to do. Skill development is only going to be about 20-30 minutes and is done at the beginning of practice.

You can decided what kind of drills you want to do as coach, but a good way to do it is to break down your big men and guards so that you can make their skill development more position specific. I would suggest that you start all the players out with some sort of ball handling drills, before you break them up in there groups.

Big men need ball handling as well, because it helps to improve their hands and having big men able to handle the ball makes your team more versatile. The guards can get a lot of shots and work on new moves. Big men can work on shooting as well as moves on the block or mid range. It is important to continue to improve your players.

The better the players, the better the team will be as a whole. It only makes sense to work on your player’s skill development because it will help your team to improve as well. It really doesn’t matter how good of a play you draw up if your team can’t make a shot.

If you want your point guard to handle the ball better and run the team the right way, then he needs to be working on his point guard skills. The same goes for your big man and working on their post moves. Your players improve and so does your team.

Pre-practice gives your players that chance to move to the next level. As much as you are concerned about your team having success you need to be concerned with your players success and giving the ones who are good enough the best possible chance to take their game to the next level.

I have not heard of a college or university in America does not do individual player development. By you inserting pre-practice skills it allows your players to get a head start on college. A lot of college coaches evaluate players on how skilled they are. By working on a players skill set you allow them to get more recognition from college coaches, which will give them a better chance to get a scholarship.

If players know that you are concerned about making them better and giving them a chance to play at the next level, then better players are going to want to come play for you in future years. You will develop the reputation that you are a player’s coach and that you care about them.

This will only make your program stronger and more successful as you go. This will also build your network with college coaches. If college coaches know that you are developing good players then you are going to continue to have coaches interested in your players and your program.

A lot of high school players want to get better and work hard to get better but they don’t really know what to do to get better. If you are willing to dedicate 20-30 minutes before practice I guarantee you that you will have some players working on these drills on their own and improving drastically. You are giving your players the tools to become better players.

Pre-practice allows you as a coach to break down different portions of the offense that your team is working on. For example if you are working on a screening action then you can break your team into groups and get a lot of repetitions on the screening action. If you are struggling with penetrating and kicking you can work on that.

Whatever your team needs to work on you can break it down and work on it. Incorporate pre-practice skills in your practice plan and see how much your team improves as a whole and begin taking steps to having the season and program that you want to have.

This article was written by Kyle Ohman. Kyle Ohman was a starting guard for Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Kyle averaged 15.4 points per game and was ranked the 19th best shooter by Fox Sports as a Senior (2009-2010).

Kyle is a gifted basketball motivator and communicator and will take his game to the professional level and then on to a basketball coaching career.


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