Building a Basketball Practice Plan [Samples Included]

Coaching basketball and trying to come up with practice plans day after day can be overwhelming. Coaches rack their brains trying to come up with the perfect practice plan for their team. They think that they’ve built a great plan, but by the end of practice, they feel like they didn’t accomplish much.

Building a practice plan isn’t an easy task. You have to plan what your points of emphasis will be, know what your team needs to work on, and plan practice accordingly. For many coaches, this can be a daunting task.

First of all, I believe that all practices should encompass these areas of the game:

  1. Warm-Up – Your players shouldn’t go all out before warming up their muscles. A warm-up doesn’t have to be static stretching, but it should be something that gets your players loose before diving into intense drills.
  2. Player Skill Development – The #1 thing that every good basketball team has is good basketball players. Don’t neglect skill development in your practices, your team will pay the price.
  3. Team Defensive Skills – This includes drills that factor in ball denials, on-ball defense, help-side, staying low, and more. You must drill defensive items in order to have a great defensive team.
  4. Team Offensive Skills – This includes drills that factor in passing, decision-making, cutting, spacing, movement, and more. To have a great offensive team, these items must be drilled.
  5. Live Drills – This is where skills are put to the test. Let your players play in live situations and work on the skills that you’ve drilled. This helps with decision-making and making the right plays when they’re in game situations.
  6. Conditioning – This doesn’t mean your players need to run lines and sprints at all. Conditioning should be done within your drills, but make sure that the drills you are doing include conditioning aspects where your players get up and down the floor.

Every practice plan doesn’t have to follow the exact order above, but it should start with a warm-up. Warm-ups could include things like full-court dribbling, full court layups, or position breakdown. Just make sure it’s something that gets your players’ muscles loose for the rest of the practice.

Sample Basketball Practice Plan

As promised, here is a sample basketball practice plan you could use for your team.

Drill Start Time Drill Name Drill Description
2:30 Full-Court Dribbling Right hand, left hand, speed dribble, power dribble, two balls (below the kneeds, up high, machine gun, etc.)
2:35 Drive and Kick Shooting Lines on wings. Attack paint and float up or to the corner. Attack baseline and hit the baseline and then wing
2:40 Make A Move Layups Cones are placed at half court and the elbows. Players make moves at the cones and make a layup or jumpshot.
2:47 Diamond Shell (4-on-4) Have one man in the post following the ball w/ other shell principles
2:57 Zig-Zag D Go from Sideline to volleyball line. Beat your man to the spot, don’t cross feet, etc.
3:02 Brad Stevens Shooting Partner passes after each shot. Shot in corner, pump-fake 1 dribble shot, curl to wing for shot, flair from the elbow for shot, touch half court & shoot a 3 in transition
3:12 1-on-1 Cut Throat Defense starts under the basket and rolls the ball out to the offense. Then they play 1-on-1.
3:22 Star Passing Players line up at the 4 corners of half court. They dribble to the middle, pivot, then throw a pass
3:27 Motion Offense Work on Motion Offense
3:42 11 Man Fast Break 11 men on the floor. 2 defense on each side, 4 outlets, and 3 men playing offense.
3:55                      . 5-on-5 Scrimmage Go live and work on decision-making

As you can see, this practice plan encompasses the six facets that every practice should include. We warm up with some full court dribbling, shooting, and layup drills to get the muscles loose. Then we have individual skill development drills, drills to work on offense and defense, and full court drills that factor in conditioning. Then, we finish with five-on-five scrimmaging to work on decision-making in a live environment.

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