Just a couple of days ago, I had the fortune of watching Coach TJ Rosene’s first practice for the 2016-17 season. Coach Rosene is the head men’s coach of the Emmanuel College Lions basketball team as well as Director of Coach Development at PGC Basketball.
Instead of trying to remember or diagram and note every drill (even though they were very good drills), I decided to look for the HOW’s and WHY’s of his practice plan.
- HOW does he implement, teach and train whatever it is that he does?
- WHY does he do what he does?
First, I noticed that every time there was a change to something different, Coach Rosene would:
- Tell them what they are going to do,
- Tell them why they are doing it,
- Walk through a correct example for those who are visual learners,
- Keep the above three things very short, and
- Spend most of the time training.
It struck me that this was calculated. I know that Coach Rosene can talk in depth and at length on any aspect of basketball. But he was intentionally keeping his teaching as short and sweet as possible. Why? I’m speculating, but I believe that even college players have a limited attention span. We would all do well to rehearse our teaching time in practice until it is concise.
This meant that his training time was much larger than his teaching time. The lion’s share (no pun intended) of practice was spent with bodies moving and shoes squeaking. That’s the way habits are formed. Repetition is king and there are no reps when my lips are moving and players are just standing and listening.
The second thing I noticed was how each segment of practice had one main focal point. Of course, most drills and other things we do in basketball practice have two or three purposes. But Coach Rosene made it clear what the main thing was during each segment of practice. I don’t know whether this was calculated or natural on his part, but regardless, I found it very easy to follow what he wanted done during each segment of practice. If instructions are clear and simple, players have less anxiety and can work decisively and aggressively.
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The third thing I noticed was the consistent energy level of the team. I think this was due to the efficient balance between teaching and training. The players knew when to “go” and when to recover. When they trained, they were not interrupted every 10 seconds with a correction. And being the first day of practice, there were many times Coach Rosene could have stopped and taught and made corrections. But these were kept to a minimum with good results.
As I drove home, my mind gravitated towards these two thoughts:
- Focus on the quality of teaching versus quantity of teaching.
- Find the optimum ratio of teaching vs training. This creates balance.
- Focus on the main thing in each segment and be able to clearly articulate it.
- Make all segments fit into one consistent theme.
These things I observed and learned from Coach Rosene would turn any good practice plan into an exceptional practice plan.
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