Saturday, November 17, 2012

Correction Practices

75 FGA (Goal-90)  (We also shot 39 FTs)
41 Threes (Goal- Get half our shots from the arc)
32% ORBs (Goal- Rebound 40% of our missed shots)
25 TOs Forced (Goal- Force 33 turnovers)
+0 Shot Differential (Goal- Get 15 more shots than the opponent

Given how much we have to learn this time of year, it would be nice if the other distractions were kept to a minimum for our first game.  Unfortunately that was not the case last night.  With five of our eighteen players in street clothes, it was a challenge to put the shift chart together, but despite some rough patches, we survived!

The game was close through much of the first half, but after leading 38-37 with about six minutes to go, we had a "reverse meltdown" (we got tired and let the opponent go on a run).  The run continued into the second half and we fell behind by 30, 81-51.  Then we went on a run ourselves to lose by 12.  It could have been worse, but it was nice to finish the game on an upswing. 

One thing that struck me as odd was how the other coach seemed to be concerned that his team might actually score 100... as if we'd care!  That was thoughtful of him, but 100 is just a number, and for a System team, it's "Live by the sword, die by the sword."

The other interesting thing was the write-up on the NCC athletics website, noting we had just scored the 4th highest total in school history, 84 points!  Ironically, I was thinking after the game, "Our offense sure needs a lot of work," so that website note put things in perspective.  But we'll be fine, and when we get the squad back to full strength in the next week or so, we should see a lot of improvement.

After getting home, I stuck the DVD in and watched until I got tired (it's hard to sleep after a game anyway).  My usual routine is:
  • Use a legal pad as I watch the game, and jot down the name of the player and what they need to be corrected on ("Shelly- ORB rule!"  or "Dana-Rotate to lag on 55 press", etc, etc.)
  • Sometimes, instead of writing a name down,  if there's something that everyone at a position needs to hear I'll write the number of that position ("1s-Attack the rim!" or "5s-Play 'Cat&Mouse' defense when high post catches a pass.")  If the whole team needs to be more aware of something, I'll write something like: "All-Get excited when we hit two threes in a row!"
  • I'll then transfer my notes to a spreadsheet, inserting a player name (or positon number, or "All") into column A on the spreadsheet, and the comment/correction into column B.  After inputting all the information, I can then simply use the "Sort" function for column A, and all my notes to a particular player (or position) will then be grouped together.  Print it, and hand out these targetted notes to the team. 

We still watch some of the game video, but this process of handing out targetted notes actually is a much more efficient way to pass along info to players, because as you know, watching game film can be somewhat random, even when you can use technology to "cut and splice" the DVD. 

Using this process, you'll develop a very good overall feel for what your team is doing well... and what it isn't.  We then will often follow up the next day by having a different kind of practice.  We call these "Correction Practices."  Rather than doing our normal routine, we'll just warmup, shoot threes, and then walk or run through the major situations we need to improve on. 

The mistake we make as coaches, I think, is that we drill too much and emphasize too little. Drilling without understanding or attention to detail can actually be counterproductive. So, go ahead and use the drills to provide a structural format, but after setting up the drill take a minute to really emphasize the concept or technique they need to improve.

For example, on Monday, our team will need to work on their press pickups.  Our players were not getting matched up quickly after a score last night, so we'll "walk & talk" through that situation, then possibly go live for just a few reps to make sure they have the idea. 

In  our normal practices, of course, we are doing in-depth work on one specific situation (Zone attack, Fast break after a score, Missed shot press, etc), but in a Correction Practice we might work on anything, and the emphasis is more on improving our understanding as opposed to improving our game-speed skills. Typically, we will do about one of these Correction Practices each week. It's also a nice way to rest their legs after a hard game.

As some coach once said, "It's not what you say, it's what you emphasize that matters to players."  By using this approach to team development, imagine how many small details and points of execution you can improve on throughout the course of a season!

That's one reason why most System teams see a quantum leap in their development about halfway through the year.  At some point, all these little things come together.  That's when the light bulb goes on.

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