Practice checklist: Are you bringing energy and passion all the time?
By Greg Bach
Kim Barnes Arico stepped onto the University of Michigan campus four years ago and guided the women’s basketball team to a 22-win season, tying for most victories in school history.
What you see on Game Days from her teams – which have hit the 20-win mark in each of her first three seasons – is a product of the energy-fused practices she puts her teams through.
And it’s an approach that can pay big dividends with your teams, too.
“I think one of the most important things is for the coaches, every day, to come in energetic, enthusiastic and passionate about practice,” says Arico, who served as an assistant coach on the USA Basketball U19 women's team last year. “We are the ones who have to set the tone. You have to bring energy and be engaged all the time. You have to be enthusiastic with everything that you do.”
Do you want your team to learn and develop skills? Do you want your players arriving at your practices early because they can’t wait to be a part of the action? Then check out Arico’s tips for running practices that really make a difference.
DIAL UP THE INTENSITY
When setting up your practice drills it’s important to have a plan for what you want to accomplish with them; and also that they have a competitive element to them that keeps the kids engaged with the activity.
For example, simply shooting jump shots from a designated spot is boring for players, but if it involves a defender and 1-minute games to see who can score the most points then you’ve ratcheted up the drill’s competitiveness while making it more fun and much more productive.
“Everything we do is a competition so that way they feel like they are competing and trying to win every drill,” Arico says. “The drills need to be competitive with winners and losers. It keeps the kids engaged.”
KEEP ’EM MOVING
Boring lines are acceptable at amusement parks – not at youth basketball practices.
“I think it is important to go at a pace where there isn't a lot of standing around,” Arico says. “The pace of practice is super important so there is not any time to be bored or distracted.”
FIRE UP THE FUN
Sure, you hear it all the time how important it is for kids to have fun. But it’s a message that is worth repeating because it is the essence of sports, both at the youth level as well as on the collegiate courts.
“Having a coach who can get the best out of their players while still having fun is super important,” Arico says. “If kids aren't having fun, you are going to lose them.”
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Former college soccer midfielder and long-time youth coach Jillian Carroll on inspiring young athletes to work together and perform at their best on the field and in their lives
Former Stanford great Nicole Powell, head women’s basketball coach at Grand Canyon University, on creating team cultures where players genuinely care for and support each other