Playing at Pace

This post is from an email I sent to colleagues at Basketball New Brunswick following our first CP Atlantic training POD on Sunday October 3, 2010.

We had our first CP session last weekend. To be honest I headed into the session a little unmotivated. As is always the case, we didn’t have some players in the program this year that should be and to top it off a few of the better players we selected were missing due to conflicts with fall sports. However, I came away from Sunday’s sessions with a renewed interested as I think we may have found a winning formula for this program.

First factor was making the sessions more competitive. At the technical meeting in Winnipeg following Nationals, Rich Chambers from BC indicated he creates teams within his CP group and the teams compete in “Leagues”. for example they might have a Fast Break league, shooting league, half-court offense league, etc. During the drills players are not only learning skills and/or concepts but are also competing, trying to earn points for their team at the same time.

The second factor was that Basketball New Brunswick has indicated that their top priority from a elite development perspective was to get players playing at pace. To me this meant our drills, or at least the reps within the drills, needed to be done at a pace they would be facing at a National competition.

On Sunday we still did a few “learning drills” that were slow paced to allow guys to work on mechanics and for coaches to correct flaws, but for the most part we ran drills where the players were racing against the clock, competing against an opponent and there was the pressure of trying to help the team win. The interesting point was that suddenly shooting percentages started to reflect those we are seeing with our provincial teams. This was the case even when there was no defender. For example, we ran a full court shooting drill where each player had to sprint full court, shoot an elbow jumper, sprint again, do another elbow jumper, etc. Each player had to shoot 4 jumpers per rep. Since they were racing against another team at the same time players were forced run full speed. Slowing done to save energy wasn’t an option because they would lose the contest and not get points for their team.

We finished up the day with a full court 3-on-3 scrimmage using an eight second shot clock. Games were three minutes. Players were asked to use the transition concepts presented earlier in the day but other than that were allowed to play however they wanted. As the games progressed the players (with a little encouragement from the coaches) started to pressure the ball a little more trying to kill seconds off the clock while at the same time the offensive players started to realizes two things; the importance of shooting open shots instead of dribbling with no purpose; and getting out quickly so the defense can’t setup.

These changes were subtle and we still saw too much 1-on-1 and players not finishing off makeable shots, but from my perspective the players made strides in the right direction. We are going to continue with the theme of “play at pace” in most of our drills. This might mean a few less reps per player each session (i.e. less teaching drills) but I think the overall results will be better for the players long term.

Our next session is Oct. 17 at KVHS. It will focus on mid-clock, half court concepts (pass-cut-fill, circle movement, attack moves, etc.). I’ll let you know how it goes.