Originally Posted by Rake2204
JMT's pretty much on the money with this one. But I have to be forward and admit it's not something I've quite mastered as a coach, though I'm much further along in that regard than I was when I began.
To be bluntly honest, even though I'd played basketball my entire life and even though I'd played for numerous systems and played a part in many practices, in the beginning as a coach I'd sometimes draw a blank as to what I should do with my team. As such, I would often wing it. It actually didn't work out too poorly, but it's clear that was a sign of an inexperienced coach. I can pinpoint inexperienced coaches myself now by watching their hesitancy between drills. I know darn well they just made up the next drill on the spot.
Anyway, I believe in having a plan but I also believe in being flexible (which may have been another way of saying to have a backup plan like JMT said). There actually was a fair amount of good to come out of my "wing it" approach in the respect that I was throwing out what I thought we needed at that point. So it's always good to have that ability. However, always good to lay down an initial plan. Not necessarily typed and proof-read. Just something.
This post squarely hits on where I'm at in this stage of my career. I'm currently still in college but "volunteering" at the high school my dad is a current assistant coach. He was the head coach there and another school for about 15 years before calling it quits. Then the school had to make some budget cuts and, unfortunately for the head-coach at the time who had only been there one year, was one of the faculty members they had to let go. So, they got my dad and an assistant football coach who used to be the junior high coach at the same time my dad was the senior high coach to take takeover. Anyway, since I want to be a coach they've let me come to practices when I can, and sit on the bench for games.
Moving on...the current head-coach is actually a very knowledgeable guy who really knows basketball. However, like at a lot of small schools (in Arkansas anyway) he has multiple coaching jobs. In the fall he's an assistant football coach and in the spring he's the head softball and junior high track coach. Meaning he coaches year round. I've noticed that at most practices he more or less "wings" it and the practices and players have seemed to struggle during games because of it. Comparatively speaking, this school has had the most talented team in the conference, and one of the two most talented teams in the region. Each year I feel neither team has ever fully lived up to its potential. They have won the regular conference championship by going 11-1. Last year, they lost in the district tournament finals which is just a conference postseason tournament, and lost in the regional tournament semi-finals. One of the reasons we lost in the district finals last year is because we were playing the second best team in the conference who just happened to also be the host school. We had a 16 point 3rd quarter lead and crumbled, losing by four.
This year, we rolled through the regular season again but lost in the district semi-finals by one in 2OT, to the host school. It didn't help that our 6'6" starting center got sick the day of the game and didn't play. But that's a bunch of excuses. I feel if we were adequately prepared we still should have won the district tournament and probably the regional tournament each of the last two seasons. We coasted through the regular season mostly because we were simply the most talented team. Instead of beating the bottom half of the league by 20-30 like we should have, we normally beat them by 10-20, and instead of beating the upper half of the league by 7-10, we normally squeaked out wins at home and on the road. We never worked on important things like late-game special situations, running offensive sets for repetition purposes, etc. and it usually showed in games as we would let early 4th quarter double-digit leads (even against the other top teams in the conference) turn into single digit nail-biters. It was especially frustrating this year seeing a team from our conference, who we beat by 25 and 15 in the regular season, win the regional tournament.
Basically, I said all of that to say this: I'm a firm believer in that having a well-planned minute-by-minute daily practice schedule is important. When I was in high school our coach always had a to-the-minute practice schedule and usually made 10-15 copies of it and put them in the locker room for us to look over before practice. In season we spent the last 30 minutes of practice running through our offensive sets dry and against the scout team, and did the same thing with our defense against the scout offense running our upcoming opponents sets and special plays, and ALWAYS had a gameday walk-through.
At the school I'm at now, though, we rarely did those things and never had a gameday walk-through. It has done nothing but reaffirm my belief of the fact that you can NEVER be over-prepared for a game. We were always adequately prepared in high school for our opponent and we had run our late quarter/half/game plays and special situations so much in practice that it was second nature in games. There's been rare occasions where I've been allowed to run a drill or go over something in practice the last two years with a day or two to prepare. I thought I knew enough to just go into the drill and wing-it which was a mistake. I quickly learned that if, as a coach, you can't confidently instruct a drill or go over something with your team, they will tune you out and not get the most out of practice.