Just a couple of days ago, I had the fortune of watching Coach TJ Rosene’s first practice for the 2016-2017 season. Coach Rosene is the head men’s coach of the Emmanuel College Lions basketball team. Not everyone may be familiar with Coach Rosene, but his teams through the years have been featured on Better Basketball videos and he has enjoyed tremendous success at Emmanuel College. In addition to coaching at Emmanuel College, Coach Rosene also serves as the Director of Coach Development for PGC Basketball. Coach Rosene is also one of the two hosts of The Hardwood Hustle podcast. If you are not a subscriber, this podcast is a MUST for coaches.
Instead of trying to remember or diagram and note every drill (even though they were very good drills!) I decided to look for the HOWs and WHYs of his practice plan.
HOW does he implement, teach and train whatever it is he does?
WHY does he do what he does?
First, I noticed that every time there was a change to a different drill or activity in the practice, Coach Rosene would:
1. Tell the players WHAT they were going to do.
2. Tell the players WHY they were going to do it.
3. Walk through a correct EXAMPLE for those of the players that were visual learners.
4. Keep the above 3 items very short.
5. Spend most of his 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. Be 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 before practice until it is concise as possible during practice.
This meant that his TRAINING time was much longer than his TEACHING time. The lion’s share (no pun intended) of practice was spent with bodies moving and basketball shoes squeaking. That’s the way HABITS are formed. Repetition is king, and there are no reps when the coach’s lips are moving and players are standing and listening.
Secondly, I noticed how each segment of practice had ONE MAIN FOCAL POINT. Of course, most drills and most of the game rehearsals we do in 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 to get done during each segment of practice. If instructions are clear and simple, players have less anxiety and can work decisively and aggressively.
Finally, I noticed 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 knew when to recover. When they trained, they were not interrupted every 10 seconds with a correction. Being the first day of practice, there were many times that 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 toward these final thoughts:
- Focus on the QUALITY of teaching versus QUANTITY of teaching.
- Find the optimum ration of TEACHING vs TRAINING. This creates balance.
- Focus on the ONE MAIN THING in each practice segment, and be able to clearly articulate your ONE MAIN THING.
- Make all of the segments fit into one consistent theme.
Those are the practice habits that I observed and, hopefully, learned. Adopting these habits as a coach would turn any good practice plan into an exceptional practice plan! – Rick