Written by Scott Bauman

There is that buzz starting to generate again. The first few NBA preseason games have occurred. The WNBA finals are currently locked (1-1) in the series. And college basketball has officially started to practice, even for some states that are privileged, high schools too – I’m not bitter. This week in #52WeekCoaching is to #WeekOne and #Tryouts.

With basketball beginning for many, there is a lot of conversation circulating on social media. Be sure to chime-in to some of these great threads percolating from coaches seeking dialogue over the first couple of weeks of practice.

Our Priorities

#WeekOne for our program is to implement foundational concepts – scheme and culture.

Our #Tryouts intend to evaluate: Aptitude – Ability – Communication – Resolve

Through 3 Applications:

  1. Install Elements of Practice Structure & Terminology
  2. Live Play – 3v3 on a Half-Court & 4v4 or 5v5 (Pending Numbers) Full-Court
  3. Challenging Competitiveness and Conditioning

During Tryouts & First Week of Practices:

  • Develop Pre-Practice Routines
    • Dynamic Warmups
    • 2 Different Pre-Practices
  • Style of Play & Standards
    • Full Court Defensively into Packline Principles
    • Pace-of-Play in Transition with Emphasis on Shot Selection
    • Punctuality is Paramount (15 Minutes Early)
    • Always Together
      • (“Echo” Drills / “Stay Down” Pick Each Other Up / Arm & Arm to Finish)
  • Early Adoption & Emphasis on “Our Language”
  • Compete – Create Separation
    • Identifying Roles
    • Be Different by Details Against Our Future Competition

Coaches never say we are going to be at our best by October or November. The challenge is to take advantage of the early days. Programs all over the country have their own intrinsic issues to deal with it – could be due to numbers, gym time, or otherwise. Resolutions can come from leadership to stay focused and efficiency to find productivity in the time allotted.

Early part of the season brings a mix of returners and fresh-faces.

“If you know, teach. If it is new, ask or observe.”

The first week is expected to be full of mistakes. Better teams find ways to adapt earlier than others, collectively.

“Don’t freeze, fix it.”


Here are a few drills that we will look to implement within our first week. Above are some aforementioned concepts we look to install by #WeekOne:

  • Full-Court Mentality
  • Pace-of-Play
  • Terminology & Standards

“Dayton Shooting” – Goal is 100

6 Lines. The ball starts from both the right-hand corner spots. We work on advancing the ball (“Fly It Up”) prior to halfcourt and footwork in transition prior to attacking the rim, as the ball will come back to the original passer. This is a progressive drill that will eventually time at 4 minutes running clock working the right and left-hand side with jump shots following lay-ups. It can be a great tool to enable communication per transitioning within the drill and game elements. Typically we set a goal for 100 makes.

Hockey – 4v4 (Plus 4v4)

This is a drill with a larger team or high numbers during tryouts. Split into two teams of 8 or 10 depending on how many total playing. Start 4v4 on a halfcourt with the two other groups of 4 on respective baselines. If a team scores, they stay on the floor to defend against the new group of 4 coming from the baseline that had been waiting. If there are multiple trips of missed shots, turnovers, or bad basketball; we will blow the whistle and two new groups from both baselines sprint onto the floor to play. This is a great way to get everyone involved while incorporating conditioning, communication, and transition as the new team from the baseline should have an advantage.

Partner and Ball 

We will work a variety of concepts with this drill. Offensively we are still looking to instill habits in transition, while incorporating an immediate defensive presence full-court after a made basket. To finish, we apply our terminology for a defender trailing in transition called “Wolf,” to communicate to the ballhandler someone is behind him.

1 Minute Drill Conditioning (2x)

This is a drill taken from Belmont’s Coach Casey Alexander. Following practice the team will partner up on the baseline with 1-minute placed on the clock. The group running goes the full length of the court, while his teammate is counting the number of trips they make during the minute. This can be up to the discretion of the coach, but initially there is not a target number of lines athletes are expected to make within a minute. Each player will run twice challenging them to sustain a similar pace despite possible fatigue. The objective is to set a benchmark for where they are at the beginning of the season to how well they stay in shape throughout the course of the year. This is in addition to challenging them mentally to fight the noise between their ears and push beyond where they initially perceive as their limits.

Our tryouts will not be wasted on stationed skill-work to determine who can do what at comfortable speeds. Every state is different. Every coach is different based on level and regulations to follow, but we open up December 2nd with tryouts and are expected to compete in our first official game of the season by December 12th.

In the grand scheme of the season, every day is vital. And our objective is to take advantage of each one. The opening weeks are paramount to setting standards, cultivating buy-in, and giving a sense of direction for the season.


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