Coaching is a very challenging job. However, this is not just not due to the nuts and bolts of the job itself. Truly, it’s not too difficult to memorize a playbook. Anyone can study up on conditioning drills. But, truly effective coaches must have people skills. They’ve got to keep their team’s interest throughout a long season of ups and downs. For coaches who work with young players, they also have a real responsibility to help them grow and develop properly. A big question for coaches of grade-school aged athletes can be when to introduce or change up drills.

Rotating drills can help keep practices interesting. It can also help keep players from getting complacent. Although all drills help build skills for basketball, different drills will help develop different muscle groups. For example, running forwards works muscles like the glutes and quads. Drills where players run backwards challenge other muscles like the calves. Running backwards is also typically easier on the knees. Mixing drills up can be an important part of helping players stay balanced in their physical development.

There are plenty of different types of drills to use in practices. Some emphasize teamwork and passing. Others may be more about conditioning. Still, more drills are all about pitting players against each other one-on-one. One strategy in selecting drills can be to change them depending on what players struggled with in a recent game. However, no coach wants to be entirely reactive. It’s important to stay proactive, as well. Basketball has plenty of room for innovation and personality. Drills can teach players new ways of relating to the game and making it their own.

When selecting drills for practice, it’s important to strike a balance. Players need to be able to master something and get truly comfortable with it before switching things up. It’s no good overloading them and expecting them to learn new drills each day. However, it’s not good to let them get stuck in a rut, either. Starting with a core of five or six drills and rotating them is a good plan. Adding more at mid-season can help keep practices fresh. This is particularly true at the middle school level. These younger players will be ready to learn some new skills and take their game to the next level.