Coaching is all about taking players to somewhere they haven't been. Moving them beyond where they were yesterday.
Our approach is to begin each practice with what we call our FIRST 5. This is typically done before the players are warmed up and ready to begin the physical work. Personally, I like to have them sit together by a whiteboard if available. I might ask some questions, present a principle, discuss a system. Very often, I will include a general life-lesson that is applicable beyond the court, and follow it up with something sport specific that we want to work on that day.
There are no hard rules around this, as it is where the coaches personal style, stories, experience, stage of the season and so on, can dictate the topic.
Early season First 5 topics might be more oriented to team culture, priorities, targets, basic systems, and coming together as a team. Later in the season it can change to things like leadership, optimal arousal, peaking and fine-tuning of the team systems. The list is extensive on what you can choose to highlight.
Don't Rush to Reps
We don't need to rush into repetitions. While practice time is precious, there are things that are just as important as drills and reps.
First, it is about intention. Players are smart and we need to let them into our thinking. If they don't know what to focus on that practice, or what our intention of the time together is, how do we expect them to get the most out of each practice? If we go to work, we need to know what we are focused on accomplishing that day.
Second, we need to set our minds right before getting into the physical work together. By challenging each player to have a season's best practice before we start, we get better effort from them. By discussing the importance of positive body language first, we see it translate on the court. By discussing the importance of speaking up and clear communication on the court, we will have a louder practice. By highlighting bright spots, or areas of concern, from a previous competition players can focus on those critical areas.
Whether you focus on a physical, mental or emotional component in your First 5, the goal of every practice should be to MOVE THE TEAM forward in some way.
Try adding a "First 5" to your practices and let us know what you think! Or share your method of setting your teams intention at practice.