Welcome to new coaches
Dear new and junior coaches for the 2022-23 Koonung Comets Summer Season,
My name is Prue Ainsworth and I am the new General Manager for the Koonung Comets. I hope you are all having a great start to the new summer basketball season and have started the process of getting to know your teams.
I would like to start by extending a big thank you to you all for taking on the important and significant commitment of coaching junior basketball. The beginning of any season can have its challenges – meeting your new team, setting team expectations, and navigating your team through the grading phase (where there can be some very one-sided games early on). Hopefully as the weeks progress, things will settle into a good rhythm, and you will really enjoy the experience and see the positive impact you are having on our players. There are many different coaching styles to choose from and I encourage you to find one that works best for both you and your players. The main thing to remember is that when coaching domestic basketball, the primary objective is for all players to have a positive experience developing their basketball skills, where they all receive a fair amount of playing time during games.
Just to share a little bit about me, I have been coaching basketball for over 20 years now, starting when I was 12 years old. For the last 12 of those years, I have been coaching representative basketball at the Camberwell Dragons and during the coming 2022-23 season I will be coaching the girls U12.1 team. These days I primarily coach at the U12 level, however over the years I have coached boys and girls of all ages across school, domestic and representative competitions. This year I was also selected to work on the Basketball Victoria coaching team, coaching at the U12 and 14 skills days and as the head coach of a girls U12 Jamboree team.
Over this coming season, I plan to get out to meet as many of you as possible at trainings and games and start the process of getting to know you all. I plan to share my coaching knowledge and experience as widely as I can throughout the Koonung coaching and playing community, so please reach out directly if you would like some support early in the season. This could be in the form of sharing coaching plans or drills, demonstrating some drills at a training session, giving coaching support during part of a training session (and some follow-up tips if requested), providing support at a game or just having a general chat over the phone.
In the meantime, to help kick off your new season, here are a few tips for trainings and games that may be of use:
It can be a big help to have a training session planned out prior to the session. This gives you the opportunity to establish a focus for the session, helps to keep the session on track and prompts you when you can’t think of what to do next. A plan will maximise the training time and support your sessions to run smoothly.
The plan can be as simple as a sequence of 10 drills typed into your phone or written onto a piece of paper – whatever is easiest for you to read during a session. It does not need to be planned out minute by minute (although allowing around 5min for each drill is a good guide). It can also be helpful to plan a few additional drills in case the session runs faster than you expected.
Range of Drills
For domestic teams it is important to work on developing fundamental skills during training. This means that around 80% of drills should be based on developing individual skills and around 20% based on developing team skills. For example, you might choose to warm up with some dribbling, and then move into some competitive drills with a competitive focus (1 on 1, 2 on 1 etc), shooting and passing practice (all individual skill-based). Then you then might work on a team baseline play as your team-based component, or go through a scenario that you struggled with during the previous game to finish up.
It’s good to run training sessions in a way that ensures players are always busy and engaged, having little time to chat or be ‘silly’. The more players are involved and doing things, the less behavioural problems you will have. This may mean adding extra balls into a drill so that players are not standing around waiting for their turn, or limiting the length of drink breaks (30 sec – 1 min rather than 5 min). Having a training plan will also help the drills flow on from one another without disruptions in between.
It’s good to give players continual feedback throughout the game. It could be as simple as calling out for players to “find a player”, “spread out”, “dribble” “pass”.. If you are coaching a younger team, they will need reminding all the time in order for things to ‘click’… You will feel like a broken record, but eventually you will see results. These reminders during game play are valuable support for your team to stay focused and on the same page.
Try to limit your advice during time outs to 2 key points of focus. If you say too much, players will often just forget everything. For example, you could try communicating one thing for players to focus on during offence like “make sure you look up when dribbling so you can see the passing options. If a player is ahead and in a better position, pass them the ball”, and you could try communicating one thing for players to focus on during defence like “when it is the other team’s ball, make sure you quickly pick up a player each”. Time outs are also useful for changing up the tempo of the game. If the other team goes on a scoring run, try calling a time out to settle your players back down and regain their focus.
There will always be areas for improvement and feedback you will want to share with players. Whenever giving a player feedback, always try finish off the communication with something positive about their game play. For example “Jo, your rebound was fantastic, but remember to look ahead for the pass up the court because Bailey was open. Well done for going in so hard after the ball though – fantastic work!”
Best of luck to you all for the season ahead and thank you once again for all the time and energy you are devoting to helping your players develop and enjoy the great game of basketball. Again, please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can help to support you in your coaching journey this season. I will be developing some coaching resources and scheduling a development session for our new Comets coaches in the coming weeks, so if I don’t meet you beforehand, I hope to see many of you there.