Making a Training Session more Game Realistic: Advanced Tactics

By practicing at game pace allows players to make better decisions more often in games (Photo Source: Robert Young)
By practicing at game pace allows players to make better decisions more often in games (Photo Source: Robert Young)

A Training Session is the breeding ground for a team’s success in the sport of basketball. Both in individual focused or team based sessions having the right mixture of pace and speed is vital for creating pressure and realism. No matter what type of training session it is, pace and speed must feature as part of summative drills for each section.


If you do include drills or tactical breakdowns, which incorporate a strong component of pace and speed then players will not practice under game like conditions. For this reason, coaches must be very focused around creating a series of drills that culminate in a final activity that incorporates a high degree of choice to help a player’s decision-making. This situation though, is only half as effective, if not practiced under the conditions of speed being incorporated into the drill to make this more game realistic.


Another challenge for coaches is when managing the implementation of a drill is they often focus on the perfect performance of the technical or tactical skills, rather than demanding that the activity is to be performed at a game-pace. Deciding on the right balance of speed and execution is very important to not only ensure the drill is game realistic, but also satisfies the need for the players to develop and become more competent in performing a range of tactics. Having players who are able to perform an activity in absence of speed or pace is a mirage in regards to the efficiency and effectiveness of a team’s tactics. Only through incorporating pressure and challenges concerned with game-paced activities will player truly benefit from the experiences incurred during each drill.


When looking at a training session there are a number of different sections in practice to ensure a wide range of technical and tactical skills are covered. In all of these sections, the final drill or activity should look to incorporate speed and pace. It does not matter if we are discussing the section of a training session concerning individual player skill development or tactical skill development all sessions must finish with a game like scenario. This means that at least twenty to thirty precent of a training session should be concerned with game-paced activities.


One of the key features of incorporating more game-paced activities into a training session will be the improved effectiveness of decision-making. The key points which underline the development of this attribute, will need to be patience demonstrate by the coach. Without a coach who is able to live with less polished training session performances initially in lieu of more effective tactical play will reap the rewards of this strategy in games. For players will be able to make better choices and the right choice more often during the hustle and pressure of an actual game.


By also choosing this tactic coaches will inevitably reduce the amount of time specifically focused on limited form based drills that look at the performance of skills in 1 v 0 situations or non-competitive settings. These drills will be replaced with more competitive and goal specific drills and activities. All of which will encourage players to be able to use the different skill techniques they have learned in a functional way, not just performing the skill technically perfect, but still tactical flawed.


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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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