Training Session Planning

When coaches first start out in coaching one area of great concern is the training session planning. This is one of the highlighted important aspects of developmental coaching. For senior coaches who meet with their players on a daily basis (sometimes even more than one session) training session planning takes on another role as a tool for revision and evaluation on a professional management level.


Functional Basketball Coaching recommends a number of basic key stages which should be included in any training session. We will examine these stages in brief for you now.


The mandatory elements of a training session include:


  1. Session Details
  2. Staff Roles
  3. Session Objectives
  4. Pre Session Team Meeting
  5. Warm-up
  6. Individual Skill/Technical Development
  7. Team/Tactical Development
  8. Game Development
  9. Conditioning
  10. Cool-Down
  11. Team Debrief
  12. Staff Meeting


These stages with your training session planning will keep you on track and allow you to use your time most effectively. You will often hear coaches state that this preparation is only needed initially when developing your coaching craft. At Functional Basketball Coaching we would disagree with this statement and suggest that this lack of preparation only serves to create inefficiencies in practice and time management.


Session Details are important because they will help order your training session planning records. This information should include title, date, time, location and coaches. You can also include in this section a table or check tool to record team members who attended the training session.


The Staff Roles section of your session plan should highlight any specific activities or duties you require your staff to undertake. An example of these activities might include that you want your assistant coach to run the second team against you and the starting five.


Session Objectives are the outcomes you want from the training session. Heading into a training session stating we want to become better is not specific enough. Focus in tight on small aspects you would like to see improvement on within your team or individuals. In this way you can reflect during future session on this time and bring the small things to the attention of the team members. In this way we keep focused and build upon each moment to be better in the next.


Within your Pre-Session Team Meeting this is the time to set the scene for your training session. It does not matter if you are coaching junior athletes or senior athletes it is always worthwhile meeting with your team members to outline what will be happening in the session and what the expectations will be.


The Warm-Up stage should focus around low intensity aerobic activity leading into dynamic stretching. A key opportunity is often overlooked here where coaches utilise activities in isolation to sports specific movements or skill development activities. Sports specific drills can be utilised during this stage of the session but at a low intensity.


Individual Skill/Technical Development is where the individual skills of athletes are honed and focused on. It is here where fundamental skill technique and form can be introduced, practiced and mastered. Remember to allow time for mistakes to be made by your athletes. They should feel like they are allowed to make mistakes and be supported through the initial stages of the motor skill development. With advanced to elite athletes they still need the assurance of being the ultimate beneficiary of hard practices and tough inter-team competition.


We move through individual focused activities onto those that link individuals to team play in the Team/Tactical Development. This is where we start to see activities like 2 v 2, 3 v 3, 4 v 4. Variations of advantages for the offensive or defensive teams are also utilised often in these parts of the training session. Examples of these include 4 v 3 drills and scenarios. These activities focus on the building of good habits for the players within your team. They form the underlying aspects of how you want to play.


Game Development is where we bring it all together. Here is where we facilitate the opportunities for our athletes to develop 5 v 5 knowledge of how to play the game. A common negative trait displayed by coaches in this stage is the inability to allow players to play. Your athletes need time to again make mistakes and learn. Avoid stopping the flow of the 5 v 5 activities every mistake or break in the play. It will be beneficial and a must for your team to play multiple possession in a row.


Conditioning stage of your sessions for senior teams can be as vital as any other. Being physically able to compete at the highest possible level in basketball is one of the aspects that coaches must focus on to maintain a competitive level competition within their team. Having players who are able to perform under fatigue is vital for success in elite forms of the sport. For younger athletes often conditioning can be performed in conjunction with any of the earlier training stages focused on technical, tactical or team activities. This is encouraged as younger athletes need more time working with the basketball specific skills then conditioning as a general rule.


Light aerobic activity followed by static stretching (individual or partner) in the Cool-Down stage. This is a good time to find out about any issues your athletes are having such as ongoing issues. It is during this time when you can approach athletes to see how their recovery is going to evaluate their ability to play.


The Team Debrief can be done at the same time as the Cool-Down. Simply have the athletes form a circle to complete their stretches while holding the team discussion. During the debrief it is a good opportunity for staff and athletes to discuss any issues from the session, review the key teaching points of the session and provide any direction in regards to administrative information such as game times, etc.


The final stage is vital for the improvement of staff in their delivery to better coaching from session to session, day to day and week to week. The Staff Meeting is important as it gives time for staff members to communicate specifically about the training session. Staff can discuss what went well, what didn’t work and what might be changed so next time a better outcome for the group can be achieved.


Need some further assistance? Why not contact us at Functional Basketball Coaching for further information.

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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