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Deliberate Practice

Putting Magic Into Practice

There are some drills that are just magic.

You wish all drills were, but there are some that do such a good job of building skill that you can’t help but love them.

Let me explain what I mean.

At our school, one of the basketball coaches wants the players to do a four-foot shooting drill the minute they come into the gym. This drill consists of: taking four-foot shots, retrieving the ball as quickly as possible; turning and facing the basket; and then shooting again. If done properly, the drill works on shooting, rebounding, quickness and footwork. Not bad for a pre-practice activity.

One day I told the players, “This drill is magic. If you do it right, it will work magic in two ways. First, it will make you a better player. Second, it will help show me who is serious about becoming a player.”

No matter what the sport, chances are that there is some drill just like the four-foot shooting drill in basketball. Here are some qualities of a good magic drill.

1. It should be as gamelike as possible.
2. It should incorporate fundamentals.
3. It should be simple to present, to demonstrate and to execute.
4. It should allow for many repetitions in a short period of time.
5. It should be able to be done by the athletes without much help from coaches.

Besides building skill and telling us which players are serious about improving, the four-foot shooting drill gives us a reference point during games. Whether it’s our player or an opponent taking a four-foot shot, we can point to it and say either, “See, that player made his/her four-foot shot. That’s why we practice it,” or, “See, that player did not make his/her four-footer.”

Make sure that there are some magic drills going on in your gym.

You can contact Coach Tully at coachtully@totalgameplan.com


One comment for “Putting Magic Into Practice”

  1. Come to think of it, practicing four foot shots is exactly like practicing four foot putts. If you can always sink them, you’re way ahead of the game.

    Posted by Peter Hirsch | January 8, 2009, 9:18 am

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