Do You Run "Situations" as Part of Your Daily Practice Plan?

By Ken Sartini
There is a little story that goes with running "situations". Our AD had given me several coaching magazines (guess he figured I needed them). I was the sophomore coach at the time. I was reading through one and came across the Flex Offense, my team needed some help and a fresh look. I put this in and had a lot of success with it. I think we were the first team in our area to run this because no one figured out how to defend it.

I kept those magazines and when I was appointed the varsity coach I happened to be reading another one and came across an article about running situations at practices. (I wish it was my idea but I cant take the credit for that one.) It listed maybe a dozen different scenarios and advising coaches to make up more of their own. I cut it out and copied the small part of the article with his scenarios. I gave one to each of my coaches and laminated mine. From that day on we ran them at the end of every practice.

The kids loved these "mini games".... they looked forward to it every day. It was a fun way to end practice, while teaching them how to handle different game situations. I added more of my own to keep them fresh. The one thing that really helped was that IF we handled something poorly in the past game IT would be the "situation" of the day. We would run 2-3 situations and that became a great teaching tool for me and the kids.

I would usually let them run the situation without any of my input to see how they would handle it. Then we would talk about how they handled it and the importance of each situation and run it again.

OK, I rambled enough here.... so this is my suggestion for basketball coaches:
  1. Make a list of several "situations" to choose from and run at the end of each practice.

  2. Pick and choose a couple each day (as a part of your daily practice plan).

  3. After a game IF something was handled poorly add that to your next day's practice plan.

  4. Time on the clock, where the ball is taken out, the score, foul situation, who has possession are all things that you can change to make your own "situation."

  5. IF you feel like practice isn't going well and you need to spice it up a bit, throw in a situation to recharge their batteries.
This is a great way to end practice, kids love competition and then they look forward to practicing tomorrow. They learn HOW to handle situations and YOU learn what they are capable of doing.

What do you think? Do you run "situations" in practice? Leave your comments below...

Coaching Resources

How To Win at the End - Volume 1 - Over 35 situational end of game plays.

How To Win at the End - Volume 2 - Over 45 situational end of game plays for different situations than Volume 1.

Tempo Control & Delay Sets - Control the game and protect the lead with 12 different sets to choose from.


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Coach Osborne says:
10/12/2009 at 12:20:11 PM

I also think that situations are a must every practice for all the reasons mentioned above. However, I also think that it can be a great time for the Varsity coach to work with players other than varisty players. Instead of having Varsity vs. JV in situations with the Varsity coaching helping his players and JV coach with his, switch every once in a while. This allows for the Varisty coach to really connect with some kids that will be very important to his team in a couple of years. It also helps to boost the perception and authority of the JV coach. And sometimes, from coaching with a different perspective, the coaches will discover something entirely new and even better that they may have missed before!


Coach C says:
9/15/2009 at 9:51:07 PM

I absolutely agree with practicing situations. I think this can help players feel more comfortable during the game.


Andy Crane says:
9/15/2009 at 8:31:04 PM

Another thought I had involves avoiding getting beat on a long hail mary shot at the buzzer when your opponent has it out under your hoop and has to go the length of the floor to beat you. Coaches need to realize that by doubling the initial receiver after the inbounds and chasing the ball out of their hands they''ve done their job. It''s much easier to measure the rim on a half court shot when a player is dribbling into that shot versus when they have to catch a pass, turn their body and then shoot. Another key point here is the time. From an offensive standpoint you must tell your kids that every dribble is one second off the clock. If the clock is 1.3 seconds or less we go with no dribble. If we have between 1.4 and 1.9 we allow one dribble but the closer we are to 1.4 we have to be going at a higher rate of speed on the catch. If you want to reference this rule, check out youtube and watch Devin Harris'' buzzer beater with 1.3 seconds left. If you notice, Harris is streaking down the sideline at full speed on the catch and he BARELY sneaks in 1 dribble. Obviously this was an exception to our rule, however it was dangerously close to not counting. So in order to be on the safe side we use 1.3 seconds as our reference for not taking a dribble.


Andy Crane says:
9/15/2009 at 8:12:41 PM

Going over situations ahead of time in practice is a must. If you're not preparing for late clock situations then you're going to be scrambling in the huddle with roughly 60 or 30 seconds to get your point across. Every team needs to practice defending on the last play of the game in a full-court setting, halfcourt setting, from out of bounds underneath, and on the sideline. You need to practice situations where you will need to foul as well as situations where you will be getting fouled. At the high school level, practicing a delay game is essential since there's no shot clock that comes into play. It's amazing to me how many times I will be watching a game and a team will lose the game because of a mis-managed late clock situation. Sureness with the basketball and sound decision making are also essential late in the game. We drill everyday in practice with our kids for sureness with the ball. As a coach, you need to have plays for both out of bounds situations and live ball situations in order to assure that you're prepared for everything. Coaching is about constant memorization, teaching and emphasizing. If you're not prepared to get the desired execution from your team down the stretch than you're prepared to lose!

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