Practice environment is important in creating a positive culture that carries over to games and off of the court. When your team has a positive practice environment you can feel the energy, camaraderie and enthusiasm from the players and throughout the gym. Vince Lombardi believed practices were so important that he said, “We win our games in practice. We learn and follow the fundamentals of our game better than anyone in our league. All of our games are won in practice.” Creating this environment will help you build better relationships with players and teammates and have more productive practices.
Minute meetings are a great way to build strong relationships with players, stop issues before they become a problem and have a better feel for your team. Minute meetings are typically done during pre-practice before practice officially begins. A coach can typically meet with 2-3 players before practice and the players can rotate daily. The meetings are typically casual and done on the court just checking in with the player about anything that comes up. It could be about basketball, home or school. If something comes up that needs more time to discuss then it can be taken care of at a different time.
The power of the high five, fist bump, chest bump or pat on the back is truly astounding. All of these actions help show trust and that you have your teammates back. A player who understood this was Steve Nash who was constantly giving teammates high fives. A study was done and showed that Steve Nash gave his teammates 239 touches in games. Whether a player makes a mistake, a good play or anything in between, touches create a positive environment. After a mistake, a high five can tell a player to move onto the next play and after a good play helps recognize the player for their effort and teammates for their part in the play. In another study from ESPN it was discussed how touches correlated to winning teams and good players.
Music adds energy to practice and puts players into a better mood. For a long time people have used music in the weight room or in small workouts, but more and more coaches have been including music into practices. How music is incorporated in practice is up to the coach. I have seen it played throughout the entire practice or only during certain parts of practice. Not only can music help pick up player energy, but it can help with players learning how to play and communicate in loud environments.
Use these tips during your practices and off-season workouts to create a positive environment. These are all great ways to keep your players engaged and looking forward to practice every day!