Creighton’s Practice Principles

There is an old adage that says, “you play the way you practice.” With that in mind let’s take a look at some practice principles.

• Do not give your team too much — keep it simple. (KISS Method)

• Have players stretch on their own — this saves time. If you are going to stretch, it should be done at the end of the practice session.

• Start the practice session with a dynamic warm-up routine.

• End practice on a positive note. Send them home happy.

• Vary the drills to prevent monotony. Have different drills that teach the same skills, and use drills that have several different fundamental skills within the drill.

• Make the drills competitive.

• Start and end practice on time.

• Use the clock.

• Do not run drills into the ground. Individual drills should be from 5 to 7 minutes in length and team drills should last no longer than 10 to 12 minutes.

• Teach new concepts early in the practice session when the players are fresh mentally.

• Repeat new concepts daily until the results are satisfactory — if that can ever be the case. Coach John Wooden said three of the most important teaching methods are repetition, repetition and more repetition.

• Follow hard, tough, physically taxing drills with less strenuous drills.

• Have free throw shooting drills after tough, physical drills.

• Make pass fakes and shot fakes a part of your drill situations.

• Spend time each day on overtime or special situations. Again, use the clock.

• Keep all the players active — do not allow players to stand around.

• Name the drills and make sure the players know the names of the drills.

• Basketball is a game of quickly changing situations — demand that your players move quickly from drill to drill.

• Involve your assistant coaches in practice planning, if at all possible.

• Provide each coach with a practice plan and have one posted for the players to view.

• If you cannot get it done in two and a half hours, you are not going to get it done.

• Shorten practice time as the season progresses.

• Utilize the whole-part-whole method of teaching.

• Present concepts to your team at their level of understanding. It is not how much you know but it is about how much you can get across to your team.

• The gym is your classroom — make sure everyone treats it as such.

• Run your practices the same way you coach in a game.

• Stress attention to detail — strive for excellenceand demand proper execution of the fundamentals.

• Explain to your team what the drills are going to accomplish. Tell them the WHY!

• Use the experienced players to demonstrate the skills and drills correctly.

• Teachable moments occur naturally during the practice session. Always look for the teachable moment.

• Assume your players know nothing. As a matter of fact, assume nothing.

• If a drill requires both offensive and defensive actions, explain both aspects. Do not let the players develop bad habits fundamentally, merely because you are emphasizing another fundamental skill.

• Stress offense one day and defense the next.

• Run your drills full court. Transition is a huge part of the game.

• Never condition at the end of practice. Build conditioning into all your drills. If you condition at the end of practice, the players will pace themselves, and save themselves for the conditioning. Make running a large and important part of ALL drills.

• When you do condition, put them on the clock, and use the basketball during conditioning.

• Remember, “tellin’ ain’t teachin’.”

• Shout praise and whisper criticism. Use both enthusiastic praise and constructive criticism.

• Make the practice drills as “game like” as possible.

In closing, it is important to remember – many times, “less is more.”

6 thoughts on “Creighton’s Practice Principles

  • January 11, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    41 years of coaching high school basketball your words of wisdom are right on the money!

    • January 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm


      Thanks you for the kind words! It is my hope to share information with other coaches!

      Let me know how I can better do this, if you would like to give us a good critique and suggestions.

  • January 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Hello…Where can I get some information on how to develope a point guard?


    • January 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm


      If you google “point guard development” you should find all kinds of information.

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  • January 3, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Your list of Practice Principles should be read by every coach, young and old. But if all young coaches read and followed this principles, they would end up being very successful “old” coaches someday.


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