How to Plan Individual Practice Stations for Basketball

Individual Stations Develop and Reinforce Skills

Coach using digital tablet with basketball team during practice in gym
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A major part of a basketball coach's job, whether it be on a youth level, middle school, or high school is skill development. Skills can be developed through individual drills, individualized practice sessions, small group work, and scrimmages. Many youth coaches have high numbers of players to coach and very small numbers of assistants. How can you teach and reinforce skills and make sure individual attention is given to large numbers of players, not to mention turn the numbers in your favor?

An effective method of instruction, reinforcement, and practice is to include small group station work as an integral part of a practice plan. If you have a gym with five baskets, you can utilize five stations consisting of small groups of players. Each station focuses on one particular skill or groups of related skills. Even if you have fewer baskets, you can still utilize stations that stress skills where a basket isn't needed, like a sliding and defensive position station or a passing station. Stations help break teams into small groups, provide for peer coaching opportunities, and allow coaches to break skills down for small groups and reinforce them through individualized attention.

Players can be paired off in small groups to work on team drills, like three on three offense and defense, or work in pairs for two player shooting, dribbling under pressure, or one on one contests. Breaking players into small groups leads to good communication skills among players, peer coaching, team work, and allows you to work on several skills at one time.

15-Minute Practice Station Plan

An example of a 15 minute station plan might look like this:

Station 1: 3 minutes - Two player shooting
Station II: 3 minutes -Three player passing
Station III: 3 minutes - Defensive rebounding and boxing out
Station IV: 3 minutes - Pick and roll defense
Station V: 3 minutes - Foul shooting

Players rotate to the next station every 3 minutes. This way, you can cover 5 skills in 15 minutes. Players can be grouped by positions (i.e. guards together, forwards together, and post players together). You can also group players by ability and keep your higher level players together, lower level players together, or you can mix them up so that one of the better players is placed into each group to act as a peer coach.

The Benefits of Working in Small Groups

Placing players in small groups together for short periods of time accomplishes many things:

  • It helps develop team work
  • It helps develop leadership and communication skills
  • It keeps practice moving at a rapid pace and develops conditioning
  • It gives players a chance to work on a variety of skills in a short period of time, receive immediate feedback, and learn from others.
  • It can help with team chemistry

Practice is like a classroom consisting of many activities. Scrimmaging, special situation work, skill development, strategy sessions, and physical conditioning are all extremely. It is hard to pay full attention to every aspect at a regular practice. Dividing players into small, intensive work groups in skill stations enhances a coach's ability to teach, practice, and reinforce many skills in a short period of time and keep practice interesting.