What makes up great practice? We can imagine great intensity, tempo, focus, and positive attitude with poor execution and little progress.
In The 21st Century Basketball Practice, Brian McCormick offers three questions (my annotation in parentheses):
1. Are my practices designed to develop the global player? (Create positionless play)
2. Do I practice the perceptions and actions together or isolate the actions? (Each player is king; decide and execute)
3. Can my players adapt their technique to changing demands? (Popovich's competition, fundamentals and adaptability)
Within this context, how can we ensure quality control of content and operations? Atul Gawande, a Boston surgeon, hired a senior consultant to watch him operate. A plastic surgeon recently told me about plastic surgery techniques designed to reduce operating time, a major cost input for patients.
Having a coaching advisor or mentor would be analogous. We want practice to improve our team's CFA (competitiveness, fundamentals, adaptability). Of course, for some that means surrendering some ego, acknowledging that others might also have experience, judgment, and knowledge. Some people can't make that leap.
Attention to detail begins with preparation. The preparation can include new reading (like McCormick's books) as well as step-by-step practice schedule format. "Pound the rock" in Popovich-speak.
Players need clarity. It matters only what players understand, not what I teach. Coach George Raveling would say, "what is not learned has not been taught."
Communication includes feedback. Ask players to to explain what I just said as simply as they can. "See one, do one, teach one."
Practice stimulates competition and allows players to see their own progress and their achievement relative to their peers. Their notebooks allow them to record gains and needs.
Conditioning can proceed within practice segments. Transition offense and defense are obvious, but controlled scrimmages (offense-defense-offense) out of free throws, BOBs, and SLOBs initiate transition sequences. Shooting drills can incorporate conditioning as well.
Incorporating decision-making into drills creates challenges.
This simple 'overplay' drill teaches cutting and passing reads. Every closeout drill demands real time decision-making. Small-sided play (2-on-2, 3-on-3) demands decision/action play.
Drills should translate to play(is our drill book relevant?). Only you can decide what applies to your system and how to teach.
Applying and defeating pressure (Pressure work) is fundamental to the game. We sometimes don't have enough players at practice in the offseason to scrimmage beyond 3 on 3. But 'don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can'. We can set up late game inbounding drills on 1 on 2 offense.
Situational play success or failure (e.g. close and late) needs repetition. I know my players do not have a full court and half-court 'winner' play in mind.
Their ignorance is my responsibility.
I'm not saying my practices are better than yours. I mean that my practices can improve and I suspect that some of yours can, too. We control quality.