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Three Activities to Break Up the Dog Days

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Every season has its dog days. For basketball coaches in Iowa, the last two weeks of January are often the most challenging when it comes to maintaining quality effort and attention in practice, the film room, etc. We are far enough removed from winter break that the routine has become monotonous, but we aren't quite close enough to the postseason to hone our focus on staying alive.

Here are three activities we use periodically to break up the dog days of January.

Every season has its dog days. For basketball coaches in Iowa, the last two weeks of January are often the most challenging when it comes to maintaining quality effort and attention in practice, the film room, etc. We are far enough removed from winter break that the routine has become monotonous, but we aren't quite close enough to the postseason to hone our focus on staying alive.

Here are three activities we use periodically to break up the dog days of January.

The Playlist Practice - This is an idea stolen from TOC member Mark Cascio. Each player submits one song to create a playlist for practice. Coaches take the list and assign drills or games to each individual song or group of songs. We use the music as our timing mechanism for practice rather than the clock. When we run out of music, we go home. If players can keep a secret, you can also have everyone try to guess who picked which song at the end of practice. You can also introduce a theme for their submissions such as "songs that make me happy" or "songs from my elementary days", etc. This is a fun way to break up your practice routine.

The Scout Team Dinner - One of our favorite traditions is the Scout Team Dinner. To honor those who have helped with our preparation by mimicking our opponents, we have our rotation players cook and serve dinner for the scout team. The rotation players are also responsible for creating an entertainment program which varies from year-to-year. Sometimes that involves skits or a talent show. We have hosted Bad Joke Theater (players telling dad jokes) and played various other games. Typically the coaches or captains will give a short speech honoring the scout team for their efforts.

Over the years, numerous traditions have developed surrounding the Scout Team Dinner including having the rotation wear fake mustaches while serving dinner. The more creativity the rotation puts into the production the better.

Upside-Down Film - We watch a lot of film during the season - both of our opponents and ourselves - and film sessions can begin to feel mundane as the year goes on. Sometimes we turn film upside-down by having the players present learnings from a previous performance. The coaching staff prepares 10-15 clips and assigns them to groups of 3-4 players. The players watch the clips and select at least four to present to the team. The clips were organized by themes and included both good and bad examples to learn from.

For the players, it is refreshing to hear another voice and to take responsibility for their own learning. It is also entertaining watching them try to navigate the Hudl controls during their presentations.

Bonus: Honor Your Seniors - Senior Night is likely on the horizon for many winter sport coaches, and one tradition that has become incredibly meaningful in our basketball family has been the senior video we release every year before Senior Night.  We invite senior parents to share pictures to help with the project.  We ask for:

      • Baby Pictures
      • Youth Basketball (team and / or individual)
      • MS/HS Basketball
      • Senior Pictures

You can view this year's video here:

[embed]https://youtu.be/dYOt04k-C7s[/embed]

It's a great way to celebrate the seniors, promote the program, and focus the team on enjoying the moments while they're still there.

Food for thought.

Nate Sanderson, TOC Mentor and Co-Host of the Coaching Culture Podcast
[email protected]
Twitter @CoachNSanderson

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