Wisconsin Practice Plan
When coaches would come to watch us practice when I was playing for the Badgers, they were often shocked by the simplicity of our practice.
There generally was not a lot of yelling; in fact most times it was nearly completely silent besides squeaking shoes and a bouncing ball. One odd thing about Coach Ryan was the fact that he wasn’t a big fan of talking on defense. He would remind us that when we’re on the road at Michigan State it’s not going to matter how much we talk, you simply are not going to hear it, so he didn’t want us to be too reliant on hearing our teammates vs keeping our head on a swivel and seeing what is going on around us. (This isn’t suggesting you should encourage your team not to talk, because defensive communication is still important)
Once we got into the heart of the season and were playing games every 2-3 days, our practice plan was nearly identical every single day.
-Watch film of the previous game the day after a game, or on the upcoming opponent, depending on the schedule.
-Dynamic warm up and stretch led by our strength and conditioning coach
-Some kind of warm up shooting and passing drill. My senior year the routine was “USA shooting” – 3 man weave with middle man shooting a lay up and both wings receiving a pass from the baseline to shoot jumpers. We would go for a set amount of time and have to score a certain number of points, if we failed we would go again.
-Assistant coach would give a quick run down of upcoming opponent, who is replicating him on scout team, and who is going to match up with him to start
-Scout team runs half court offense for 30 possessions with “first team” (top ~8 players) playing defense and need to secure a rebound or turnover to end each possession.
-Every possession is tracked and detailed stats kept
-At the end of 30 possessions, if scout team scored more than 30 points, first team is running sideline to sideline sprints, needing 16 touches in under 1 minute to complete. If anyone fails, we run again. Holding teams under 1 point per possession was always our goal.
-First team goes on offense, same deal. 30 possessions, need 30+ points to avoid running.
-After reaching 30 possessions, we had to stay ready because at any moment coach would decide not to whistle the play dead after a rebound, which meant we had to sprint back on D and we were playing live, full court.
-After coach determined we had played enough he would end the scrimmage portion, always ending on a positive play for the first team.
-Occasionally we would do specific game situations. (Down 2, 10 seconds left, etc)
-Next would be some variation of partner shooting
-Finish with various competitive free throw drills
-Repeat again tomorrow
That was it. Every day. We really did not adjust our practices based on what we had done good or bad the previous game. There might be more emphasis on rebounding and boxing out if we did a poor job the game before, but it was all within the context of live scrimmages, not controlled drills.
While this approach might not be best for everyone, I believe it was a big part of why Wisconsin basketball has been so consistent through the years.
Consistent approach, consistent results.