I had the chance to visit one of Europe’s top basketball programs last week.

They had amazing facilities, with over 10 full time coaches and some of Europe’s biggest prospects.

As a coach I’m always curious about what other coaches are doing, so I spent the day watching their player development workouts. From 16 year olds to professional players, one group came after another to get extra work in.

For me what I noticed was a lot of on-air stationary ball handling, 2 ball dribbling, dribbling moves vs. cones, spot shooting, on air moves.

There was no use of decision making, or a live or scripted defender. Everything was scripted, with no room for creativity and at a slow pace. Players weren’t struggling it was easy for them.

I can’t and won’t talk bad about this kind of coaching cause I was doing the same type of practices 5 years ago but what I learned by now is that a “the most efficient workout” is one where you see players struggling, competing, failing, being pushed, and where they need to make decisions.

If I see a practice I want to see turnovers, missed shots, players getting blocked, energy and competitiveness.

You will see players will like your practices more and the intensity will be way up.

I’m not saying there is no room for on-air training, because I still believe it has its value in working on the details, technique and giving them some confidence and comfort.

And at the same time I do feel on-air should be balanced by adding

1️⃣ small sided games
2️⃣ free play
3️⃣ organized play