Managing Time Effectively as a Coach

Posted on Sep 24 2019

Time and the effective management of that time is one of the most important elements of coaching. Our sport has more time components than any other, so a coach’s ability to lead in this area is paramount to developing a successful program.

When you consider our game, there are numerous time elements than impact how we teach, practice and play. Perhaps more than other sport, our game is the management of time components such as –

  • Four ten minute quarters
  • 2-minute quarter time break
  • 24 second shot clock
  • 8 seconds in the back court
  • 14 seconds in the front court reset
  • 1 minute time-outs
  • 5 seconds to inbound
  • 3 seconds in the lane

Coaches have successfully (or otherwise) managed and manipulated these time components for years, with the elite players also having an innate feel for the time on the clock or within a possession.

So if time is such an important element of our game, it must then be taught, prioritised and become a staple of all aspects of practice and games.

Punctuality is a common thread amongst elite players and coaches. Being on time, every time and ensuring there are contingencies for variables are key to a successful program.

Legendary San Antonio Spurs centre Tim Duncan set a new standard for punctuality, with former assistant coach Monte Williams saying Duncan had not been late to a meeting, bus, flight, meal, shoot-around or practice for his entire Hall of Fame career.

In his book “The Gold Standard”, former USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said one of the first “gold standards” the 2008 US Olympic team set as a group was punctuality. Hall of Fame guard Jason Kidd set the tone in the team’s first meeting to discuss their standards – “I think being on time is going to be huge.”

In practice, having a detailed practice plan and staying to time is one way in which coaches can “teach time”. Every drill to time, run the score-clock throughout and ensure everyone on the coaching staff understands “we run on time, all the time”.

For Australian coaches, practice time is always at a premium. This makes planning around time and staying to task during each session crucial to efficient teaching and development.

There is always the risk of falling into the trap of “we are going to get this right” and staying too long on a drill or concept. The ability to move to the next thing is crucial to ensuring you are covering the wide sphere of skills and concept required by players.

This does not mean “skipping steps”, but having a discipline around time will allow you to continue to progress in each practice and will also make you more efficient and succinct in the teaching.

One way to ensure you stay on time in the practice setting is to have someone time your interventions. Often, we lose time by over-coaching or continually stopping practice to add detail. Practice is not a coaching clinic, being efficient in the teaching is crucial.

Committing to better managing the time components of your program will of course provide you with more time, as your practices become more efficient and everyone on the team understands the importance of it. This will hopefully flow into the game setting and impact performance, which is every coach’s goal.





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