So, improve the interaction of the team. The imperative stems from this train of thought;
- The tactical dimension is the only one that has intrinsic value when it comes to winning basketball games.
- The tactical dimension is actualised when the team functions.
- This functioning consists of the players’ interaction with each other.
- Because learning almost exclusively happens in the practiced task [Green and Bavelier 2008], while practicing players should continuously interact with each other.
Our sole goal is that the team improves its effectiveness in 5v5 competitive play. Because learning is specific, players learn to play 5v5 by playing 5v5. And they learn to compete by competing.
This makes playing 5v5 competitively – or scrimmaging – our default practice task. Yet because of the power law, we know that scrimmaging isn’t going to be the only practice task. (Chapter 3.6)
So, choose any other practice task only after justifying the choice. There must be a plausible explanation on how the practice effect transfers to the game performance. This justifying can be done using the mediation model of dimensions and the model of complex causality in basketball.
If the other practice tasks can’t be justified, don’t choose them. Justifying them is easier if they include elements of interaction. This can mean a variety of things:
- Have multiple players involved in the practice tasks: 3v3 rather than 2v2; 2v2 rather than 2v0; 2v0 or 1v1 rather than 1v0).
- Keep practice tasks open rather than closed. That is, structure the tasks so that the actions required are unpredictable rather than predictable. This reflects the essence of basketball as an open-skill sport. [Wang et al 2013]
- Whenever there is dribbling or shooting in the practice tasks, make sure that there is passing, too.
- To help the players communicate verbally, teach them specific terms for common basketball actions.
- Have players synchronise their movements even if there is no ball involved in the practice tasks (for example warm-up runs).
These are not absolute guidelines but rather suggestions. A complementary pair relevant here is Representativeness ~ Repetitions. Making a practice task representative takes many players which cuts down the number of receptions per player. A proper balance must be sought.
For example, a pick-and-roll situation is optimally representative only if the ball handler has four teammates and there are five defenders trying to stop them. If you are looking to improve the ball handler’s technical skills, the quality of repetitions is high but the quantity is low.
On the other hand, you may have all ten players continuously handle the ball 1v0 using chairs as screens. This will lower the quality of repetitions but raise their quantity.