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NABC On the Court Open Practice with James Jones: Opponent Prep & Skill Development


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NABC On the Court Open Practice with James Jones: Opponent Prep & Skill Development



NABC On the Court Open Practice with James Jones: Opponent Prep & Skill Development

Discover how James Jones runs his practices leading up to a conference game!

  • Open up practice with a series of skill work drills to get players loose and ready to compete
  • Challenge your athletes with exercises that test their individual offensive & defensive skills
  • Save your players' legs while simultaneously getting them ready to beat the next opponent on your schedule


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with James Jones,
Yale University Head Coach;
2019 Ben Jobe Award (most outstanding D-I minority Head Coach);
2016 Hugh Durham Award (most outstanding D-I Mid major Head Coach);
3x Ivy League Coach of the Year (2015, 2016, 2020);
5x Ivy League Regular Season Champions;
2019 Ivy League Tournament Champions;
Winningest Yale basketball coach ever;
over 300 career wins

James Jones takes you inside Yale basketball to show how they prepare for upcoming games against league opponents. In this video presentation, Coach Jones covers how his team prepares for practice and uses daily drills to get ready to play. Additionally, Jones covers how you can use scrimmages in a way that keeps legs fresh the day before important contests.

Getting Started

The first and most important aspect of practice at Yale is the pre-practice and warm-up period. Making sure that athletes are in optimal condition to play basketball is critical, especially the day before a game.

The daily routine, even on days before a game, includes the following:

  • Individual shooting work to keep players sharp, even on lighter practice days.
  • Covering the scouting report of the upcoming opponent.
  • Warm-up exercises that include jogging two laps around the court and a dynamic stretch routine.

Following the team huddle, Coach Jones takes his team through ball handling drills to finish the warm-up. An assistant coach runs a drill with three lines on each end of half court. This drill works on stop-and-go dribbling as well as changing hands and executing dribble moves.

Game Preparation and Daily Drills

Yale runs "dummy offense" on both ends of the court with a different unit on each end. The plays that are run during this period are part of the game plan for their upcoming contests.

Coach Jones believes in being a great rebounding team. To get his team ready, he will have players run at least one rebounding drill every day. The drill demonstrated in this practice has players chase a missed shot by running through a coach with a blocking pad and scoring once they secure the rebound.

Another aspect of daily drills is playing 1-on-1. The first of these is a drill designed to get open for a post-up after being denied on the wing. The other is playing 1-on-1 from the wing to prepare for broken situations where the game comes down to an isolation situation.

Finally, Yale's scout team tactics are covered. Each assistant coach covers 3-4 different plays run by the opposition to get Yale ready for their upcoming contest. The scout team will then run the plays to get the main players ready to defend sets they might see in the game.

Scrimmage Work

Late in the season, Coach Jones likes to keep his players fresh and avoid injuries whenever possible. Despite this, his players still need to get up and down and run the floor. While saving legs is essential, Yale still gets their juices going with a couple of full-court activities.

In a 5-on-5 setting, Yale reviews the standard transition drill. Five defenders stand on the free throw line extended facing across from five offensive players lined up on the baseline. A coach throws the ball to a player, whose defender must then run and touch the baseline before getting back on defense.

The live section of practice ends with a half-court scrimmage. Here, the emphasis on offense is to have ball movement, player movement, and good spacing. Defensively, the goal is to get three stops in a row, known as a "kill". While going up and down does happen in practice, keeping action in the half court is a good way to save legs.

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Coach Jones always has his team ready to play, and it's because he does an outstanding job of preparing his team for game day. You'll see how in this fantastic video!

48 minutes. 2021.

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