Learn how to blend fun and focus into a formula for team success
- 16 drills that build player skills and train team dynamics
- Develop players who are great teammates, with positive attitudes, who give their best effort
- Train players to use "energy producing behaviors" to score points during drills
with Jeff Meeker,
Cornell College Head Coach; 7x Conference Coach of the Year; winners of four straight Midwest Conference Championships; led the Rams to five consecutive NCAA Tournaments (2011-15)
So much time is spent in practice working on game play and individual skills. Unfortunately, those will only take a team so far. Jeff Meeker takes training to a whole new level by focusing his drills on getting players to play with each other, play with positive energy and putting the team before self. He demonstrates 16 drills that not only work player skills and techniques, but also train team dynamics. The most successful teams are the ones who spend just as much time working on becoming better teammates and possessing positive energy.
Coach Meeker promotes the "team before self" mentality in every aspect of practice including warm-ups, breaks and even while shagging balls. He uses a series of warm-ups and progressive team drills that teach players to communicate with each other and share feedback so that both the player in the drill and the player on the sideline will be learning at all times. In many of the drills, Coach Meeker uses scoring systems that help encourage good, positive attitudes while discouraging energy killing behaviors.
During practice, every drill has a theme that reinforces a specific attitude or behavior. This is done through scoring on some drills and through repetition on others, but the emphasis is always on having players come together as a team no matter what drill or activity they are performing. Most drills start as cooperative exercises and then transition to a competitive environment.
Warm-ups Activities for Team Building
Many coaches use a dynamic warm-up at the beginning of practices, but Coach Meeker explains a way to use the warm-up as a time for players to make connections with each other, while working on skill development and activating their brains. He demonstrates a series of drills focusing on ball control and defensive anticipation. These drills can be adapted to be cooperative or competitive in nature.
Additionally, he explains how he and his staff come up with a list of behaviors and activities they want to work on that day that will create positive energy in each of the drills. For example, they might have goals like: pursue every ball, eye contact, and great transition and run through.
Coach Meeker shows a series of drills that work on individual skills such as setting, serving, passing, and blocking. Each progression works on technical cues that players need to be mindful of when working on improving their skills. Coaches and players alike can use these cues when helping teammates understand what they are and are not doing correctly.
One of the keys in these drills is for teammates to give each other feedback during the skill work. Coach Meeker explains that it's the duty of teammates who are waiting their turn in drills to give others feedback and corrections. This helps keep everyone involved and focused during drills
The last segment is filled with game action drills that can be used to work on important skills and team play concepts, while at the same time enhancing the importance of being good teammates. These drills are common game-type drills that work many different game concepts.
The key is how Coach Meeker scores them with the intention of improving energy producing behaviors from players. He uses different team dynamics as ways to score in the drills - rewarding players and teams in the drills that show positive energy producing behaviors or by penalizing them for negative behaviors.
A few of the drills used in this video include:
- Three Ball - A 3-on-3 warm-up that requires focus and teamwork to keep balls in the air. You can start out cooperative on this drill and then go to competitive.
- 6-on-6 5