Planning a Practice with the Competitive Cauldron

by on December 20, 2012
in Practice Design

Since writing about the system that I use, I have received a couple questions and decided to start a new post and thread here. The competitive cauldron is the name that Anson Dorrance, University of North Carolina women’s soccer coach, gave to his system of wins and losses. I believe he got the idea from Dean Smith. I started my system after reading one of the several books by or about Dorrance that I have read.

In the pre-season, toward the end of tryouts, I explained my system to the players. I explained that I tracked wins during practices and that starters were determined by practice wins. In three seasons of using this approach, I really haven’t had any issues from parents or players. I also play everyone in every game, so that may be the bigger factor. Some players really respond and attempt to win every single drill, and some players tend to care a little less. When I announce the daily winner at the end of practice, they get pretty competitive about it, even though it means not running one sprint or doing five push-ups. Last year’s team huddled around me as soon as practice ended on the day before a game as I tallied the wins to see who would start the next game. So, I think most of the guys have bought into it. I used it the first season with girls, and they may have bought into it even more, although the daily winner almost always chose to run with her teammates.

Anyway, per request, here are two photos of how I write out practice:

The photo above has the names on the left of the index card so each player has a row, and the names of the drills across the top so each drill has a column. I leave a place at the end so that I can take notes during practice if necessary, usually reminders for when planning the following practice. The photo below is my general outline for practice.

I dispensed with time for each drill because it is hard to estimate with freshmen. I also prefer to play to conclusion rather than play for a time. I do shooting drills to a prescribed number of made shots. I generally play games to five baskets, 7 by 2s and 3s, or 9 by 2s and 3s. In 1v1, we usually go until someone scores 4 baskets. In transition games, it depends. I used to have everything broken down into a time limit. I don’t anymore. I finish the drill and move on. Sometimes it means skipping something, so I try to put shooting and defense work early in practice so I do not skip it.

Update: For more information on the competitive cauldron, check out The 21st Century Basketball Practice, which has a chapter devoted to the concept and expands on the ideas here.

By Brian McCormick, M.S.S., PES
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

Sharing is caring!

  • What Is A Playmaker?

    Who decided that a point guard has to be small? More importantly, what is a point guard? We expect a point guard to be a leader and have a high basketball I.Q. Why don’t we expect or challenge all players to develop this game awareness? Why rely on only one player? Read more →
  • The PBDL Concept

    English soccer academies wait until players are 11 to play full 11v11 soccer; in Italy, youth basketball players participate in skill-oriented clinics at 6-years-old, but start competitive games at 12. In the United States, kids play 5v5 full court games and compete for national championships when they are 8-years-old.

    Read more →

  • Starting A PBDL

    The PBDL emphasizes learning and development. Presently, players and parents have numerous recreation options - leagues based on fun and equal participation, typically for beginners - and numerous competitive opportunities - teams focused on strategy, game preparation and winning. There are few true development leagues - until now.

    Read more →