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When playing a team sport, the timing and synchronization of the team's execution is essential for maximum success. Whether it is a basketball offense or defense, a football running back hitting the correct hole, or a baseball double play, TIMING IS EVERYTHING. In the Summer Olympics, we see synchronized diving or swimming, and during the Winter Olympics, there is figure skating in pairs. These athletes are able to do precise moves in unison and under extreme duress during world-class competition. Some basketball teams struggle to pass to an open cutter at the correct time, or to get players to wait to use a screen until the screener is set, or to get proper defensive rotations when a player goes to help.
The single most important aspect of this synchronicity is the proper breakdown and teaching progression in a practice situation. A team or individual cannot properly execute Step B until they are proficient in Step A. Break down the parts of the offense or defense and make sure that each player understands the precise timing of the events.
Once the team is introduced to a concept such as a new offensive set, the breakdown of each individual part of the concept is necessary. Players need to understand when to pass a teammate the ball, what they should look for once they catch it, and in what order. Finally, they need to see the actions of their teammates while they have the ball and what those actions aim to accomplish. Once all players understand this "relative motion," the offense can be put back together and executed at full-speed against a defense.
Constant repetition of these correct methods will eventually build the type of muscle memory and proper habits that are necessary for appropriate execution. Do not allow any "slippage" in practice without addressing the problem. Demand an honest attempt at the perfection of fundamentals by all players involved. Correct any errors and then do it again. Remember, it is not simply practice that makes perfect, but rather the pursuit of perfect practice that makes perfect!
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