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Game Day with Alan Stein

I am thankful to be a part of one of the most storied high school basketball programs of all-time. If you aren’t familiar with DeMatha Catholic High School’s basketball program – please Google it.

I am honored to receive hundreds of emails, Tweets and Facebook messages each month from coaches around the world asking questions about what we do on game day.

As always, I am happy to share.

Before I dive into what we do on actual game day, I do want to mention an important aspect of our overall game preparation that often occurs a day or so before we play – film breakdown. If used correctly, ‘watching film’ is a tremendous teaching tool. What players see on the court and what we see from the sideline aren’t always congruent. Film is a powerful medium to bridge that gap. Instead of having our players watch entire games, which is monotonous and time consuming, we prefer to show them a series of edited clips. We show them things they did well. We show them things they need to improve. For example, we may have them watch 6 clips from our last game on how we effectively guarded the pick n’ roll or 4 clips of times when we didn’t box out and the other team got an offensive rebound. For today’s players, being quick and to the point is essential to getting your message across.

In order to make film breakdown sessions as efficient and as productive as possible, I highly recommend Krossover’s video breakdown service. It is one of the best investments you can make as a youth or high school coach. It will save you time and make your film sessions much more productive, efficient and impactful. Seriously, take a few minutes to check them out:

OK, back to game day.

NOTE: Our game day schedule varies slightly depending on whether we play on a school day or play on a weekend or holiday. But the following will give you a solid overview.

Shoot Around

Anytime we can, we hold a game-day ‘shoot around’ (usually right after school). It is very structured, yet very basic. The goal is to get a light sweat, get up some shots (and free throws), and run through our offensive sets and out of bounds plays (against token defense). We spend the last couple of minutes discussing our opponent. Our shoot around is as much about mental preparation as it is physical preparation.

Pre-Game Meal

Our pre-game meal is always 4-hours before tip-off. Whenever possible, we try to provide a pre-game meal for our team to eat together (we have a tremendously supportive group of parents that facilitate this). When that’s not possible, we simply encourage our players to eat on their own (at that same time) and educate them on what to eat.

 Arrival Time

Our players are expected to arrive a minimum of 2 hours before tip-off and to watch/support the JV team. We let our captains determine each game’s dress code – which can either be matching DeMatha warm-ups or coat and tie. We allow our players to wear headphones up until it is time to get dressed.


Players that need treatment from our athletic trainers need to report to them approximately 75 minutes before tip-off.

 Pre-Game Warm-Up

Our players are to be dressed in their game uniform and shooting shirt 45 minutes before tip-off. I then take our team through a comprehensive, movement specific warm-up for 12-15 minutes. This warm-up is done behind the scenes – in a hallway, locker room, classroom or alternate gym. We make the most of what we have, where we are.

Once the warm-up is complete, we head back in to the locker room (which is now around 30 minutes before tip-off) so Coach Jones can review our match-ups, keys to the game, offensive/defensive focal points and lead our team prayer.

Locker Room

This takes between 10-12 minutes total which puts us ready to take the court with about 18-20 minutes before tip-off. Coach Jones keeps this portion short and sweet to ensure our players don’t lose the warm-up effect they just created.


Since our players are already physically/mentally warmed-up at this point, the 20 minutes of court time before we play is focused on passing, ball handling and getting up shots (not ‘stretching’).

Now we are ready to play.

What time is it? GAME TIME!


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about rick torbett

Rick Torbett has taught thousands of coaches to win more games through his innovative approach to the game. He has created powerful training for coaches at any level so they can coach their best and win more games.

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Read & React 5-Player Coordination Drills

Enter your email address to get an inside look at teaching the Read & React Offense with the drills in this free video.