The goal of practice is to help your team win and to help your players improve. Mix drills help your players improve because the beauty of mixing is that learning lasts beyond the lesson. The tools needed to implement mixing or in literature are what is often called “ interleaving” are already in your possession as a coach.
We demonstrate a progression from on air teaching, to applying a skill in a mixed way, using Ball Pick-Up. Ball Pick-Up is how a player picks up the ball from a dibble to a shot or pass. It is important because it helps a player repeat the skill of picking up the ball in the exact same way. This helps them repeat and duplicate the skill, rhythm, and execution. Being able to duplicate the rhythm and execution leads to increased efficiency and speed.
One reason for this benefit is that mixing more closely mirrors real basketball. Basketball isn’t presented in predictable blocks; in basketball games, we don’t know exactly what information we will need to use ahead of time but have to choose the solution from all the information available to us in the moment.
Mixing is a learning technique that involves interweaving together different topics or forms of practice, in order to facilitate learning. Interleaving is the practice of teaching two or more skills in tandem.
Presenting situations in which you teach or practice two more challenging skills or concepts at the same time will feel very uncomfortable. It will be messy, and players will experience struggle. Research reveals it is that exact struggle that enhances understanding and memory. Players will not feel successful immediately, but that’s okay because immediate success is not the long-term goal. The ability to recall and then apply, analyze, and synthesize the concepts and skills in a game situation is the long-term goal, right? Mixing provides coaches and players with the tools to maximize long-term recall.