In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, NBA assistant coach Joe Boylan joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss intelligent practice design including NBA skill development and the mental side of the game.
Joe Boylan spent the last two seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans as the team’s Director of Player Development. During his time with the Pelicans, he has made a significant impact with young stars like Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, and the reining most improved player of the year Brandon Ingram. In addition to that, he also is the creator of Hoops Mind, a boutique virtual coaching service with a focus on mental skills.
Before coaching in New Orleans, Joe Boylan served as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies, as well as the Associate Head Coach of their then-G League affiliate, the Iowa Energy. He also was an assistant coach for the Grand Rapids Drive in the NBA G League during the 2014-15 season. Boylan spent three seasons with the Golden State Warriors from 2011-14, serving first as the Video Coordinator, then as an assistant coach.
Prior to coaching Joe Boylan’s NBA journey started as a Video Intern with the Boston Celtics during the 2010-11 season. He earned this position after getting recognition for being the Director of Player Development for ATTACK Athletics in Chicago from 2008-10. While at ATTACK, Boylan led offseason basketball workouts for NBA veterans, including Michael Finley and Juwan Howard, as well as hundreds of college players.
Boylan has been able to work with several great organizations and players in his young career. At each step, Coach Boylan has made a difference and will continue to do so this season with the young and talented Pelicans.
“I started to try and take on a little bit of the return to play protocol, trying to mesh the strength conditioning and the physical therapy with the basketball.”
“They [sports scientists Dean Little and Dave Taylor] just really started to make me think about what I was doing from both a physical standpoint, but also what was the cognitive load that I was putting on guys . . they really forced me to challenge that and to really dive into having a more intelligent design with the practice plan.”
“There’s very rarely the opportunity to check out mentally [in a game], every moment matters. And so I just want to oftentimes, recreate the fact that your mind is going to be overloaded, there’s going to be a lot of things on your mind you’re going to have to deal with in a game. So, to disassociate those things in practice, that to me, didn’t add up.”
“An interesting and unique part of what we did in development was putting them in the position to move on to the next play when they don’t want to . . it’s easy when everybody’s in a good mood . . but how do you work on those things when you’re not emotionally stable? That’s something we worked on physically, but we also worked on it mentally.”
“These [mental] exercises . . are a real life application that I think have residual benefits, not just in basketball . . this is something that’s going to help you communicate with your spouse better, it’s going to help make you a better father and teammate, you’re going to be more present, and you’re going to listen better.”
“Constraints are the gold standard for me. I hope that my work is done by the time that the workout starts. I’m there to definitely give feedback, and help guide and adapt if necessary, but . .. I have to have the structure in place that allows him to learn on his own.”
“We had a bunch of young players in New Orleans, all with different development goals. And so [we took] the time to identify what is it that we really want to help boost for this player? And what’s the constraint that will help them achieve it? And then, let them go and let them figure out how to utilize it.”
“If I was working on a player individually, I would want, I would need four players on the court . . when you have everyone on the court that’s dedicated to achieving the objectives of one person person’s skill development . . you can create these different situations. To me, that was so next level.”
“True shooting practice always involves a decision.”
“We just haven’t caught up to teaching the actual what we’re seeing on the court, it’s still a lot of what we heard when we were growing up.”
“I want you to be able to drop into any situation playing for any coach in any role and be able to be successful. How can I do that? I have to be able to create robust, resilient problem solvers. How can I create those people in drills where I’m telling you what to do the whole time?”
“You’ve got to have guys in the right frame of mind to accept information. Otherwise, you’re just kind of breaking a sweat, which is fine, too. But that should be then the intention of the session that you’re doing.”
“What you think doesn’t really matter, what you really have to do is be open minded to listening to what these guys are saying, because it’s the most accurate description of how difficult your session was.”
“We really try to empower the players as teachers to as much as possible, asking them questions, trying to get them engaged and involved in what’s going on. If you can have a player teach another player something that you’ve already worked on, to me, that’s the ultimate win. Because now not only is he learning and probably more receptive to the message, but the player teaching it just encoded that so much more deeply. Teaching is one of the best ways of learning.”
“You don’t coach a sport, you coach a player. You have to meet the player where they are. And we don’t do that enough we rely on our own expertise . . Learning is done by scaffolding off of existing expertise. Basically, it’s what you’re good at, you build off of that.”
“We’ve got to find ways to meet the player where they are, develop them where they are, and get them to the point that they’re able to do more messy dynamic learning.”
4:00 – Mental Load
8:00 – Drop Concentration
15:00 – Constraints
21:00 – Intelligent Practice Design
25:00 – Mindless Block Practice
27:30 – Free Throw Percentage
32:00 – Shooting Perfection
37:00 – Experiential Practice
39:30 – Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion
42:00 – Practice Design
47:00 – Dynamic or Situational Start
52:30 – Enjoyment and Engagement
58:00 – Competition
1:00:00 – His Methods
1:02:00 – Mindset of Players and Coaches
1:04:00 – Conclusion
1:00 – Overall Defending Ball Screen Philosophy
3:30 – Screen Coverage
6:30 – Beliefs on Ball Screen Defense
10:30 – Tag Coverage
13:00 – Making an Impact Offensively
15:30 – Aggressive Coverage
18:00 – Philosophy of Self Scouting
22:00 – Analytics in the NBA
25:00 – Pick and Roll Defense
28:00 – Triple Switch
29:30 – Icing the Pick and Roll
32:00 – Going Under the Screen
34:00 – Focus on Being More Aggressive
36:00 – Recovery Angle and Trapping
39:30 – Run and Drawn the Ball Screen
42:00 – Teaching Ball Screen
45:00 – Connect with the Ball
48:00 – Off-Ball Defenders
53:00 – Takeaways from the NBA
55:00 – Conclusion
Twitter and Instagram: @hoopsmindwanderer
Please Support the Podcast
As we build our podcast following please take the time to support the Basketball Podcast. Our goal is to openly share as much useful basketball coaching info to stimulate your coaching.
- Tell your friends about us.
- Give us a shout out on social media.
- Give us a five star review wherever you listen to podcasts.