- Part I: The Purpose
- Part II: Why Change?
- Part III: Importance of Fundamentals
- Part IV: The Basics
- Part V: The Breakdown
- Part VI: Defense
- Part VII: 6 Reasons Why Dribbling Actions Are Taught First
- Part VIII: Building Blocks vs. Drills
- Part IX: Combining Layers
- The 8 C’s of Post Play
- Teaching Basketball Players To Play the Game
- The Simplicity of the Game
While I will write about a few different topics in my blog, the original purpose was to discuss the development of the game of basketball. Development, in my opinion, is more about how the game is taught than how it’s played. I believe if we teach the game better, players will play it better. This teaching goes all the way from individual skill development to 5 on 5 play. Of course, players have to get in the gym and work on their skills. Of course, players must take what we give them and do something with it. However, we have to do our part to make it something they can learn.
The 3 main keys to successful offensive basketball are spacing, player movement, and ball movement. Let’s talk about each of these.
How much of the court are we forcing the defense to guard? Part of this is based on our players abilities. Defenses who have to respect 5 players who can shoot NBA range threes are going to have more court to cover than a defense who plays against a team who is only effective shooting from 15 feet. However, it’s also based on where our players are located on the court. Are we located close enough to each other to be able to make clean crisp passes away from defenders? Are we located far enough away that one player can’t guard two players?
Here are a few other things to consider. Should we make all 5 defenders guard the entire court? Or can we create a situation where 1 defender has to defend a large area of the court alone (isolation)? Can we create a 3 on 2 or 2 on 1 situation as a result of a specific alignment or a specific movement?
Teaching offensive basketball begins with spacing. Teaching players where they need to be on the floor gives them an opportunity to move themselves and the ball effectively into positions where they can score. It forces the defense to cover more area and gives the offense more area to operate successfully.
The more that players move, the more the defense is forced to move. The more a defense moves, the more likely it is to get out of position. The more defensive players have to move, the more tired they become so that they have less energy on offense. However, this movement must be intelligent movement. Players must understand how to move, when to move, and where to move. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that spacing will be compromised. Bad spacing is going to lead to bad offense.
So teaching players how to move intelligently, becomes critical to good offense. The more intelligently players move, the less predictable they become to defenders. A predictable movement is easier to defend than an unpredictable action no matter how quickly the movement is executed. Teams who move in a systematic yet varied manner make themselves an opposing coach’s scouting nightmare.
In the game of basketball, there is no more important object than the ball itself. All of the strategies, skills, and intangibles mean very little in comparison to the ball. The ball moves in one of three ways: shooting, passing, or dribbling. Whether a player shoots, passes or dribbles is ultimately their decision. As coaches, we must determine how much we try to control those decisions. The more we try to control those decisions, the more players think as opposed to play. If a player isn’t comfortable in a certain area because of a lack of skill, they are not likely to execute this decision well. In addition, the decisions of what to do with the ball at any given point in time are split second. Many times that a moment of hesitation can turn a good decision into a bad one. Instead spending time controlling every decision, what if we spent more time teaching them skills. What if we spent more time helping make them make more shots, better passes, and effective dribbles? Then when they are on the court, they can have more confidence that they can execute whatever decision they make. If we spend more time teaching spacing, skills, and player movement, the decisions that they make with the ball become a lot easier.
This blog describes how to teach the game this way. I’ve said that teaching and playing the game this way makes people smarter. I’ve had people ask me how that’s true. I’ve had the opportunity to watch players who have been coached this way play in a “traditional” environment alongside players who have never been taught these things. There is such a difference in their understanding of those three basic principles of offense. Teaching these three basic principles provides a foundation for players to be able to execute so much more effectively.