Saturday, July 7, 2012


Each Saturday will announce a topic for coaches to have a chance to share their thoughts/ideas with others. Email your thoughts/ideas to on the topic and on Sunday (tomorrow) your idea(s) could be placed on this blog.

7/12/12 topic: What is your philosophy on length of practice during the season?  

Email and your thoughts could be placed in Sunday's blog entry.

Friday, July 6, 2012


How many times have we heard a coach get after a player for not blocking out to get a defensive rebound? If you pay close attention it would be every single game.  Rebounding requires effort, grit, and determination.  But it also is a learned skill that needs to be practiced.  
 The Gauntlet Drill is designed to put the defensive player at a disadvantage.  The defensive player will box out four offensive players and they WILL be tired after one time through the gauntlet. Their desire to box out and rebound will be tested.

*Four offensive players and one defensive player in this drill.
*Defender 1 starts out in front of the basket.
*O1 starts at the left wing, about 15 feet from the basket.
*O2 starts just in front of the free throw line.
*O3 starts about 10 feet out, along the baseline.
*O4 starts in the block opposite the coach.
*Coach is at the right elbow, with the ball.

*Defender 1 will box out each of the offensive players in numerical order: 1, 2, 3, then 4.
*Drill starts when Coach shoots the ball.
*1 will go blockout O1. O1 attempts to get an offensive rebound. Whoever gets the rebound passes the ball back to Coach.
*Coach shoots immediately when they catch the ball while Defender 1 is hustling to get to O2.
*Defender 1 must now box out 2.
*O2 goes for the offensive rebound. Whoever gets the rebound passes back to Coach.
*Coach shoots immediately when they catch the ball while Defender 1 is hustling to get to O3.
*Defender 1 must box out O3. O3 goes for the offensive rebound as well. Whoever gets the rebound will pass the ball back to Coach.
*Coach shoots immediately when they catch the ball while Defender 1 is hustling to get to O4.
*Defender 1 box out O4. Whoever gets the rebound passes back to Coach.

INCENTIVE SCALE  The goal of the defender is to get 4 defensive rebounds. 
Defender 1 gets 0 defensive rebounds = 4 down&back sprints
Defender 1 gets 1 defensive rebound = 3 down&back sprints
Defender 1 gets 2 defensive rebounds = 2 down&back sprints
Defender 1 gets 3 defensive rebounds = 1 down&back sprint
Defender 1 gets 4 defensive rebounds = 0 sprints

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Head coach Norman Dale & assistant Shooter
Having a healthy relationship amongst your coaching staff is extremely important.  Whether your staff consists of just two or as many as six coaches there are some priorities for both the assistant(s) and head coach to consider.  Players can sense and see the rapport a staff has, and the healthier it is the better chance the rapport among the players will be strong as well.

1. Work ethic.  Be a good example for the players in your basketball program.  Show the head coach and athletic director that you are willing to go above and beyond.  Help work with the youth programs, work summer camps, help with scouting assignments, etc.
2. Loyalty.  An assistant coach needs to be loyal to the head coach.  Support the head coach publicly.  There will be times when you disagree with the decisions of the head coach, but you have to keep that within your staff.  Letting people in the public know you would have done things differently is unhealthy for your program. 
3. Assertiveness.  The last thing a head coach needs is for an assistant to be a "Yes Man".  It is completely healthy for an assistant coach and head coach to have discussions about things they disagree on.  Coaches that speak their mind to one another help each other to continue to grow as coaches.  This in turn will help the continued growth of the program you help lead. 
4. Knowledge.  Make sure you understand the system and style of play of your team.  Each coach has their individual beliefs and style, which is great.  But there are going to be some things in the program the assistant is going to have to know completely.  Examples could range from anything from an offense, defense, to how you teach a defensive stance.  Whatever it is, the assistant must know it well.
5. Patience.  Many assistant coaches want to move up the ladder and become a head coach.  Assistant coaches must remember that your journey to a head coaching position is not going to happen overnight.  In most cases it takes some time.  Be patient.  To help you get to the top quicker the best thing for you to do is to continue to the best assistant coach you can be.  If this is your goal, keep that goal at the forefront of your mind, but control what you can control right now.  if you do this your time to become a head coach will come soon enough.

1. Delegate.  Give your assistants specific jobs or responsibilities.  Some assistants can handle more than others.  Know the strengths and weaknesses of each assistant.  If they have a particular strength, let them use that to help make your team/program better.  No matter how big or small you feel it is, the fact that your assistant(s) know you trust them to be in charge of something will do wonders for the overall atmosphere of your staff.  It will also help them continue to grow as a coach.
2. Collaborate.  Include your assistants in the decision making process.  The head coach will make the final decision, but discussions amongst your assistants will help make the best decision.
3. Lead.  The head coach needs to be the leader.  Even though the head coach will delegate and collaborate there should be no doubt they are the leader of the team and program.
 4. Mentor.  The head coach does more than teach players how to run an offense, run a defense, how to set a screen, or seal on a post up.  They also are a mentor to their players and assistants.  It is the responsibility of the head coach to make sure their assistants are continuing to learn the game of basketball, showing them how to run a program, and how to treat people.  Your assistants will more than likely want to be a head coach someday.  If the head coach is a good mentor for for their assistants they are in essence "paying it forward" to ensure the game will continue to prosper.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


*Defensive blockout
*Offensive rebounding

*Two lines, one at each elbow and two lines, one at each lane-line along the baseline
*Coach is out on the perimeter with a ball.

*In this diagram the triangles are in maroon and are the defenders. The circles are in gold and on offense.
*The goal of each player is to have their practice jersey on the maroon side when the drill is over.
*Coach shoots the ball.
*The two defensive players box out the two offensive players. All four players attempt to get the rebound.
*Whichever team gets the rebound, that group will be maroon. The two player team that did not get the rebound will be in gold. This means that if gold got the rebound, they then have to switch their practice jersey to maroon and then go to the baseline lines. And the maroon team then has to turn their practice jersey to gold, and go to the two lines out at the elbows.
*Coach will tell the team the length (minutes) of the drill before the drill starts.
*At the end of the drill the players who are wearing maroon, win. The players that are wearing gold, lose. Coach can set a reward for winners or have losers do extra running or push-ups.

The purpose of this drill is obviously to work on blocking out, rebounding, and offensive rebounding.  This drill can be a real teaching point for offensive rebounding as the coach can talk to players about the probable direction the ball will bounce off the rim based on where the shot came from.  This drill also creates a high level of intensity in your players.  Coaches can determine the level of intensity and physicality based on how much they 'let go'.  You could have players ending up on the floor, diving on the floor, and yelling on rebounds.  Not only is rebounding practiced in this drill, but it also helps create an aggressive nature within your players.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Whether you are a coach that plays a man-to-man or zone defense, or both, there is much more to coaching defense than knowing the basics.  There are the nuts and bolts of the defense you are playing that are extremely important.  These are the little things your players need to be taught.

The following 50 questions are asked to make you think about how you teach your defense.

1. Are you a man-to-man defensive team?
2. How do your players guard the ball at the top of the key?
3. How do your players guard the ball on the wing?
4. Will you front the post?
5. Will you half-front the post?
6. Will you three-quarter front the post?
7. Will you play behind in the post?
8. Do you have a plan to double team the post?
9. How do you want your players to defend a cutter across the lane?
10. How do you want your players to defend one pass away on the perimeter?
11. How do you teach your players to get in a proper defensive stance?
12. Do you teach your players 'how' to take a charge?
13. Where on the court do you want to start guarding the ball?
14. How do you want your players to rotate on dribble penetration?
15. How do you teach your players to block out?
16. Do you have a plan to defend a great shooter?
17. Do you have a plan to defend a great point guard?
18. Will you teach your players a half-court trap?
19. Do you believe in playing a junk defense (box and 1, triangle and 2)?
20. Will your defense look to be aggressive and dictate the action?
21. Will your defense be more controlled and play it safe?
22. How do your players guard the ball in the corner?
23. How much practice time do you dedicate to team defense?
24. How much practice time do you dedicate to breaking down your team defense?
25. How do you want your players to slide defensively when guarding the ball?
26. Do you trap ball screens?
27. Do you hedge on ball screens?
28. Do you switch ball screens?
29. How will you defend the screener in a ball screen?
30. Are you a zone defensive team?
31. Which type of zone will you play?
32. Why do you play zone?
33. Will your zone defense be aggressive and attempt to dictate what the offense does?
34. Will your zone defense be a more controlling defense?
35. Will you trap out of your zone defense?
36. Where will you trap in your zone defense?
37. How do you teach your team the slides in your zone defense?
38. What breakdown drills will you use to teach your zone defense?
39. Do you want to extend your zone defense?
40. How do you teach your players rebounding responsibility in your zone defense?
41. How will you guard the ball in your zone defense?
42. How will you defend cutters through the lane in your zone defense?
43. Regardless of what defense you play how will you get your defenders to communicate?
44. How do you defend ball screens in your zone defense?
45. How do you defend the post in your zone defense?
46. Who will cover the high post area in your zone defense?
47. What type of full court pressure will you use?
48. Do you have an aggressive full court press to use when you are behind late in games?
49. What is your plan for transition defense?
50. How do you teach your plan for transition defense?

Monday, July 2, 2012


Player: Hey Coach, why isn't the gym open this week?
Coach: This is a no contact period.  It's high school league rules.
Player: Well I guess I'll just shoot in my driveway then.


Coaches and parents will want to read this.

Basketball coaches learn from each other all the time.  We share information, borrow some, and are always watching and picking up tidbits wherever they can.  One of the most important pieces of advice I learned in my 20+ years of coaching didn't come from my past experiences as an athlete, or a coaching clinic, or a coaching colleague, or even a coaching DVD.  This piece of valuable advice was given to me from my wife.

This information is for all coaches as we are interact with the parents of our players.  BUT if you are a coach and a parent this is especially for you.

I am a basketball coach.  And like most basketball coaches it is difficult for me to watch any basketball game for pure entertainment purposes.  It doesn't matter if a coach is watching game 7 of the NBA finals on television or the first game of a fifth grade league at the YMCA, we seem to analyze the game we are watching as a coach.  This is not a bad thing because it is a part of who we are and how we are wired.

Add your own children to the mix and you have a tough balancing act.

I have been fortunate to say that I have been able to watch my own children participate in sports, including basketball, for many years.  I'm no different than the next parent as I get nervous for my child as they play because I want them to perform well and feel good about themselves.  But I also watch the game with a coach's mentality (after all it IS what I do).   And who do parents watch more closely during games? That's right, their own kid.  Again, I am no different than other parents.

After a game was finished my wife and I would wait with the other parents for our children to come over and visit after their coach was done talking to them.  We always greet them with a hug and a "good job".  But then my coaching personality kicked in and I would start rehashing the game with them.  Not to necessarily judging how well they played, but to talk to them as if they were one of the players on my own team.  I would ask them questions about a particular possession, or an adjustment the team made, or even what their thought process might have been during a certain play.  I thought I was just talking to my kids and connecting with them about something they also have a passion for.

ENTER THE 20 MINUTE RULE...My wife is smart.  She could see that our kids weren't always interested in rehashing the game immediately after the game was completed.  Her exact words were, "They don't need a coach right now, they need their dad."  And she was right.  I felt I was able to add insight to our kids because I am a coach.  This may be true, but it wasn't what the kids needed at that time.  So, she introduced the "20 Minute Rule" to our family.  The 20 Minute Rule means that when we meet up with our children after one of their games we don't talk about specific parts of the game for twenty minutes.  We don't have a stopwatch that counts down the minutes until I can ask my first question (that would look a bit funny).  I started to take those first few minutes with the kids after games and continued to give them a hug and tell them "good job", but it also gave them a chance to initiate the conversations we were to have after the games.  And once the twenty minute rule was over the discussions about the game were less coach-player orientated, and more dad-child orientated.  We still discuss the games but after the 20 Minute Rule these discussions started later at home, not in the gym immediately following a game.

Because coaching is a big part of my life, and my kids are active in athletics, the 20 Minute Rule is one of the best pieces of advice I have been given.  Thanks to my wife.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


What do you think coaches are full of?  You guessed it, coaches are full of...knowledge.  Whether a coach is in their third year or twentieth year they have probably been exposed to many different offenses, set plays, defenses, schemes, philosophies, etc.  Like all sports basketball is evolving as there are new ideas being formed by coaches all the time.  Coaches are looking to learn about the new trendy offense, defense, or concept so the information out there for coaches is multiplies daily.  This new information gets stored in a filing cabinet, a file on a computer, and some of it is stored in the back of a coach's mind.  The coach never knows when they will need to reach into one of these files to use with their team.

Coaches have to be careful NOT to overload their players with too much information.  A coach has to have a good idea as to how much information their team can handle.  Some years you will be able to have more in your X & O arsenal while other years you may have to use far less.  Whatever the situation is the coach still needs to be careful not to overload their players.  Is it really necessary for your team to have 10 baseline out-of-bounds plays?  5 man-to-man offenses?  5 zone offenses?  10 set plays?  4 different full court presses?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Coaches need to remember "It's not what you know that counts, it's what your players know."  Give your players only what they can handle.  Givng players too many X's and O's will cause them to be hesitent on the court.  Players will be too concerned about where they are "supposed to be" rather than just reacting and playing. Giving your players a few things to know well allows them to play more free and aggressively.

One of the challenges of coaching is to take this knowledge that has been acquired over time and figure out which pieces of it can be or should be applied to your team.  There are two times of the year when coaches can add to what their teams do, off-season and in-season.

ADDING DURING THE OFF-SEASONEach coach has a general philosophy as to how their teams play (if they don't they better establish one).  Each coach needs to look at their returning roster and see if what they are doing in terms of style of play fits the ability of their players.  The off-season is the time when a coach can make a bigger change in style of play because the off-season gives the coach time to learn all the ins and outs of whatever their new X or O is.  Bigger changes during the off-season makes sense.

Changes made while the season is in progress should be more subtle than the off-season changes. Coaches need to be careful not to revamp everything they do in mid-season.  Keep the changes small. One example would be to add a set play to your offense that is a counter to your regular man-to-man or zone offense.  If you run the Flex Offense, a good idea would be to add a set play that starts out of your Flex set.

To review...
1. Gather as much knowledge as you can.
2. Decide what you can use with your team.
3. Do not overload your players with too much.
4. Bigger changes are made in the off-season.
5. In-season changes need to be subtle.