Saturday, July 14, 2012


Another Saturday at means another opportunity for coaches to share with other coaches.  Thank you to all the coaches who contributed to last week's question. We had a number of great responses from coaches.  A willingness to share and learning from other coaches are two great things about the coaching profession.

Read today's question (listed below) and send your response to  Your response could be listed in tomorrow's (Sunday) blog. 

What are some successful TEAM BONDING exercises you have done with your teams?

Friday, July 13, 2012


You don't have to be a hall of fame coach to know that a good screen is one of the most effective weapons to use for your team's offense.  Whether it is a screen on the ball or a screen to free up a teammate it is one of the best ways to get a player open.  

You can go to any basketball game, played at any level, and you will ultimately see a coach talk to a player about setting better screens.  I have witnessed coaches letting a player know their displeasure for them not setting a good screen for one of their teammates.  I've done this myself on many occasions.  "Get a wide base, chest out, knees bent, get big, and stay put" are words we've all probably said to a player as a reminder for setting a good screen.  True, those instructions are needed, but in most cases it is not the screener who needs to be talked to.  The player being screened for holds the highest amount of responsibility for the screen to be effective.

I challenge you to focus more on the player using the screen.  It IS a skill to know how to use a screen properly.  You can have the strongest player in your league get in proper position to set a screen, and if the the player using the screen doesn't do it properly the screen being set is useless - it serves no purpose.  A big portion of the responsibility for a screen to be effective falls on the player using the screen, not the screener.  Your players have to know how to read the defense in a screen situation.  For that to happen coaches must teach their players how to use the screen.

Below are some coaching points when teaching your players how to use a screen properly.
1. On a ball screen, the ball handler has to read the defense.  If the on ball defender goes under the screen the ball handler will look to pull up and shoot.  If the defender hedges, look to split it. If the on ball defender is gets caught on the screen, look to get around the edge and attack the basket.
2. On a down screen, if the defender is following the player being screened for look to make a curl cut.  If the defender tries to go underneath the screen, the cutter should look to make a fade cut.  The player being screened for must also look to come directly off the screen and make what we call a direct cut (meaning cutting directly to where the offense needs them to go).

Setting the screen is important, but using it properly is what really makes the screen effective.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The coaching profession is extremely rewarding.  Just like every profession there are highs and lows.  But the rewards of being a coach makes the coach rich.  Rich?  Not monetarily, unless you're a high priced NBA or college coach.  The riches that come with being a coach are the fact a coach can positively impact the lives of other people.

Have you ever wondered why you gravitated towards coaching?  If each coach were to write a list of all the reasons they decided to be a coach you would get a number of different responses on those lists, along with plenty of similarities.  It is highly probable that somewhere on their list each coach would have the name of a coach that had a positive impact on them when they were an athlete.  Whether you are a new coach, or a coach nearing retirement, we all had at least one coach who made a positive impact that helped us become the person we are today.

I challenge you to give back to that coach today.  What impact would you have on that coach if you contacted them today to let them know you appreciated all they did for you?  With today's technology you should be able to find a way to contact your old coach whether it is a phone call, text, email, or a letter in the mail.  If this coach is unfortunately no longer with us you can contact one of their family members to thank them for all the good Coach did for you.

It would be easy to read this article, set it aside, and forget about it.  But ask yourself, "How powerful would it be if one of my former players contacted me to say thanks?"  POWERFUL!  Give back to the coaches who positively impacted you and let them know you appreciate them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


How prepared is your team?  There are countless situations in basketball that a coach must have their team prepared for.  The following situation may only happen one time during your season, if at all, but when the situation arises you will be glad your team was prepared.  To be prepared for it means you have to practice it.

Situation:  You are down by 4 points.  Your team has the ball, baseline out of bounds.  No timeouts left.  You have to go the length of the floor.  Five seconds remain on the game clock. 

One way to attack this situation is by first having a way to get the ball to a player you would like to take the last shot.  This could be getting a certain player the ball directly on the inbounds pass or on the first pass after the ball is thrown in play.

Because you are down by four points, and only time for one shot, obviously attempting just a 3-point basket does you no good.  So you need to teach your players to get a three point shot while attempting to draw contact and foul from the nearest defender.  This can get you to the free throw line, and with a made three point basket a chance at a four point play.

Obviously this isn't something you would practice with your players every day.  The inbounds play should be practiced weekly for sure, but the actual practice of shooting while drawing contact, no.  You have countless other things to work on.

Expect the unexpected and BE PREPARED FOR IT.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Coaches want their players to play with a level of toughness.  Asking them to play tough is one thing, but teaching them to play tough is another.  One drill to use to help create a toughness in your team is the  3-on-3 Dead Ball Drill.

*Deny defense
*Mental Toughness

*Three offensive players start with one player on the point, and one on each wing.
*Defender on the ball gives ball pressure. The wing defenders are in full deny position.

*Split your team into groups of three.
*Offense cannot dribble. They are not shooting either. They must use pivots to create space so they can make passes.
*Defense denies their person the ball.  No help responsibilities.
*One rep is for 30 seconds. Offense can use the entire halfcourt area. Do not go out of bounds.
*Offense plays keep away from the defense while the defenders are denying every pass.
*If the defense gets a turnover, or they tip the ball out of bounds the rep is over. Then defense goes to offense and a new defensive team comes on the floor.
*If the offense goes the duration of the rep (30 seconds) without a turnover or tipped pass, they win. For every rep a group of three has a turnover or a tipped pass they will be assigned some type of running or push-ups.  Example:  one line drill for every tipped pass or turnover.

Coaches will learn a lot about players as this is an exhausting drill, but it reinforces the mentality a defender must have to be successful and how well an offensive player can keep their composure.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Every player on your roster is important.  Each player is important not only to the success of your team, but also to the personality of your team.  A player who plays in every third game has the ability to impact your team just as much as a player who starts every game.  Yes, it's true, but ONLY if they know and understand their role.

You can have superior talent, but if your team does not have a sense of togetherness then it is more unlikely your team will reach their full potential.  Talent IS important to the success of a team.  Some of your players have the talent to score.  Some can defend the ball extremely well.  Others have the talent to set up their teammates for easy scores.  But how many of your players have the talent to put the team first?  This is a talent needed to help any team reach their full potential.

The responsibility to get a team to understand this falls directly on the coach.  How does a coach get their players to put the team first?  The answer is simple, communicate with your players and help them understand their roles.

Meet with your players and talk to them about the role they have.  Players may not always like to hear what a coach has to say, but there is some sense of peace for a player when they know where they stand.  A player isn't going to like hearing that they probably aren't going to get into every game.  Or if they are in your regular rotation they may not like hearing they aren't needed to shoot the three.  But the player-coach conversation cannot end there.  The coach has to let the player know that the things they can do for the team are of great value.  That may be to challenge your team's point guard in practice, or to keep a particular teammate's confidence level high by supporting them.  Or a player in your rotation may need to hear that their job is to set great screens, defend, and rebound.  Whatever it is they have to know it is important to the success of the team because it IS important.  It may not be glamorous but it is important.  A player that plays their role well is a player who puts the team first.
One way to help with the communication is to periodically schedule meetings with your players.  The coaching staff should sit down with each player and talk with them about their roles.  Coaches cannot assume that players understand their roles.  These meetings will help clear up any gray area that may be out there.  If you can regularly schedule these meetings throughout your season a coach would be able to meet with each player every couple weeks.

Your team has a better chance to be more upbeat, excited about being together, and reaching their potential if each player understands their role on the team AND knows their role is important.  Coaches, schedule those regular meetings with your players.  It takes time, but it will definitely pay off in the end.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Yesterday coaches were asked to share some of their thoughts on length of practice time during the season.  Below are some of the responses.  Thank you to all the coaches who shared!

"Regardless of the time of season we are in we never stay on the court for more than two hours."
 ~Coach T (WI) High School Coach

"At the beginning of the season we keep our players on the floor about two-and-a-half hours.  Once our games start it goes down to two hours.  At the end of the season I lessen it to ninety minutes."
~Coach Brent (MA) High School Coach

"I've always had the policy that in the last third of our season I don't keep our players on the court for more than two hours."
~Coach B.E. (TX) High School Coach

"Longer at the beginning of the year.  Shorten practice up as the year goes on."
~Coach M (FL) Youth Coach

"We keep our players on the court for about 2 hours to start. As we start to prepare for our post-season tournament we spend less time on the court (maybe 80 minutes) and we watch film more."
~Coach G (MN) High School Coach

"I generally don't have a specific amount of time for my teams.  Each team is different each year and I have to gauge what they can handle and need as far as practice time goes.  One piece of advice I have for younger coaches is don't keep your team on the floor for longer periods of time just because you scheduled a practice for 'x' hours. Watch your players and talk to them to gauge what they can handle each day."
~Coach T (WA)

"Depends on what our objectives are for each day. Some days we practice longer if we need it."
~Coach M (IL)