Saturday, September 26, 2009

Having a Substitution Routine - And Teaching It

Checking into and coming out of a game, it's a simple thing, sometimes. Players checking in and out, moreover how they do it, can have a very big effect on your team in a number of ways. Having, teaching, and enforcing a set routine on subsitutions can have a very positive effect on your team. Below are some negative situations and how you can change them to be positive impacts on your team.

Situation 1:
Player A checks in for player B, player A runs in, points at B who runs off. On the next defensive posession the player that A was guarding (who B should have been guarding) takes the ball and dribbles in for a layup because player B forgot to ask player A who he was guarding.
Solution 1:
It's a simple thing, but teach and drill your players on communicating with the player they are going in for to find out any offensive/defensive assignments. What I prefer is giving player A a water bottle, towel, or something else and having him hand it to player B. Player A cannot let go of the towel/bottle until he tells player B what his assignments were. If player B does not know what he is doing, player A is held accountable. Also makes players aware of who is coming in for who. Simple but can be effective.

Situation 2:
Player A checks in for player B. Player B is mad that he got taken out and stomps to the end of the bench where he proceeds to pout.
Solution 2:
If you haven't taught and drilled this as unacceptable behavior, it's harder to enforce it as such. The routine I like is having any player that gets taken out have a seat on the bench next to the head coach. No matter what, players that come out are required to sit in that seat - and are not allowed to move until directed by the coach - they then slide down one seat. This takes care of a lot of the end of the bench tirades and pouting that takes place on so many basketball courts. It also gives you, as the coach (or your assistant) a chance to calm them down and refocus them. If they do not come to thier assigned seat, then can be more effectively disciplined I feel.

So there are the two routines I teach and they are things I feel are worth taking the time to teach. Have others? Help me out and pass them along!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Never Lose Sight of When It Was Magic...

I know I just posted yesterday (see below), but I decided I had to post again today.

I was working my elementary open gym tonight and started thinking about my basketball experiences at that age. And just like that my first ever REAL BASKET, in a REAL GAME came flooding back to me.

It was the last game of the season, I was in kindergarden playing YMCA ball in Virginia (MN). It was actually at the old Eveleth (MN) YMCA with the dark, dingy gym. Anyway, it was my last game, hadn't scored yet but had tried many times. I just couldn't put it up there. It was toward the end of the game and a teammate threw a pass my way, I was right under the basket, on the right side, in perfect position. I caught the ball and heaved it up there with all my might, and by the grace of God the thing went in! I still can't believe it did. But of all the parts of the memory that came back to me, the most vivid part was the pure, magical joy I felt seeing that ball go through. Didn't make another basket the rest of the game, and finished with only one basket, but that one basket may have been the happiest basket I ever made. It was a rare moment when the game was pure and good, when nothing else mattered but the fact I made that basket.

The reason I told this story was not to show how great of a basketball player I was/am (because let's be honest, I'm not!), it wasn't simply to share a story about myself, it is because the story reminded me of a time in my life when there was no pressure to win or perform, when basketball was completely pure. I urge you (coach or player/fan) to revisit those lost memories of when basketball was simple and pure, remind yourself of that time. And also, as a coach, to remind your teams of that time in their lives, to remind your team that at the end of the day basketball is a great and pure game.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Condensing Your System

It's my personal belief that players win games, schemes do not. As a coach I want to introduce some concepts and ideas on offense and defense to help my players be successful, but at the end of the day I'm more interested in developing players than developing offenses and defenses. My philosophy is run a few things and run them well instead of running 7000 things.

As a high schooler I went to two high schools and played for two different varsity football coaches. The first man I played for ran 3 formations, and we probably only had 15 or so plays, but boy we ran them well. The second coach I played for had 120 plays and 16 formations in our playbook, we were constantly confused about what was going on.
The first coach I mentioned has made many, many trips to the state football tournament, is in the Minnesota Football Coaches Hall of Fame I believe, and everyone regards as a living legend. The second coach was out of football after two years as a head coach and has not coached again. Both coaches had roughly the same amount of talent, but the first spent more time developing it than the first.

This is why I'm a firm believer in running a few things and running them well, having offenses and defenses that are multidimensional instead of having a different offense or defense for every situation. A coach and I on a message board had this philosophical disagreement, I am not saying my way is right, but it's probably my firmest belief as a coach. He liked the idea of running a different defense and offense for every situation, I personally would rather run a few things with wrinkles to address different situations.

Instead of needing a different offense for half court man, half court zone, half court man pressure, half court zone traps, etc, I like to think I've built a half court offense that can simply/easily adapt to what the defense throws at us (I can see having two half court offenses for man vs zone, but anymore than that is unneeded in my opinion). Instead of having 3-4 BLOB sets, have 1 with a bunch of counters to take advantage of what the defense does. Same thing with defenses, instead of teaching 2-3 different kinds of full court presses, teach one full court press with options and then get good at that one press. Make that one press able to counter a few different pressbreaks. Same goes for half court defense, I believe in a staple defense and a simple backup you add later in the year. The more things you can combined and have multiple looks from the better. For instance, this year I've taken my break and added a simple wrinkle that turns it into a 3 across pressbreak in case we can't get the ball in and run. So that cuts down teaching time for a pressbreak and a fastbreak.

Anyway, as a coach, look at your system and figure out if there are anyways you can condense them down to cut down on teaching. Any way you can take your man to man offense and streamline it to be able to be used against zones - some can, some can't. I just think the more efficient you become the better you can teach what you do, if your pressbreak come from your fastbreak the players will have a better context on which to learn the pressbreak and it will flow much better. Anyway, it's just my opinion.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Envelopes

This is something that I'm going to do for my guys this year and I'll see how it goes. I thought of it for no reason the other day and thought it was kind of cool.

I am going to give each of my players three envelopes. One is going to say "Five Months", another is going to say "25 Years" and the last is going to say "50 Years". The players are going to write down their goals for each time period. What they want in five months from basketball (our team/their personal goals), what they want in twenty five years from their lives (career, family, friends, financially, etc), and finally what they want in fifty years from their lives (career, family, retirement, etc). Along with their goals, they are going to write down some ways they are going to meet their goals in their lives, how they are going to act and what they want to accomplish.

For the five months they are going to talk about what they want from the season as an individual, team, and program. Hopefully we'll talk about working hard, etc.

After they finish writing out they forms, they put them into the envelopes and seal them. Then every time they look at the envelope (daily/weekly/whenever) it should remind them about the goals that are enclosed in it and how they were supposed to be getting there. Hopefully that helps them to focus on their goals.

At the end of the time (5 months, 25 years, 50 years) they should open the envelope and see where they are at and how well they did in achieving their goals.

If the players are underclassmen you could have them fill out extra envelopes for each year that they have left to play. So five months (sr-so-fr), one year and five months (jr-so-fr), two years and five months (so-fr), and three years and five months (fr). This way the player are laying out their aspirations and goals for the following years. It gives them a roadmap to where they want to go.

Hopefully this is something you can use to help your players set their goals for their careers, and more importantly their lives.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

How Does Your DOFT Match Up With What You Want?

The "DOFT" is something I thought of randomly today and decided to share. DOFT is just acronym for the things you work on in practice every day. The letters DOFT stand for:

Transition (both offense and defense)

These are the basic categories anything you do in practice can be put into. The amount of minutes you do for each one is the "score" of that letter. For instance if I spent 50 minutes in practice on fundamentals, my "F-Score" would be a 50. To look at my "F-Score" for a week I would simply add up all the "F-Scores" for the week. I don't have conditioning on there because for me conditioning happens all through practice, I don't condition without a ball. 

I think it is important to look at your DOFT numbers for a given day, week, month, and/or season to see if the number align up with your philosophy. If you are a "defensive coach" yet your O-Scores are much higher than your D-Scores there is probably a gap between your philosophy and execution of that philosophy. 

I also think they are numbers that can be helpful if you are struggling in a given area. Let's say for the last couple of games your offense has not been executing like it should. You go back and look at your O-Scores over the last two weeks and notice that you really haven't been spending much time on team offense the last few weeks and that is the problem. At the same time,  if you may go over the O-Scores, see they are where they should be that gives you two different avenues to explore: 1. your guys just are not executing and you need to may more attention to detail in practice or 2. you are not focusing on the right things in practice. 

You can also use DOFT scores to see what individual teams need. Going back to offense again, maybe mid-season you notice that your teams perform best on offense when their O-Scores are at or above a certain point - and you need to spend that amount of time on offense. It can help you adjust year to year to account for the different personalities of individual teams from year to year. 

Also, when you get your scores over a period of time, you can divide them by total practice time and get the DOFT Ratios. Then you can see what percentage of your time is spend in practice in each area, on average. It again allows you to better align philosophies with your practice execution and planning. 

As with anything on this blog, none of this is going to blow you away and make you say "WOW AMAZING IDEA, CAN'T BELIEVE I EVER COACHED WITHOUT THIS"! That's not what this blog is about. But at the same time, it's something a little different. It's an easy tool you can use to analyze what you are doing in your daily practices and what effect it is having on the court. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fall Shooting Camps

Been awhile since I posted. School started for us a week and a half ago (wow- it has flown by). I have been working on being a good classroom teacher, which in the end is the important job! Anyway, I'm back and hope to keep posting regularly. 

Many times, coaches have nothing to do in the fall. In the fall we can't work with any of our high school guys in the fall. I take this time to focus in on my middle school group. Every Sunday until the season starts I'm going to host a free shooting camp for my middle school students. While I ran open gyms for the all summer, this is an additional thing I can do with them. It also helps to develop some shooters for the coming years - something every coach wants. One of the reasons I like shooting camps is that there is little to no risk of getting the football players injured during the camp. If it was full contact and guys were playing, kids could get hurt and your workouts could take a negative PR hit. 

Another group that is great to work with during this time is the elementary group. We run free elementary basketball open gyms/workouts on Mondays. It's just a way to get players into the gym, and anytime you can do that you are doing something right!! 

Anytime you can work with your younger kids, I would encourage you to do it. Remember you are not just working with young kids (which is rewarding in itself), you are working with your future varsity guys! Sometimes during the year we get so busy with our group of kids and we completely forget about the younger levels. That is why I ALWAYS try to take this time of year to focus on that part of our program (or whatever program I have been with). It's a vital part to our success at the varsity level.