Friday, November 9, 2018

4 Man Inbounds Plays - A Solution for Youth Coaches

Often when I talk to youth coaches, especially about using SSGs and live play to practice the issue of putting in offense always comes up. A refrain I often hear is "we have to practice our inbounds plays 5 on 0 because we only have 8 guys". I'd respond that 3 on 5 is better than 5 on 0. But then I was thinking about it and came up with another option: Run all your inbounds plays with 4 active players and 1 player as a spacer and emergency "get open" guy. 

This will allow coaches to practice their inbounds plays basically live! They can do the basic actions with 4 players involved and they can practice the proper spacing and movement without needing to be in a 5 on 5 situation. If anyone ends up trying it out this year let me know. Below are some 4 man plays, but feel free to make up your own. I just looked at some classic inbounds plays and tried to figure out how to adapt them. Also I tried to run them so they'd fit the skill sets of middle school players.

Sample 4 Man Inbounds Plays
Editor's Notes: 

  • I show the extra player in the diagrams using a red "1" just to see what it would look like 5 on 5. So when you play it 4 on 4 you leave out the red "1".
  • I would introduce these 5 on 3 (or 5 on how many extra defenders you have) to get the general feel then run them 4 on 4. 
  • The numbers are meaningless - focus on the skill needed for that position. In the diagrams 5 is going to the rim, posting up, and looking for inside shots a lot. If your PG is great at posting, put him there. Put players where they fit in the plays. 
  • Modify them to get the shots your players can shoot. If they can shoot threes run them out there, if not run them to the mid range - I tried to show this in the diagrams. 
Wishbone Series
This series starts with the extra player at the top of the key, one player at the FT line, and a player on each block. The extra player at the top should cut to get the ball in an emergency - or if his guy leaves him to help. 

Wishbone - Double Cross
Start with a cross screen and the ft line player cutting to the corner. If no pass to the player coming off the screen or the cross screener sealing, hit 2. Inbounder fills the backside. The player who got the first cross screen sets another cross screen and then flashes to the elbow. 

Wishbone - Screen the Screener
Ball side block screens up for the free throw line player who cuts to the corner. The backside block back screens the screener and dives. If the ball goes to 2 the ballside block (4) cross screens and flashes high. 

Diamond Series
This series starts with a player at the rim, two elbows, and the extra player at the top. The extra player should cut to get open in an emergency or if his defender helps too much. 

Diamond - Pin
Basket player up screens backside elbow and the backside elbow comes to the ball side. The ball side elbow pins the screener to the corner and dives to the back side. 
Diamond - Side
Basket player screens up for the ball side who cuts to the backside block. Screener pops and gets it. The backside elbow chases and ball screens for a pick and pop. Inbounder fills the back side. Note: Here 1 would probably space to the backside wing when the pick and roll happens even if it's not shown on the diagram.

Diamond - Curl
The basket player cuts out and gets the ball at the wing. The ball side elbow cross screens the backside elbow who curls it. Inbounder fills opposite. The 5 who screened away chases and sets the ball screen for 2. 

Flat Series
This series starts with 4 players across the baseline.  The extra "1" player is the backside corner spacer. 

Flat - Cross
The ball side block and corner double screen for the backside block to the ball side corner. On the pass in the original corner cross screens the original ball side block and goes high. 

Flat - America
The backside block cross screens the ball side block. If that's not open throw to the corner. 5 pops, 3 gets out, and the corner screens down for the original back side block for a shot. 

 Flat - Flex
The corner screens in for the ball side block who pops out. The opposite block pops up his lane line. The screener then pops up the laneline and gets the ball. The inbounder steps in. Ball gets swung and we run the flex action. 

Flat - Pop
Ballside block rises up like they are going to get the ball.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Making a Quick Fill Practice Plan

It's been a while...almost two years in fact. Having a kid and being a head high school coach will do that to you. The older I get the more the Ferris Bueller quote on the right rings true. So I'm going to try to get back to blogging to "stop and look around" the basketball world, process more of the stuff I'm seeing, and in general reflect as a coach. Thanks to J.P. Nerbun for pushing me to do this again a few months ago as well.

I wanted my first blog post back to be a solid one, and I think I've got just the thing. Below is a step by step process of how I'm making a "Quick Fill" practice plan for the season. And by "quick fill" I don't mean one of those apps with all the pre-loaded drills that don't fit you, your system, or your team. What I mean is a way to quickly plan a practice using your activities and your philosophy!

 My plan is for me to use it as well as have our lower level coaches using it. It ensures we are all doing the same practice activities and teaching basically the same way - which is good for our program and player development. It also helps me to make practice plans quicker! Note: I'm not going to include any links to mine, or templates of mine because I think the process of designing your own is very important and enlightening. 

So first start by designing your practice plan. One of ours is below. I always try to start with the goals for practice - which focuses the rest of the plan. It's great to review a plan and see - does what we are doing match our goals? I like to have a time, the activity, the goal, and the constraints (violations or other special rules for our SSGs). I also like an area at the end to put our teams for different games we are going to play. The area that says "activity" is where you are going to be able to plug in your drop down menu to quick fill a practice plan. There is no wrong way to set up a plan as long as you've got an area for the drills, games, activities. We've stopped calling practice stuff drills or games, and went to activities - another blog for another time.

The next thing you need to do is create a second sheet on Google Sheets. Click the "plus" in the bottom left corner and a second sheet will appear.  See the red arrows. 

On the second page I break it into two parts - Practice Phases and Diagrams. I write one in each top cell. We use big font to distinguish them even though the differences in font size won't show up on the plan. Practice phases is where the practice activities ultimately go. Diagrams is where we will put fast draw diagrams. The diagrams won't show up on the plan, but they are there if coaches need them for reference. 

Under "Practice Phase" I put each phase in a font smaller than Practice Phase and in the cells below. We see phases as different parts of the game - transition to defense, defense, transition to offense, and offense. We have skill work as a 5th one that doesn't really fit in the 4 but we prefer it be separated out. 

Next thing to add is the smaller parts of that phase, if needed, as additional cells under that phase. And again, I go down a font size to distinguish it. An example of a smaller part of skill development would be "driving and finishing".

Lastly, I add the activity in the smallest font size. In as many cells as I need - each activity gets it's own cell. I then type the activity on the far left of the cell. I then space down, indent 3 spaces, and write description. Then space down, indent 6 spaces and write what we do in the drill/game/activity. I then add an emphasis portion on the bottom in similar fashion. It is also important to note that the width of your practice phase column should be exactly the same as your activity column on the plan or the formatting will be goofy.

Then go to the insert tab and insert the play diagrams from Fastmodel. You don't have play diagrams just skip that column all together. 

We use the diagrams as a reminder of what each activity is if we need it as we fill in our plans and think about the upcoming practice. 

Now we format our practice plan to have a dropdown menu. Start by selecting one of the cells under Activity and right clicking (or control and click for Apple folks) and select "Data Validation". 

Then go to the second sheet and click on the Criteria box. 

Highlight and add ALL the cells under practice phase. Repeat for each box on your practice plan. 

Now if I click on the little arrow in each box under "Activity" I have a drop down menu for all the practice activities our program is going to use. The heading and sub headings are there to guide you as well. 

I will readily admit it is tedious to set up it will save you a fair bit of time during the season. Your staff will be more in alignment which is good for a program. It will also help you keep from teaching too many drills and not enough basketball if you keep it tight. I'd suggest as you do this trying to make it as concise as possible. What is the minimum number of practice activities you can have, per area, to keep it fresh but not spend time teaching new drill/game after new drill/game? Anyway, have fun and hope it works for you!