Plays, Coaching, and the Copycat Syndrome

As the season winds down, and we move into April, coaching clinic season is here. Every spring, coaches spend a lot of money to listen to elite coaches offer a few tidbits of real knowledge. The coaches in the audience scribble down every word, play, and drill; if it is good enough for a famous elite coach, it is good enough for them. […]

Chaos, Creativity, and Right & Wrong in Youth Basketball

I am not anti-set play. I tend toward being a set-play coach as opposed to a motion coach. However, I attempt to teach in a way that does not restrict: Our plays are more like entries into a semi-structured freelance offense as opposed to directions to follow explicitly.  […]

Offensive Basketball: Caught Between Two Minds

In previous seasons, I used very little structure offensively. I was coaching high-school freshman, so I wanted them to learn to see the game and to make plays, rather than running plays. I wanted to provide freedom to make and learn from mistakes of decisions rather than mistakes of not running the play correctly. My goal was developmental, not winning, and I felt the relative lack of structure enhanced the development, as all the players had opportunities to practice all the skills – passing, shooting, dribbling, cutting, posting, etc.  […]

Coaching a European Club – Week 6

The week started with a game, so there was no time to practice any of our issues from the weekend’s game. We started off in the lead, despite several missed lay-ups and free throws, so I thought we would eventually be okay. I took out one starter because he looked like he was sleep-walking, and after the first quarter, he was the only one who I felt was competing 100%. The game just got worse and worse, and we lost by 20. We largely played the same way as we did on the weekend, we just faced a better opponent.  […]

Coaching Frosh Basketball – Week 6

We lost a close game. We fell behind early, as per usual. I attribute our early difficulties to two things: (1) our players are comfortable; none is willing to push beyond his comfort zone. Therefore, we practice at one tempo, but the game is at another tempo. We do not have a player who pushes the other players to increase the intensity, so it takes a while for us to adjust to the game tempo. (2) every team that we play runs dozens of set plays. In this game, the coach called out a play on every possession. For the entire first quarter, they ran a different play on almost every possession. The first time that we see the play, our opponent generally gets a good shot. After we see the play once or twice, we adjust and take away the first couple options. Our opponent needed a late fade-away three to hit double-digits in the second half.  […]

Why Are Set Plays Dangerous for Young Players?

I attended a university lecture on decision-making and the presenter showed a version of this video (There are many versions of this online). Please watch this video before reading the article below. Why do people miss the moonwalking bear? When people focus on one task – counting the passes made by the white team – they Read more about Why Are Set Plays Dangerous for Young Players?[…]

Two Ways to View Basketball: Clocks and Clouds

In the May 2010 Wired, Jonah Lehrer writes about problems with MRIs in an article titled “Lost in the Details.” At the end of the article, he quotes Karl Popper, a philosopher of science who divided the world into clocks and clouds. “Clocks are neat, orderly systems that can be solved through reduction; clouds are Read more about Two Ways to View Basketball: Clocks and Clouds[…]