Last week, while in Vancouver, British Columbia, the conversation turned to a very successful small college coach and his system of play. This coach employs the “Grinnell system” and is convinced that players love to play in the system. Many coaches believe the same thing about the Dribble-Drive-Motion: players today only like to dunk and shoot threes so they love the system.
I disagree. I see something else at work. I believe that players love to play. I think we view the success of certain coaches with a certain system and equate their success with their system of play. However, I think their success has more to do with their coaching style.
Generally-speaking, a coach who employs the Grinnell-system or the D-D-M is more tolerant of mistakes. He gives players more freedom to play. Many of these teams use more players, which keeps reserve players engaged. Their practices are more active because they spend less time reviewing 5v0 offensive sets and more time focused on dribbling, passing and shooting.
I think that the players respond to these things, not the particular system. I think that a coach could run any system that he wants and if he was tolerant of mistakes, gave players freedom, engaged the entire roster and ran active practices, the players would respond with the same intensity and effort.
Players do not have a favorite system of play. Players want to play, they want to improve, they want to feel like an important part of the team, they want to enjoy the experience, they want fresh challenges and as they get older, they want an opporunity to win or play in post-season tournaments.
Players respond to coaches who show them respect, teach them something new, empower them on the court and care about them off the court.