Your Team's Plays And Drills Should Be Unique!

Bring Forth The Potential Of Your Team.
You know how to become a better basketball player or coach.  Do you  study and learn drills and plays designed by some expert? 
Why use someone else's idea of how drills should be run or a play diagrammed for your team?  When you design your own plays and you design your own drills to support those plays everything's much more elegant for you and your team.  After all who knows more about your team and which basketball skills need improving than you?  Besides it makes you think.  Makes you think about the game.  Think about your team.  Think about your team's short comings and abundances.  If every team has them, and every team does, then every team is unique.

Well then shouldn't your basketball plays and drills also be unique?  If you're a brand new coach with young players you need a starting point (see Musings below to help you and your new team understand what's about to happen).  If you're a brand new coach with some talented players you need a different starting point (see Musings below to help you and your new team understand what's about to happen).  If you're an experienced coach with a new team or an experienced team you need yet another starting point (see Musings below to help you and your new team understand what's about to happen).  These 'Musings' will help all coaches at every level of play to design their own plays and drills.  These 'Musings' will help all coaches understand themselves and their team to a degree never before been reached. 

Basketball Drills - Lay ups:
Every player on your team should be able to make a lay-up 95% of the time.  Shooting 50% from the field (from the field = anything other than a lay-up or a slam dunk) is what pro's shoot; I would not expect your players to be much better than that.  Given this information it makes sense for your team to shoot lay-ups as often as possible.  Yes, eventually your opponents will realize this is your offensive strategy; dare them to stop you.  Here's how; your first basketball shooting drills are lay-ups: standing, jumping, running full speed, running half speed, contested and uncontested; once your team is hitting uncontested lay-ups 70% of the time, set up a token defense to hinder them. Once your team is hitting lay-ups as a team 70% of the time against a token defense then lightly ramp up the pressure.  If you take it  s l o w l y results will come faster than if you push on the defensive side too hard and too fast.  Since you're ratcheting up the defensive pressure   s l o w l y  you are giving yourself all the time necessary to teach proper defensive moves, stances, and postures.  Soon your players will be shooting difficult lay-ups over serious defensive pressure at a 70% clip, in practice.  OK, so how do you get your players open to receive a pass under the basket during a game?  Mismatches.

Exploiting mismatches.
Creating mismatches and exploiting mismatches.  But first one must understand what a mismatch is.  Scoring opportunities are developed around mismatches.  Mismatches present themselves in a variety of ways during a game. 
Some obvious examples are: A fast break opportunity after a defense gathers up a rebound, becoming the offense, and a player is down court under the basket all alone.  An accurate full court pass to that open player turns into an uncontested lay up.  Because of a broken play a 5'2" point guard is down in the paint guarding a 6'9" power forward.  A good inlet pass to the post results in what is essentially an uncontested lay up.  Because of a switch in man-to-man coverage a 6'11" center is out on the perimeter guarding a 6' point guard.  Using a beautiful cross over dribble and a blow by move the point guard drives in for an uncontested lay up.  Just three examples of mismatches created during the flow of a game.  An offense's responsibility is creating, recognizing, then taking advantage of mismatches.  This is what ALL offensive plays are designed to do.  If a designed play fails, then a team looks to create a mismatch and exploit that mismatch with a one on one move, a pick and roll move, or a give and go move, whichever one will exploit the most obvious mismatch presently on the court. 
An open player under the basket is without a doubt the best mismatch on the court.  Three plays that create an open man under the basket are a pick and roll, a give and go, and a back door (which is generally created as option #2 from a one on one, a pick and roll, or a give and go) play. 
If your players really understand the theories and branch theories behind these simple offenses, that same understanding will afford you the knowledge to properly defend any offense with a simple, elegant and effective defense.  You cannot really understand these underlying theories and branch theories from reading about them.  This understanding that can be nurtured only through experience. 

Basketball Drills - Give and Go:
The simplest way to get a player open under the basket or on a clear path to the basket is with a give-and-go play.  Here's how it works: Player #1 has the ball and passes the ball to an open teammate, player #2, who is ready to receive the pass.  If #1 calls out #2's name, the defense will key their attention on #2 and on the ball.  While the pass is in the air the defense is watching the ball and anticipating the catch.   While the pass is in the air and the defense is watching the ball #1 breaks for the basket.  Normally all attention is focused on the ball and player #2.  #1 is being ignored.  Immediately #2 passes the ball to the breaking and open #1.  #1 is now all alone and close to the basket for a wide open drive or lay-up. 
You just witnessed a give-and-go.  John Stockton and Carl Malone, of the Utah Jazz, scored literally thousands of points in the NBA running this precise play.  Everybody on the court knew they were going to run the play yet the defense was unable to prevent them from scoring on this most basic of basketball plays.  Dare them to stop you.
Let's pretend the defense kept up with the last play and #1 wasn't open.  Well then #2 passes the ball to an open player, #3.  While the ball is in the air #2 breaks for the basket.  If #2 is open near or under the basket then #3 passes the ball to #2 for a lay-up.  If #2 is covered then #3 passes the ball to an open #4.  While the ball is in the air #3 breaks for the basket.  If #3 is open near or under the basket then #4 passes the ball to #3 for a lay-up.  If #3 is covered then #4 passes the ball to an open #5.  While the ball is in the air #4 breaks for the basket.  If #4 is open near or under the basket then #5 passes the ball to #4 for a lay-up.  If #4 is covered then #5 passes the ball to an open #1.  While the ball is in the air #5 breaks for the basket.   If #5 is open near or under the basket then #1 passes the ball to #5 for a lay-up.  If #5 is covered then #1 passes the ball to an open #2.  You should be getting the drift by now.
Often this 'motion' is all the half-court offense a team needs.  Now I can give you a drill to run during your practice to teach this motion to your team and have it become second nature or you can get creative and design your own drill around your team's specific shortcomings and specific abundances.  Understand, while you're teaching this offense, through a drill you design for your team, you're also teaching defense, and you work it like you did your lay-up shooting drills.  A token defense to begin with that slowly evolves into a death trap of a defense only your offense is capable of breaking down. 

Basketball Drills - Pick and Roll:
Eventually you may find you need to supplement this give-and-go motion in order to make your offense work with a little more certainty.  This is the time to introduce the pick to your team.  You do this by explaining that player #3 can assist #1 in getting open by creating a wall that #1's defender must go through or around; either way slows #1's defender down enough for #1 to get open near or under the basket. Once players grasp this concept it becomes very easy for a pick to morph into a pick-and-roll.  A pick throws chaos into the mixture; chaos for the defense that is.  The defense can be zone or man-to-man, the results are the same.  As #3 sets a pick for #1 to utilize in getting open; #3's defensive player stays with #3.  When #1's defensive player realizes #1 is breaking to the hoop, #1's defensive player attempts to stay with #1.  If #3 and #1 have positioned themselves on the court properly #1's defensive player will run directly into #3's pick.  When #3's defensive player sees #1's defense get stopped he then switches from defending #3 to defending #1.  Well, #1's original defensive man is still in the mode of playing defense on #1, so #1 now has two defensive players and #3 has none.  So #3 rolls to the basket, open, in order to receive a pass from #2.  This specific play gives #2 three options: 1) #2 can pass the ball to #1 if #1 is open; 2) #2 can pass the ball to #3 if #3 is open; 3) If #1 and #3 are both covered #2 can pass the ball to an open #4.  I'm certain you can see the infinite branches these two plays open up to you and your team. 
Introduce the pick and roll only after your team has mastered and is completely comfortable with the give and go.  Once your team has mastered the give-and-go, the pick-and-roll falls right into place and is understood and is easily and quickly mastered.  Shooting is always an option for every player, but we're teaching give-and-go, pick-and-roll here. 
When your team is very comfortable integrating the pick-and-roll with the give-and-go you will have accomplished the following: Your team will be shooting lay-ups on most of your offensive half-court plays.  Your team's defense will be stifling because they will be learning to defend this motion as they are learning to run it.  During the flow of the game your team's offense will be on auto-pilot while you watch them improvise their way through the defense.  Your team's defense will create many fast break opportunities and this motion offense integrates splendidly into a fast break offense.  In other words your half-court offense and your fast break offense are identical.  Your offense will naturally learn court spacing.  Since you're not relying on jump shooters to provide offense you will find you can substitute at will without losing your team's effectiveness, thereby keeping fresh legs on the court at all times. 

Experiment with your practice drills.  Design multiple drills teaching the same things differently, always keeping game conditions in mind.  The more game situations you can replicate in practice the more smoothly your plays will run in a game.  Practices define the attitude of a team.  This attitude becomes ingrained in the player's minds and hearts and becomes the definition of the team.  Players and teams play what and how they practice.  Practices become a learned behavior.  Because your team will be causing so much chaos for your opposition's defense, your team will shoot free throws frequently.  It is very important your team have a high shooting percentage on these free shots at the basket.  Following the book, "Basketball - It's All About The Shot," will insure high performance shooting from the free throw line, and also from the field. 

You want to know how to become a better player or basketball coach?  Think about the game, think about your team, think about your team's short comings and abundances.  Design your own plays, and design your own drills; who knows more about your team and which basketball skills need improving more than you? 

With Basketball Quotes, Some From Unknown Sources Coaches:
Rules to follow for developing a wonderful team to coach.
Team Captains: Rules to follow for developing wonderful teammates.
Players: Rules to follow for becoming a wonderful teammate.
No answers are right or wrong, these are exploratory questions for you to find out about your team, teammates, and yourself; the more we know about one another the more we can help one another grow and excel.
The Rules in a very loose order:
Confidential talks with athletes: Why are you playing basketball?  What is your perceived ability?  What are your expectations?  What are your goals?  Long term?  Short term?  What do you expect to do in games?  What do you expect to do in practice?  What are your off court basketball related activities?  Do you want practices to be challenging?   Are you a player that gives 100%?  Are you a player that wants to give 100%?  Are you a player that gives 1%?  Do you want to work hard and have fun?  Do you want to coast and have fun?  Do you want to play on any sporting team in college?  Do you need a scholarship in order to attend college?  What kind of student are you?  Is it important that every team member gets at least ten minutes of game time at the expense of possibly losing a game, or have a 7 to 9 player rotation and play only to win? 
Although this is after school and we’re playing a sport this is also a classroom.  Unlike most other classrooms, we will be teaching each other.  You will mostly be teaching me how and what to teach you, directly and indirectly, by what you say and by your actions.  85% of communication is nonverbal.  It is therefore important that we expand our nonverbal communication.  Use your teammates name before passing the ball.  Everyone can learn to play at a high performance level.  Some sooner than others.  Everyone will be better at one aspect of the game than another. 
Everyone can learn to: Shoot and make lay-ups; right handed and left handed - without looking back to see if it went in. 
Shoot and make baby-hook lay-ups; right handed and left handed.  Box out.  Execute the pick-and-roll.  Execute the give-and-go.  Know what your teammates are prone to do, good and bad.  Give 100% attention and effort.  Dribble well with both hands.  Know all plays; Be able to execute all plays without error.  Spin the basketball on your finger.  Juggle. (Karate. Chi-gong is optional.) 

10 guidelines to follow unless you want to warm the bench:
Sprint back on defense; keep your hands above your hips; box out, or if there is no one to box find an open spot on the floor where
a rebound is likely to go; know where all ten players are; fill the lanes on fast breaks or get the ball to the middle; set smart picks and be prepared to roll; look to participate in give-and-go opportunities; think… what are we doing?.. where should I be? 
Everyone can learn when to use which type of pass.
I’m going to tell you what I’m going to teach you.  Then I’m going to tell you what you’re learning.  Then I’m going to tell you what you just learned, how you learned it, and when and where you are going to apply it!  This works like “wax on, wax off.” 
I don’t care why you are here.  That you are here for some reason is all that’s important to me.  I will be giving homework assignments, they are as important as your other assignments, and just like your other assignments I expect them to be completed.  I’m going to train you to be basketball players, but you are simultaneously being trained to be athletes, so you can excel at any sport you wish to play. 

Only one in four players rated as ‘a star’ in middle school maintain that status three or four tears later in high school for varied reasons, the least of which is other children caught up to their skill level.  My goal is to assist you in becoming better people and better athletes.  I can be very effective doing that if we’re on a two way street, i.e., you’re being completely truthful and honest with yourself and then letting me know, in strictest confidence, what you think needs extra attention from me.  Then and only then can we decide on a plan to get us where we both want to be.  You and I must accept responsibilities for our own behavior.  Persistence, determination and God are the only omnipotents in this universe. 

“Inner Winners”
Only an athlete trained to look beyond personal glory can begin to see that a champion’s strength is measured by the virtues of the heart; that challenge is within; that your opponent is yourself; reward is deeply personal and private.  Through sports one can create a new level of awareness, an awareness of one’s self that transcends sports.  When athletes focus on results-oriented outcomes they have no control over they build up anxieties and tension.  However when their thoughts shift to things they can control – desire, commitment, persistence, determination courage and confidence – they perform at their personal best more consistently.  When an athlete is focused on the moment, on the joy of the event, s/he has all the confidence.  An athlete focused on the outcome loses that confidence.  Pursue victory in the context of cooperation, friendship, support, mutual respect, and compassion.  This is total truth, learned through sports.  This is also a wonderful life strategy.  Treat everyone as you expect and wish to be treated.

Practices define the attitude of a team.
This attitude becomes ingrained in the player’s minds and hearts and becomes the definition of the team’s games.  Players and teams play what and how they practice.  Practices become a learned behavior.  In order to win at life we must feel free to fail.  We must feel free to take those risks which allow us to discover our greatness.  It’s easy taking risks if we know we cannot fail.  If we take a risk and it doesn't work out as planned but that risk serves as a learning experience, then we didn’t fail.  But, we must be honest with ourselves and ask why and how it was the risk did not go as planned.  Only then will it truly become a learning experience.  Failure is not failure if it is a learning experience.
Heart = the willingness to take risks to improve, even in the face of potential failure; the courage to go all out and discover your capability at the moment.  Having the freedom to lose, learn from it and forge ahead, playing with fearlessness and tenacity and audacity; being bold as you look at your opponents and dare them to match your intensity.
Confidence = one who lays it all on the line; has the courage to risk, to suffer, and to feel fear.  A quality common in championship level teams is the team’s unrelenting willingness to serve one another for the greater good of the team.  They (all people associated with the team) ask, “How can I give more?” as opposed to “How can I get more?”  This service to team effort translates to well defined individual roles and ‘team’ basketball. 
The Chinese have a unique perspective on the difference between Heaven and hell.  Each is an enormous banquet of delectable dishes at huge round tables.  Everyone at the banquet is given 5’ long chopsticks.  At the banquet in hell, people struggle to manipulate these awkward utensils; give up out of frustration and starve.  In Heaven everyone serves the person across the table and each becomes abundantly full. Athletes lead by serving their teammates in practices and always working in a way that helps their teammates improve.  Athletes not doing this are not being leaders and are actually sabotaging their team. 

Who is our partner in play, in training and learning, causing us to utilize more of ourselves than we could under any other circumstances?  Our opponent!  When we are playing together; as they teach I learn, and as I teach they learn.  Without our opponent our practices have all been for naught.  We only win when we are able to handle loss.  We must tolerate and accept failure, then we can relax, learn, and forge ahead.  This is truly the success of defeat.  All significant gain is preceded by loss.  Losses, setbacks and failures are natural valuable teachers on the path to success.  Failure is part of the process of successful living. 
Real failure, perhaps the only failure that exists, is your unwillingness to understand the role of setbacks in creating success.  There are only two types of athletes, those who have failed and those that will.  We can’t avoid failure, for we need to take risks in order to improve.  Only in an environment such as this is there freedom to fail.  If we have the courage for risk and the compassion for failure we have created success.  All skills are perfected through the process of failure.  Embrace failure as a necessary part of improvement. 
What is lost by not trying and what is lost by not succeeding are two entirely different things.
If you try and you fail, ultimately you will succeed.  Victories over self-doubt and victories over fear, failure, and ego are prerequisites for triumphs on the basketball court.  Traditional victories are transitory; outstanding performances last a lifetime!  Hard work, diligent effort and commitment to high standards are all pathways to winning.  Used in conjunction with one another they pave a roadway to victory.

Can you demonstrate what “going all out” looks like?  For 5 minutes?
Identify 10 traits, behaviors or actions demonstrated by champions.  Now, select 4 of these to adopt into your style of play and execute all four of them every time you step out on the court.  All athletes experience a drop in confidence from time to time.  How can you possibly have confidence in something you cannot control? 
NOW, let’s focus on something you can control:
Thoughts are things, like fatigue is a thing, like self-talk is a thing, like positive self-talk is a thing, like fear or pain are things.  Deal with negative mind chatter by acknowledging that it’s happening and deciding to deal with it later, after the competition is over.  The words an athlete uses internally and externally are the seeds of future realities, a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Your words create your world, your reality, so use them wisely. 
Winning is not necessarily outscoring your opponent.  The guaranteed dividend is the complete peace of mind gained in knowing you did everything within your power – physically, mentally and emotionally – to bring forth the potential of your game.  If you go out on the court and make the maximum effort with out being afraid to fail, you are a winner no matter what’s on the scoreboard! 

It’s completely alright to be disappointed when you don’t win, but don’t let a loss keep you from being proud of the effort you put out.

It’s all so very simple.  Figure out what your best can be then do and be the best you can.