Position-less basketball is a term being used more frequently. I have always been a believer that the more skills a player has, the better. The two biggest guys that I have coached in the past few years (6’8”) both received Division 1 scholarship opportunities not purely because of size, but because they both have the ability to not only score inside, but also have the ability to pass, shoot, and make plays off the bounce. Regardless of size, we should be teaching and developing all players to handle, pass, shoot, post, and guard both post and perimeter. The more versatility a player has, the more options we have amongst our teams as a coach. It takes more patience to develop and teach this way- but it’s certainly worth it in the end.
Film is an incredible teacher. One thing that really caught my attention this summer was the disconnect that there often is between what a coach sees a player doing and what the player thinks they are doing. Many times a player will nod their head, “yes” when we ask if they understand the coaching we are giving them, but I’m not sure how many truly can see and visual what’s going on or what we may be talking about as a coach. Giving players visual understanding of what you’re seeing as a coach can help build trust and connection, as well as enhance your ability to relay messages. The unawareness isn’t just with players either, for coaches, often times we think we are seeing one thing, but another thing is actually happening. Film is a great way to build self-awareness within all members of your team.
Defense isn’t just heart. I get why coaches (myself included) talk to their players about defense being “all heart”- limited athletic ability can be somewhat neutralized by putting forth maximum effort. However, in saying that, to truly be an elite defender you better be able to move laterally, anticipate, and understand team principles. Defensive players certainly can make their mark by outworking people, but to truly excel takes much more than just heart.
An underrated offensive skill is the ability to get open. In watching a lot of games, I see teams who apply great defensive pressure which often leads to turnovers and easy baskets. Give the defense some of the credit, but I also see teams and players who don’t understand timing of their cuts, how to use their feet, their body, or a screen to get themselves open. Too many times offensive teams settle for catching further away from the basket and playing into the defensive team’s hands.
Transition basketball. A lot of teams want to play transition basketball, but not many players want to sprint the floor every possession and pass the basketball ahead every opportunity they get. Playing fast is fun, but in order to play fast, offensive teams need to SPRINT the floor and they have to be willing to throw the ball ahead to an open teammate with as little dribbles as possible. Without this mentality, your transition game will likely be average or below.
I think players need to be able to pass with both one hand and two hands. I think many will disagree with me on this, but being able to pass with one hand off the dribble is quicker & can allow more angles to throw a pass. It’s certainly a skill that needs to be practiced to be effective, but I think it’s a skill that again can give players more options in certain situations.
Functional movement needs to be focused on just as much as any skill or offensive and defensive philosophy. I am still working on getting better in this area myself and I know many coaches have a limited amount of time, but players can’t reach their full potential on the basketball court without taking care of, building, and maintaining their bodies off the court. Poor movement mechanics and dysfunctional strength can greatly inhibit a player’s ability to perform at their best & in many cases over time will catch up to a player resulting in an injury. It’s okay to have light practices, it’s alright to give players days off or an extra day of recovery after an injury, and it’s crucial that coaches learn basic movement fundamentals or hire someone who can help your team with them! I’ve learned that the best player is an available player.