The main reason teams do not execute with end of game or end of quarter situational basketball is that they cannot find time in practice to teach them. After tryouts, teams are trying to teach defensive principles, sets, motions, get shots up, etc. It is not always easy to fit in end of game situations. Steve Boudreau (Boudah) gave me five tips that changed the way I think about teaching situational basketball in practice.
- At the end of a fifteen-minute shell drill, stop the clock at around one minute and let the players go full. As opposed to randomly putting a score of 54 to 50 on the scoreboard, this situation would be more authentic to the players. From there treat the last minute as you would a normal game. Where close and late situations are not always common at some practices, shell drills are.
- Avoid TMI. I give players way too much information in close and late. Do they need to know that Team A has eight team fouls? Team B has two timeouts remaining? Team A has the possession arrow? Disseminating this information takes up valuable time. And it often needs to go repeated because our brains can only handle so much information at once. In an actual game, what really matters is time and score. Focus on getting that across. And if you have access to a scoreboard in practice, it isn’t complicated.
- Give each team a coach. Too often teams will ask players to huddle up before the end of game situation. If your expectation as a coach is to give your players complete trust, then let them do this. On the flip side, if you plan on coaching in the last minute or two then get in that huddle yourself and coach them in practice. The ideal scenario is to have one coach ref and one coach for each team in practice. If this isn’t you divide up the resources using your best judgment.
- Devote less time to baseball pass scenario. Spend less time with Bryce Drew. Think about that baseball pass play with two seconds left. And then stop thinking about it. That is about as much time as you need to devote to that scenario. Sure, when it works everyone is a hero including the coach, but Vegas says the odds are not very good that it will help you. It has very low probability of being needed and very low probability of being effective. It is only one situation in situational basketball. Later in the season putting something in for this scenario is not a bad idea, but early there are just much better ways to spend your time. Knowing what to do with forty seconds is much more in your control than with two seconds.
- Build in time for reflection. There will be days where you need to get to other elements of your practice, but the most important work for a coach comes in close games. To lose a close game because of a mistake that could have been corrected in practice is bad coaching. Let your players think in reflection by asking questions instead of giving answers. Make the questions open-ended. You want the players to speak up and giving a question with one right answer can sometimes fall flat. A question such as “What did you notice?” or “What did you like/dislike?” are good for getting thoughts out there. Whether those thoughts are smart or not is irrelevant because you can correct or confirm.
For more stuff from Steve Boudreau see yesterday’s post about coaches and social media.