Team Culture & Transition Ideas from Steve Boudreau

In the final part of our conversation I asked Steve Boudreau (Boudah) for some ideas about things that he finds underrated in coaching. He could not emphasize enough the importance of footwork (more on that in a future post). He also brought up communication, making players accountable for their effort, and gave me a suggestion for improving transition decision making.


Coaches always stress how important it is to talk, but they are not always specific. Boudah stressed that all communication needs to be as quick as possible. Think of it as an emergency situation. You want to give help as soon as possible. Therefore instead of saying “screen right” players should only have to say “right.” Instead of saying “basket line” players should say “wall.” Limiting the number of syllables that they used is a small detail, but it could make a difference. At the same time, it will not compromise the message you are getting across to a teammate.

One other suggestion he had was to tell players that they could not talk on defense for a couple possessions. Players should find this a bit challenging and even awkward. Assuming that the team plays a little worse defensively, get the team to reflect on it afterwards. Inevitably some players talk more than others, and I found this idea very helpful to get the quieter players to talk more. As they start to play worse because their louder teammates are less engaged, perhaps they start to find the value in talking. Hopefully this exercise can get a player to come more out of their comfort zone in how they communicate.

Accountability to Effort/Energy/Enthusiasm

Boudah asked me with some hesitation, how I felt about sprints, push-ups, and jumping jacks. I admit that I do not use them much. After watching him run a training with about twenty-four players, I learned why he asked. In everything they did, there was a penalty for not winning or bringing the most energy. It is important to note that there are some practices where this is easier to implement than others. This workout comes in the middle of the summer where there are no big games the following day. Players should want to compete without a penalty, but for some the reality is that is what makes them go.

He stressed that even though players came from many backgrounds to this workout, they were all accountable for at least names and high schools of everyone else. On a closer knit team, this can be expanded to whatever you need. It could be that each player needs to know their teammate’s favorite stuffed animal growing up. There needs to be an expectation though to get to know all your teammates.

Next Man Up in Transition

I expressed to Boudah a need to develop decision making in transition. I wanted players with the basketball to understand what was taking place behind them. Too often the next player in transition situations gets ignored. Whether that player was on defense or offense did not make a difference to me, but it mattered that the offense made the proper read. Boudah quickly sketched the drill below for me. I put it in the next day at a youth clinic and thought it was a great way to simulate what a 2 on 1 really should be. It can be modified to incorporate an offensive player joining the play or an offensive and defensive player coming at about the same time to make it 3 on 2.

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