Updated: Oct 29, 2021
Here is a list of ten coaching concepts that I believe in from a tactical and theoretical perspective.
I'm sure that I am not the only one that felt completely burnt out by the end of the 2020-21 school year. I even felt burnt out with those things which I have traditionally found comfort in; clinic talks, writing, creating content, etc. Over the Summer months, I really tried to make it a priority to find ways to recharge myself. I designated time to read (non-coaching material), get caught up with household projects, work out, and just enjoy my free time with my wife and kids. As we are gearing up to head into the 2021-22 school year I'm hoping that those efforts have paid off.
Given those efforts I wanted my first post of the new school year to be one that was more philosophical than tactical in nature. I didn't really want to get into X & O's talk, but more into the philosophical things that I believe strongly in. Some of these concepts are ones that I have written extensively about, and some of them are just stream-of-consciousness ideas that make sense to me. I'd love to hear your feedback on these ideas out on Twitter or in the comments on the post.
Check out Some Older Posts:
1. You have to implement Skill Development every day
My thought is that we only so much time with our players during the year and if we are not intentionally improving their skills then we are wasting the practice time that we have at our disposal.
Gear it towards your offensive system
Work on handling, shooting, finishing, passing, etc.
Improving Skills > Reciting a Set
I have written extensively on this subject, check out this post I wrote this Spring on Player Development.
2. Cut out any practice concept that doesn’t feed into your systems.
This is something that has become a key part of my philosophy as a coach. I am typically looking at this concept as a way in which to maximize every minute of our practice time. If we are going to conduct lay-up drills, shooting drills, or any isolated skill in general why not tweak it to fit the offensive system that we are employing.
Does it Reflect our System = Keep It
Does it Happen Rarely = Cut It
One example I would cite is trying to gear our SSGs to fit our DDM Blur Screen Action. So in this video, we are tailoring this session to replicate our main half-court create action.
3. You need to have some conceptual elements in your offense.
Many coaches will say that their team is extremely limited skill-wise, and their reaction is to find ways to control their possession more carefully. I think this is a reasonable assessment, but one that be misguided. No matter how hard we try to control what takes place in the game, the reality is that this is a massive amount that will always remain out of our control.
If we are not giving our players options to counter things like defensive pressure, trapping, denials, etc. then we are setting our players up for failure in the games. My response would be that even if we would like to lower our team's possession we should still incorporate conceptual elements to our offense that allow players to adapt to what they read.
4. Teaching guys how to ‘play hard’ is something you need to do!
"I shouldn't have to coach effort." I can't tell you how many times I see this phrase flow across my timeline. Where that may be true for professionals, it is absolutely true for High School players. You absolutely have to coach effort and it is essential to find ways to showcase the type of effort you are expecting on gameday.
Many are playing Varsity for the 1st Time
Turnovers are one of the biggest edges in offensive efficiency, and defensive effort creates those opportunities
You are Building Culture Annually
5. Reducing options will improve execution.
I am a big proponent of Conceptual Offense, from both a player development and coaching perspective. It allows players to make choices based on what the defense does, as opposed to blindly following a pattern. To me, it allows our offense to reach the ceiling of our offensive abilities.
One thing I would caution coaches to think about is perhaps limiting the options that players have. I am saying this with the hope that it will generally improve offensive execution. Instead of giving our players 3-4 options off of a down screen, perhaps we only give them 2. We can now create simple if/then rules that will allow our passers and cutters to have more conviction in their decisions.
Simple Example - If they Trail = You Curl.
6. Hire people who cover your weaknesses.
I openly admit that letting other people take on leadership roles within my program is a legit weakness of mine. It is something I am trying to get better at - but will confess that I need to trust the skill of that person.
One interesting thing that I tried two seasons ago (before the pandemic) was having a Lead-Em-Up Coach come and work with our program. You may know @AseemRastogi on Twitter - and I thought his expertise in team building and leadership was a clear benefit to our program. I see that expertise as a weakness of mine and thought it was a great way to delegate in the 2019-20 season.
7. Water your grass.
This is a streaming conscientiousness type of thought - but before we start thinking about how there are better opportunities out there we need to make sure that we have watered our lawn appropriately.
This is definitely a "Mowing the Lawn Thought", but is one that has a lot of merit. I think it is a legitimate question to ask whether a situation is inherently flawed or whether there is a fundamental improvement that could be done better.
8. Make Teams run their “2nd Best Offense”
Coaches don't want to hear this but I am a believer in zone defense. I believe that it gives the defense an enormous edge in what to expect and in the ability to create turnovers. I do want to preface this by saying that we are in a shot clock state, and I realize how this alters strategy. With that being said, coaches just have this incredible bias towards man-to-man defense that I just don't understand. High School Teams will literally spend 75% or more of their practices working on their man-to-man offense, and then when the game comes we allow them to execute what they have worked on all week.
Why not force teams to execute what they practice the least, their zone offense.
9. Have to Create Trans Opportunities to Improve PPP.
Figuring out how to create more transition opportunities should be the highest priority for any defense. I really believe that the best way to improve your offensive efficiency is to run a defense that creates more turnovers and allows for increased transition opportunities. From a philosophical perspective, this should help both our offensive and defensive efficiency.
10. Honest Self Reflection is perhaps the best skill a Coach can possess.
I really think this is my best trait as a coach, the willingness to be critical of my own decisions. Without the ability to be introspective I just don't know how you truly improve. There are a number of studies that I have made a priority in the weeks that follow the end of the year.
Concluding Thoughts -
I generally post more "X & O" oriented concepts onto my website but I thought this was one worth creating. There are so many different elements to coaching and detailing the beliefs that you have arrived at has some value. I'd love to hear some feedback on what you agree with and where you might differ. Feel free to leave a comment to contact me below.
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