Coaches Corner



Many Coaches feel that Coaching emphasizing a defensive philosophy is most effective.

Their theory is that a strong effective defense is the best offense.  If this is your philosophy,  here are some tips to emphasize with your team.

  1. A “Defense first” must be explained and clearly understood at the beginning of your first practice
  2. Defensive schemes and drills should your initial point of emphasis
  3. The Hustle Board – Stats seldom printed but must be emphasized to include:

Offensive Charges

50/50 balls

Defensive rebounds

Points off turnovers

  1. The above stats need to be highly visible to your team

Team competition is often healthy and will increase practice intensity

  • Have written stats per player posted each day
  • Incentives for the leaders in each category

Steals can often be a caution light – Too often steals can be misleading as many times the leader in steals is playing off his man and defending the passing lanes which can be dangerous

Help side defense – a point of emphasis and drills should be utilized to enhance the effectiveness help side defense.

As always, “It’s not what you teach, it is what you emphasize”


An effective Team practice is essential to individual player and Team development.  Here are several keys to consider:

  1. Practice may not make perfect but it does make permanent.
  2. What a player/team does in practice will readily transcend to what they do in a game
  3. Practice should be more demanding than the game
  4. A well orchestrated practice is essential
  5. Conditioning (Basketball specific) should be part of every practice
  6. Mistakes made in practice are the platform for learning and development
  7. The beginning and end of every practice should end on a positive note
  8. All players need to be involved in all aspects of the practice session
  9. Competition in practice increases effort and intensity
  10. Warm up, drills, position specific work, game specific preparation, controlled scrimmage

End of practice team meeting, all are essential components


Starting each practice with a short team meeting involving the players thoughts on what went well and what is needed to work on(never using the word “weaknesses” will get the players buy in.  One tip to set the tone is to take chalk and draw a line on the court, then ask the players “whoever is going to give 100% plus cross the line”.  Naturally they all will which is fine.  Should a player falter then the Coach can remind him what it meant when he crossed the line.  Another is to have a written practice schedule which will keep the flow organized and not get bogged down on any one aspect.  Alternating defensive work and offensive work results in balance.

Game Preparation – review what they can expect and understand the game plan inclusive of defensive and offensive schemes, situational plays, etc.

Foul Shooting – Too often we see teams end practice shooting any number of foul shots.  That is not game specific.  Shooting two or three foul shots after each drill is most effective especially when you track the Teams’ percentage.  Further it more mirrors the game as players will shoot foul shots under different levels of fatigue.

Keeping players engaged is another key aspect as you want them engaged throughout the game be it on the floor or on the bench.

Above all keep in mind that “It is not what you teach, it is what you emphasize”.



In today’s game yelling is a demotivator.  Players don’t respond and will often deflect.

There is simply no purpose in yelling…No purpose…No accomplishment


Here are some tips that do have a purpose:

Use Stats, Charts, one on one talks, set goals that are “SMART”

S – specific

M- measurable

A – attainable

R – realisitic

T – Trackable


Emphasis on what needs to be done over what is not being done




Often times Coaches will see an offense, perhaps at a Coaches Clinic, and try to implement it with their Team.  It may be a great offense but the question is “Is it right for your Team?”.


That brings us to the first key to successful offense; Does it fit your personnel?.

If the answer is yes then fine but more times than not it is not a good fit.  There are a multitude of reasons but the primary one is that your personnel is not a fit. This is especially true on the High school level where Coaches have little choice as to their personnel.  On the Collegiate level, Coaches can recruit the type players that fit the offense they want to run.




  1. The offense needs to be a fit for the skills of your personnel
  2. Successful offense encompass Motion, Movement, Balance, Spacing, and continuity
  3. Drills should be geared to your offensive schemes

One further tip:  Offenses are operational, set plays are situational
“It’s not what you teach, it’s what you emphasize”