Offense is spacing, and spacing is offense. - Chuck Daly
The importance of spacing cannot be under-emphasized or overlooked when coaching the game of basketball. The dimensions of the court (and especially the FIBA Court) make spacing in your offense attack of paramount importance. What are ways you can think about spacing?
Above you can see examples of a: single gap, double gap, and triple gap. This is the terminology we use when talking about spacing on the floor. As you can see driving into a single is quite precarious, driving into double and triple gaps (especially towards the middle) is generally what we are looking for. Can you create an opportunity off the dribble and start to attack the second line of defense. Once you get the defense into rotation, can you pass the ball off to the appropriate teammate and keep or widen you advantage on that possession. This should be seriously emphasized in your team’s small-sided games (SSG’s) in practice, so players can get used to looking to beat their defender and get the ball into the heart of the defense.
If players cannot create the advantages on their own off the dribble there are things that can be done such as, providing a ball screen, attacking a long close-out, or getting the player coming to a spot on the floor by using an off-ball screen, again attacking a late close-out.
In this scenario, offense needs to be taught and drilled in terms of decision making, not remembering set patterns. Data chunking so that players recognize spacing and scenarios on the floor will allow them to make judgments and decisions based on: the ball, their teammates, and their defender.
The other side of this coin, is that the defense will be looking to shrink the floor. If you only create single gaps in your offense, the defense can out-number the offense and make the floor seem very small, choking off any opportunity at free movement. Offensively this is where skill development comes in, because you can space the floor all you want, but if you can’t create advantages or can’t makes shots, then the defense’s focus becomes very easy. Make the defense choose what they will take away and then exploit that decision.
When does your offensive possession begin? The connectedness of your offense and defense speaks to the fluid nature of basketball. In order to run good transition offense you must pressure the shooter and focus on keeping the other team off of the offensive glass. Some of your strategy needs to be a reaction to the other team’s philosophy in crashing the offensive glass. If your opponent consistently does not have safeties in place then you must attack that in early transition. It takes some experience and practice in coaching in real-time to see this and not just follow the ball with your eyes. The pressuring of the shooter, and having great person-on-person match-up defense so that your team does not find itself in rotation all the time is very important to running strong offense. If you are consistently allowing the other team to have a high OREB% then undoubtedly they will also potentially get to the foul line at a higher rate and then the climb up hill gets that much steeper. I believe that the best way to practice rebounding is to simply emphasize it in your 5v5 or your small-sided games in practice. You can put a strong emphasis on this by how you score your games. Take points off when the team gives up an offensive rebound, have assistants chart when there are no safeties in place; there are many approaches you can take--Track OREB% in practice (OREB/Total Rebounds).
Conversely speaking, your shot quality on offense directly affects your transition defense. If you average a high number of live-ball turnovers (not all turnovers are created equal) then inevitably your opponent will be able to get not only more possessions but more chances in advantage situations. When planning a philosophy, game-plan, right down to practice plan – we as coaches need to keep in mind that concepts don’t exist in a vacuum, everything is connected.
Today our women's basketball team came in on a Saturday morning at 8:30am to get in extra conditioning as we prepare for our preseason play starting next weekend. It was 8 degrees with a cool breeze but a beautiful morning.
This couldn't help but make me think about people's perceptions of doing: “hard work, putting in extra time, pushing outside one’s comfort-zone,” and just generally doing what’s needed to succeed in a given venture.
I would really like to help dispel the notion of SACRIFICE – the idea of sacrificing to succeed. I think in 2016 the negative connotation of this is ineffective. Instead of thinking of commitment as a sacrifice, it is more useful to simply think of it as a CHOICE. Every day we make hundreds of choices, which can send our life in many different directions. When someone MAKES A DECISION, and chooses they will do what it takes to commit and be successful; it puts the onus onto the individual and allows them to take ownership of their choices.
Thinking about sacrificing to succeed essentially puts things in terms of opportunity cost; and resembles a deficit model. This deficit model of giving up things in order to do other things, leads inevitably to some form of regret or thinking “what-if,” – what if I wasn’t doing this and was doing that. Having people understand it as a personal (and in a team – collective) choice, puts a more positive and less cognitively taxing framework around the concept of going the extra mile, or taking on great challenges on a journey to success.
It’s a powerful thing when you can get a group mentality of moving forward and choosing to succeed. So to conclude in the same way as this began….I’m happy to say our group of student-athletes took positive steps this morning on their journey.
Coach Matt - Father, Coach, Life Long Learner, Basketball Addict