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5 Ways To Execute Your Basketball Plays More Efficiently

Updated on March 31, 2008

As coaches, we take our teams to practice every day. We have our plans, we have our drills and we have our basketball plays. Often, the process becomes the object of the practice, not the end product, playing better in games.

Here are a few things that might help keep your eye on the prize as you work on the various parts of the game that are necessary to improve.

1. Teach Fundamentals

So much of the game is situational and we tend to teach for specific situations. Players then get outside that particular situation and can't perform in the new situation. Teaching fundamentals instead of situations will help players succeed regardless of the situation.

Things such as footwork, body positioning, shooting position, ballhandling are adaptable to any situation a player might encounter. Teaching a player to handle the ball will aid your offense, fastbreak, pressbreaker, etc. Teaching footwork will help both offensive and defensive execution.

There are only a certain amount of things you can do on the court. If you teach fundamentals and relate those fundamentals to situations, you do not have to re-teach the skills and your players will pick up the concepts much more quickly. For example, teaching that a front pivot in the post is the same footwork as catching the ball on the wing and pivoting to square to the basket, it will be easier for your player to grasp.

2. Make sure players know their roles

Contrary to popular belief, offenses are not an equal opportunity venture. There are shooters, screeners, passers, etc. Often offenses break down because players all want to fill another role or is unsure of what his role is. Often, players who are supposed to be screening are out of position because he is looking for a shot. A player commits a turnover by over-dribbling the ball when he should be looking to pass it.

Be specific and open with your role definition. You cannot afford to be misunderstood when you assign roles to your players. Be sure to stress the concept that all roles are equally important to the success of the team. A shooter cannot get a good shot without a good screen. Try to build a system that recognizes the effectiveness of a player whose value does not lie in statistics that appear in the newspaper.

3. Run your basketball plays for the right people

When you finally run your play correctly and you get the shot you want at the end of your offense, be sure you have the right person shooting the ball. Make sure you have the right people screening and the right people passing the ball.

Countless times I have seen teams turn the ball over because a particular play or offense asks a player to perform a skill he is not equipped to do. Running a play to get your 5'6" point guard the ball in the post will probably not be successful. Asking your 6'10" center to run a dribble handoff will probably be eventful.

Put your players in a position for success instead of making them fit a mold in your offense.

4. Maintain good spacing

Spacing is the most under-taught, under-emphasized offensive fundamental there is. In most cases it is spacing that allows basketball plays to succeed. Forcing the defense to play over a larger offensive area and spreading out some can be limited help. Creating isolation situations are the things that let your players perform their skills.

Be sure people are where they belong, where the other players can find them and where they have room to operate is one of the objects of offense. We emphasize screening cutting and shooting but none of it will be successful without the proper amount of room to perform.

5. Make sure the help side defense is occupied

Running weakside actions to occupy the help defense when combined with proper spacing will go a long way toward making your offense work more effectively.

How many times has a player thought he has broken free by beating his man only to be met by a help defender? How many passes into the post are not thrown because a help defender is playing in a passing lane? How many times has your penetrator been stripped in the lane after beating his man on the perimeter? All of these situations are a function of allowing help defenders play the ball.

By creating weakside actions away from the ball, by sending cutters through the lane, by spacing away from a screen, by kicking out to the weakside will occupy the help defenders enough to help your offense operate efficiently.

For offenses to execute effectively, players have to be convinced that it will be effective ("buy in"). The greatest motivator is success. The way to sell it is to put your players in a position to succeed. The 5 hints above are certainly not the only things to do but they should be elements of any efficient offense. By stressing these concepts, you will help any offense run more efficiently.

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      Jason Roatan  7 years ago

      It's true about knowing your role. I love it when I play pick up games and our tallest (and only tall) guy wants to play point guard. Hello man, we need you in the post!