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Coaching High School Basketball, Learning How to Coach the Offense.
When I first started coaching, I was working at a middle school in rural North Carolina. The school I was at was new and didn't have any sports traditions. The trophy case was empty and we were by far the smallest school in the county. I worked there for six years learning everything I could from coaching clinics, high school coaches, other middle school coaches, websites, and video tapes. I thought I was ready to take the next step and jump into the joy of coaching high school basketball. The jump for some people is not as easy as you may think. I was a huge fan of working on fundamentals during practice. You know the dribbling, shooting, passing, etc...the correct way. At the high school level we still did a lot of the same drills, we were just able to do them quicker and go into more depth. For example instead of working on just dribbling with our heads up, we could work on dribble moves with our heads up. The same can be said for the defense side of the ball. I taught man to man, and the same principles can be used at the high school level. You teach them how to move, how to help, boxout and so forth. The one hugh difference that I found was on the offensive end. I basically had to change the entire way I looked at the offense. Middle school offense is more about keeping it simple, and do a degree you need to do that at the high school level. The only problem is, that the high school coaches are all smart. They make adjustments, and whatever you are doing most of them can stop it if they can. So, I had to go back to the drawing board and figure things out.
My teams were very fundamental and pretty decent athletes, but they were all still getting into trouble on the offensive side. We had several set quick hit plays we could run. The problem is that if that quick hitter wasn't open we had to get the ball back into the point guards hands, and reset the entire offense. This was a problem, because the other coach would see this and whenever we were trying to the ball back to the point guard, they would deny the ball and then tap whoever had it. It forced us into several five second calls, and lots of turnovers. After the first couple of games, I noticed that it wasn't the players fault it was mine. I was leaving the out to dry and putting them into places they could easily turn the ball over. The other problem was we had one what I like to call, "continuity offense." That is an offense that has not end and will continue to run until you take a shot, turn the ball over, or someone goes the wrong way. It work well, but after the first or second quarter the opposing coach knew exactly what we were doing. Even if we had several neames we called it or quit calling the name out, they would still set up places to trap us because they were ready for what was coming. That first half of my first season was rough. We were 2-10 at the Christmas break and the players were showing signs of total frustration. I had two weeks to fix this, or I might not have the job next year.
The team I was coaching didn't play in a holiday tournament so I drove down to Greensboro and watched the MLK Classic Holiday Tournament. I saw all kinds of talent from teams such as Oak Hill Academy and several other prep schools, but watching them didn't help me with any of my offensive problems. Then there was this high school team in this tournament that didn't look nearly as athletic as the other teams. They were undersized, not nearly as athletic, and didn't have the ability to do what the other teams could do. However, they were right in the thick of things with these power house teams and even beat one or two of them. I was them closely and came to realize that on the offensive side of the ball they did three very important things.
1) The offense never ends. It didn't matter if they ran a quick hitter to see if they could get an easy score. If they did it was great if they didn't, it ran right into another quick hitter or their, "Continuity Offense." I was blown away that it never dawned on me to do this. It would take some work and a lot of practice to do it as fluid as they did, but it could be done and would solve one of our huge problems.
2) They never started their continuity offense without a quick hitter ran first. This was to keep the other team from getting prepared for what was coming. They couldn't design a trap to stop the offense if they didn't know how they were going to get into it. You could even see that the coach would call a quick hitter just to get into the, "Continuity Offense," instead of really looking to score of the quick hitter. This again seems so simple, but would also take a lot of planning and X's and O's.
3) Any of their guards could start the offense. This was another thing that was so simple to do, but for some reason I was not smart enough to notice it. This would take alot of the pressure off the point guard, and allow any guard to stop the offense. This would be tough at first, but I had smart kids. All they would have to do is learn the offense from all guard position, which is not very difficult.
I left the tournament and was speeding to get home so I could get to the drawing board and figure out how I was going to run my quick hitters into the, "Continuity Offense." It took me awhile, but I figured out how to get one to flow right into the other. At practice, we work and worked getting them to flow seamlessly from one to another. I would alternate the guards positions each time to make them all learn the offense from each angle. By the end of Christmas break, we had changed the way we do everything on the offensive side of the ball. We didn't necessarily change what we did, we just found a better way of using what we knew how to do.
Now, I would love to tell you that we went udefeated after Christmas and won the state championship. However, that is not the case. We finished the season 10-15, and won one game in our conference tournament. We missed making the state playoffs, but the boys had learned a lot. We worked on it all summer, and the hard work paid off. We finished 18-8, and finished second in the conference qualifying for the state tournament. We won our first round game and lost in the second round by five points. Coaching is not always something that you have to know everything right out of the gate. There are several great coaches around where you live. Everyone needs to tap into that resource. If they won't help you or talk to you, watch them and steal it. Most coaches are succesful for one reason, they know what they are doing. Below are some example of running a quick hitter into a "Continuity Offense." I hope this hub has been useful to you.