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Do You Sub To Keep Your Players Fresh And Out Of Foul Trouble?- By Ken Sartini
Subbing players is a very important part of game time coaching strategy. It's important because...
- NOT having the proper personnel on the floor in crunch time can result in lost games.
- Subbing properly can boost your players moral and confidence.
- Subbing keeps key players fresh and out of foul trouble when you really need them.
- Subbing can change the momentum and pace of the game.
Keeping players fresh and out of foul trouble.
Keeping players fresh usually keeps them out of foul trouble. Why? TIRED players tend to foul more because they don't move their feet as well and rely on reaching. Subbing gets more players in the game and that keeps them happy and the morale of the team up. You will also have your best players (in the game) on the floor when it counts in crunch time.
There are times when this can be a very difficult decision. The big question is.. Can I keep this game close with my best player(s) on the bench (can my subs keep the intensity level up)? Or do I have to play my best players and hope they don't foul out?
The bigger the game the tougher the decision is going to be.... but IF you have formed a philosophy regarding when you sub and at what time you are willing to put them back in the game, the decision becomes easier.
I will give you two different examples of using subs.
- In one game I had only one player that could really score and he was in foul trouble from the first quarter to the fourth. I subbed for him in each quarter to try and save him for the last part of the game (he probably sat 70% of this game).
We went into the 4th quarter down four points... they were in a zone and my best player was on the bench... we held the ball for 4 minutes and I put him back in the game... he ended up hitting four three's in the last 4 minutes to give us the W. This time it worked out.
- Another game we had a transfer student from Yugoslavia who was foul prone.... so I never started him until we got to the Regional championship game. I felt that IF we were going to have our best chance of winning he would have to start.. and of course he got in foul trouble. I subbed for him and the sub did a decent job.. no baskets but NO turnovers which I was happy about. When I got the player back into the game with 4 minutes on the clock we were ahead (amazing considering the size of the other team and our lack of it). We ended up down two with less than a minute to go... we got the last shot but it didn't go in. It would have been a great upset. That team ended up going downstate and did pretty well.
The pros to subbing are keeping your players fresh - getting more players into the game thus making them happy (great for team spirit) - it makes everyone feel like they are an integral part of the team. THIS allows you to pressure the other team and do more things if the subs are prepared to play that maybe you can't do if they are tired towards the end of the game. It also ensures that your best players are on the floor at the end of the game when you need them.
Pace of the Game
One of the best ways to change the pace of the game is to know your personnel and sub based on what's happening.
For example, let's say your team is looking slow on both ends of the court. They are hesitant on offense and the defense is slow to the ball. This could be a great time to put in a couple high energy defensive guys to get the team moving. Sometimes you need a defensive leader or two on the floor. The energy and hustle can be contagious. A couple turnovers and fast break baskets can really change things. Let your best players watch for a few minutes. Let the energy pick up. Then put your good players back in to join the energy. You may want to keep at least one of your hustle players in there to keep things going. In any case, this is an example of how you can change the pace of the game by knowing your players and subbing at the right time.
Allowing Players to Get a Rhythm
There's a fine line between keeping your players fresh and allowing them to develop a rhythm. Sometimes it takes a few shots and a little time for players to get a rhythm and feel for the game. Nothing is more frustrating for a player when they get pulled from the game just when they started to "feel it". This bothers some players more than others. I think players with limited confidence are affected most by this. The really confident and mentally tough players don't care when and where they shoot. They always think it will go in.
One of the best ways to overcome that issue is to develop a consistent rotation. This allows players to get comfortable playing at certain times of the game and they know what to expect. If you KNOW you're coming out of the game and will get your 8 minutes every night, then it's not as frustrating when you get pulled. Knowing a head of time certainly helps.
On the other hand, some coaches like to change things up constantly and make changes based on the opposition, pace of them game, and gut feel. There are pros and cons to both methods.
For the super experienced coach, going with your gut might work well. For the less experienced coach, I think having a consistent rotation is the way to go. It allows you to focus on other aspects of them game and keeps you from getting overwhelmed.
Subbing After Players Do Good Things
One thing I picked up from Coach Danny Miles (876 wins at OIT college) is to sub players after they make a shot or do something good. This helps keep players shooting confidence high. If they come out just after missing, they might dwell on the miss. When it comes to high percentage shooting, nothing is more important than confidence. It's the little things that can make a difference.
What is your philosophy in regards to subbing? Do you sub players that are in foul trouble? Do use a pre-planned rotation?
Please leave your comments below...
Coaching ResourcesHow To Win at the End - Volume 1 - Over 35 situational end of game plays.
How To Win at the End - Volume 2 - Over 45 situational end of game plays for different situations than Volume 1.
Tempo Control & Delay Sets - Control the game and protect the lead with 12 different sets to choose from.