With age and experience, you soon figure out that there is not a magic pill or any quick fixes that will help you get good consistent results for almost anything that you do. It takes a lot of hard work combined with a smart plan to be successful. It also never hurts to have a little bit of luck. But as they say, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
It's also not what you do, it's HOW you do it. Throughout my coaching career, I've gone from coaching like a drill sergeant early in my career to not being demanding enough. Jim Huber has really helped me in this regards. As he likes to say, "You have to be demanding, not demeaning." Jim Huber is director of operations for the MO-KAN basketball program which is a Nike EYBL team.
Now, I don't like to yell. I feel like I have to get angry in order to yell and I don't like to be in that mindset when I'm coaching. So how the heck am I going to be demanding, yet still be myself?
During our defensive breakdown drills and progressions through our defensive concepts, I tell the players what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Then, I demand that they do the things correctly. Don't accept anything less than 100% effort and proper execution. If they don't do it right the first time, correct them, then have them do it again. Remember, be constructive, not demeaning.
If I see the error, I will usually ask them things like...
"Did you sprint 100% to your spot?"
"Did you block out on the shot?"
"Did you get on the rim line?"
"Did you have high hands on the closeout?"
Almost every time they will say, "No."
Then, I will take them back to the situation and say let's do it again and show me the right way to do it. As discussed at the very first practice, if they display poor attitude and effort, their playing time will be reduced. As long as you communicate this to the players and enforce it, players usually respond quickly.
Funny how my skill development and offense philosophy which is heavily influenced by Don Kelbick is quite different. Not sure if that is the right way to do it, but it works for me! Or at least, I think it does. Here are some articles to read after this article in case you are curious:Now, as we progress through these defensive concepts, I will emphasize things like:
- Sprint! Sprint to ball. Sprint to deny. Sprint to helpside.
- High hands on close outs.
- Contain the ball.
- Force to the sideline - no middle drives.
- Move as the offense moves - don't wait.
- Finish possessions. Make contact and block out.
- Deny one pass away.
- Step in front of the cutter - no face cuts.
- Deny post entries.
- Hedge on ball screens.
- "Ball. Ball. Ball" when guarding the ball.
- "Tim, I got your help!" when in help position.
- "Keegan, the post is open." When nobody is in the post.
- "Deny. Deny. Deny." When denying one pass away.
Now, once you have covered a few breakdown drills I always like to end with this drill. The kids love it. I have an offensive version that I like to run, but the kids always want to run the Ultimate Defense Drill.
The DrillNow I've taken bits and pieces from cutthroat, defense wins, and other drills to make this my own.
Here is how it works:
- Start 3v3 half court. You can also do 4v4 and 5v5, but I prefer 3v3 because it makes the defense cover more ground. When it comes game time and they have 5 defenders, it will also feel easier for them. Just like most other coaches, I try to make practices more difficult than games.
- Play to 3. This keeps the intensity level high.
I'll also do best of 3, so we will play two to three games.
A variation would be to get a certain number of stops in a row in order to earn one point. 2 stops in a row earns 1 point. 3 stops in a row earns 1 point.
- The only way you score a point is by getting a defensive stop. Examples are rebounds, turnovers, ball goes out of bounds, or jump ball.
- If you get a defensive stop, you stay on defense.
- If you score on offense, you go to defense.
- Now, here's the kicker - if the defense does not do the
things I emphasize, I will blow the whistle instantly, correct the mistake,
and have offense and defense switch.
Coaching and Motivation TipsAt first, it will be impossible to emphasize everything. So the first couple of practices, pick what is most important to you at first. For me, this was:
- Close out high hands.
- Contain the ball. Force to the sideline or the corner.
- Sprint on the flight of the ball to new positions. Sprint to denial. Sprint to helpside. Sprint to ball.
- On change of position, sprint to defense.
- Deny the post.
- No face cuts. Forearm to cutter.
- Down screens. Jump off screener to create gap. Don't lock and chase, unless told to.
- Ball screen. Hedge and stop ball. Sprint back to man.
- Back screens. Pop off of screener to protect basket until defender recovers.
More Coaching Tips
- Whenever you blow the whistle, have the player instantly throw you the ball. You throw the ball to who you want.
- Vary who you throw the ball to start from different positions on the floor.
- After correction, blow the whistle, and start the next possession instantly. Keep it at a high pace.
What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...