This article on game administration is the third article from the series,
“Practice On Intense Situations Everyday”
by Coach John Kimble
Retired high school and college coach
Originally published in School Coach and Athletic Journal
There are many different methods and philosophies that could be developed that are successful. The key is that there just has to be a set plan and philosophy in place, so that a team knows what to do in those pressure-packed situations. Having been prepared, there should be a confidence, a calmness and a poise for that team to be successful. There doesn’t have to be a “right or a wrong” method, as long as the method has been thought out, agreed upon (by the coaching staff), then thoroughly taught and sold to the players. Instead of giving a coaching staff specific answers to all the many scenarios that exist, I would like to challenge each reader to be prepared for those situations by simply asking them if they have a sound idea and philosophy to the many different situations that could easily come up before, after and during basketball games.
This article discusses some of the many different scenarios from the basketball administrative perspective, while the following articles deal with the specific offensive and defensive situations that can and will take place in games
Assistant coaches must be given responsibilities and assignments and utilized to have an efficient and productive coaching staff that also feels as if they are contributing to the team. Is there a plan of delegation for all assistant coaches during practices, during timeouts and half-times, during pre-games, games and post-games? Where do the coaches sit during games? Are they seated together or do they sit interspersed among the players at predetermined locations? Where? Why or why not?
PRACTICE PLANNING AND PRACTICE ADMINISTRATION
In addition to being a good example and showing the players the coaching staff’s commitment to organization, hard work and effort; detailed practice plans make the teaching and coaching of players more time-efficient and productive. Players want to know what is expected of them and why they are asked to do the things that a coaching staff wants them to do. They need to be led by example and to have faith and trust in the coaching staff. With a practice plan that is carefully laid out (and followed) that encompasses all of the details that are necessary to give a team the poise that it needs to be successful, it also shows a team that a coaching staff’s word is good. Every aspect of the game, including all fundamentals and techniques must not be assumed by the coaching staff that each player is proficient in. Certain fundamentals must not be omitted because they are boring to the coaching staff to teach and boring to the players to learn, improve on or practice. A coaching staff must preach and show by example the “5 P’s—Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!”
Have those pre-game responsibilities been delegated to assistant coaches and managers? Do the players know what time they are to arrive? Does the coaching staff give the team any free time for players to prepare in their own individual manner? Are there any parameters set for those ways? Are the managers given a certain time to arrive to the locker room? When they do arrive, are they given specific assignments to pass out uniforms, warm-ups and the preparation for Gatorade or water? What person is delegated to keep track of the time before the first half? Is there a designated time that the staff wants to make sure the players have to warm up for the first half? Is there a pre-game shoot-around? Is there a particular pre-game warm-up routine that is time and energy efficient that is to be used? Who is in charge of filling out the scorebook and naming the game’s starters?
“LAST SHOT” PHILOSOPHY
Preserving possession of the ball for the last shot of the time period and then scoring at the end of that specific time period could be as much as a 6 point swing in addition to the momentum and confidence builder that that one possession could produce. Having two or four end of time period possessions should then be looked upon as invaluable in the preparation time for that game. Does one of these teams have a decided edge in preparation of unique scenarios that can easily happen during the game? But unless this team is prepared and can achieve an edge in these situations that can easily take place in a game, all of the hard work and effort put forth by both players and coaches (during the actual game and in practices) will have gone for naught.
MULTIPLE DEFENSE AND OFFENSE PHILOSOPHY
A successful coaching staff must be able to not only accurately evaluate the physical skills and talents of their team but also the mental skill level of his/her team. Having more than one offense or more than one defense can be very instrumental in the overall success of a basketball team. But having too many can mentally hamper a team and decrease the overall effectiveness of all offenses or defenses. The multiplicity of offenses and defenses must be carefully evaluated as each team has different mental capacities.
Before end-of-the-quarter (or half) or late-game decisions that could determine the outcome of the game are made, there are other ideas and philosophies that must to be developed. Does your offensive team have “baseline out-of-bounds plays” that will be successful against man-to-man defenses and/or against zone defenses? On offense, does your team have specific plays from the sideline that can be run against zone and/or man-to-man defenses?
During the game, there can be quite a few different substitutions. Does the coaching staff have a philosophy and a set plan on what all players do on the bench when a player comes out of the game? Do all players know what is expected of them when they come out of a game? Do the assistants know their responsibilities and assignments when a player comes out of the game? Is it allowed for the player taken out to sit anywhere on the bench or are they instructed to sit in a specific location on the bench to receive individualized instructions and corrections from a designated coach? Who is that designated coach?
Does the coaching staff have a first half and second half philosophy on taking out a key player because of foul trouble? How many fouls does a player have to get in the first (or second) half before he/she is taken out? At what point in time is that player put back in the game? Is there a specific assistant coach that is assigned to keeping track of the ‘foul situation’ and then informing the head coach?
Does the coaching staff have a predetermined plan of subbing offense for defense or vice versa at the end of the game? Do the players understand and are they sold on whom the defensive stand-out is and who the offensive stand-out is? Do they know the proper procedures for when and how they can report in at the dead ball situations? If a coaching staff and team strongly believes in this end-of-the-game procedure, why not use it at the end of the first half or at the end of the quarters? Does the coaching staff have a philosophy on how to sub players in and out during the free throw shooting by the opposition? Does the staff have a plan on how to interrupt that time in order to try to ‘freeze an opposing free throw shooter? Do the players understand the philosophy and the plan? Have they practiced that plan in order to maximize its effectiveness?
Has the coaching staff practiced late game timeouts with just the coaching staff? Who has the freedom to talk in the huddle? Who is in charge of obtaining statistics for the timeout? Who is in charge of the diagram boards? Do the manager(s) have water or Gatorade and towels ready? What coach is in charge of making sure that substitutes get in for the resumption of play after the timeout? What coach is in charge of keeping track of the time remaining in the timeout? Does the coaching staff have a set procedure for the active players and for substitutes on where to assemble? Have all players been educated on the importance of the timeouts and do they all know what is expected of them during the timeouts? Has the staff practiced timeouts with the team, including assistants and managers? Are the short timeouts managed any differently than full timeouts? Do the players still go to the bench or do they remain on the court and huddle up?
Does the coaching staff have a philosophy on whether they want players early in the game to call a timeout to protect the possession of the ball as they are about to fall out of bounds or about to get tied up after a loose ball on the floor? Or does the coaching staff want to save those timeouts for late game situations? If the coaching staff does not have a set philosophy and has not taught their players, those decisions will then be left up to the players. Does the coaching staff want to leave that decision up to the players?
STEALING A TIMEOUT
Does the coaching staff have a plan and procedure in place to use the designated time to replace a fouled out player (whether it is their player or an opponent) to gather their team together for an extra timeout? Have the players practiced that procedure? Do the players understand how to execute the planned out procedure?
Have responsibilities been delegated to assistant coaches and managers? Who is in charge of the foul situation, the score book and other important statistics? What person is delegated to keep track of the time before the second half? Is there a designated time that the staff wants to make sure the players have to warm up for the second half? What kind of warm-up routine does the staff want the team to use for the second half? Is it the same as the first half warm-up routine? Why or why not? Who is in charge of naming the second half starters?
LAST SHOT ADMINISTRATION
If a team and staff spends so much time and effort preparing for and actually playing a game for the game to come down to one last play, shouldn’t a coach go with a well-thought out play that was designed before the pressure packed situation—a play that all of the players have seen and actually practiced beforehand?
Assistant coaches and managers need to have a pre-determined plan of action to make the end of game activities a learning and positive atmosphere. This will be the last impression that everyone involved in the program takes away from the game. This time can be a crucial time and everyone must carry out their scripted jobs and assignments to make it time efficient and productive. There will be many different activities and responsibilities that must be taken care of, such as with the press and the possible dispersal of players. Who is allowed in the locker-room after games? Has that been determined? Will there be a post-game instructional session by the Head Coach? Has that time been thought out so that it is after a slight cooling off period where emotions as well as thoughts and statistics have been organized? The media might be involved after the game? What assignments are delegated to people there? Uniforms and the various types of basketball and first aid equipment must be gathered up, inventoried and stored. Scorebooks, statistics and video equipment must be collected. All of these “behind the scenes” activities must not only be done but done in a timely and efficient manner. Without a well-planned routine, this will not happen. Final announcements about the next meeting must be given to the team before they are dismissed. Players want and must know the routine before and after games so they can perform them the way the coaching staff wants them to.
Creating a philosophy and specific plan for all of these scenarios takes a great deal of time and effort by a coaching staff, but its development can be much more productive and effective when it is done in the off-season and not in the “heat of battle,” during an actual game. During the season, the appropriate techniques can then be explained, taught, sold, and practiced with the players. This makes everyone more confident and prepared. Being prepared will give a team the necessary confidence, calmness and poise to be successful. Remember the saying “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Hard work in planning and organizing by a coaching staff can be an invaluable asset for a basketball program.
As a coach, focusing on the important aspects of leadership, improvement, and teaching the game can be overshadowed at times by urgent matters such as getting time-sensitive information out to your team. There are team management apps that allow you to have immediate access to player and parent contact information on your desktop workstation, tablet, or phone. However, there are other ways to make the job of managing the team easier as well. Team management tools, like TeamSnap, automate a lot of these processes for you. In addition to letting you create, update and store a team roster, tools like TeamSnap let you see players’ availability for games and practices, assign responsibilities such as post game food or snacks, and keep track of who has paid their equipment fees, and completed their paperwork.
About the Author
Coach Kimble was the Head Basketball Coaching position at Deland-Weldon (IL) High School for five years (91-43) that included 2 Regional Championships, 2 Regional Runner-Ups and 1 Sectional Tournament Runner-up. He then moved to Dunlap (IL) High School (90-45) with 2 Regional Runners-up, 1 Regional, 1 Sectional and 1 Super-Sectional Championship and a final 2nd Place Finish in the Illinois Class A State Tournament. He was an Assistant Basketball Coach at Central Florida Community College in Ocala, FL for 1 year before becoming Offensive Coordinator and then Associate Head Coach for 3 additional years He then was the Head Basketball Coach at Crestview (FL) High School for 10 years, averaging over 16 wins per season.
He has had articles published in the following publications such as: The Basketball Bulletin of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Scholastic Coach and Athletic Journal, Winning Hoops, Basketball Sense, and American Basketball Quarterly. He has also written and has had five books published along with over 25 different DVDs by Coaches Choice and Fever River Sports Production.