5 Questions For A Coach to Consider
In this post are 5 questions for coaches that you might find worthwhile to think about. I pose these questions not as a clinician, teacher, or master-coach. I'm the opposite of a master-coach. I have an infinite number of questions and a very small amount of answers. Rather, these questions come from a stance similar to that of an assistant coach. A good assistant coach asks important questions and offers multiple solutions for the head coach to consider. I humbly hope these questions lead you to some valuable self-reflection and self-evaluation.
1) There are kids on every team who will not play significant minutes this year but whom will adopt a larger role next season. Are you being intentional in developing and expanding their skillset or having them just run plays in practice and rotate in when they're needed?
Lennie Acuff, one of the best men in coaching that I have met, and one of the most respected coaches in all of basketball, shared this: He was asked how is team consistently win 20 games a year. He responded and essentially said that he prepares next year’s team this year. His point was this: There are players on your bench who will stay on the bench for most of this year. However, their minutes will increase significantly next year. So their skill development in-season this year is important.
How intentional is your program in developing the skillset of players you will need next year? While the current varsity team is going over press break or offensive sets, would it be better to split off the bench players and have them work on skill work and not become overly-concerned with sets? Long term this might be better.
2) What one specific scoring move or offensive move could each individual player on your team benefit from adding to their “toolbelt”?
Kobe Bryant once described his offensive skillset as having tools in his tool belt. The more offensive tools a player has, the better scorer or creator they become.
Every player has the potential to add more offensive scoring moves to their game. It might be a faceup, shot fake, and jab game for a post player. It might be an off-hand hook shot. It might be the ability for a ball screen ballhandler to read the low hole defender in the pick and roll. It might be a slasher developing a 2-foot finish game that includes, shot fakes, step throughs, floaters, and more.
We have a player on our team who is an exceptional high school basketball player. It’s likely he’ll be a division one player. Against the average high school defender, scoring 15-20 points in a game comes fairly easy. But when he faces defenders who are his size and length, simply scoring over them is more challenging. A tool he needs to add to his toolbelt is a good shot fake or jab game so that he can create an angle or advantage when driving by defenders who are his size. Another one of our bigs needs to add a baseline catch-and-shoot jumper to their toolbelt.
Oftentimes our drills will teach the same skill or scoring move to everyone of our players. Would it be more beneficial to clearly communicate the 1 tool each player needs to add to their toolbelt and incorporate a period of practice to developing that skill?
3) What % of your practices are devoted to pure skill development and what percentage are devoted to your team’s style of play? What is your ideal time allotment for each area?
“Fine execution might overcome an unsound style of play, but the finest system cannot overcome poor execution of the fundamentals.” John Wooden
A common challenge for coaches is to determine how much in-season practice time should be devoted to pure skill work and how much time should be devoted to installing and refining offensive and defensive systems.
Oftentimes, we might feel like practices devote a purposeful amount of time to pure skill work, but before we know it, a whole practice might have featured 95% of scrimmaging and installation, with minimal skill development.
As the season progresses, do your practices evolve? Is skill development emphasized more in the beginning, middle, or end of the year? What's your philosophy regarding how much practice time is spent towards skill development year round?
4) Does your team have 1-2 offensive players who deserve to be taking a majority of your team’s shots? Does your offense emphasize getting them the ball more than less capable scorers?
This I learned from Mike Neighbors, Arkansas’s Head Coach: The most gifted scorers might have a lower field goal percentage than less offensively talented teammates because less gifted scorers will be more selective in shots they attempt... resulting in a higher FG% than the scorers with a greener light.
Are your best scorers attempting the most shots? Are you emphasizing to your team that those top scorers attempt the most shots?
Of course, the top scorer may receive double teams as opponents make somebody else score the ball. In this case, it’s more of a challenge for top scorers to attempt the most shots.
Oftentimes, the top scorers will naturally attempt the most shots and teammates may naturally do a good job in finding scorers in their spots. But this isn’t always natural.
5) How much time in practice do your players spend on weak/off hand development?
When developing the off-hand, the goal is not necessarily to make a player equally effective with both hands. Even though that is desirable, it is rarely achievable. However, the minimum goal of weak hand development is to make the weak hand good enough so that it is not a players kryptonite.
Devoting 5-10 minutes a practice to weak hand development might be helpful. Maybe just 15-20 minutes a week of precise and clear weak hand development might be best. Players can always be working on their weak hand ballhandling when they are out of a drill or waiting to enter a drill.
(If you're interested in adding 79 drills, small-sided games, and series to your drill library, you can click HERE or on the photo below)
I hope these questions are valuable for you as you reflect on the growth and development of your team. Perhaps these questions can become topics for your coaches meetings or they might serve as helpful coaches to write about in your coaching journal. Either way, I hope these were helpful to some extent!