analytics

Defense: Stats & Goals

As you saw with the other fundamental series that I have written, I noted the importance of being able to track your progress through the use of statistics. Defense directly impacts your teams success and statistics will help figure the metrics of this out. If you can’t get stops, you can’t win games. You will need to learn your weaknesses as a way of finding what areas need improvement.

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Statistically, teams who can’t get defensive stops won’t win ball games. You need to implement an aggressive defense that teaches effort, fundamentals, and not fouling.

Here are steps to tracking your defensive improvement:

  1. Look at stats for following categories.
  2. Track how many points per game that you allow.
  3. Track how many times your opponent gets into the paint with the ball.
  4. Track how many offensive rebounds that you give up.
  5. Chart the trend of your stats and look to see if the number improves. It is crucial that you compare this to notes on your defensive drills and determine if your issues are with on-ball defense, off-ball defense, and/or rebounding.

The goal that I have set for my teams is the following defensive stats:

Points Per Game Allowed- Less than 10 per quarter.

Touches In Paint- Less than 4 per quarter.

Offensive Rebounds- Less than 4 per quarter.

Passing: Stats & Why Its Underrated

With any skill or fundamental, you need to be able to apply some kind of metric as a way to track progress. Passing as I stated in my post yesterday is the most underrated fundamental skill of all those that exist (yes, even more than defense). If you have an ability to pass the ball, it gives you a ton of flexibility on offense and also can help you out if you have a team that does not shoot the ball very well.

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Statistically, teams who pass the ball well and don’t turn the ball over very much do very well in games. The result of improved passing is fewer turnovers and more assists.

Here are steps to tracking your passing:

  1. Look at the number of turnovers your team averages for the season prior to your commitment to improving ball handling and also look at the number of assists.
  2. Commit to incorporating passing drills (stay tuned next week for some ideas) into every practice and truly developing the skill level of your athletes.
  3. Start tracking the assist to turnover ratio and see if your assists are increasing and your turnovers are decreasing.
  4. In addition, when tracking turnovers, determine if they are a result of passing or ball hall handling.

The goal that I have set for my teams is to have an assist to turnover ratio of 2:1. If your team can do this, it bodes very well for your offense.

Shooting: Stats & Percentages

As you saw with the ball handling series, I noted the importance of being able to track your progress through the use of statistics. Shooting directly leads to scoring but I am not an advocate of tracking your shooting prowess through points scored. If you can’t make shots though you won’t put up points. With anything, I look at the importance of shooting percentages when determining how strong your shooting as and from where it is strong. In turn, you will also learn your weaknesses as well.

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Statistically, teams who don’t shoot the ball well (especially when shooting close to the basket) are much easier to guard. To give yourself more flexibility, you need to be able to make shots and from multiple different areas on the court.

Here are steps to tracking your shooting improvement:

  1. Look at shooting percentages using a shot chart that tracks your shooting and from different spots on the court.
  2. Commit to incorporating shooting drills (stay tuned for our post later this week with some drills) into every practice and truly developing the skill level of your athletes.
  3. Start tracking the shooting percentages on the chart after each game going forward.
  4. Chart the trend of your percentages per game and look to see if the number improves. It is crucial that you compare this to notes on your shooting drills to determine the effectiveness of your drills.

The goal that I have set for my teams is to improve percentages in five different areas to meet the following goals:

Lay-Ups- 80%

Shots From Paint- 40%

Mid-Range- 35%

Free Throws- 75%

Three Pointers- 30%

Ball Handling: Statistical Significance

I had a little bit of extra time this week which has allowed me to write a bonus post on ball handling. With any skill or fundamental, you need to be able to apply some kind of metric as a way to track progress. Ball Handling as I stated in my post yesterday is the most important fundamental skill that you can develop to see improvement in your teams. If you can’t handle the ball, you can’t even put yourself in a position to score.

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Statistically, teams who turn the ball over a lot need to improve their ball handling. The result of improved ball handling is fewer turnovers and an ability to compete with more competitive teams.

Here are steps to tracking your ball handling improvement:

  1. Look at the number of turnovers your team averages for the season prior to your commitment to improving ball handling.
  2. Commit to incorporating ball handling drills (stay tuned next week for some ideas) into every practice and truly developing the skill level of your athletes.
  3. Start tracking the turnovers per game as you are working on ball handling during your practices.
  4. Chart the trend of turnovers per game and look to see if the number decreases.

The goal that I have set for my teams is to have less than 4 turnovers per quarter. This goal is attainable and I think it will put is into a good position to win more games.

The Key Fundamentals (Ball Handling, Shooting, Passing, & Defense)

Today starts a series of posts that I will refer to as the fundamental series. Over the next few weeks I will be posting a series of posts detailing different aspects of each fundamental.

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The four main fundamentals that we will be focusing on will be:

  1. Ball Handling
  2. Shooting
  3. Passing
  4. Defense

I recognize that rebounding can be considered its own category but I lumped this into the defense category and will be posting more about rebounding at a later date. If you have anything that you would specifically like to see me cover when it comes to any of these fundamentals, please send me a message and I will include an answer in the post it pertains to.

The hope is that this series will be useful to coaches of all levels as they look to improve the fundamentals of their teams.

Footwork

One of the first things that you can do to help improve your athletes skills is to emphasize footwork. In my first few seasons at Ontario, I jumped right into basic skills like ball handling, passing, defense, shooting, and rebounding. These are all great skills but without proper footwork, your teams will not have the building blocks necessary to compete at their best. This past offseason, with all of my athletes including those with years of experience, we committed to spending part of each practice learning and improving our footwork.

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The result of my offseason emphasis has shown on the court and we improved greatly over the summer in virtually every statistical category. Most noticeably, we lowered our number of turnovers per game which I see as a result of our new found understanding of footwork.

Some coaches might wonder how I can spend an entire post talking about footwork as it only applies to one or two aspects of the game. I counter with the fact that footwork plays a key role in every basic fundamental as I will outline below:

Ball Handling- When dribbling the ball at full speed in a game, I am sure that most coaches have told their players to jump stop. Teaching players how to jump stop and pivot will help reduce the number of turnovers on a fast break. Additionally, learning how to jab step and use fakes with footwork will help players become better scorers.

Passing- Many player will turn the ball over because they do not step into passes on the outside. Step right to throw right and step left to throw left. When trying to get a pass into the paint, you need to be able to step through with your opposite foot to protect the ball and create a passing angle.

Shooting- I have coached a lot of players who do not set their feet before they shoot. When working on jump shots I like to teach players to keep a back foot down and step in with their lead foot to power into a shot. Also, footwork on lay-ups (a euro-step is an excellent move to teach starting in high school) also plays a role in player skill development.

Defense- Pushing off the back foot when sliding is a basic technique when discussing footwork but I also point out the fact that you want to teach your athletes to keep their toe pointing forward and not out to the side because you want to use big muscles like glutes and hamstrings to power your slide. Sticking your toe out to the side works the adductors which do not have as much power and ability to provide you with a quick slide.

Rebounding-Using your feet to seal someone on  a box-out is a great technique to teach when rebounding on defense. On offense you can teach a jab and spin to help improve your offensive rebounding as well.

As you can see from the above that using attention to detail when going over footwork will help your teams get better and also further develop the skills of your athletes. I incorporate footwork into every practice and see it as a huge benefit to us.

Lead By Example

If you are going to ask your athletes to do something it truly helps to lead by example. I have learned through experience that if your athletes see you as the hardest working member of the team, it makes it hard for them to question what you are doing or complain. This has been a great area of growth for me over the past couple of years, especially when it comes to strength and conditioning. I first want to preface that although it helps if you have been around the game of basketball, it is not crucial that every coach have played the game of basketball growing up.

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My first couple of seasons at Ontario, I was horribly out of shape and it was difficult to get my athletes to completely commit to our strength and conditioning program. A couple of years ago I committed to fitness for myself and lost over 150 pounds and am now in the greatest shape of my life (shockingly, diet and exercise actually works). Now when we have conditioning before or during practice, I will get out there and do the workouts with my athletes and I no longer get any complaints and notice a guilty look from students who sit out a conditioning workout that I am doing with the team. This is just one example of a way that I have been able to lead by example.

Another great way to lead by example is make sure that you are at the gym before any of your athletes and you are the last one to leave. I make an effort to be in the gym reviewing game film when my athletes arrive and stay in the gym after practice to meet with my assistant coaches. Athletes notice these things and will respect you more if they see that you are committed to working hard and devoting time to the program. Being knowledgeable about your offense and defense will help them respect your knowledge of the game as well. Whenever a question gets brought up about something we are doing on offense or defense, I make an effort to give a solution or answer that has depth and shows that I am in complete understanding of what we are doing, how we need to do it, and what the expected outcome is.

Overall, it’s a great idea to lead by example because you are a role model to these athletes and it will help you be more successful as a coach. I am always open to suggestions so if you have any ideas, suggestions, or questions, please feel free to comment on this post or send me an e-mail.