Team Concepts (Offenses, Defenses, Baseline, Sideline, & Press Breaks)

As you will read tomorrow on the blog, we are going to change the format for a few months. When we come back from the hiatus, we will be running a series of posts on different team concepts that will fill your playbook. Here is an outline of the different chapters of the series that we will delve into:

  1. Offenses
  2. Defenses
  3. Baseline Inbounds
  4. Sideline Inbounds
  5. Press Breaks


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.


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.

Fix Off The Court Issues First

I had a team a couple of years ago that was extremely talented and won more games than most teams at the school over the past 20 years. We qualified for the playoffs and had a first round game against a team on paper that appeared to be beatable. The bad news for us was that the team we were playing had excellent chemistry and we had a lot of off-the-court-issues. As I feared, we lost the game although we competed very well in the first half.


Chemistry will play a big factor in the success of your team. I dealt with a lot of off-the-court issues with what I refer to as my dysfunctional team. Many coaches think that off-the-court issues are not a big deal if players can compartmentalize their problems and learn to work together on-the-court. I can assure these coaches that off-the-court-issues will bleed onto the court.

I spent a great deal of time trying to have players work through the issues but in the end I failed. If I had truly done a better job addressing issues off-the-court and having more communication between athletes through a counseling type session, it might have helped salvage our season.

Whether you are successful or not, it is important to address off-the-court issues and try to fix them. If you want to have your team perform at their highest level, building chemistry off-the-court is where this starts. Once you’ve built chemistry off-the-court, you can then start to work on improving your team on-the-court.


It is important to hold your players accountable and to hold yourself accountable as a coach. If you start to lose that fire and love for the game, call yourself out and get back on track with doing what needs to be done. If you are not getting the job done as a coach: recognize it, find a solution, and resolve the issue. It is most important to lead by example as the leader of your program. I make it a point to come to practice everyday earlier than every player on my team and to stay until every player has left. Going above and beyond with my game preparation is another way for me to lead by example. I’m not going to name anybody specifically, but I have witnessed another coach of a different sport skip out on entire off-seasons of practices, posting pictures of them partying with alcohol on social media (that students have the ability to see), and then call out players for not being committed to the program.


Holding players accountable will gain you the respect of your athletes. It is important to make sure that expectations are made clear to your athletes. A coaching mentor of mine who was also a high school teacher told me that he only had one rule for his students and athletes, “Do what you are supposed to be doing, when you are supposed to be doing it”. This rule was made clear to his students and athletes through constant repetition. He rarely had anybody question him when he would call them out for not doing what they were supposed to be doing.

No matter which athlete is violating a rule that might be in place, it is important to stay consistent with the way that you enforce your rules and hold that athlete accountable. If your star athlete does something that violates a rule, the punishment must be the same as it would if this was any other athlete.

Making accountability a priority will help your program become one without off the court issues and instill the discipline needed to help your athletes after they graduate high school.


Having your team in top physical shape is also an excellent way to increase your performance on the court. However, I am also opposed to overtraining and like to limit when conditioning takes place. To help clarify, I consider conditioning to be improving the aerobic fitness of athlete by increasing stamina, quickness, and energy. Tomorrow, we will focus more on weight lifting and strength. I want to preface this post with the fact that I am not a doctor and encourage every coach to consult with a doctor or athletic trainer when designing their program.


In order to maximize efficiency with conditioning, I like to focus on conditioning during just two segments of the year:

Fall- I like to really push my players to get better through a tough but realistic program that starts out slow and gets to be very tough toward the end of fall.

Winter- A lack of emphasis on in season conditioning has sometimes doomed teams. If you lose the conditioning that was built up during the preseason partway through the year, you will be at a disadvantage.

A couple of key focuses for your program are to incorporate distance running, sprints, and balance work. Here is a rationale behind each of these choices:

Distance Running- You do need to build up your overall cardio conditioning and running laps is an excellent way to do this. In the fall I will spend one day a week on the track. During the season, I will not spend any days on the track.

Sprints- We add on sprints every week and during the fall we start small and work our way up to a large amount of sprinting by the end of fall. During the season, I will incorporate a sprinting aspect into each practice.

Balance- I am a huge advocate of yoga and other balance work. If you incorporate this into your workout program it is beneficial to contract with a skilled professional to guide this part of your workout.

Teams who are in shape and able to continue an up-tempo pace for the duration of a game have a huge advantage over their opponents. It does not come without hard work though and you need to put the work into the preseason conditioning program in order to see the benefits.

We Are Almost Ready To Launch

Although the blog might seem a bit sparse right now, a lot of hard work and planning is going on behind the scenes. I think that it’s a shame when you see blogs that don’t have consistent content. It’s for this reason that I am not launching posts until August 1st. Once that date comes, I plan on having a post every day for my readers.

Once we do launch on August 1st, postings will cover a wide array of topics to help out coaches of all levels. I love feedback and welcome readers to submit questions, topics they would like to see covered, and opinions on past posts. Weekends posts will typically request questions from readers and also allow me to advertise my consulting service for coaches. August 1st through October 31st posts will cover a variety of different Basketball topics from a broad perspective. Once high school season starts, I will be switching the format to almost a journal of what is going on with my team, how these experiences can help other coaches, and allow people to see if what I am suggesting actually works.

I look forward to seeing my readership grow and am very excited about this new venture.