game film

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.

Basketball IQ

Moving on from some of the off-the-court issues I have discussed, we now delve into some on-the-court topics. Basketball IQ is a great trait that you hope your athletes have before they get to you. It is especially helpful to have a point guard who has a high basketball IQ. Unlike some coaches, I believe that you can build basketball IQ in your players over time through training.

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It is first important to note that basketball IQ has nothing to do with overall intelligence or how smart your athletes are. Basketball IQ is based on the understanding of the game and ability to see things on the court before they develop. I have had some athletes with a 4.8 GPA who did not have a great GPA and at other schools have seen athletes with a low GPA who have very high basketball IQ.

Some coaches think that a player either has a high basketball IQ or they don’t. They base this upon the amount of basketball a player grew up playing and watching. Additionally, some coaches think that youth coaching plays a role in the basketball IQ of an athlete. I agree with the assessment of the coaches who see IQ as a result of upbringing; however, I believe you can still grow basketball IQ in a high school athlete.

I have seen a software being marketed that claims to be able to improve the basketball IQ of athletes through the use of a computer game. At my school, we use twice a week to participate in a basketball classroom setting where we teach concepts and ideas about the game. Also, by providing scouting reports to athletes, they are given something to use as a study aide and tool for learning. In my first two years I saw a mild amount of growth when it came to IQ but this year the growth is off the charts. As with anything you remain persistent about (see my post from yesterday), you can see improvement if you commit to a plan and adapt that plan over time.

The effect of higher basketball IQ will be an ability to improve on the court. Your players will be able to execute game plans and also do things on the court that they could not do prior to having a high basketball IQ. As an overall result, you will see your teams win more ball games over time.

Statistics

Statistics are a useful tool that have become a great helper for me in preparing my practice plans. Interestingly, I have found quite a few coaches who do not take the time to go back and track the game stats. Their rationale is typically one of three reasons:

  1. Statistics are a waste of time and it won’t benefit me to know what took place in the game statistically.
  2. I don’t want to have stats appear online that will give an opponent any information that will help with their scouting.
  3. Statistics can make kids feel badly if their numbers don’t look strong.

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I am going to refute each of these arguments and why they are not valid:

  1. It is not a waste of time to come up with numbers that will give you a clear picture of what you need to do to improve.
  2. As you can tell from my prior post on scouting, most coaches are going to come and watch you whether you put your stats online or not.
  3. I would argue that athletes can use stats as a way to learn where they need to improve. They should be coached in a way that shows them that stats are like constructive criticism.

Often times I have looked at statistics from a game and found myself to be very surprised at what I see. Sometimes we have certain misconceptions during and after a game about what we did well and what we did poorly. After a game looking at statistics, I sometimes notice something like a lack of assists or high number of turnovers. One time after a game, I mentioned to my star player last year that it wasn’t her best game because I noticed she wasn’t scoring much. When I got the stat report though I noticed that she had a lot of assists, rebounds, and steals. The next practice I admitted my mistaken judgement in front of the team.

Shooting is a very telling statistic and I love to see a shot chart after each game. If I notice that we are missing shots from certain spots on the floor, I will incorporate shooting drills that work on those spots. Additionally, if I notice that we are shooting well from certain spots on the floor, I will run plays that get us shots in those spots.

Statistics will help you determine what areas you should spend some time focusing on during your practices. Statistics are also an excellent way to set certain goals for your athletes for each game. Examples of statistical goals I have set for my teams in the past include:

  1. Allow less than 10 points in each quarter.
  2. Shoot a minimum of 10 free throws and make 70% or better.
  3. Less than 4 turnovers in each quarter.
  4. Allow less than 4 offensive rebounds per quarter.
  5. Grab a minimum of 3 offensive rebounds in each quarter.

You can learn a great deal from statistics and it will definitely be a great tool to help you during practices and games.

Game Film

Yesterdays post focused on the importance of scouting and I emphasized the need to put together scouting reports for yourself, assistant coaches, and players. Today, I am going to expand upon the concept of scouting with that of game film. When I got my first head coaching job, the first expenditure I made was to get a video camera. Game film is one of the greatest tools that coaches have at their fingertips.

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Up until last year I used DVD’s as a way of filming my own teams games and also keeping a library of opponents games. Last year I utilized an online video service to keep my films in the cloud (I still keep a DVD as a backup). A lot of different online film and analytics services now exist for coaches.

Reasons why I film my own games is to help me analyze the game from a statistical standpoint as well as utilizing my observations to adjust practice plans. It’s also a good idea to take time after each game to watch the film from the game. My teams typically watch film the next day. By allowing your athletes to watch film, it will provide them an opportunity to see mistakes that they might be making and allow you as a coach to have a visual-aid when making corrections.

Filming opponents games goes back to my rationale for scouting. By having film of your opponents at gives you an idea of what to expect from them before tip-off. In addition to this film providing you a tool to help with your scouting report, it also allows you to determine how the other coach operates. Your players will also benefit from watching film of opponents before the game. By allowing them an opportunity to watch film in a pre-game scouting session, they will be able to see both the teams style as well as pick up on what different personnel are doing.

Game film is one of the best tools that exists and I encourage those who do not film their games to start doing this immediately. One final suggestion would be to save your DVD’s. I sometimes will go back to an old DVD to help me when implementing something with a new team.