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Food for Thought – February 2015


Wise Substitutions
End of Game Guidelines
Double Teaming

Making Sound Substitutions

By establishing definite roles and responsibilities for each player, it takes the guess work out of substituting.

Come game time, a team should be well prepared technically, physically, and mentally. If the coach has done a great job of teaching and each player knows their role and assignments, substitutions should be just, basically, limited to keeping players rested and out of foul trouble. However, players should be well aware that it can be a real advantage to come off the bench since it gives a player the opportunity to watch and analyze their opponent actions and strengths. Offensively is the opponent a penetrator? A spot up shooter? A post up player, A screener? An offensive rebounder? etc. Defensively, how do they defend the post? are they zoning? If so, what type of zone and where are the open shots? Also, because officials have a tendency for the officials to call more fouls at the beginning of the game, by coming off the bench these early foul calls can be avoided.

Suggestions & Tips:

• Before each game inform the players as to the planned substitution order and timing. When the substitution order is known, the players will be better mentally prepared when it comes time to enter the game. Otherwise, you will have players watching the game clock, hoping to get into the game, instead of watching the game and analyzing their opponents’ actions. However, must be flexible since the best of game plans can go awry with early foul trouble or player injury.

• Any time a player(s) come out of game, make it mandatory to sit next to coach for communication purposes. Inform the player of the reason for the substitution, even if it is just for a short rest. To start the game this requires that the sixth person (first sub) sit next to coach on “Ready Alert” mentally prepared to enter the game.

• Great Substitution rule to use in order to encourage players to hard at all times along with preventing players from hitting the fatigue “wall” along with removing any fear or doubt of not getting back into the game:

If players take them selves out of game (by tugging on shirt) they get to put themselves back into the game when ready. If coach makes the substitution, then coach will make decision when to sub back into the game.

Note: when subbing back into the game, player may not necessary go back in for player who replaced them.

• On player mistake(s), try to wait until the player makes a positive play or touches the ball before making a substitution. You certainly do not want players on the court worried that if they make a mistake they will immediately pulled out of the game.
• To avoid serious player foul trouble, substitute on second personal foul in first half and on third personal foul early in the second half.

• AUTOMATIC SUBSTITUTION: On any behavior technical foul substitute immediately and have the player sit down next to coach until cooler head prevails. There is no place on the court for a player that has lost control. Players must be able to play through adversity and not let a bad call, play or opponent action cause them to loose control.

• At the beginning of the season, it is wise to rest your top players as much as possible. This will save their “Legs” for the critical end of the season and play-offs as well as reducing the risk of injury resulting from playing when physically tired. However, just as important, by giving reserves valuable playing time and experience, it will develop a team’s depth. In the event that a top-lined player is lost during a game or for the season, a player with quality game experience will be able to step-in and take their spot.

NOTE: On the colligate level, where RPI ratings are important for post season play and ratings, resting top players is very difficult. However, the basketball season is like a marathon, and you need players with “Fresh Legs” at the end. Forget the stats and rest your top players whenever possible. Go for the “Gold.” Many of Championships are lost because of tired legs.

Strategic Substitutions

• Early in the game, use substitutes to make changes and adjustments rather than taking a valuable time out.

• If you plan on using a player, be sure to get them some playing time in the first half. Certainly, do want to put a player into the game for the first time at the end of a close game.

• Make a substitute on a free throw situation to set a press or defense.

• Alternate offensive and defensive substitutions at end of game on free throws and time outs.

• When fouling to the stop the clock at the end of the game, make defensive substitutions whenever possible and put players into the game that can afford to foul instead of losing their best players because of disqualification. Once a foul has been committed, stopping the clock, players in foul trouble can be reinserted back into the game. Close game may go several overtimes.

• Make sure to have your best free throw shooters in the game when the opponent is in a must foul situation.

• Get an extra ballhandler on the floor against full court pressure.

• Make a mass substitution on rare occasions. If starters are not playing hard substitute immediately and let them sit for awhile. They will definitely get the message and their attention.

• To increase defensive motivation and intensity have players play until opponent scores a set amount of points, such as 6 points. They can score all they want, but just do not let the other team score. Once the opponents score six points substitute. You can adjust the points allowed such as six points for starters and four points for reserves.

CAUTION: Basketball, unlike other sports, does not have a “Mercy” rule. Therefore, when the teams are mismatched, it is the sole responsibility of the coach to see that the opposition does not get embarrassed by running up the score!

Coaching Strategies: End of Game Guidelines

End of game situations really become paramount during the end of the season when a single shot can make the difference of winning and losing along with determining a team’s playoff hopes and fate. Therefore, to be successful, teams must be prepare for end of game situations.

When Behind Late in the Game

The clock is the enemy, not the opponents. Seconds are precious. Every effort should be made to prevent time from running off the clock. By proper use of time outs and fouls the last few minutes of a game can be an eternity so don’t ever give up.

  1. Take a charge.
  2. Create a five (5) second violation.
  3. Steal the inbounds pass.
  4. Give a foul.
  5. Rebound aggressively at both ends. Putbacks and second efforts are vital.
  6. Push the ball on offense. Be quick but do not hurry. Make successful passes.
  7. Go strong to the basket. The opposing players usually play poor defense since they do not want to foul.

When Ahead Late in the Game

The clock is your ally. Do not stop it (unless in very serious trouble). Be sure that players know how many timeouts are remaining and if they have a foul(s) to give. Being aware of the timeout and team foul situations can make the difference in winning or losing.

  1. Maintain disruptive pressure without fouling.
  2. Deny dribble penetration. Build cushion staying between your opponent and the basket.
  3. Pressure all three point shots with both hands up high.
  4. Use a half court press to defend against fast breaks and slow game tempo.
  5. Box out and rebound. Do not allow any second efforts.
  6. Take care of the ball offensively. Maintain proper spacing and use sharp accurate passes.
  7. Move the ball and do not allow the opponent to stop the clock by fouling.

Premium Members Learn More:

Go to: Coaching Strategies/Winning Close Games/ Clock Management & Fouling


Playing Intelligently: Double Teaming

Double teams and traps require teamwork. One defender must contain (block the dribbler’s path), while the other defender attacks the ball. Players must know their roles when double teaming. If both defenders attack the ball or both contain, the offensive player will be able to split the trap. In containing the dribbler, the defender should take a charge whenever possible.

Influence the dribbler into a primary (corner) trap zone or secondary (sideline) trap zone. “LOCK UP” – Do not allow the offensive player to split the trap. Pressure the player with the ball with both hands, but do not foul. Be sure to employ quick helpside rotations when trapping. Once the trap is set, off ball defenders should be in position to deny all passing lanes out of the trap. Most passers will telegraph their passes. If/when pass is made out of the trap close out on the ball quickly. Trappers must sprint release and dive to basket into helpside I positions. Quick releases and rotations are a key ingredient to successful traps.

All or None Principle

When trapping, do NOT ever go half way. If you are going to trap – trap. However, players can and should fake a trap at anytime.

Common Errors Made When Trapping

Premium Members go to: Player Development/Defensive Skills/ Double Teaming/”Common Errors Made When Trapping”



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