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Basketball Strategies – November 2011

HoopTactics Newsletter

Establishing Player Roles

Sixth Person, Defensive Stopper, Designated Inbounder, Free Throw Shooter, Free Throw Squad, End of Game Substitutes, Practice Squad

Coaching Strategies: The Importance of Establishing Player Roles

The most important aspect of basketball coaching is to create and foster a total team atmosphere and commitment. Insure your players that they’re going to play in a team atmosphere. You need to guarantee players equal opportunity, but not equal playing time. You must establish significant roles and assignments for every player on the squad. If you can’t, then you should release them. The following, often times overlooked, roles are vital to a team’s success. The attitude and efforts of the players filling these roles must be recognized, fostered and supported whole heartedly by the entire coaching staff throughout the season.

6th Person(s) – The importance of the sixth person(s) role in basketball cannot be over emphasized. It is one thing all excellent teams have in common. Establishing and utilizing the sixth person role, in many ways,is a much more important coach’s decision than determining the starters. Determining and getting a player to accept the sixth person role can be a challenge since player’s and parents’ ego’s can be involved. However, by communicating the vital importance of this unselfish team role, they should be more than likely to understand and accept the role as a real honor rather than a demotion.

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Defensive Stopper – A vital but often overlooked position is that of a defensive “Stopper.” Having an outstanding defensive player, one who not only can deny or disrupt a great offensive player from receiving the ball but in addition, are masters of one on one defense is essential to any championship hopes. Like shooters, stoppers aren’t born and just don’t happen. They must be development and nourished.

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Designated Inbounder – Good inbounders are vital and a team will not win a championship without one. Many championships have been lost because teams were not able to inbound the ball at end of the game. Players on all levels, including the NBA and WNBA, need to know and practice the fundamental skills and concepts required in making a successful inbound pass. In addition to the physical skills involved, good inbound passers must possess a strong commitment to team play since they are taken for granted and very rarely rewarded for the efforts. 

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Designated Free Throw Shooter – Shooting a technical foul free throw is not an easy task. Standing in the spot light alone on the free throw line can be a intimidating and trying endeavor even for a great free throw shooter. In fact, the fear of failure is so real that it can emotionally affect a player for the rest of their life. Therefore, exceeding in this situation requires a command of the 3 C’s of free throw shooting:  Consistency, Concentration, and Confidence.

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End of Game Free Throw Shooters – Fouling when behind late in a game is a desperation tactic by the opponent founded on missed free throws. Therefore, to counter this strategy, you need to have your best free throw shooters on the court. In addition, these free throw shooters must possess the ability to move the ball and avoid being fouled. When ahead late in the game the clock becomes their ally; however, they must use it wisely keeping it running. At the defensive end of court they must have the ability to protect against three point shots and dribble penetration without fouling. Defensive rebounding is also paramount in eliminating any second efforts.

End of Game Substitutions –  Fouling plays a critical part in the out come of the game, especially when it comes playoff time. When trailing late in the game and fouling to the stop the clock, coaches should 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. When it comes to fouling to gain a competitive edge do not assume that players know how and who to foul at the end of the game. If you just tell a player to go foul, they are most likely to grab or hammer an opponent, and pick up an intentional foul. Players need to be know how, when and who to foul.

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Practice Squad – Often times called “Twenty Point ” players since they usually only get to play in a game when a team is either 20 points ahead or behind. However, their importance to a successful season cannot be minimized. They are unique in that they come to play despite their lack of ability, skills and playing time. Their hard work and contributions during practices definitely make their teammates better and should be recognized and reinforced.  Note: In a number of women’s basketball programs, the practice squad actually consists of men.

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