Installing the Entire Read & React in 5 Days
The Read & React Offense took over a year to produce and I’m pretty confident that I covered every detail of every layer of the offense. But regardless, I continue to hear the following question: “What is the best method for teaching the Read & React?” And regardless of THAT answer, the follow-up question is always, “How long will it take?”
So, when Mike Bona, coach of the Emmanuel College Lady Lions, asked me the same question, I boldly answered: “One week! In one week, I can put in the entire Read & React – all 20 Layers!” And he took me up on it!
Now, some of you are saying, there’s no way an entire team can master the Read & React in 5 practices (11 hours). And I agree! What CAN you MASTER in 11 hours?! I wasn’t shooting for mastery – I was shooting for the team to acquire the ability to run the entire offense in this short, condensed amount of time. And they did!
STAGE 1: COGNITIVE (EARLY) STAGE: In this stage, you’re simply trying to understand what you’re going to be doing. You’re thinking about the process and maybe breaking the skill into manageable parts. For a coach, this is an easy stage to identify. It’s what you do when you watch and study the Read & React Offense video!
STAGE 2: ASSOCIATIVE (INTERMEDIATE) STAGE: In this stage, you begin practicing the skill and adjusting that practice based on feedback. The question in this stage is not mastery. It’s questions like: what are the most effective ways of repetition? Are the players acquiring the skills based on our drills? Are they beginning to connect the dots?
STAGE 3: AUTONOMOUS (LATE) STAGE: Of course, this is what everyone is shooting for. You’ll know you’ve entered this stage when your players are performing the skill effectively and efficiently without thinking about it or paying unnecessary attention to the process.
Now, before we apply this to the Read & React, we need to be clear about who we’re talking about – coaches or players? A coach cannot skip a stage. You can’t plan a Read & React practice (stage 2) without completing stage 1. You have to go through the Cognitive Stage first to know what you’re doing. You have to understand the process and all its parts before you can plan how to practice what’s needed.
So from here on, I’m talking about players.
The only way to get to Stage 3 where they are running the offense effectively and efficiently without thinking about it – is through high amounts of repetition. That’s not the question. It’s the first two stages that I want to talk about.
One way to get through the first two stages is to jump straight to Stage 2 with the players. The Read & React is probably the only thing you can do like this. But since the drills ARE the offense, you can begin practicing the Reaction drills and let Stage 1, understanding the big picture, come later or at least at its own pace. This works really well if you have drill time available before your team practices begin. There are some successful Read & React coaches who structure their off-season workouts around Stage 2 – just getting in the reps and reactions needed for the offense – knowing that the cognitive stage will quickly follow as they begin their team practices.
The other pathway to stage 3 is what I did in these first 11 hours of practice. I meshed stages 1 and 2 together in a relatively short period of time. The Secret: Focus 100% of the players’ attention to this skill and nothing else during this time. Immerse them fully into the Read & React for 5 straight practices! This does not achieve mastery (stage 3), but your team will be equipped to get to stage 3 sooner than you would with a traditional practice plan.
Now, before you freak out about “No time on defense or player development”, let me explain how time frames have been collapsed. After the offense has been acquired, you will have a framework to teach and train everything else. You can then turn 100% of your attention to defense! Teaching your defense is easy – just work on defending each Layer of the Read & React and your team will learn how to defend a give-n-go, dribble penetration, ball screens, screens away from the ball, post play, just to name a few. But, with this plan, while you’re working on defense, your offense is getting the needed reps to move the offense into stage 3 – the automatic, autonomous stage. This is how you collapse time frames.
What about player development? After this initial cram course, everything you do in Player Development has context to it. Do you need to work on shooting? Use the Natural Pitch drill from Layer 4. You need to work on passing to the post? Then use the drills from Layer 2 and Layer 13. Use the Pin & Skip drills from Layer 7 and follow the skip pass with feeding the post! Not only will you be working on the skill itself, you’ll also be teaching the players EXACTLY where to use this skill in the offense! You’re teaching application as well as the skill itself! And if you’re using Read & React drills, then these reps, which were meant for player development, are moving your offense towards stage 3!
I know that this is nontraditional. I know that it might create some anxiety. And if you know me, and some of you do, you know that it drives me crazy to see something done incorrectly. I want to stop and teach for mastery right there, but I can’t with this method. So I made a “Later List” and this really helped me! Every time I saw something like a poor closeout, or a badly thrown pass, or anything that caused me anxiety, I put it on my Later List. This says to me: I’m not ignoring it – I’m going to get to this later. I’m going to teach this later. We’re going to drill that to perfection later. And “later” doesn’t mean months from now, it means after the 5 days of this Read & React Boot Camp.
This “Later List” not only reduced my anxiety and frustration, but more importantly, it kept me from stopping the action every 10 seconds! This is a cram course, not a mastery course. We acquire the offense and then move towards mastery!
To sum it up, you have a chance to watch eleven straight hours of Read & React practice! Each of the five practices has an average length of about 2 hours 15 minutes. There is very little editing because I want you to see the process in real time. Like me, you’ll be pleased by what you see on the fifth day!
(PS: How does this compare to the 5 practice plans in CLINICS: PLANNING THE READ & REACT PRACTICE? In the case of “PLANNING R&R”, I assume the offense is being implemented a layer at a time over the course of a typical season. As an example, the players are not exposed to the higher layers until late in the season. Therefore, the five practice plans in “PLANNING” are “snapshots” that illustrate how your practices would change over the course of a season.)
*The First 20 Hours – Josh Kaufman