Being able to choose the Next Best Action without the ball has mostly been left to chance. Most of us coaches can recognize a player with a high basketball I.Q. and we’re glad to get them. But how much time do we actually spend, with an organized plan, training everyone on the team to choose a Next Best Action? How much time do we really spend trying to increase our players’ basketball I.Q.?
Ultimately, that’s the purpose of this video. Perhaps a better title might have been: “Training the Players Without the Ball”. However, that would be a bit misleading because you might think that I am talking about Perimeter Players without the ball. My focus is a bit narrower: I’m talking about training those players who are on the move – cutting through the lane – cutting through the Read & React Decision Box.
To understand the setup, let’s review a moment:
There are two primary decision-makers in the Read & React Offensive System:
- The ball-handler and
- The player in the lane without the ball.
The rest of the teammates on the floor are “reactors” or perhaps I should say they are “readers” – they read the action taken by the ball-handler and react with our system’s pre-planned, pre-drilled reaction. The “readers” on the perimeter (teammates without the ball) CANNOT make independent decisions (except for the Pin & Skip). If they want to make decisions on the perimeter, they must wait until they have the ball.
When a perimeter player gives up the ball (passes) he/she has given up the ability to make a decision. The Read & React takes away all of the decisions that a passer COULD make in a motion offense and REQUIRES the passer to cut to the basket.
However, all of those decisions that were taken away on the perimeter (at the moment of the pass) are given back to that player when his/her feet enter the lane – our DECISION BOX.
Typically, these decisions are given back to the player one at a time, in the order that the Layers of the Read & React are taught. However, once you’ve taught these layers – once you’ve covered these actions at least to the point where players know what you mean when you say things like “Laker Cut, or Pin & Skip, or Back Screen, etc.,” then there needs to be a way to speed up their use of these decisions. There’s a need to increase the training reps around these decisions. We need a means to narrow the focus on all the nuances that come with these actions. These drills allow you a time during your practice (actually, a specific drill) to teach some of the finer points of basketball.
Using 4 players from Coach Rich Czeslawski’s team at Crystal Lake High School just outside Chicago, I will take you through the following progression:
- The first stage trains them without defense. I tell the players what decision to make (ahead of time) when they cut through the lane.
- In the second stage of drills, I allow them to choose the action on their own. There’s still no defense in this stage. I simply add randomness to the drill and begin to transfer the decision-making to the players.
- In the third stage of drills, I add defense to the mix in order to test their application of what has been taught (in the previous two stages) to a “LIVE” situation.
These drills can be part of a process that’s practiced a little bit every day, or you can take the team through all of the decisions and all of the stages in a single practice. You’ll make that adjustment depending on what level you coach and how many decisions your team can handle.
Don’t sell your team short. Stretch their “mental cup” and see how much it will hold. It might surprise you!