by Coach Dave Stricklin
In the last few years I have seen many coaches at all levels of competition make the same lethal mistake time and time again. This mistake is copying what they see on T.V with no logical reasoning behind their decisions. This seems especially evident when selecting last second special plays (baseline, sideline and full court) to run in crunch time.
Coaches often see these plays being performed on big stages during big games and think "Hey that worked for them so it must work for me!" While this logic might work to your advantage every blue moon it is not a sound way of choosing your team's end of the game plays. When choosing what special play to run at the end of a quarter, half, or game coaches need to consider several things before making a decision.
Here are 4 things for coaches to keep in mind when considering a last second sideline play for your team:
Time and Intentions
The first thing you need to ask yourself is, how much time is left in the game and what do I want out of the play. For example, if there is only 5 seconds or less in the game you need a scoring play. A scoring play is a set in which your team can get a great shot attempt in two passes maximum. If there is 20 seconds left in the game you don't necessarily need to score on the out of bounds play itself but may be better off just entering the ball in bounds and executing one of your half court sets. Other factors should quickly be considered and evaluated as well. Are you going for the win or for the tie? How effective are your shooters and/or free throw shooters?
How are you going to use your best player?
The second concept you might want to consider is how you want to use your best player. Many coaches are big believers in feeding the hot hand. For example, if they have a player who is 8-11 from the field and has made his last 4 shots many coaches will call out a play to get him an open shot. Others believe that if they have a player who is 8-11 the defense will concentrate much of their focus on stopping that one player. This opens the opportunity of using him as a decoy in order to get another player an open look. Think about how this fits into your own coaching philosophy and then continue.
How are they going to defend your screens?
The answer to this question is often determined by the score and the time left in the game. Depending on the time & score many coaches will instruct their athletes to switch all screening actions. They do this hoping that their players won't get stuck on a screen which would surely result in an open shot attempt for their opponent. Coaches who use this tactic should be aware that mismatches will occur and some teams might be able to capitalize on them. Knowing if teams are going to switch all screens or defend them using their standard method will give you a greater insight into choosing a play.
Remember the Inbounder
As soon as the basketball is passed inbounds, many teams will immediately collapse on the ball handler knowing there is only time for a maximum of one more pass before a shot must be attempted. Other defenses choose to cover certain spots on the floor such as the blocks and the elbows in anticipation of the shot being taken there. Regardless of the defensive tactic used, the inbounder is often either ignored or forgotten. Take advantage of this by having your inbounder immediately get into shooting range as soon as the ball is entered into play.
If you want to see several game tested sideline out of bounds plays that are especially effective in crunch time situations, check out BasketballClassroom.com. But before you ultimately decide on which plays to add to your offensive arsenal make sure they are in line with the four considerations discussed above.
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