All basketball teams go through periodic stretches where the offense sputters. There are various reasons why it happens but that is a topic for another day, what I want to focus on with this articles is how to get out of that funk once you are in it. Too many teams lose games simply because they go through too long of intervals where there is no rhythm or flow to their offense. It's unrealistic to think that your team should never go through one of these periods, if you hold that attitude you're setting yourself up for failure because it happens to everyone. It's not a matter of if it's a matter of when.
The difference between winning teams vs. mediocre teams is the winning teams quickly recognize when their offense is stale and they quickly do something about it. Losing or mediocre teams just try to weather the storm. They may realize something isn't right but instead of being proactive about it they think of it almost like they caught a nasty virus and all they can do is wait until it's out of their system. Don't be that team! The following is a list of 8 very effective things you can do to stop the bleeding. These are small and simple things that you need to consider doing whenever you find your offense sputtering. You'll be surprised at how quickly your team can get back on track just by implementing one or a few of these remedies.
It's important to note that some of these will be more effective for your team than others. It's up to you to analyze the situation and make the best decision based upon the strengths and weaknesses of your team. It also goes without mentioning that the first step before any of this is to call a time-out. A time-out is crucial because it stops the other team's momentum and it brings your entire team together so you can discuss what approach you are going to take to get back on track.
1. Make the Extra Pass
A very common reason teams struggle offensively is that of selfish play. Players are more concerned about their own stats and so they take quick shots before the defense has to work. In these situations I've seen a lot of coaches demand that there be a certain number of passes after the ball passes half-court before a shot goes up. Moving the ball around forces the defense to work and eventually it creates open shots. You'll be amazed at how many easy baskets you'll get if you make the defense work hard by fighting through picks, chasing the ball and closing out.
2. Force a Turnover
Forget about offense and do everything in your power to force some turnovers. I see a lot of players get so caught up in how poorly they are playing on offense that it causes them to be less effective on defense because they are so consumed. A better option is to put all your energy into making something happen on defense. A turnover usually results in an easy basket and easy baskets build confidence.
3. Get to the Foul Line
This is a strategy many great NBA players like Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant, etc. use whenever their teams are struggling on offense. Instead of trying to hit a long jumper (a lower percentage shot) they take the ball to the basket with every intention of either getting a lay-up or getting fouled. More times than not they get fouled and get to calmly take two uncontested shots from the free throw line. In a lot of cases this is all it takes to get the entire team's rhythm and confidence back.
4. Take Advantage of the Mismatch
There are times when you need to forget about the offense and attack wherever you have the advantage. Maybe you have an extremely quick guard on your team that can get around his defender every time, or maybe you have a tall post player that has a major size advantage. Whatever it might be use it! It drives me crazy when I see stubborn coaches force their players to run a certain system when the best shot they can get every time down the floor is to just give the ball to a certain player that has the upper-hand on a mismatch. The whole point of an offense is to get the best shot possible, don't over-complicate things!
5. Crash the Offensive Boards
Offensive rebounds are devastating to the morale of opposing teams. When you are getting 2 or 3 opportunities to score to every 1 opportunity the other team has, good things will happen. The other good thing about offensive rebounds is they often result in easy baskets. Easy baskets are the best cure possible to a stagnant offense. Make it a point that every player (except the safety defender that gets back) crashes the boards. Make substitutions for those that don't.
6. Stop Shooting 3 Pointers
I'm not against the 3 point shot. I think it's a very important facet of the game today and teams need to use it. I do however think that it's a bad shot whenever a team is struggling offensively. As I mentioned on the previous point, easy baskets are the cure to a stagnant offense. A 3 pointer isn't what I would define as an easy shot. I would prefer my team to work the ball around the perimeter, set some screens and try to get an easy bucket by making the defense work. The other negative thing about the 3 point shot is the fact that misses are often long rebounds that can result in the opposing team getting a head start to a fast break.
7. Spread the Floor and Let Your Best Player go to Work
You see this a lot in the NBA. When a team is in a drought offensively they will often spread the floor and let their best player attack. If you have a very talented player on your team that can create his own shot, I think this is a great strategy. Chances are good that he'll get something going by getting to the basket, hitting an open jumper or setting up a teammate for a wide open look when the double team comes.
8. Play Full-Court Pressure Defense
This is when you tell your team to forget about offense because you're confident that their rhythm will come back. Stress that for now you want to see an all out war on defense. Go into a full-court press and stress that you want to see deflections and turnovers. When executed effectively a pressure defense results in the other team making bad passes or taking bad shots. It also creates turnovers that result in easy lay-ups.
Basketball is a game of runs. It's very important to recognize early when your team is in an offensive sputter and to be proactive about doing something to get out of it. There are a number of things you can do to shift the momentum and get confidence and rhythm back in your offense. Think outside of the box and use whatever strength's your team has to get back on track.
by Andy Louder