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Change Your Personnel Not Your Offense

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I see this happen all time - a coach spends all spring and summer looking for a new offense that will give his team the scoring opportunities necessary to be successful. He watches dozens of NCAA games, NBA games, and instructional DVD's and YouTube videos.

Once he had made a decision he creates his own crash course by searching the internet and reads anything and everything he can get his hands on pertaining to the new offense. If the coach has a little bit of swagger he reaches out to an NCAA coach who runs the same offense and asks to pick his brain for a few minutes.

The new offense is used and experimented with during summer league and team camp. If it works well then the coach's enthusiasm skyrockets. If it doesn't work well the coach usually chalks it up to inexperience since the offense is so new. Near the end of the summer the coach starts researching and then inventing simple but effective drills that can be used to teach the fundamentals of the new offense to his players.

Finally in early December, after about five or six games against diverse competition, the coach comes to the stark realization that his team just isn't scoring enough points to win games. So what does the coach often do? Changes his entire offense over the course of only three days! It took eight months to research, test, teach, and put in the first offense and only three days to put in the second one. (I've seen some coaches do this three or four times a season!)

If that scenario sounds even remotely familiar I want you to try something different the next time you find yourself in that situation. Instead of changing your offense, consider shifting your personnel! Notice that I said "shifting" and not "changing" because I don't mean just benching a starter or two or bringing guys up from the JV team - I mean moving guys around so they are assuming different roles within the same offense.

Is your point guard having difficulty initiating your dribble drive motion offense? Is your shooting guard in a slump and can't consistently hit the shot coming off a double staggered screen? Does your post player rebound like crazy but just can't score over more skilled defenders down on the block? These are just three of a multitude of scenarios that can be "fixed" by simply shifting your personnel into different spots.

Here are three advantages of dong this:

1. You can keep the same offense

You don't have to research, study, evaluate and experiment with a new offense before putting it in. Your players don't have to learn something completely new on short notice. You can spend more time developing necessary skills and less time teaching patterns.

2. Your opponents won't be prepared for the changes

Put a guard in the post, let your 3 or 4 initiate the offense, or bring your Big around a couple picks for the open jump shot. How many times a season does your opponent have to defend situations like that? My guess is not many. That means you could very well have a huge offensive advantage as those scenarios are hard to prepare in a day or two.

Imagine the opposing coach talking to his post player, "Ok Bubba, I know you're used to standing down on the block and protecting the rim but tomorrow night you need to constantly be in a defensive stance out near mid court and keep your man from driving to the rim. Then jump to the ball so he doesn't face cut you and make sure you lock and trail around the double staggerds." Yea right!

The same holds true in other situations as well. I'd much rather have my guard with only average post skills down on the block going against their guard who has zero experience defending the post than my "good" big guy going against their "great" post defender. (I actually did this last week and my 2 guard had 30 points and fouled out two of their guards.)

3. Skill development

We hear all this talk about teaching kids "how to play" but we still often pigeonhole them into extremely specific roles. Try kids in different spots and let them expand their skill sets. Players throughout your program will soon realize that if they "can" do it you will "let" them do it and you will see more and more players working on their game outside of practice. I fully realize this isn't the cure all for all offensive problems but I also know that your best players are your best players and that you usually need to keep them on the floor as much as possible. This idea lets you do just that.

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