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Changing Your Offense Mid-Season

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Does this sound even remotely familiar? 

You watch your team play several summer league games and make special note of each player's offensive skill sets. When you've gathered enough information you make a well thought out decision regarding which offense you are going to teach and run once practice starts in the fall. 

Then for the next several weeks you begin to outline, step by step, how you are going to teach the offense so your players can understand it quickly and master it efficiently. Everything looks great on paper and you are ready to go! 

Then practice starts and something completely unexpected happens - a key player gets hurt, the football team (with 6 of your players) goes deep into the playoffs, or the offense that looked unstoppable on paper just isn't working against live competition. Now what? 

You go back and watch some college games that you previously taped on your DVR and notice that the Indiana, Michigan, Duke, and Kentucky coaches are all running what appear to be highly effective offenses and so you pick one and begin to implement it immediately. After all, is it's good for them and their team then it must be good for you and your team. Right? Not necessarily! 

Before you decide which offense is best for you and your team, especially since you are looking to implement it mid season, you need to first do some serious soul searching and determine  exactly what you are hoping to accomplish.

  • Do you want everyone to have an equal opportunity to shoot the ball and score or do you want your best shooters to get the majority of shots?
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  • Do you want to be primarily perimeter oriented or post oriented?
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  • Do you want to score quickly or are you going to "play defense" by keeping the ball in your possession as long as possible?

There are no right or wrong answers to questions such as these but it is crucial that you know precisely what you are looking for since your teaching time is going to be so short. The very last thing you want to do is feel that you have no other choice but to change offenses again in a few short weeks. 

Here are three suggestions that you might want to consider: 

1. Take one more really good look at your current offense. Are you absolutely sure that the problems you are experiencing are the offense's "fault"? Are you sure the answer doesn't lie in improving your players' individual offensive fundamentals? Great passing and good shooting have a tendency to fix a multitude of problems! 

2. Keep the offense as simple as humanly possible. (We all say this to ourselves and to each other but there is still some pretty complicated offenses out there!) 

3. No matter what new offense you decide on, make absolute sure that your two best shooters are getting the most shots (or at least the most looks) in spots where they can make them. My guess is that the reason you are looking to change offenses in the first place is because you're not scoring enough points. That's not going to change, regardless of the offense, if bad shooters are consistently getting the most shots. 

In conclusion, don't be in too big of a hurry to change your primary offense in the middle of your season, but if you must make a change do it correctly and only after a great amount of thought and planning.

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