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Developing Your Offensive Philosophy

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Whether you are just beginning your coaching career or whether you are a seasoned veteran one of the most significant things you can do to directly influence the level of success your team reaches this upcoming season is to define or possibly refine your offensive philosophy.

Defining and developing an offensive philosophy is going to give your athletes a definite direction and will help you and the rest of your staff plan effective practices in order to accomplish your desired outcome.

However, after talking to multiple coaches over the years about offensive philosophy, I am surprised at how many really don't have a clear and precise viewpoint.

If you as the coach are unsure of what your own expectations are I can guarantee that your players won't have a clear understanding of what you want either!

Below are 5 questions to consider when determining your offensive philosophy:

Are you being true to yourself?

Every single person/coach has had different experiences that have all helped shaped who they are today regardless of whether or not those experiences happened on or off the court. As a result you are who you are and you shouldn't try to be something or someone that you're not. Being honest with yourself about your personality and previous experience is the first step to defining your philosophy.

The two most common examples I see of coaches not being true to themselves include:

1. Coaches trying to act more intense on the sideline than fits their personality. Being a yeller and constantly getting in your players' faces isn't the only way to get your kids to respond. Nevertheless I see many coaches trying this tactic because they think that is what coaches need to do to be successful.

Ask yourself this: Why are there so many more "intense" high school coaches than college coaches? Why are there so many more "intense" college coaches than NBA coaches? Sure, they might have better talent but they are also coaching against better talent and so the competition is all relative.

2. Instead of running what a coach knows how to teach he decides to install the latest offensive trend year after year. As a result the players can never benefit from the coach's experience with a style or system because he doesn't have any! If you think the latest fad will help your team then by all means run it, but if you are using just because everyone else is that's entirely different.

Are You Trying to Fit A Square Peg Into a Round Whole?

We all would love to have an ideal roster so that we could run our ideal offense. However for most of us we are not fortunate enough to do this. Yet coaches still try to run sets in the half court that don't play to their team's strengths. Sit down with other coaches (either your own assistants or coaches who have seen you play) who are familiar with your team, ask them questions and compare notes! Take what your team's strengths and weaknesses are and plan accordingly. One of the best examples of doing this successfully is Phil Jackson who ran the Triangle offense his entire coaching career. However, the Triangle with Bill Cartwright at center was much different than the Triangle with Shaquille O'Neil at center. Same system but much different emphasis.

Can You Teach It?

As I mentioned earlier one important aspect that coaches often overlook is the fact that it is not about what YOU the coach knows but what your ATHLETES know. Are you comfortable enough teaching this style of play? If you are not, can you learn more about this offense and become more efficient teaching it?

Just like an athlete's game needs to occasionally change to fit a role that will best help the team, the same goes for the coach. You might not be immediately comfortable with this new style of play even though it is the right system for your team. You may have to put in a lot more time reading, studying, watching video, etc. until you can systematically and effectively teach the new offense.

If You Were The Opposing Coach, How Would You Defend It?

If you were coaching against your team, how would you defend your offense? Is your current or new offense hard to defend? Having an idea of how your opponents will counteract your offensive attack will give you more of an insight into what you need to work on in order to be successful.

Can You Simplify It?

The last question you need to ask yourself in regards to your overall offensive philosophy is, is your offense simple? Too often do I see coaches try to "outcoach" the opposition and as a result use a much more complex offense than is necessary. Some of the hardest plays to defend in basketball are also the simplest (think Pick and Roll). Can you break down your offense into drills that you can work on every day? Working on the timing and execution of every piece of a particular set is often the key to success. This is only going to come with purposeful and deliberate practice!

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