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Using Benchmarks to Guide Your Basketball Team's Success

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A lot of teams get together and set some kind of team "goals" before their games actually start. Many times these goals are more wishful thinking than actual goals. "We want to score 70 points a game." "We want to make the playoffs." Goals like these would be nice to reach but they really don't help teams win games. 

Instead, it is much more beneficial to have a definite blueprint that when followed can take a team systematically and progressively from point A to point B. This is possible because one of the most often overlooked aspects of success is that it can be replicated and duplicated. In other words, if someone else in a similar situation has done something then you can do it too. And . . . .actions that have been successful before can certainly be successful again! Once you establish the winning formula and continue to follow it then you can win over and over and over again. 

With that in mind, there are several benchmarks that we keep track of every game. We feel that if we hit the majority of those benchmarks then we have a great chance of winning the game 


  • Turnovers
  • Points in the paint
  • Free throw points
  • Field Goal %
  • Free throw% 


  • Fast break points allowed
  • Paint points allowed
  • Field Goal % defense
  • Free throw attempts
  • Offensive rebounds 

What "numbers" should be placed in each of these categories? That entirely depends on the level you are coaching and your overall offensive and defensive philosophies. For example, if you are constantly running and pushing the ball upcourt, you will undoubtedly run the risk of having more turnovers than if you play a more deliberate offensive style Of course, your points in the paint and field goal percentage will be higher as well. If the three pointer is your primary offensive weapon you may still be able to win despite a lower field goal percentage and fewer points in the paint. 

As you prepare for the upcoming season, go back and review several game tapes from the past couple years. Make sure you include the "big" games against your toughest opponents and take notice of each benchmark statistic. (Blowouts against weaker opponents won't give you an accurate indication of what is required or expected to win.) From there you should be able to establish a "winning" range and a "losing" range in each category. Pick out the ones that are the most important to the success of your team and make sure you emphasize them every single day in practice and in your pregame preparation. 

After every game make it a point to talk to your team about your benchmark statistics and point out the significance of each in terms of contributing to the win or loss. Your players will soon learn that if they win enough battles then winning the war is inevitable! 

You'll know that you are approaching total buy in when your players ask you at halftime and following the game "How many offensive rebounds did they get?" or "how many points in the paint did we score?" When those benchmarks become more important that individual stats you'll soon find that you are winning more games than ever before! 

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