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5 Ways to Get the Most Out of March Madness

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Basketball fans all over the world are going to be glued to their TV's, phone, and tablets while checking and double checking their March Madness brackets. Believe me, I'm going to be doing the exact same thing, but I'm also going to use the tournament to improve my own skills. 

Here are 5 suggestions to help players and coaches alike get the most out of watching the best sporting event of the year: 

1. Set a goal and then predetermine what you need to watch 

Need to improve your man to man offense? Zone offense? Zone defense? Looking for a better way to involve your post players? Do you need some new dribble drive motion entries? Even if you are planning on watching all 67 games, there are going to be several "must watch" matchups in terms of learning opportunities. During those games you'll want to have all your sodas, chicken wings, and chips already within reach so you don't have to miss a single second. 

Planning ahead of time will also let you set the timer on your DVR or TiVo even if you're planning on watching the game live. 

2. Keep a notebook right next to the chicken wings 

There are way too many games, too many great plays, and just too much action in general to remember everything you see. Keeping detailed notes will not only provide you with an invaluable future resource but will also help burn those important points into your memory. 

For example, players can keep track of how many times a specific guard or wing uses his left hand to get to the rim or how many back to the basket post moves are really necessary. They can take note of how a point guard can still be effective without completely dominating the ball. 

Instead of using a simple notebook, coaches can try "scouting" the game just like you would when watching an upcoming opponent. You can even use one of your usual scouting forms. Writing things down like this will sharpen your focus and allow you to notice some great bits of information that you might otherwise miss. 

3. Pay special attention to the mid majors 

Mid majors aren't usually loaded with future NBA lottery picks and so as a result have to rely much more on teamwork, execution, and in game adjustments in order to be successful. In other words, their teams are more like your team than are the top seeds of the tournament. For fun and excitement watch the #1 seeds in each region but if you are looking to learn some things you can actually use concentrate on the mid majors. (This is especially true during the first couple rounds of the tournament when there are usually more than one game being broadcast at the same time. 

4. Study more than just the game 

Knowing what a team did can certainly help you but knowing why they did it can help you even more. Watch and listen to both the pre-game and the post-game studio analysis for some insight that might not be available during the game itself. The televised press conferences, especially with the coaches, can shed a lot of light on what a particular team was trying to accomplish in certain situations. Reputable bloggers, newspaper articles, and features in magazines such as Sports Illustrated can all be used as learning tools if used properly. 

5. Play "What would I do?" 

There might be a couple blowouts early but usually there are dozens of close games during March Madness. The importance of each and every possession is magnified and every decision could make or break a team. Think along with the coaches - would I sub this guy out this early in the first half? If he's in foul trouble, when do I put him back in? The offense hasn't scored in the last four possessions; what should be done to ensure a great scoring opportunity? The defense is having trouble getting stops - would you go into a zone, try trapping, or just stick with your man to man? 

There are hundreds of such decisions in a typical game and all coaches and players can benefit from some additional "experience" without having to suffer the consequences of a wrong choice. (This is a great way for players to improve their basketball IQ while increasing their confidence when they make the "right" decision.) 

As far as I am concerned March Madness is the very best time of the year! Go ahead and have the same great time watching the tournament that you always have but this March make it even better by improving your own skills at the same time!

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