As a young coach, I learned that the most important decision that I would need to make was which one of the hundreds of basketball offenses that I would use. After I finalized my choice of offense to run, it seemed to release a log jam of decisions that I needed to make. Many of those other decisions that had been held up practically made themselves.
It freed me up to develop our defensive system that would fit with and be complementary to our offense. With those two major approaches in place, I was able to structure our practices and the drills we would use. It also provided the direction for our individual skill development.
Here are some things to consider when putting together your offensive attack. Effective basketball offenses share the following characteristics:
- As much as possible, your man to man, zone, half court trap, and full court press attacks should be compatible with each other. The more they fit together, the easier it will be for your players to adapt from one attack to another if they are as similar as possible.
- All basketball offenses should include opportunities to score at the basket and from beyond the three point arc. Looking to score at the basket not only gives you high percentage shots, but it also tends to draw more fouls and trips to the free throw line.
- Play at a pace that gives you the best chance to beat the teams on your schedule and also advance as far as possible in the post season tournament.
- You need to be able to score in transition and get easy points by beating the defense down the floor.
- Put your players in a position to utilize their strengths and keep them away from having to do things that they are not good at.
- The best basketball offenses are flexible enough to give options against various types of defenses, but simple enough that players can quickly react to what the defense is giving them. The more complex a system is, the more players will have to think which slows their ability to react.
- Your offensive system must maintain spacing and floor balance while players and the basketball are moving. It also must include rules to regain spacing and floor balance when there is too much congestion.
- Emphasize shot selection. Who is shooting, where they are shooting from, when they are shooting, and why they are shooting are the factors that make for good shots. The answers to those questions will be different for all teams and different for the various players on your team.
- Provide for offensive rebound coverage and put players in positions where they can quickly convert back to defense if the shot is missed.
- Utilize ball reversals by creating action on one side of the floor and then passing the ball to the other side of the floor to put pressure on the defense. You make it tougher on the defense to guard you when you force them to guard more of the court.
- Attack the basket through passes and drives. Penetration forces the defense to collapse which opens up perimeter shooting opportunities.
If you truly want to have an offense that is tough to stop, you should plan to spend more practice time on offense than on defense. That is due to the fact that basketball offenses are limited by the skill levels of the players that execute them.
Regardless of what offense you use, you must work every day on improving your player’s fundamental abilities of shooting, passing, catching, cutting, screening, and dribbling. In addition to those necessary individual skills, team skills of timing, spacing, and learning to play together take additional practice time to develop.