In the first part of our series we talked about why it is important to execute in your half-court offense. If you missed that post, you can re-read it here: http://bit.ly/r2bbO0.
In the second part of our series we talked about the key components that go in to the making of a good half-court offense. If you missed that post, you can re-read it here: http://bit.ly/p5bCOe.
Today we want to talk about how to teach good half-court offense. Though years of coaching and, more importantly, watching some of the best teach in their programs, I have noticed a few common denominators.
Individual Player Development
My first recommendation for being a better half-court offensive team is to create better players. Never minimize the importance of individual player development along with the need to teach and maintain the fundamentals of the game.
Coach Don Meyer would always ask, "When the playoffs come around, would you rather have better plays or better players?" The logical answer is better players. However, I think the goal should be to have both. Developing players to become better can only enhance everything you do -- including half-court offense.
There are several ways to go about it. The one that has been most successful for me is the "Pre-Practice" period. Everyday before practice, we are going to breakdown between 20 and 30 minutes and work on individual development. This would include everything from ball handling, dribble passing, cutting, screen and shooting along with defensive fundamentals. The Pre-Practice segment forces us to think in terms of breakdown everyday which is important when you get into February. We like to cut practices back a little bit but we still find time for our Pre-Practice session.
Breaking It Down In Parts
The next phase is to break down the important parts of your offense or plays and develop them for maximum execution. If were a Flex coach, I'd run some 3/0 and 3/3 Flex drills everyday. If I were a UCLA High Post coach I'd break down the initial UCLA cut and also the duck-in action on the high post feed. If I utilized ball screens, I would break them down into parts to work on technique and execution. If I ran set plays, I'd take a part out of the play that I thought was the primary scoring option and work to improve our performance in that area.
There things that are important to players in breakdown teaching include:
1. What do you want us to do?
2. How to you want us to do it?
All three are important in terms of having a good breakdown series but "why" might be the most important in terms of having success when you carry it over to whole method.
With and Without Defense
Whether you are part or whole method, there are good reasons for working on your offense against no defense as well as against defense.
Working against no defense allows you to have better concentration on timing and technique and I think it is an important part of developing offense. Of course, running offense against defense brings recognition into play and that is critically important as well. There is a time and place to do both.
Flow into Your Offense
It's important to practice getting into your offense in conversion situations. The possibilities include:
Dead Ball into Half-Court Offense
Transition into Half-Court Offense
Press Offense into Half-Court Offense
Special Situations into Half-Court Offense
Some coaches spend too much time running half-court offense from a dead ball situation. Even worse, starting the ball "up top" and running sets. These teams may execute well in that environment but they will struggle with a defense the picks them up high and pressure the ball and entry passes.
Spend time "flowing" into your offense -- a lot of time -- actually the majority of your time. We have been believers of starting at 3/4 court and then having two conversions when working on half-court offense. It allows us more of a game situation along with working on transition components.
When you work on your inbounds offense or sideout sets, let the team flow into your half-court offense if they don't score of the special situation play and then let them convert one time.
These are big part of teaching motion offense but they can really help develop any offense you run. Restrictions are how we dictate the thought process in our offense. For instance, if we aren't reversing the ball enough in our offense, we will tell our team, "two reversals before a jump shot." Now with our restrictions, we all them off for a lay-up. No matter what we call, if a we can cut or drive directly to the rim, we are going to allow it. Maybe you want a better inside presence. "We need two low post touches before anyone shoots a jump shot." This tells your post players they better get to work and lets your perimeter players know they better be looking inside. Maybe you have a special player. At LSU, in practice (and sometimes in games) we would instruct our team, "Seimone gets two touches before anyone shoots." This tells Seimone she has to work to get get open -- post up, space out and utilize screens. It tells the rest of the team that they better screen for her and get her the touch when she is open.
Of course video is important -- players today are such visual learners. Make sure you watch video of your team from practice as well as games. And I think it is very important that they see clips of proper execution as much as possible. It is easy to show them failed possession -- and it is needed as well. Be make sure they see correct play as much as possible. We have even shown them clips of some of our previous teams executing well. And even shown them clips of another team, college and pro with good execution.
Finally, utilize stats as a way to help develop your half-court offense - and I'm not just talking about shot attempts, assists, offensive rebounds, etc. In motion, screening is important so we chart screens. Getting the ball inside is important so we utilize a post feed chart. The post feed tells us what post players are getting touches and which players aren't as well as which players are feeding the post and which players aren't. This gives you a lot of valuable information. Don't be afraid to use your imagination to develop a stat to bring attention to a needed area of your offense.