Coaching Tip of the Month - November/December 2003


In my opinion, there is a basketball trend today that emphasizes style over substance. It can be seen at all levels of basketball, but is especially prevalent at the professional level. unfortunately, because of the vast media exposure of the NBA and to a lesser extent, the college level, there is a definite trickle down effect to all levels of basketball. It seems to be style plays that attract the most media attention. What do we see on ESPN Sport Center- the spectacular dunk shot or the great pass, an outstanding defensive play, and diving on the floor for a loose ball. I believe you know the answer to that one.

It seems to me that coaches are the only possible hope in reversing this trend that can affect the integrity of basketball as a team sport.  Who else can affect change?

So , what can coaches do to develop an emphasis on substance over style?

  1. Focus on fundamentals and fun in basketball programs. I agree with John Wooden who proposes that a dunk shot should only be worth one point because it is only a style/ athletic play as opposed to a substance/skilled layin shot.
  2. Reinforce great team plays rather than individual plays.
                        *hustle/scrap plays
                        *screens ( setting and using)
                        *defensive plays
                        *great effort plays
                        *positive attitude, character plays
  3. Focus on team before self.
  4. Emphasis on service to team ( servant leadership) and team roles and goals.
  5. Reward substance with playing time.


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