Do You Over Scheme as a Coach?

So what is the definition of a coach? Off the court he/she can be may things to the players–a mentor, a motivator, a disciplinarian, an educator, and yes, even a father figure.

But what about on the court? What aspects of coaching does a coach need to focus on to be successful? At Pro Shot we believe there are three coaching pillars that are crucial in having a consistent winning program year after year. They are scheming, motivation and skill development. Each day for the next three days we will focus on one of these important pillars.

Today lets begin with scheming:

We put scheming first not because we believe it is the most important component, but because the majority of coaches believe it is the most important. What are schemes? Offensive plays and sets. Out of bounds plays. Sideline plays. Press breaks and presses. In other words, your X’s and O’s.

We believe there are some coaches that spend as much as 80%+ of their practice time “scheming”. Sometimes their scheming makes me want to do some screaming. These are the coaches that continually put in new plays and work on their plays everyday. I have actually heard of high school teams having 100 plays or more.

I have told this story before, but it bears repeating. I started coaching high school basketball in California when I was 19. I had few plays, worked on skills and yelled a lot (as most young coaches do). My record was 73-11 with four league titles. So I was 23 and I got full of myself. I believed I was the reason why we won. I was the reason for the championships.

That summer I decided to get complicated. I become a full-time schemer. Every day I drew up plays. If I was at dinner I was drawing plays on a napkin. The salt and pepper shakers were the defenders. By fall I had 60 plays. By winter I was at 80 plays. I completely forgot the simplicity that made my teams successful.

My record that season was a dismal 8-16. I went back to the drawing board and realized that over scheming had taken me from a championship coach to a last place coach. I went back to focusing on skill development, motivation and “light” scheming. The next year we won 18 games and I would win 20 games 10 of my last 11 years. I learned first hand that over scheming can easily lead to a team’s downfall.

Scheming is important, but too much of anything is bad.

The question coaches need to ask themselves is: How many of your plays actually work?

As coaches, we like to borrow plays from our past coaches, but also by what we see on TV. If we see Kyle Korver come off a staggered double screen for a wide open three, we might put that in our playbook. The problem with this thinking is that very few high school and college teams have a Kyle Korver.

We believe the down screen is the hardest shot in basketball. The player is going away from the basket at game speed and then must adjust his/her feet and body motion to make the shot. What % of a shot is this at the high school or even college level? Twenty percent? Maybe.

When scheming, remember what personnel you have. What Kentucky may be able to accomplish in regards to schemes may not have the same results as most high school teams.

So why do so many coaches have so many plays? We believe it comes down to control The more plays, the more control the coach has over his or her players. There are coaches that love to be in control especially at the offensive end.

I always believed offensive basketball s not about plays, but putting players in the right sets based on spacing, movement and reading the defender. A high percentage of high school players do not know what a backdoor cut, a curl cut or an L cut is. I am astonished that many have never heard of a give a go. A GIVE AND GO!!!! Few understand what a jab step or shot fake is. But they know how to run play 91 into the ground.

We hope this makes you think about over scheming. Teach your players to play the game and to “read” the game. Remember: it is not the team with the most plays that always wins the game. The most successful teams are the ones that are the most skilled, most motivated and has a few schemes that work well.