Updated: Feb 14
As seasons are beginning to wind down, each game is becoming more and more important to your team. Whether you're battling for a district/conference championship, fighting for playoff seeding, or just trying to finish the season on a higher note; this is the time of year when each team's offense must be the best it's been all season.
Some teams may be able to still improve by adding in a new play or making a big change to their offensive approach, but for most teams, being more efficient at the end of the season is won and lost in the margins. It's the little things on each and every possession that will make the biggest difference in how well your team's offense performs over the course of the game.
Let's quickly break down three ways you can make your team's offense more efficient over the final few weeks of the season. And whether you're a player, coach, or parent reading this section, there are things you can do to help improve the offense for yourself and others during this crucial time of year.
Each example is fairly brief, as I've broken down all three concepts in greater detail on my YouTube Channel. To watch these breakdowns (each video includes film study/examples for you and your team), simply click on the below image to go straight to that playlist.
1. Ball Movement
The longer you go into your season, the better your opponents are going to have scouted and prepared to play against your team. Many times that lead to our offense getting really muddy. Players overdribble more frequently, they take too long to make decisions on a catch so the ball gets sticky, and their decision-making decreases as the defense knows the desired outcomes deeper than any other time of the season.
Basketball is a game of advantages. Yet typically what happens on these possessions is that players end up attacking against a small advantage and your team ends up getting an "ok" or decent shot. Instead, your team should look for more opportunities to quickly move the ball (i.e. pass it) against these small advantages in order to hunt out bigger ones. That's what I call playing SABA (small advantage < big advantage) basketball.
Great offensive teams don't limit themselves with small advantage situations, but they use ball movement to ruthlessly hunt big advantages, which leads to great shots and more efficient offense.
2. World Hunts
This is a phrase/concept I stole from my good friend Tyler Coston. Side note - Tyler's an incredible basketball mind and a must-follow on Twitter.
For generations of basketball, we as coaches have indoctrinated players to "hunt the paint" and "get to the rim" on their drives. While there's nothing wrong with those thoughts, many times players continue to attack too deep towards the rim when they haven't gained a big advantage on their defender. Then things get too muddled or jumbled up in the paint if the player with the ball doesn't have an open rim or wide-open kick out for a 3.
Instead of forcing drives to the deep part of the paint, players should learn to hunt the world more often. The world can be defined as the circle that encompasses the free throw line (think of the FT line like the equator). As players hunt the world, great things can happen. The defense will still react like any other paint drive (focusing attention on the ball), but it will keep better spacing for the offense (more lanes to cut) and allow the ball handler to keep better vision for off-ball movement and specifically rim cuts.
To fully understand this concept, you definitely need to watch my world hunt video on YouTube. It's a concept best understood through the film breakdown.
3. Don't Settle
This is a concept EVERY TEAM must focus on during the stretch run of their season. That is, stop settling for good shots and be relentless in your pursuit of great shots.
Shot selection is the #1 factor that decides the outcome of games between evenly matched teams. If your team wants to make a deep playoff run, you will need to eliminate the worst 4-6 shots your team has taken in each game throughout the season so far and replace those with great ones.
I'm amazed at how often teams settle for good shots, especially since great ones are typically just one or two more passes away on any given possession. Think SABA. Stop shooting in small advantage situations, knowing you'll win more games by having the patience on offense to wait for the big advantage ones.
If your team simply stops shooting off-balance rim shots and contested 3's, you're well on your way to eliminating terrible shots on no longer settling in your offensive shot selection.