Basketball Program Preseason Planning for Coaches

Basketball Program Preseason Planning Checklist for Coaches


PRE-SEASON DEVELOPMENT FOR COACHES

The best time to think through the important questions about how you are going to organize your team for the next season is months before you roll out the first ball for official team practices.

Once the season starts, you don’t have a lot of time to think because you are too busy doing things like scouting reports, watching video, meeting media obligations, dealing with the ordinary problems of running a basketball program, and many many other tasks.

We have provided this list of questions to develop a plan and schedule individual and group time into your pre-season calendar to think about, discuss, and answer these 119 questions as you refine your system of play and improve your overall program for the upcoming season.

The questions are divided into six categories

     1.  How we need to play to be successful this year
2.    Individual player development program
3.    Defining roles
4.    Defensive system
5.  Offensive system
6.  Operations details

The questions that will have the most significant impact on your program will be the ones that you develop as a coaching staff after giving some sustained thought to our list.

The most important aspect of putting your team together is the way you plan and execute your basketball practice sessions.  Conduct your pre-season planning work so that you plan your overall season, monthly, weekly, and daily practice plans to implement the direction that you develop.

HOW DO WE NEED TO PLAY TO BE SUCCESSFUL THIS YEAR?

Create a system of play that your players believe in, that is consistent, and that you can evaluate to help your team’s performance improve.

  1. What are our defensive and offensive philosophies?
  2. What are the strengths of our players and how can we best utilize those strengths while hiding their weaknesses?
  3. What is the optimal number of possessions per game for this group?
  4. Can we defend for that number of possessions at that pace?
  5. How is our ability compared to the best teams in our region of the state tournament? our conference? our area?
  6. How do we need to play to advance as far as possible in the state tournament?
  7. What is our depth like?
  8. How does our depth affect our style of play?
  9. What will our substitution pattern be?

 

INDIVIDUAL PLAYER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

Here are some questions to use for structuring your individual development skill workouts for the pre-season and in-season practices. 

You will need to answer each of these questions for each of your players so that you have an individualized development program for each player.

Regardless of what you decide to do, two aspects that should be given significant consideration are fitting the program to the age and ability level of each individual player and making the workout competitive.

  1. How do we motivate each player?
  2. What does each player do well?
  3. What are the areas of concern for each player?
  4. What will be his individual development workout?
  5. What does he need to add to bring to our program?
  6. What is the best use of the skill work time for each player?
  7. What does s/he need to be able to do in a game to help the team?
  8. How are we going to track his/her progress?
  9. What scoring moves does s/he have?
  10. How can we improve those moves?
  11. What scoring moves does s/he need?
  12. How can we help him/her develop these?
  13. What are the areas of growth s/he needs to make?

DEFINING ROLES

Here are some questions to use for defining the roles within your basketball team that your players will fill. I hope that it also inspires you to come up with more questions that fit your program.

One of the challenges that basketball coaches face is defining roles for our players. We define those roles because we believe that they are critical to the success of the team and at the same time we do not want the roles that we need fulfilled to hold the individual players back from improving.

  1. What roles will each player perform on this year’s team? (This usually is, but is not always who is best in each area. Example: Our best perimeter player might also be our best post player. We may not want to put our best on ball defender in a position to pick up extra fouls until later in the game.)
  2. Who will be our leaders?
  3. Who will be our captains? (Your leaders are not always your captains, and your captains are not always your leaders.)
  4. What projected playing time box should each player check? (The playing time box is a form that I use at the beginning of the season so that I know where each player thinks he stands–1) Start and play regularly 2) Be in the regular rotation, be on the team–no guarantee of playing time.)
  5. Which players will be the primary ball handlers?
  6. Who will jump center?
  7. Do we want our best player guarding their best player?
  8. Who is our best on ball defender?
  9. Who is our best at blocking out to guard their best offensive rebounder?
  10. Who is toughest to shoot over?
  11. Who is our best perimeter gapper? (Gapper is the term that we use for a player who is a helper in our packline defense. A perimeter gapper is a defensive player on the perimeter who is responsible to deter penetrating drives by his positioning and then helping if there is a drive.)
  12. Who is our best post gapper? (Gapper is the term that we use for a player who is a helper in our packline defense. A post gapper is a defensive player on the perimeter who is responsible to deter post feeds by his positioning and then trap the post if the post player receives the ball.)

  13. Who is our best low post defender?
  14. Who do we want to get the most shots and where do we want those shots to come from?
  15. Who are our best passers? Who are our best post feeders?
  16. What positions for our offensive scheme and defensive scheme should each player learn?
  17. What is our inbounder order? under?, side?, full?, game winner? Should they all be the same?
  18. What press offense spot will each occupy? Inbounder? Ball Side? Opposite? Middle? Finisher?
  19. What shots can each player make?
  20. Who are our best cutters? best screeners?
  21. What set play (including in bounds and zone) spots should each know?
  22. Who is our designated defender/fouler if need be?
  23. What is the halfback order? (Halfback is the player we send to the top of the key when we shoot. That player is then responsible for picking up the basketball in our conversion defense.)
  24. What is the fullback order? (Fullback is the player we send to the volleyball attack line near midcourt when we shoot. That player is responsible for retreating to defend the basket in our conversion defense.)

 

DEFENSIVE SYSTEM

Overall Defensive Philosophy

  1. Defensive Adjustments for a team or an Individual?
  2. Scouting or System? (Do we change our defenses for individual opponents, or do we develop our rules to account for everything we face?)
  3. Do we want to have any “junk” in our system?
  4. What are the strengths of our players and how can we best utilize those strengths while hiding their weaknesses?
  5. What is the optimal number of possessions per game for this group?
  6. Can we defend for that number of possessions at that pace?
  7. How is our ability compared to the best teams in our region of the state tournament? our conference? our area?
  8. How do we need to play to advance as far as possible in the state tournament?
  9. What is our depth like?
  10. How does our depth affect our style and pace of play?
  11. What will our substitution pattern be?


Conversion Defense

  1. How many players are we going to send to the offensive glass?
  2. Do we need to add any rules that will improve our conversion?
  3. Do we like the drills we have to teach conversion defense?


Man to Man Defense

  1.  What hurt us most last year defensively?
  2. How do we defend dribble penetration better?
  3. What screening actions created problems for us?
  4. Where do we want to pick up the dribbler?
  5. How do we want to defend the post?
  6. How many coverages do we want to have to defend ball screens and what are they?


Zone Defense

  1.  How much zone do we want to play?
  2. Would it help us to have an even front and odd front zone so we can attack them both offensively during practice?
  3. Do we want to be able to trap out of our zone defenses?
  4. How do we best teach rebounding out of our zone?


1/2 Court Trap

  1. How much do we want to play it?
  2. How big are our trappers?
  3. How do we want to rotate out of the trap?
  4. Do we want to stay in the trap or go “one and done”?
  5. When do we want to look to play it – dead balls, FT’s, end of half…
  6. Do we have a better trapping line-up than others?


Presses

  1. How much do we want to use the press?
  2. When do we want to press?
  3. How aggressive do we want to be with our press?
  4. Do we have a better pressing line-up than others? Who are our best trappers?
  5. Do we deny the point guard back once they pass out of the trap? 


Inbound Defense

  1. Do we want to play strictly man?
  2. Do we want to trap the inbound pass?
  3. How do we want our inbound defender to play UOOB and SOOB? 

 

Special Situations

  1. Who would be our best denial defender?
  2. Does any team on our schedule potentially warrant a special defensive tactic?

 

OFFENSIVE SYSTEM

This section has ideas for developing an offensive philosophy and system. I hope that it stimulates your thinking to come up with additional questions that can help your basketball staff to clarify ways that you can maximize the abilities of your players.

Transition

  1.  Do we want to run in lanes for spacing or run random transition?
  2. What do we want to get out of transition?
  3. Do we want to run any secondary break actions? 


Press Offenses

  1. How many press offense alignments do we need?
  2. How many press offenses do we need?
  3. What players comprise our “good hands” team? 

 

Man to Man Offense

  1. What motion offense (if any) best fits our team?
  2. Do we want to add, subtract, or change any of our continuities?
  3. Do we want to add, subtract or change any set plays?
  4. Do our man offenses put us in the best position to offensive rebound as well as have defensive floor balance? 


Zone Offense

  1. Should we add, subtract or change any of our zone actions?
  2. Should we add, subtract or change any of our zone sets?
  3. Are we able to attack all types of zones and traps with our zone offense?
  4. Do our zone offenses provide us with offensive rebounding opportunities as well as defensive floor balance?

 

Inbound Plays

  1.  How many different alignments do we want to use?
  2. When do we want to put in each alignment? (Should we save any for late in season/post season play?)
  3. Do we have a play that takes advantage of any way that the opponent may guard us? (Zone, Denial, Pack, Switch)
  4. Do we have plays that take advantage of the positioning of the inbound defender?


Special Situations

  1.  Do we want to add, subtract, or change any of our last second full court, 3/4 court, 1/2 court. 1/4 court, or UOOB plays?
  2. How much time is need on the clock to execute each play?
  3. Do we need to make any changes to our delay game?
  4. What FT plays do we run if we have to miss intentionally and need a two-point shot or a three-point shot to tie?
  5. When will we start to hold for the last shot to end a quarter?
  6. When will we shoot the ball to end a quarter?
  7. What play will we use to end the quarter?

 

OPERATIONS DETAILS

This aspect of coaching is not exciting and often not visible to anyone outside of the program.  It is extremely important that you handle it and/or delegate parts of it to an assistant who has the ability to manage it.  A poor performance in handling administrative details can keep a team from achieving its potential and can cost a coach his or her job.

    1.  How will we monitor players’ grades?
    2. How will we guide and monitor players’ citizenship in school and in our community?
    3. How will promote our players individually and our team as a whole?
    4. How will we assist players who want to be or are being recruited?
    5.  What will we do to give back to the school and community?
    6. What outside of basketball team activities can we plan that our players will enjoy?
    7. What can we do to promote excitement in our gym on game night?
    8. How can we raise funds to have a budget to make our program first class?
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Athletic Director, Cathedral Catholic High School, San Diego, CA
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