Basketball Leadership

I took some notes while reading Dick DeVenzio’s book, Running the Show: Basketball Leadership for Coaches and Players. I recommend it to players, coaches, and parents. You can click here to access it on Amazon. Below, you will find a list of things that stood out to me while reading the book.

  1. Play away from the boundary lines of a basketball court. (Today, I’d say we would have the exception of the corner 3)
  2. Scorers should run your defender into the players who are going to make it rough for the defender. 
  3. Play the line game with your team in practice. One whistle means players stop where they are. Two whistles mean for players to sprint to the line the coach is pointing at. If players can explain the problem with one of the points of emphasis, play resumes. If no one can explain the problem, the players run and then coach explains the problem. 

Here are some examples of what a coach might choose to emphasize during the line game: 

  • A shot means 3-2 movement for the offense. Two players back on defense. 
  • Mistake = instant hustle
  • If we lose ball, switch ends fast. 
  • Always see the ball on defense. 
  • Contest all shots.
  • Avoid negative body language
  • No right hand lay ups for the opponent. 
  • If you are on defense and the ball is ahead of you, sprint to catch up with it. 
  1. The coach calls out his or her rating for the shot that is taken in practice. This helps coaches and players to be on the same page when it comes to shot selection.  
  • 10 is perfect shot. There are no perfect shots. 1 is the worst shot you can take. 
  • 9 is an uncontested lay up. 
  • 7 is, I’m ecstatic. We need 7s and above. 
  • A “5” is so-so. You can make these in practice but not against good competition. 
  • A “3” is very low percentage. We can’t have these. 
  1. Most teams can be stopped half the time if you can get 5 defenders in the lane with their hands up. 
  2. A pass to the other team is an especially devastating turnover. 
  3. Assistant coach can keep track of the following: 
  • How many uncontested shots? 
  • How many fast break baskets? 
  • How many right-handed lay ups given up? 
  1. Do most of your coaching in air conditioned rooms. (not on the practice court) This means team and individual meetings when people are calm and thoughtful. 
  2. Lots of good practices over a period of time is the goal. 
  3. Play 10-12 players every game. 
  4. What should the subs do? “Hustle hard, fight for loose balls, sprint up and down the court, keep moving and setting screens constantly, make a lot of body contact, don’t try difficult things with the ball…hustle on defense and go for rebounds.”
  5. Decide your players playing time before the game begins. 
  • He partners players with a sub and tells them when the sub plays each quarter. Example is a 4-2-2 split when it comes to minutes in a quarter. Sub plays the middle 2 minutes. 
  • DeVenzio suggests that you might want to use the above method for the 1st three quarters and make in-game decision for fourth quarter. 

Teams with bad coaching or no coach (as in pick up ball) have these problems:

“No plays. No timing. No group-understanding of roles. No one to keep them from just going out and playing.” These things are the coach’s job. 

13. Take time to teach procedures. What does DeVenzio mean, procedures? 

  • How do you want practice started? 
  • How do you want players to huddle for timeout? 
  • Do you expect eye contact when you are talking? 
  • What do you want them doing before practice starts?
  • Are you okay with them kicking a chair or disrespecting a manager? 
  1. The players who are leaders constantly remind their teammates what to expect and where to be. 
  2. Leaders should use the 6 to 1 ratio. Tell a teammate 6 positive things for every negative comment or suggestion. 
  3. Leadership requires a lot of energy. There is so much to notice and so much to say out loud.  
  4. Spotlight your teammate by saying positive things about them.
  5. Leaders say two names for each minute of practice. “Get back, Joe!” or “Anne, stop the ball.”
  6.  DeVenzio on people who believe change is impossible: 
  • “I’m amazed at how quickly athletes, parents, and people in general seem to conclude that things are as they are and there’s no use trying any longer to change them, even though many of their situations are extremely changeable.”  

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