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Basketball Coaching - Planning for a New Season

By Dr. James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook... lots of great basketball stuff. Come on - join us!
"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." - John Wooden

In this article, we'll look at a broad, overall basketball season plan... things you need to consider before the season starts. You need to decide what offense(s) you will run. Defense too... are you a man-to-man pressure team, or a zone team, or packline? Do you have speed, quickness and a deep bench and want to play uptempo, press, and fast-break? Or slow things down. You'll need a press offense, a press breaker. You'll need to teach a few quick-hitter plays, and you'll need a few baseline and sideline out-of-bounds plays... and maybe a last second desperation play.

Selecting practice drills depends on what you are trying to accomplish with all of the above. On the Coach's Clipboard website and members section, there is a ton of stuff! But don't get caught up in all of that. Keep things simple and just select those things that you think will help your team... and then get good at those things! Use Coach's Clipboard as a reference when you need to add something new.

The articles linked below will help and guide you.

Tom Izzo
Coach Tom Izzo

Selecting Your Half-Court Offense(s)

You'll need a man-to-man offense... motion, dribble-drive, read and react, ball-screen, triangle, flex, horns, hawk, shuffle, blocker-mover, Michigan-style, UCLA, Princeton, Swing... lots to consider and to choose from. Pick one and get good at it. Choose an offense that fits your team personnel and will get your best players good shots.

You'll also need a zone offense (or two), especially for attacking the 2-3 zone (the most common zone you will see). Over the years, our high school boys varsity has used two zone offenses... "zone-1" (for attacking the 2-3 zone - "Zone-23" on the website). I really like attacking the middle of zone outlined in "Key Elements/Principles in Attacking the 2-3 Zone Defense". Our "Runner" offense, or "zone-2", has worked well for attacking 1-3-1, 1-2-2, and 3-2 zones. Sometimes these zone offenses will also work against man-to-man defense and the packline defense.

Youth coaches... keep it very simple. A man-to-man offense might be a simple 1-3-1 offense that will work against man-to-man and zone. You might try this simple 2-3 zone offense.

Selecting Your Half-Court Defense(s)

Do you like a pressure man-to-man defense (Dick Bennett style) or a zone defense (Jim Boeheim style)? The packline defense is great for stopping dribble-penetration, clogging the paint, and forcing outside shots. Also I would seriously consider Bob Kloppenburg's SOS pressure defense system. Matchup zone... maybe, if you have smart players.

Youth coaches... teach man-to-man defense and principles, so they will be good at it when they reach high school. You can win games with a 2-3 zone, but what is the goal of youth sports?

Selecting a Press Defense(s)

If your team is a quick, deep and a pressing team, select a press defense. Over the years, we have effectively used the matchup press defense, but it takes awhile to learn. A zone press or simple full-court man-to-man defense, or a half-court trap ("Viking press") might work well for your team.

Youth coaches, if you press, just consider a simple full-court man-to-man press which extends half-court man-to-man principles to the full-court.

Selecting Your Press Offense(s)

You must have a plan for attacking presses. There are a number of good press attacks on this page. We have used the "80-60-40" system for attacking pretty much anything we see. I also like the 3-Up Press Breaker. Our high school varsity teams always used a secondary break to get the ball up the floor quickly.

Selecting Plays

After you have installed your half-court and full-court offenses and defenses, put in a few plays. But save a couple good plays for the post-seaon. Select plays that get your best scorers good shots. Pick a few man-to-man plays, and a couple zone plays.

You'll also need a couple baseline man-to-man out-of-bounds plays, and a play or two for attacking the 2-3 zone on the inbounds. Also put in a sideline play or two, and maybe a "buzzer-beater".

Selecting and Using Drills

There are many drills listed on this page that drill not only individual player fundamentals, but also team concepts for offense, defense, pressing, transition, etc.

Also see: Basketball Coaches Preseason Checklist: A Quick Guide to Preparing for the Season

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