Juliet famously declares in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, “that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” Of course, she is talking about Romeo’s name and all the trouble it creates for the couple, but the same could be said about the Read & React.

That’s right! Literature and the Read & React; where else could you get this stuff?

There is a recent forum thread titled, Changes to R&R Terminology where coaches are discussing what terms they like in the R&R, which they’ve switched out, and which they’ve found most successful.

Every coach is different. Every team is different. And players will respond to different terms – the trick as a coach is to figure out which terms your team relates to the best and use those.

For example, some coaches have struggled using North/South Dribble Penetration as a term. Instead, they use Penetration Dribble. They’ve changed East/West Dribble to Perimeter Dribble. Any of those are fine and changing the terms doesn’t hurt our feelings. Well… maybe a little, but we get over things quickly.

I received an email a while back from a Varsity Girls Coach named Ben Wertenberger who came up with a brilliant way to use descriptive terms to paint a picture for his girls. In fact, we still use his suggestion in clinics.

One thing that really helped our girls’ varsity team, and may help some others, concerned seam cuts against a zone. We worked very hard on setting up cuts against both man and zone and making those cuts “seam” cuts against zones, but we had trouble switching gears between the man and zone.

We also often found that our players weren’t accurately reading where the seam was until they were already through it. One adjustment seemed to really help; we called cuts against a man to man a “lightning cut” because you took the defense away and then cut hard. We called the zone cut a “banana cut”.

Now, we don’t call “man” or “zone” from the bench (forcing the player to interpret what to do), we call “lightening” or “banana” and the girls automatically know which cut to run. This terminology not only conveys what the defense is running, it reminds the player of the technique to use.

Stealing from Ben, I used banana cuts and lightening cuts with my 11/12 church league girls team last season, not to differentiate a zone cut from a man cut, but to explain how hard I wanted them to cut.

Since this team didn’t have a lot of basketball experience, they always wanted to avoid any chance of contact and in doing so made wide, sweeping cuts to the basket instead of hard, deliberate cuts.

So, I told them that when we cut, we make lightening cuts – hard and fast, not banana cuts – slow and curved. That immediately cleared it up and they soon began calling it out to each other. It was silly, so they remembered.

The point is this: do what works best for your team. Find the terms your team connects with and teaching will become that much easier.

What about you? Have you changed some of the R&R terminology to better suit your team? What has worked? Can anyone beat the creativity of a banana cut? Let us know in the comments.

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