The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 Rule) is the law of the vital few, which states that for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Pareto noticed that 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced 80% of his peas. Other examples:

I’m ready to add another 80-20 to the list:

80% of your offensive actions will come from 20% of the Read & React layers.

Why point this out?

Because the few layers that make up this 20% of the Read & React is a vital few, as the definition alludes to. The rest of the offense and the success of the remaining layers hinge upon how good your team can run the vital 20%.

The Vital Few Layers (20%)

Other than shooting, there are only two actions that can be performed with the ball: passing and dribbling. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the vital layers are:

  1. Pass & Cut (which includes understanding and using the Read Line).
  2. Dribble Penetration with Circle Movement for the perimeter players.
  3. Dribble Penetration with Basic Post Slides.
  4. Speed Dribble East-West (the “Dribble-At” action), which feeds Pass & Cut action.

The original Read & React was broken into 17 layers. Since then, my up-dated structure lists 20 teaching layers. (You’ll see them later in the summer of 2010).

4 out of 20 layers is, in fact, 20%.

However, I think the real percentage might be smaller.

Teams should concentrate on mastering two layers: Pass & Cut and Dribble Penetration Circle Movement. Without the discipline to spacing that these two layers afford, the rest of the Read & React actions are not as effective. The combination of these two affords a team the weapons to handle defensive pressure – particularly, perimeter defensive pressure. Let’s face it, if a defensive team can effectively pressure you on the perimeter, they can interrupt your offensive attack.

Other places I see the 80-20 Rule:

Has anyone else spotted other aspects of the 80-20 rule as they relate to coaching basketball?

5 Responses

  1. I agree with your assumption that the actual percentage is even smaller than 20%. I consider these principles as habits that even when running a set play, should confirm to these habits. If they don’t, then players will have to “think” versus “reacting”. The power of this offense is getting the players to play without thinking. It is my experience when players have to “think”, the defense wins.

  2. Rick, I just bought your R&R DVD Series about a month ago and am thoroughly impressed with it. Above I read that you have added 3 more layers…and those will be coming out sometime soon (spring 2010). Will you be sending those new 3 layers to people who have recently purchased the R&R system? Will those new layers be available on this website? I have plans of implementing this in a youth development program and would have waited a few months to purchase the DVD set if I knew I would of received the extra 3 layers. thanks.

    1. Hey Jay,

      We released the Read & React with its 17 Layers almost 2 years ago. Since then we’ve held a bunch of clinics, answered a lot of questions, and had conversations with hundreds of really intelligent coaches. Over that time, we’ve discovered some better ways to teach the Offense and a better way to organize it. So, when Rick mentioned “updated structure”, that’s what he was referring to.

      And, the answer to your question is, as we finalize the additional layers, we will have them available (in one form or another) on this site. No need to worry.

  3. When commenting about his defensive system at Oregon State, Coach Ralph Miller remarked that about 81% of ball possession on offense was achieved by defensive rebounding and inbounding after an opponent’s score. He further observed that the remaining percentage of offensive ball possession came from steals, turnovers or other violations by your opponent. This contributed to his defensive philosophy of pressuring the opponent’s offense without gambling or taking unneccesary risks.

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