I was asked recently to speak about the process I went through to create the Read & React. I’ve written on this before, but usually from a standpoint of the problems I was trying to solve.
This time I talked about a different aspect of the process. Many coaches think that there are 2 versions: the first one that I published in August of 2008 and the current updated version from 2010. Actually, there are 4 versions.
The first version was 99% in my mind while I worked the bugs out in 2003 and 2004. The second version came about when I tried to put it on paper and in diagrams. This was a lot harder than I first thought and it revealed holes that needed to be filled. This paper version never really worked. For 4 years, I gave it away to my friends, only to find myself always getting on the court with the players and the coach in order to bring sense to my notes and diagrams. They needed to see the timing, spacing, etc.
In 2008, I put the Read & React on DVD and the visual aspect of this medium proved to make it much more transferable than my paper notes and diagrams.
After 2 years of feedback from The Tribe, I came out with the current version, incorporating a more easily understood blueprint for installation.
That’s the history, but that’s not today’s point. What I was shooting for was “basketball offense” with all of its’ variety. In order to get to the essence of “no plays” basketball, I had to install some unique elements of structure that would allow us a teaching/building process.
My original goal (and still the goal today) was to uncover the LEAST amount of structure needed; anyone can add complexity to something. The goal was not the framework – instead, the goal was to eventually remove the framework and allow the team to play with spontaneity without ever losing 5-player-coordination!
As an example, I originally thought that there were only two basic structures that were needed to capture 5-player-coordination: Passing/Cutting action and Driving/Circle Movement action. Everything else, I thought, was superfluous. Here’s what I mean:
If someone decides to set a ball-screen, then when the ball-handler comes off the screen, he/she is either driving right or driving left. This initiates Circle Movement by those without the ball. If the ball-handler makes a pass, then our “channel has changed” to Pass & Cut. And so, I didn’t see the ball-screen as necessary for the framework that would hold the team together. All screening actions were “add-ons” in my mind. Furthermore, they were to be added on when the coach thought the players could handle them. The coach would have to make that decision himself/herself, so why should I allow my opinion to get in the way?
That was my original mindset.
Transition? What’s that got to do with tying your half-court actions together? Zone Attack? Just let the players attack and they’ll find the scoring opportunities. Pretty naïve, huh?
This loose framework is fine if you have players that understand what a Pin & Skip is and when to use it. How to balance the floor on a baseline drive or how to turn a random cut into a brush screen. When I realized that most players didn’t know all of the actions available to them (as a 5-player-unit), I knew I had to fill in all of the gaps in their knowledge.
Luckily, I had The Tribe of coaches behind me, telling me what was needed. And I still do!
Conclusion: Perhaps if you view your process though this lens, it will help you know where you are and where you are headed. When all is said and done, is your team playing better? Are they sharing the ball, controlling space, attacking as a 5-player-unit, and taking good shots? Ultimately, isn’t that the goal?