Focus on One ChannelWhen some coaches look at the structure of the Read & React, two things cross their mind (I’m basing this on lots of one-on-one conversations, twitter questions, forum questions, and clinic comments):

  1. This is too simple – there has to be more – you’re holding back the good stuff – give us the secrets to some of these phenomenal “turn-around” Read & React stories that we’ve seen or read about.
  2. OK, I see the benefit of the simplicity of the foundations layers, but let’s hurry up and jump into the complexity of using ALL of the layers!

The secret to success is not complexity created within the players’ minds. The secret to the success stories is the same secret that allows a team to be successful with 8 layers or 16 layers. This secret is one of the main reasons behind the architecture of the Read & React. The secret to success with the Read & React lies within the secret to ATHLETIC FOCUS.

As much as people like to toss around the word “multi-tasking”, you’ll not find it on the lips of championship athletes. The secret to making correct “in-the-moment” decisions lies in the ability to FOCUS on one and only one thing at a time – and that’s usually what’s immediately in front of them. In fact, watching two channels in the TV of your mind would mean that you are NOT focused by definition.

What’s that got to do with the Read & React? Let’s look at the number of places within the Read & React that the system REQUIRES our players to be “focused on one thing alone”:

  1. If you don’t have the ball and you’re on a Spot, you are required to focus on one thing alone: Read the ball-handler and React with the one pre-determined-pre-drilled reaction.
  2. If you have the ball and you pass it, there are no decisions to make; you can focus on one thing alone: making a scoring cut to the basket.
  3. If you make it to the lane without receiving the ball, you can change channels and focus on one thing: “What is my Next Best Action based on the layers that I’ve been taught?”
  4. Once that decision is made, you can focus on that action alone.
  5. If no decision is made in the lane, then fill out to an empty spot (one thing to focus on).
  6. Once you are on a Spot again, your channel changes back to #1 on our list.

This was a huge factor in determining how I would shape the Read & React system. My players always seemed to play with more confidence and aggression if things were simplified. Complex defensive systems are not really complex in terms of what’s required of the individual players. It’s usually a matter of “if the ball is here, then you do this” (one and only one thing at a time – no decisions). Why not design an offensive system with the same simplicity of FOCUS for each player?

Even the ball-handler can take advantage of the structure of the Read & React in terms of FOCUS. The channels that should change within the ball-handler’s mind can be (and should be) trained to follow this order:

  1. Upon receiving the ball, the first channel required is: “Is the cutter open? If so, pass him/her the ball.”
  2. If the cutter is not open, the channel should change to: “Do I want to attack 1on1?”
  3. If “Attacking 1-on-1” is not available, the channel should change to: “How do I want to exchange the ball with a teammate?” The possibilities are:
    1. Pass one spot away (and cut). Layer 1
    2. Feed the post (and cut). Layers 2 and 13
    3. Dribble At a teammate (pass if their basket cut is open). Layer 3
    4. Skip the pass (if a Pin Screen has been called). Layer 7
    5. Power Dribble to an adjacent teammate (hand-off and basket cut). Layer 15
    6. Reverse Dribble and use the Sprint Ball Screen. Layer 12

Of course, once the ball-handler passes the ball, the game immediately simplifies as the channel changes to: BASKET CUT.

The SECRET to successful Read & React programs are the coaches who realize and take advantage of this aspect. It’s not the number of layers that you have implemented. It’s your ability to teach and keep five players FOCUSED on their one required channel at a time. This keeps the team “in the moment”, organized, decisive, and aggressive.

7 Comments

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  1. Jordan shipley says:

    Rick,
    What advice would you have for a current assistant coach with just a couple years under his belt who has a great understanding of the R&R as well as dynamic defense, and feels comfortable teaching both to players, but has aspirations to be a head coach? Is there a certain amount of experience and/or knowledge one should gain before applying for that head job? Appreciate any advice. By the way, I’m a current high school math teacher as well. :)

    1. Jeff Comer says:

      Jordan,

      Im in exactly the same situation that you are in. I jumped onto this Read and React “wagon” about 6 years ago. I have been soaking up knowledge from Rick since that day. Im just getting to the position where I really would like to give it a shot and become a head coach. I have been preparing practice plans and going through scenarios on implementation. I created defensive drills using the R&R offense to sustain that constant drilling of offesnive principles with a specific defensive emphasis. In my practice plans there is not a single drill we do that does not revolove around the R&R. Of course based on the team I inherit we will have specific actions to focus on. But wanted to make sure I am as prepared as possible. Just throwing in my 2 cents……….I think if you are prepared and confident in your ability to teach it. Go for it.

    2. Rick Torbett says:

      Jordan,

      I agree with Jeff Comer’s comment.

      I would sell what you have, not what you don’t have. You have two years of experience as an assistant coach, you have the knowledge and tools to implement a program wide offensive and defensive system along with player development. You are a teacher coach – players are going to learn from you. Sell your knowledge of the subject matter just like you would if you were applying for a Math job. Knowledge of your subject matter trumps everything else.

      Sell the gatekeeper on what you represent, because you are representing the school or organization that the interviewer works for. They don’t want to be looking over their shoulder and second guessing hiring you, so tell them why they can sleep at night if they hire you.

      With all of that being said, realize that it takes about 10 years of coaching before you develop what you would call “Your Way” of coaching. Waiting won’t help. The clock will start when you’re the head coach.

  2. morgan47 says:

    How do you handle a team that full and half court presses and traps in the Read and React?

    1. Rick Torbett says:

      I teach them Layer 18 “Press Break” and drill them daily with Layer 19 “Full Court Trips” with the word “Trap” or “Press” thrown in (by me) at anytime. In this manner I can simulate full court, 3/4 court, and 1/2 court traps in an unpredictable fashion.

  3. coach123 says:

    I had a team this year consisting of 7th graders who never played b-ball before and players that I have had for 3 years. we had 7-12 graders on this team and I was running a simple motion offense. Sometimes it worked sometimes not. What I had to keep doing with the new kids was explain why you had to do a certain move within the motion offense they couldn’t get it. After a week of practice I finally went all in with read and react and scraped the motion offense. I started slow only using 1-3 layers. But an amazing thing happened the 7 graders were getting it. They only had to pass n cut. My older players were passing n cutting, hook n look,posting up, and screening for each other but the young kids were just passing n cutting and not getting in the way and they looked like they knew what they were doing. All this happened in only 2 practices. Read and react solved all my problems.

    1. Rick Torbett says:

      Jon – That’s so go to hear! This was one of the things I wanted to accomplish with Read & React. If “players who are still learning” can play WITH more advanced players, without messing things up for the advanced players, then we have a chance to speed up their learning curve.