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System Advice

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    Hello Everyone!

    I wanted to say how much I appreciate this community!  I have truly enjoyed all the resources and help everyone has provided.  I just recently accepted my first head HS girls basketball coaching.  I have coached every level from youth to varsity asst in both girls and boys.  So… I am hoping someone may be able to offer some advice in developing an offensive system for my team. I have been exploring everything.  I have been in programs were we utilized the dribble drive, read and react, and Princeton/Chin series.. I am not sure where to even start? Should I implement something I have run before?  I have not seen the girls play much and I am hoping to get film access, but I am going in somewhat blind.  Honestly, I have never been exposed to the WHY for picking an offense.  How important is continuity of offensive systems from Middle School to High School? 

    Also, I have been really intrigued with the Lock Left Defense.  We dabbled a little with it at my previous school and was thinking about sticking with it and continuing to play around with it.  Any suggestions?

    Any other helpful advice for a new head coach would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks again to everyone for their willingness to share!


    Congrats on the new gig, Josh! ????

    Sounds like you’ve had a good range of experience, so let’s start with a question: What do you like? What kind of basketball makes you want to get up in the morning and get to the gym? There are a lot of systems that are flexible enough to adapt to your personnel, so let’s start with what makes you passionate for the game.


    Thanks Nelson!  I really appreciate it!  I am so pumped!!!! 

    I have always found myself leaning towards offense that really pushes the ball in transition. I like to allow for some player reading and teach them more how to play off each other rather than a bunch of sets.  I know when I played we had a million sets and it always bored me in practice and then we rarely used all of them.  So, now I find myself leaning towards offenses that have basic principles/rules and focus more on allowing players to make decisions.  However, is that too much for high school girls?  They tend to not play as much as boys in our area, and I worry that might be too much to try and teach.  We ran a version of read and react with boys and it worked well, but I am just not sure how it translates to girls.  So, I guess the short answer is I love developing players into great decision makers and allowing them to play without as much structure when possible, but always teaching them to have great spacing.

    I feel like I am rambling haha.  I love talking basketball and I am so grateful for your willingness to help me get started! I hope to pay it forward someday!


    Not knowing your players makes it difficult. I’ve always heard two things about the WHY of offense (and I’ll bet @TJ Rosenecan drop some dimes on this): 1) coach what you know and love; and 2) Put your players in positions to be successful. I’ve been a R&R coach for 9 years or so because it allows me to do both. I know it well (although always learning more), but more importantly, it’s flexible enough for me to adapt to my personnel. Last year, we were guard dominant, and ran the R&R almost like DDM, with lots of drive-and-kick. This year, I’ll have a big, tough inside core and am planning running the R&R out of a 1-4 High and Horns set to get more 3 out/2 in with screening actions. But that’s just me.

    If you like to play fast, and have the depth and athleticism to do it, I’d look at Mike Neighbors’ “Functionally Fast” approach at Arkansas. Like the R&R, it’s very player-decision driven, but is all about quick possessions and early transition shots.

    As to the LockLeft, I loved it this year and am sticking with it, but I am always asking myself how much can I put in at once? Most of what i run challenges the way kids have played all their lives, so I tend to introduce them one-by-one. But higher-skill teams can absorb more, and more quickly. With a new team or program, I tend to stick with whatever defense they know and teach the R&R 1st. When they’ve gone through the growing pains and are having success with that, I introduce my defensive principles. But everyone is different in this, I know.

    I’d love to hear how other coaches approach this stage of analysis! thanks for the thread.


    Thanks Nelson! 

    I really appreciate you taking the time to help.  Your insight and advice gives me a great starting point.  I love that you adapt your system and strategies to best fit your players. I will continue to brainstorm and work through this stage to find the best system for my players. I am sure as more questions come up, I will be in touch.  

    Thanks again! 

    Inactive I would add this as a consideration when deciding what systems to implement, consider if the basics can be installed at the middle school level and as they advance add different aspects of the offensive system, also does the system allow for players different growth spurts and development rates so that they are not boxed into certain roles that they grow out of.

    Great questions, best of luck.


    Inactive @Nelson Handel @Adrian Mills all great thoughts and questions. I think you might have the answers you need. I would add that over time I have seen different genders, different ages, and different teams gravitate towards things they like/do the best. When deciding how much freedom vs. how much direction you give player/team I think it is really important to make a decision but adapt to how they react. Example; you want to run but shortly after you realize playing 12 people is to many and productivity is not happening. You slim the rotation to 7 and play your best 3 players 30 mins. You realize they are slow in D transition and are having a hard time guarding the ball because of fatigue…and so on. Some times are best laid plans can take a significant hit. Be prepared to adjust. 


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