How to Learn Basketball Strategy

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All games and sports involve some form of strategy, and basketball is no different. Adjustments during the game and even as trivial as substitutions could spell the difference between winning and losing. And for what it’s worth, tactics are also involved even before the actual games are played. Training and practice that involve drills and planning are all part of basketball tactics and techniques. In this article, we will know basic basketball strategy and basketball training tips to get you started.

Why Is It Important to Understand and Learn Basketball Strategy

Why Is It Important to Understand and Learn Basketball Strategy?

It’s not an overstatement to say that learning and understanding basketball strategy is the difference between winning and losing. Basketball games are won and lost by virtue of the team’s implemented strategies. A simple substitution in the 2nd quarter could be a game-changer, for better or for worse.

Because of the implications of basketball strategy, it must be learned and understood by every player. For beginners, they may be introduced to the fundamentals. As the skill level of the player increases, they may learn more complex tactical and training methods. Regardless, understanding and learning basketball strategy is critical in the success of an individual and the team.

What are Some Strategy Plays for Basketball

What are Some Strategy Plays for Basketball?

There are various offensive strategy plays used in basketball. Each coach could create their own set plays, but they are always predicated on two things– cutting and screening.

A cut is movement without the ball by an offensive player to put himself in a position to get an open look. A screen is where an offensive player positions his body as a roadblock for opponents so that his teammates could cut and get open.

These two basketball maneuvers are combined to create set plays or offensive concepts. For instance, the flex offense is an offense that involves a lot of screens and down screens. It also has a “screen the screener” concept and the flex cut that usually gets the offense open layups. The flex offense is a basic basketball strategy and one of the most widely-used basketball tactics and techniques.

The main objective of an offense is to get good looks at the basket or high-quality shots. This can be done by precise passing and quick movements. If a team has mastered the plays and strategies, it is most likely to succeed on the court.

What are the Different Types of Offenses in Basketball

What are the Different Types of Offenses in Basketball?

There are literally hundreds of types of offenses in basketball. Here in this section, we will discuss the most common types that every basketball player should know.

1. Transition Offense

The word “transition” in basketball happens when a team changes from playing offense to defense or defense to offense. Sometimes, this phase is slow and grinding. However, in many instances, the offense looks to bring the ball quickly up the court to get scoring opportunities before the defense is set. These quick scoring opportunities more likely came after forcing turnovers or coming up with the rebound.

Many teams with quick players emphasize transition basketball. The most notable example in the NBA is the “7 seconds or less” Phoenix Suns under Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni wants the team to put up a shot within seven seconds of the shot clock under any circumstances. Those teams under D’Antoni won many games and even finished with a league-best 62-20 record in 2004-05.

2. Motion Offense

The motion offense is an offensive philosophy in basketball predicated in passing, ball screens, cuts, and spacing. The beauty of this offense is that there is no need to set plays are called throughout the game. The basic concepts are easy to learn, making it the offensive system of choice for coaches in the high school and college ranks.

3. Zone Offense

Zone offenses are not really set plays or a basketball philosophy. It is a collective term for all offenses used against a zone defense. Zone offenses are predicated on attacking gaps, ball movement, cuts, and overloaded sets. These movements combined together allow offenses to be successful against any type of zone defense.

4. Set Offense

Unlike the motion offense, a set offense or set play is a structured type of offense that coaches or players call during the course of the game. As soon as the play is called, the players move in a particular sequence for a high quality shot. More often than not, set plays involve a variety of options in case the first options are defended well. Most set plays are called during inbounds or after timeouts.

What are the Different Types of Defenses in Basketball

What are the Different Types of Defenses in Basketball?

Basketball defenses fall under three general types. These are:

1. Man-to-Man Defense

Man-to-man defense in basketball is a type of defense where each defensive player is assigned to guard one particular offensive player. This is the type of defense commonly used in professional basketball leagues, including the NBA. Man-to-man defense ensures that there is always a defender guarding the ball. On the other hand, playing man makes it very hard to “hide” your weaker defenders, and they are prone to be exploited.

2. Zone Defense

A zone defense is an antithesis of man-to-man. Instead of guarding individual players, the zone requires defensive players to guard a specific area on the floor. A defender assigned to an area automatically picks up the offensive player in that vicinity. Zone defenses effectively limit dribble penetrations and post play, but any good outside shooter could bust the zone wide open.

3. Press Defense

In basketball, press defenses are a type of defensive strategy that involves applying pressure, whether in the full or halfcourt. These are designed to create traps and force turnovers. Press defenses are applied strategically in the game when the defense wants to quicken the pace. The main drawback of press defenses is that it uses up a lot of energy from the players. It is also not often used in the professional ranks since players could break press defenses surgically.

In basketball, it is widely accepted that defense is much harder to play than offense. It requires 100% commitment from the individual players and the team as a whole. Defense is often not fun and sexy, but it is always needed to win basketball games. 

Therefore, a good defender must understand basic basketball strategy such as:

  • How to box out
  • How to use his body
  • How to slide his feet
  • How to set traps
  • How to cover passing lanes
  • How to challenge shots

5 Basketball Training Tips and Strategies

5 Basketball Training Tips and Strategies

1. Always have a plan

When training, it is always important to know what to do so you can maximize the time. That requires an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the team and working on them. 

Before going to the gym, determine the shooting and defensive drills that you should do. All of these drills should be in line with your basketball coaching strategy. Do you want to be a pressing team? Then do conditioning and running drills. Do you need the whole team to improve ballhandling? Then do dribbling drills accordingly.

2. Create an Identity

Many coaches mistakenly think that the team needs to be good at many things, but that’s just not possible, even in the NBA. You simply need to create an identity for your team. That means you really have to be elite at only a few things and accept the fact that you are going to be straight-up terrible in other areas. 

To win basketball games, there could only be three areas that you need to work on. For example, if you are a smaller team, you may focus on shooting, pressing defenses, and team rebounding. If you are a bigger team with little speed, you may concentrate on rebounding, methodical half-court offense, and man-to-man defense.

Again, as a coach, you need an honest assessment of your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Double down on those strengths, and make sure you have a plan to mitigate the shortcomings so that they will not be reasons why you lose games.

3. Work on free-throw shooting

Many games are won and lost at the free-throw line. A poor free-throw shooting team puts itself at a massive disadvantage. If you can’t make free throws, the other team could just foul you and get away with it. In many ways, missing free throws is pretty much like a turnover; you don’t get points, and the other team often gets the ball. It’s going to be tough winning basketball games if you’re not making your foul shots.

4. Spacing

Basketball is a “read and react” game, and it is best played when everything just flows spontaneously. What basic basketball strategy could help your team play freely? The answer is spacing. Proper spacing opens up driving and passing lanes and gives the players a lot of room to operate. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense since you force them to play defense over distance

5. Put in 100% effort in everything

Putting your best in everything, even in practice, makes the actual game a lot easier. Instead of jogging, sprint. Instead of putting up casual shots, shoot it in game speed. Those are the type of things that ingrain hard work and 100% effort.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Learn Basketball Strategy

Winning basketball games require strategy. More often than not, the team that implements better basketball tactics and techniques comes out on top. That is why basketball players and coaches should have an outstanding grasp of basic basketball strategy.

What are some common basketball strategies? In offense, these are the transition offense, zone offense, motion offense, and set plays. Set plays are more complex and require everyone to be on a string, while the other three are philosophies predicated on player movement, quick decision-making, and passing.

On defense, the three basic basketball coaching strategy are man-to-man, zone, and press defenses. For lower levels of competition, zone defenses are commonly used, while in the pros, man-to-man defense is usually implemented. Press defenses are used sporadically, mainly for a desperate attempt to change the pace of the game.

For the players to learn basketball strategy, coaches should set the tone. They must develop a specific practice plan and have a realistic understanding of the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

However, to effectively implement a basketball coaching strategy, coaches must work on as few as three things and strive to be elite at them. This is called creating an identity for your team. For starters, perhaps a coach may emphasize man-to-man defense, rebounding, and a deliberate half-court offense to his team and forges a training plan revolving around that strategy.

As you can see, basketball is more than just dribbling around and shooting balls through the hoop. It requires intense training and dedication. Likewise, it is also imperative to learn basic basketball strategy and other basketball tactics and techniques. Mastering such strategies would spell the difference between winning and losing.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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