One teaching term that I've been thinking about alot lately as it pertains to coaching is "authenticity". Specifically, I've been reflecting about the drills that I use and how effective they are at in teaching skills in game-like situations.
Take for example, transition offense. We all have our favorite drills that we use, 3-on-2 to 2-on-1, or 3-on-2 continuous, or team fast break, etc... the list goes on. I use them as well, but when I look back at those drills, I think to myself that somehow these drills lack "authenticity". I think these drills are good at teaching players how to make very specific reads in a highly controlled environment, but when was the last time you've seen in an actual game where you had a 3-on-2 situation that played out like you would see in a Blood 33 drill (for those that run DDM or R&R). That's the problem I'm having, coming up with situations "drills" where I can simulate as much as possible what happens in the game.
I was watching a Bobby Knight teaching toughness DVD recently, and Coach Knight was talking about repping transition defense (conversion he calls it) by having the team go 5v5 without the ball and then coach throws the ball to the defense (which becomes the new offense) and the new defensive players have to get back on D. Then the idea came to me that I could do the same thing except for transition offense.
When you go to your team offensive period, how many of you go 5v5 starting at halfcourt with the ball in the PG's hands, coach calls the play, the PG echos, they run it, you yell 'freeze', do some teaching, then run it again? Yes, we all do that. But how authentic is that? If the ball is inbounded at halfline after a timeout or a foul for example, but we all know that 80% of the game is played in transition. Question becomes, how do we incorporate the transition and half-court phases together so that they are game-like?
So what we do now in team offense, is we always start on defense. The first part of offense, is securing the rebound. That's where we start, on defense and I throw the ball up to rim. They secure the rebound, outlet, look to push the ball up the floor with numbers. We don't have a secondary break, so once we have the ball across half without a numbers advantage, we're into half-court offense (motion, flex, or set play). It's more game-like, and since we are a running team, I always want our players thinking to push the ball up the floor first before running any kind of set offense. We also run it out of a FT setup, and also after a made basket. So all 3 different transition situations.
So in team, we're trying to work those phases together and to help the players understand how to transition from one phase to the other more seamlessly. It's a work in progress, but players need to recognize when to push the ball in transition, and when to slow down and run the set offense. As a coach, it always seems easy, we have all the right answers, but it's a hard concept for players to get, when does the break end, and when are we into half-court offense.
Authenticity is important. One of the things I hate is repping things in practice that never happen in the game. I always look back and find a few things that we did in practice and I tell myself, "why the heck did we spend all that time practice xyz when we didn't even use it in the game, what a waste of time." I certainly would like to hear what you all think.