The coach is focused on “why” things happen (e.g. how did the player get open to receive a pass) and how to influence what will happen next (e.g. how do we stop the player getting open), whilst the fan is generally more focused on “what” happened (i.e. who scored).

Some players or coaches instinctively have a better “feel” for the game than others, however anyone can develop their understanding of the game. Watching games and discussing them with other coaches or players is the best way to develop an understanding of the game.

Unfortunately, TV coverage of games tends to focus very much on the ball which reduces the ability to see how the play develops overall, and it is often better (where possible) to watch games at the court. Taking notes during the game can help, although this will often result in the coach missing parts of the game whilst they are writing. If the coach wants to make notes, doing so during breaks of play is best.

When watching games, coaches may pick particular players to watch, focusing on their movement without the ball (which for most players represents the majority of their time on court). At times, players will influence the play even though they did not receive the ball (e.g. a player cutting may attract a help defender which leaves a teammate open).

The particular tactics that a team is using will be of interest for a coach, however they may be more interested in how (and when) those tactics are changed and what effect that has on the tempo and momentum in the game. Discussing this with colleagues will also develop the coach’s understanding as they will get an insight into how other coaches “read” the game and attempt to influence what is happening.