(English) However, there are a number of cautionary notes which coaches should keep in mind:

1. Focus on the execution of skills, not the pattern of play

Many coaches make the mistake of having teams run particular “patterns” of play without focusing on the players’ ability to make good decisions and execute the skills of the game. For example, the “Zipper” play is used by the San Antonio Spurs and is a relatively simple pattern of play.

What makes it effective for the Spurs is not where the cut is made or where the screen is set. Instead, it is effective because of the players’ ability to read what defenders are doing and to then act to take advantage.

Coaches must ensure that they focus on those skills and then use a pattern of play as a framework. The “Zipper” involves screening action. The first time the cutter may curl (because the defender trails behind them) but if the defender changes tactic (e.g. they go under the screen), the cutter needs to react to that (e.g. they may flare cut).

2. Does it suit your team?

Each team has its strengths and weaknesses. Before deciding to implement a pattern of play, the coach must consider whether or not it suits the players that they have. Many teams use ball screens in their offence, which requires players that are adept at using a penetrating dribble. If your team doesn’t have that, you may prefer different pattern of play.

3. Was it a play or a “read”?

This is related to point 1 and particularly if a coach is introducing a pattern of play based upon scouting or watching another team. In this situation, the coach may have observed a general framework and particular “reads” that players make.

While observing the pattern of play the coach should also observe what the opponent is doing. If watching an offensive pattern of play, the coach should also observe:

  • What defence is being played (e.g. man to man or zone, trapping or sagging etc);
  • The positioning of particular defenders (e.g. a player setting a ball screen may “slip” the screen when the defenders move into position to double-team) – does the movement change if defenders act differently?
  • Any verbal or visual cue from the defence (e.g. some teams call “red” to signal a double-team);
  • When in the shot clock was the play run? Does movement change if there is more or less time left on the clock?

4. Understand what makes the main action work!

Again, this is about watching a whole team, not just a particular part of the play. For example, a team may front the post and a coach may wish to introduce that in their own tactics. Before introducing it though, they also need to understand the position of other defenders (e.g. help line behind the post player), the principles of defensive rotation that the team uses etc.

Coaches must also be able to respond to trends amongst the teams that they are playing against as part of their preparation. Rather than introduce something specific to counter a specific play, the coach may emphasise principles of play (e.g. trapping a ball screen). The coach’s response must also consider what the opponent is likely to do.

For example, when trapping a ball screen, the screener may cut to the basket and the coach will accordingly need to determine a rotation to defend that cutter.