Establishing the Simple Plan

Posted on May 11 2021

With the busy nature of the landscape for young players, now more than ever it is important for coaches to be organised and efficient in the way they prepare, teach, coach and develop. For the modern coach, it all comes down to formulating and adopting a simple plan.

It is quite common for youth players to play for multiple teams and under the guidance of multiple coaches. By the time a teenage athlete plays for their school, club, regional team, state team and perhaps a senior team, they may have five or six voices coaching them and providing input.

That makes it imperative for the efficient coach to adopt a simple plan for not only the development of the individual, but in the team practice setting and tactically come game time as well.

Technical and skill development –

What is your simple plan as a coach to impact skill and technical competency? For example, at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence men’s program, the coaches talk to the players about adopting a simple plan with their shooting –

  • Free your mind
  • Enjoy shooting and the work associated with improving
  • Approach it with a simple plan for what you are focusing on – follow through, footwork, arm action

Of course, there is more detail provided than that, but the three step “mantra” provides a platform for the athlete to approach their shooting work-outs and sessions with some clarity.

Many coaches use the “power of three” to build their teaching cues for skill development. What are your three to four key teaching dot points for teaching –

  • Dribbling
  • Passing
  • Finishing
  • Shooting
  • Post play

Do your players know what the broad simple plan is for improving in these areas and understand the process you and your staff approach in developing these important skills? In essence, have you communicated not only the process, but the priorities? Do they know the simple plan?

Concept development – “Get to the point”

Modern basketball is more about a series of concepts than specific sets and structures on both sides of the ball. But detail or specific teaching still applies and as with all coaching, it has to have context within the game.

As you communicate and roll out your simple plan, is it efficient and applies to what happens consistently in the game? Limited practice and preparation time makes efficiency key for the modern coach – can you identify aspects of your practice and teaching that can be eliminated for a more efficient environment?

For example, in teaching cutting, what are the most common cuts not only in your system, but that happen in games at all levels? If you identify basket cut, back cut, flare cut – spend your time in the cutting space working on these, rather than trying to perfect seven or eight cuts that don’t necessarily fit your system.

Zone attack – what do we need to get done against the zone? High post presence, short corner attack and everyone in a gap for example. Establish a simple plan with this in mind and communicate the how and why of this to the players as a foundation.

If screening the zone is important to you, weave that in, but remember; if you add you must subtract. Layering doesn’t mean continually adding concepts.

Tactical – what is your team’s personality?

Most coaches plan their season meticulously, looking at the “macro-plan”, splitting the year into their “meso-cycles” and of course, plan what the structure and style of play will look like.

The playbook at the start of the year is often too expansive, has too many options and doesn’t fit the amount of practice time or the experience of the playing group.

Does your planning and intended style of play fit with your overall simple plan? Is your plan indeed simple and able to be communicated easily to the most important people, the players?

In establishing your over-arching simple plan, consider –

  • Landscape – competition, level of players
  • Time – access to players, practice time
  • Talent
  • Your preference of style of play
  • The overall style of play if you are part of a larger club or program
  • Your best player/s

Having a simple plan to get your best players high percentage opportunities to succeed is so important often forgotten as coaches build their structures and add new aspects they have learned. “Put the square pegs in the square holes” – put your best players in the best situations to succeed and play off that.

Take the simple plan challenge –

Take some time to sit down and see if you can summarise your overall plan and philosophy into a one page, dot point document.

While it is important have detailed plans, can you take all the vast information and thoughts around the game and how you want to teach, coach and lead and refine into a simple plan that can be quickly and efficiently communicated.

This is a valuable exercise for those looking to interview for coaching roles in the future. Often, the panel will ask about your philosophy and there is not time to present a 12-slide PowerPoint. Can you communicate your plan to management, staff and players quickly and with clarity?

Write the one pager and share it with an assistant coach. Get feedback from them as to whether it indeed reflects your approach and the overall approach. Engage in dialogue about it and reflect. It will be a valuable exercise that can be done pre-season, in-season and in reviewing the year.




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