The Importance of Positioning as a Coach

Posted on Jan 28 2022

With teams across the country returning to the court for pre-season preparation, coaches need to be aware of their court positioning so they can be more efficient teachers during sessions.

Your positioning as a coach during a practice session makes a significant difference to what you see, how you teach and the efficiency of your language and communication.

Often an under-taught element of practice coaching, the best coaches are aware of their on-court positioning, ensuring they move to different areas of the floor to be better communicators and can best see what their players can see.

See what the players see –

To provide efficient feedback and teaching, the coach needs to stand where they can best see what the players are seeing. It is very hard to provide meaningful feedback on a handler’s pick and roll read from the base-line or side-line.

If the coach positions directly behind the handler, they can observe from the same viewpoint and be better positioning to provide feedback or ask poignant questions of the player.

One of the most powerful questions a coach can ask a player is “what did you see on that play?” and positioning yourself to have a similar view will allow for worthwhile engagement and conversation.

Be on the move –

Traditionally, coaches have taught defence standing on the base-line or “beneath” the defence. Conversely, coaches often teach offence from “out top” so they can see the action unfold.

Both positions are sound, but the game is not static and as the ball and players move, so does the coach. This doesn’t mean the coach has to charge around the floor on every pass, but subtle and constant positioning adjustment are important.

By staying in one area also means you are potentially coaching the same couple of players more than others. For example, if you are standing on the base-line, it is obvious you will watch and communicate more to post players or low help defenders.

Many coaches coach from 2-3 positions on the floor only during a session; in your next practice be mindful and intentional about expanding the areas you stand and coach from.

Avoid the “huddle” –

If you are lucky enough to have assistant coaches, be aware of the number of times during “live” practice that you stand together. It is natural for coaches to come together to discuss the practice, drill or a concept, but it is also important to “corral” the court as a staff.

More coaches on floor mean more eyes and views, so utilise this by maintaining “coach spacing” and limit the time where two or more coaches are looking in essence the same thing.

Practice is about the players and that should be the focus of every coach on the floor. Coming together as a coaching staff while a drill or breakdown is functioning can become a distraction for the coaches, despite intentions.

Get your steps in –

With most coaches wearing a smart watch or device to measure steps and movement, one easy way to monitor the amount of activity during a session is to count your steps.

Different coaches will move around the floor more than others in a practice session, but as a guide, keep track of your steps in a session as a guide to how often you have moved and changed your positioning on the floor.

By checking your steps after each session, you will get a feel for how active you have been or perhaps provide a reminder to move more in the next practice.

Be a passer and rebounder –

An easy way to ensure you are moving, engaging with players and being part of each session is to jump in as a passer and/or rebounder for as many drills as you can, especially early in a session.

Whether it is rebounding for a player pre-practice or jumping in as a “screener” in shooting drills, being an active participant in practice will have huge impact in engagement and relationship building with players.

Review and reflect – 

If you and your staff get the chance to review practice, be it in a “hot review” setting immediately post practice or via video, be aware of your positioning, spacing and engagement as a coaching group. We constantly review the actions and behaviours of the players, why not add an element of ensuring the coaches are playing their part in a functional and efficient practice?




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