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Managing the breaks (part I).

High school basketball games consist of four eight-minute quarters that typically take an hour and a half to play, whereas the college game is composed of two 20-minute halves that take about two hours to complete.

What happens during all that down time between tip-off and final buzzer when the game clock is not running? Successful programs are extremely efficient in teaching their players to mitigate the wasted time and manage the breaks.

The most common and shortest break in the action is the dead-ball situation where a loose ball bounces out of bounds or a foul is called.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

* How is your team trained to respond?

* Do they look to the bench for a signal?

* Do they look to the clock to check the foul count?

* Do they huddle at the FT line before shooting a foul shot?

These situations must be practiced vigorously for two reasons. First, to keep the kids mentally focused during the contest and challenge the opposing team to match your heads-up play on every possession.

Second, the referees will become agitated by a team's attempt to needlessly slow down the action.

If you team is not crisp in getting to the required spots, there will be little sympathy shown. If, however, your team is hustling and organized, you will earn the officials' respect by the way your players remain active.

Think about this: if your team is hustling during dead ball situations, how can they not play hard when the ball is in play?

The accompanying chart illustrates examples of dead-ball situations and what the team is trained to do in each. You will notice that our teams call their own inbounds plays. We allow our point guard to "audible" much like a quarterback in football. We discuss which plays work best against particular defenses and train our point guard to call plays for the "hot hand."

While some coaches like to be in charge of defensive calls, others will change defenses at prepared times, such as after every made basket.

Other coaches have the kids look to the clock and call the inbounds play according to the last number, from 0-9. Any system can be employed as long as the players are trained and all five of them know exactly what to do.

Free throws are other common occurrences that have to be prepared for carefully. In my nine years of coaching, we have had an average of almost 30 free throws shot by both teams combined.

While players are given a short amount of time to catch their breaths or make substitutions, a lot of concentration must be exercised during these pivotal moments.

What is your rebound strategy? Defensively, are you going into the same set on a make or miss? Does the offense run a sideline break or a press breaker? What if the shooting team gains possession on a long rebound?

Players must truly be proficient if they are going to check the time remaining, score, and foul count before huddling at the free-throw line. Incoming subs must be made aware of the team's strategy. It can aid their execution and may produce the difference in a few vital points each half. If, however, you expect your players to handle all this without any prior training, you will be dooming them.

Practice time devoted to these organizational details will make a difference! Your players will become more focused and cognizant and be able to take advantage of teams that fail to pay attention to details.

A couple of other special free-throw situations also deserve mention. How do you want your players (bench as well as on-court personnel) to respond when a participant fouls out? A coach has 30 seconds to make a substitution. Will you plan differently if the player is one of your own?

Many coaches use the time to quickly gather their players on the sideline and give brief instructions. Do the players know about this in advance or do you have to frantically wave them over to the sideline to talk with you?

Another special situation is a FT taken because of a technical or intentional foul. On-court personnel are required to stay behind the half-court line. Do your players stand with their arms on their hips or chat about the violation?

If the foul was committed by one of your own players, do you allow them to sulk or substitute for them immediately? To encourage team spirit and to regroup after an awkward break in the action, you might consider having your team huddle at the opposite FT line.

Have the team encourage or settle down an offending player before he arrives at the bench. This will also allow you to visit with the officials without a temperamental player hearing the conversation.

If, on the other hand, your team is shooting the FT, you can have the other four players prepare for the upcoming sideline-out-of-bounds play.
* Foul vs Opponent * Team Huddle to call Inbounds Play
* Inbounds in our Half Court

* Foul vs Our team * Look to Bench for Defensive Call
* Opponent Inbounds

* Bonus Foul vs Opponent * Team Huddle to call Defense after FT

* Bonus Foul vs Our team * Look to Bench for Offensive Call
* Inbounds in our Back Court


By Matthew Neighbors, Basketball Coach

Galveston (TX) High School
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Title Annotation:BASKETBALL
Author:Neighbors, Matthew
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Words:883
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