Better Basketball Play Calling

Most coaches I’ve gone up against use a single word or number for their play calls – especially inbounds plays. I used to do this too. Smart coaches will remember previously used plays, and adjust the next time they hear the same play. So there has to be a better way.

I remember a game I coached a couple of years ago where we had one baseline inbounds play that worked every time. We used this often and I had our players know that play “1” was also “5”, “6”, “7” , “8” or “9”. We ran this same play with different numbers each time, and got great looks. The other team never figured it out.

I’ve also seen some coaches use hand signals, like hitting their chest for a play called “chest”. This may or may not be as predictable, but in a loud gym hand signals could be helpful.

Going forward, we plan on using themes for specific plays. For example, USA states, or colors, could all have the same meaning, but different words. (I can’t reveal our system, but you get the drift.) Combining some sort of body gesture with the play theme may be in the cards as well.

I hope this adjustment helps make a difference in one of your games!

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Category: Coach's Diary