Topic 3 – Player considerations

Player Considerations

Throughout a coach’s career there will not be any two players that are the exact same.  Players differ in many different ways.  Some are tall, others are short, some are athletic, others are good shooters, etc.  It is important for coaches to be able to adapt their coaching styles and strategies to the different players they will coach over the course of their career.

Players can generally be described by six categories.  Players should be coached based on how they fit into these six categories.  Ability, motivation and competitiveness, friendships, athleticism, size and strength.

Ability is simply a measure of a player’s skill level.  There are many factors that contribute to determining a player’s ability.  These can be divided into two categories; offense and defense.  Offensively, factors such shooting, dribbling, and IQ determine skill level for a player.  There are other factors that minimally contribute to a player’s offensive ability.  If a player is offensively skilled, the coach does not necessarily need to adapt as much.  A skilled player will fit into more systems, be able to run more plays, and do more in general on the offensive side.  When planning a practice session it is important to keep those attributes in mind and focus on other aspects of their game.  For a player who is less skilled, practice sessions should be tailored to the offensive end, helping them improve their skills.  Defensive ability has many factors, some of which are largely determined by athleticism, and competitiveness.  One aspect of defense players have more control over is IQ, which includes general defensive knowledge, and knowledge of the opponents tendencies and skills.  Similar to offensive ability, defensive skills can be improved in practice and over time.

Motivation and competitiveness are the main determinants of whether a player has success or not.  “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”  Players who have above average motivation and competitiveness are great to plan practices around.  Coaches know these players are working there hardest and it allows them to know which changes need to be made to the team’s strategy.  Laziness and unwillingness blind coaches because they can not determine whether the team actually needs work in a certain area, or if they are being lazy.  

Friendships between teammates have both pros and cons.  One pro would be that players who play together that are friends generally have better chemistry on the court.  Another pro is that friendships between teammates allow players to be more honest with each other, which allows problems to be fixed sooner.  A con of friendships is that it can form cliques within the team, leaving certain players feeling isolated.  This isolation could actually break down chemistry for the overall team.

Athleticism can also determine how a player needs to be coached during practice.  An athletic player will have different roles, such as setting screens, grabbing rebounds, than a player who is unathletic.  When designing drills for practice, and roles for games, this is important to keep in mind.

Size and strength also greatly affect how a coach utilizes a player.  It determines their position, which means it determines their activities during practice, roles during games, and greatly affects their abilities on the court.  If a player is tall and strong, coaches will most likely use them around the rim, and setting screens to free up the shorts, skinnier players.

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